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Friday, April 25, 2014

I Did Not Expect To Like This Book

To All The Boys I've Loved Before
by Jenny Han
Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (April 15, 2014)
Mark on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon
Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control in this heartfelt novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer I Turned Pretty series.

What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.
At a Glance:

To All The Boys I've Loved Before was charming, sweet and just plain fun.  Though the main character seemed a little young for her age, the story kept me turning the pages and trying to guess where things were headed.  If you're looking for a quick, and adorable romantic comedy, you should definitely give this book a read!


There are a few reasons that I didn't really expect to love this book.

  • I'm not a contemp reader
  • I didn't hear great things about Burn for Burn
  • When I started this book, I thought the main character sounded about 14, when she's supposed to be 16.
  • I've never read a Jenny Han book
But, Jenny was going to be in the DC area signing, so I thought I'd start the book, and if I liked it, I'd go to the signing.  I started it at about 11:00 at night, expecting to read a few chapters.  At 2:00 in the morning, I was still reading.

Why it worked for me:

  • Even though the main character did seem much younger than a junior in high school (calling her parents "Mommy" and "Daddy" and just being very naive and often immature), I just still liked her.  I mean, I couldn't RELATE to her, exactly, because we are nothing alike, but I still just found her likable and quirky.  
  • The dialog was a lot of fun.  I loved the banter between the sisters, and between Laura Jean and Peter.  I've learned that banter is how I express love...haha.
  • The family dynamics were awesome.  The relationships that were portrayed between the sisters, and their dad was just fantastic.  I feel like that's one of the things that's most lacking in YA and this book really did it justice.
  • They talk a lot about food.  I don't know why I like this, but I do.
  • Laura Jean is not the typical gorgeous girl, who says she's just plain, but everyone think is beautiful, even without makeup.  She's pretty, but a little dorky, and she's ok with that.  I like her confidence, and the fact that she doesn't really feel the need to please people.  Well, except maybe her older sister...
  • Odd love octagon.  There were so many different romantic possibilities/questions/explorations and I really loved it.  I honestly didn't know where this book was going to end up going, and I have to say I was a little surprised.  And happy!  
  • The fake relationship between Peter and Laura Jean was so fun.  (They pretend to be boyfriend and girlfriend to save face with the people they like).  I loved how honest they could be with each other because there was just no expectation of romance.  It reminded me of Can't Buy Me probably don't even know what that is....*sigh*  
I'm Glad I Read It:

Like I said before, I don't read much contemp, so this was a really nice break from the ordinary for me.  I read it in less than 24 hours, which is almost unheard of because I'm the slowest reader ever.  But these chapters were so quick and short that I kept thinking, "Ok, just one more chapter," over and over until I had read the entire book.  It's just one of those books that makes you feel good, and makes you smile, and it even makes you a little sad and frustrated here and there.  But mostly the smiling. 

So Go!

Read it!  Tell me what you think!  Or have you read it already?  Did you like it?  Should I read Jenny's other books?  Oh, and in case you're interested, here's Buzzfeed's 8 Best Fake Boyfriends and Girlfriends in Movies/TV.  :D  Hmmm.....Can't Buy Me Love didn't make the list......
*smooches* ~Andye   

  • Sexual Content: Moderate (heavier dialog)
  • Language: Moderate/heavy
  • Violence: Minor
  • Other Notables: Mentions of underage drinking/partying

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Reading in Public

You may have read about how I'm easily distracted when I read.  So how does it make any sense that one of my favorite places to read is in crowded places?

I love going to restaurants, parks, malls, bookstores, libraries, coffee shops, the beach, the pool, or other places where there are tons of people who are chatting and going about their business.  (I swear, the people at my local Potbelly know me by name and what I'm going to order before I do.)

How does this make sense?  I mean, half the time I can't even concentrate on a book if there's music playing.  I just start singing the song, and reading the same sentence over and over.  But when I'm in a crowded place, all the noise just blends together, and I get lost in my book.

But sometimes I get a little embarrassed when I'm reading certain books.  I feel like some super smart person is going to come up and ask me what I'm reading and then judge me.

Why do I care??  Better yet, why do I think anyone would want to come up and talk to me?  Especially since it's pretty much never happened.

I remember being out one day, reading Jennifer Rush's ALTERED and folding the front cover all the way around so people wouldn't see this...

Because the book police were there and would be like, "Pardon me, miss.  Why do you have a picture of a half-necked (because the book police have southern accents) teenage boy on your book?  What kinda sicko are you?  I'm gonna halfta confiscate that."

This is only one of the reasons that I'm loving my iPad so much more.  That, and I can prop my book up and eat at the same time.  And let's face it.  The only thing better than reading is being able to stuff your face while you do it!

