Thursday, May 1, 2014

April Reads

My list of books that I read in April is surprisingly long, I don't know what happened this month, but I was on a roll when it came to reading books. April vacation definitely helped, but somehow I managed to read more than usual the rest of the month to. My original goal was to read 30 books this school year (since that's what I ask my students to do). I'm only one book away from that goal, so it will be interesting to see how many books I end up reading by the end of the school year. 

19.The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
I always love Nicholas Spark' books. Like a good chick-flick they just manage to melt my heart and make me fall in love. I always end up crying at some point, and it's such a cathartic cry that it feels good. I know, I'm weird. I love The Choice because you think you know what's coming, and then Sparks' does something completely unexpected. Basically there are a couple of choice that the main characters have to make, and each one of them you think it "the" choice, but then something else happens. The ending was the real kicker for me because I was 99% sure I knew how it was going to end... and then it didn't. I loved the combination of a typical love story with this twist of unexpectedness. 

20. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Again, Sparks. I love this book, and I've read it a couple of times. I also like the movie version, which I didn't expect to. It's on Netflix, so I watched it after reading it again. I love that Sparks really got into the heads of both a battered wife and her abusive husband to write this story. It was intense and heart wrenching at the same time. I found myself cursing out both of them at different times and really feeling concerned about what happened to them in the end. That to me is the best sign of a well-written book. 

21. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
This book has been on my list of books to read for awhile. I was hooked in the beginning as I met Lily and felt bad for her. She had an angry, abusive father and a mother she had accidentally killed when she was little. My heart wrenched for this little girl who had no one to love her. About a third of the way in I started to lose interest, and debated about bailing on the book, but I hate doing that, so I pushed on. I'm glad I did, because I ended up really enjoying the end of the book. I noticed when finding the book cover picture that there is a movie based on this book, so I want to watch that now and see how it compares.

22. Allegiant by Veronica Roth
I went into this book a little bummed because I had a student ruin the ending for me. As I began the book, all I could think about was what I knew was coming, so I had a hard time enjoying the beginning. Once I got past that, I ended up enjoying it. I liked how this book showed the perspectives of both Tris and Tobias, it was nice seeing his side when I had only gotten Tris' side in the last two books. I enjoyed the direction this book took, but I did find that parts of it were just too much information and explaining at a time. I think Roth was trying to bring together a lot of little pieces that she had laid out in the first two books, but some