How about you?  Do you like to read in public, or do you prefer to be alone?  Do you ever get embarrassed by what you're reading?

Am I alone???  TALK TO ME!

Help #Speak4RAINN15

From Macmillan Publishing:

#Speak4RAINN15 is a joint effort with SPEAK author Laurie Halse Anderson and the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN) to raise $30,000 in honor of the 15-year anniversary of SPEAK and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Together, we're working to help survivors of sexual assault — like Melinda from SPEAK — find their voices. Macmillan is matching donations dollar-for-dollar up to $30,000 and so just $15 helps fund and connect three survivors of sexual violence with the help they deserve. 

Join the #Speak4RAINN15 conversation on twitter this Thursday, April 24 at 3pm EST / 12pm PSTwith Laurie Halse Anderson using the #Speak4RAINN15 hashtag. We'll be tweeting to raise awareness and encourage donations for this important cause.

You can visit to learn more about the campaign and how you can help survivors find their voices. If you're unable to join the chat but are interested in helping, then every tweet, post, or tumble using #Speak4RAINN15 and leading to RAINN's website helps raise awareness and is greatly appreciated.

For over 15 years, Melinda's story has given thousands of survivors the courage to come forward. Please join us, Laurie, and RAINN in showing other survivors that recovery is possible

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

UnWholly by Neal Shusterman {Review}

Reviewed by Elisa

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 7 and up
Series: Unwind Dystology (Book 2)
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (August 28, 2012)
Mark on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon

Thanks to Connor, Lev, and Risa—and their high-profile revolt at Happy Jack Harvest Camp—people can no longer turn a blind eye to unwinding. Ridding society of troublesome teens while simltaneously providing much-needed tissues for transplant might be convenient, but its morality has finally been brought into question. However, unwinding has become big business, and there are powerful political and corporate interests that want to see it not only continue, but also expand to the unwinding of prisoners and the impoverished.

Cam is a product of unwinding; made entirely out of the parts of other unwinds, he is a teen who does not technically exist. A futuristic Frankenstein, Cam struggles with a search for identity and meaning and wonders if a rewound being can have a soul. And when the actions of a sadistic bounty hunter cause Cam’s fate to become inextricably bound with the fates of Connor, Risa, and Lev, he’ll have to question humanity itself.

Rife with action and suspense, this riveting companion to the perennially popular Unwind challenges assumptions about where life begins and ends—and what it means to live.

I was pretty stoked when Andye gave me UnWholly to read; I wasn’t expecting a sequel to Unwind. I loved Unwind, finding it both gripping and morally challenging, and subsequently got Andye’s copy really, really sandy at the beach last summer (sorry).

I was surprised to realize how old it was. Neal Shusterman has made his fans cry in longing during the wait in between these books- five whole years. Five years? Who does that? Maybe someone who wasn’t expecting to write a sequel? We just think Shusterman is mean! But apparently good authors have that right. Goes to validate my theory that you should never start reading a series until all the books come out so you can be eternally happy and engrossed fully in another world, book upon book. For example, now is the perfect time to read the Harry Potter Series (but wait on Divergent and Hunger Games until they are all out in movies too, although you will also make yourself totally behind the curve).

Maybe you shouldn’t apply my theory though, as if you do, you might not get to read UnWholly. Because you will still have to wait for the fourth companion book to come out (Oct. 14, 2014), and it would just be sad if you missed this one, as I am pleased to announce that UnWholly is really worth reading if you like dystopian even a little.

Unlike other dystopians, this futuristic world is actually pretty much just like our world today. The difference is that come age 13, the parents (or the State) can choose to unwind the child, keeping their parts fully alive to help other people. There is no abortion; this is its alternative. Overall, the good people of the United States believe that unwinding isn’t killing. They embrace the “divided state” as the best option for various families, whether it is in an act of thanks to God, to help finances, or make use of troubled teens.

Morally ambiguous? You bet! But, that is the genius of Neal Shusterman’s Unwind and UnWholly. It creates a deep tension within the reader throughout the book, making the plot even more entrancing. We can’t help but side with the teens associated with the resistance because unwinding is just so wrong. Or at least I think it is. These books are pretty much a satire.

Like last time, UnWholly was written from the perspective of the main characters- Conner, Risa and Lev. But this time we have the voice of a few more individuals guiding us through the pages. There is the fine specimen, Cam, a boy completely made from unwound parts who just isn’t so sure if he has a soul but surely he has been wound to love Risa. Then there is Miracolina, another tithe who really really wants to be unwound but is instead stuck with former tithe and the now revered, god-like Lev.

We also get to know Starkey and Nelson, neither of which I can even vaguely like. Starky has some major personal issues. He becomes a calculated leader who doesn’t actually care a smidgen for those he is leading in his fight for a self-serving view of justice. Then Nelson is a seriously creepy parts-pirate, tracking down kids to sale for their body parts. (I can’t help but note, sadly, this is actually a legit form type of human trafficking today- organ trafficking.)

Overall, my favorite characters were Lev and Conner. I totally respect Lev as continues to be transformed into a better person through all his crazy life experiences. Not only has he grown-up as a tithe, and was a failed clapper, but he goes on to be a public helper for criminal kids, then experiences extreme loss, is then sainted, and finally experiences at least some redemption and relationship. Conner himself is also trying to adapt to his responsibilities trying to be a great leader for the Graveyard. He is far from perfect, but experiences so much tension trying to do the right thing, protecting a world of runaway teens from being unwound while essentially being abandoned by the resistance.

I guess it is pretty obvious I just really like getting to know the people in a story, and I loved the character development in UnWholly. But even though I am trying to introduce you to these guys like we’re all sitting down for coffee together, don’t worry, there is actually a lot of plot and excitement in this book. In fact, relationships aside, Shusterman has us running around following ALL these people at the same time around the country, as they fight to keep from getting unwound, or struggle to unveil the truth, are challenged to lead, and are maneuvering through being kidnapped, blackmailed, and betrayed.

So, yeah, I’d say it was a good book.

It wasn’t really gory, though there were some dramatic fight scenes. And it surprised me that I still liked it as much as I did with only minimal romance. It think guys would like this book. The plot and style reminded me of Never Fade in the Darkest Minds Series (but without the superpowers). Something I also really appreciated that I didn’t have to read Unwind right before this one- there was enough information to make it so a first-time reader in the series wouldn’t be lost.

One of the things I found fascinating is that Shusterman must have made up so much of the overarching story plot AFTER he wrote Unwind; you would have never guessed it was originally supposed to be a stand-alone. In UnWholly, suddenly everything becomes more complex. Understanding the backstory becomes our goal as Shusterman weaves information about the Accords and whatever else has become hidden by history-rewritten. By the end of this book, we definitely know where we want book #3 to go.

Maybe I am just overly excited, but I gave this book a whopping five!

By Elisa (@AverageAdvocate) at

“Inspiring the average American to change the world to end poverty and injustice.”


  • Sexual: Minor
  • Language: Moderate
  • Violence: Moderate 

Monday, April 21, 2014

To Read the Book, or to Watch the Movie? That is the Question.

With all the recent book-to-movie adaptations, I keep hearing the same thing over and over.  "Should I read the book first?"

Now I'm facing the same question.  I've never read If I Stay.  My mom read it and she loved it.  But I've just never gotten to it, partly because I just don't read very much contemp, and partly because it's already been reviewed.

So, what's better?  Reading the book first, then watching the movie?  Or watching the movie first, then reading the book?

In my experience, if I read the book first, I'm incredibly disappointed in the movie.  The first movie I ever saw where I read the book first was Harry Potter, Order of the Phoenix.  And let me tell you, I WAS PISSED!!  That director???

I liked the first four movies, but I hadn't read those books first, and I think that made all the difference.  Plus, it helped me so much to visualize the characters and Hogwarts, and Diagon Alley, and the Hogwarts Express, Dumbledore, and, and....sorry....I just got lost in a Harry Potter stupor.  That happens to me often.

Anyway!  Pretty much all the movies I've seen where I've read the book first, HP 5-7.5, The Hunger Games, The Firm (whoa, old school!), The Host, Beautiful Creatures, City of Bones, Percy Jackson, Divergent, etc. I've ended up disappointed (some more than others).  TWILIGHT!!

But the movies that I've watched before reading the book, I've ended up liking the movie.   Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter 1-4,  Vampire Academy, The Book Thief, Warm Bodies, Perks of Being a Wallflower.  And then often I still read the book and still love it.  Actually, I liked the Lord of the Rings movies better than the books.  They were very.....long.


I'm afraid that there will be things I won't understand if I haven't read the book, or that the books will be spoiled if I see the movie first.  Like, do the people that just watched Harry Potter actually have any idea what's going on?  I know so many people who watched Twilight first and then the books were just ruined. be fair...I think the movie ruined the books even if you had read them first.

Maybe the key is to read the book first sometimes?  Or maybe read the book first, but read it WAY before the movie comes out so I don't spend the whole time going THAT DID NOT HAPPEN LIKE THAT, HEY WHY DID YOU CUT THAT OUT, THAT WAS SO CHEESY, YOU RUINED MY BOOK!!!

Of the movies immediately coming out, I have read The Maze Runner and The Fault in Our Stars.  Like I said earlier, I have not read If I Stay.

So what should I do?  Should I read the book first?  What do you do?  Are you completely disappointed in the movies like I am?  Are there any movies you've liked better than the book?

Thanks fellow book stressers!

I await your advice :D

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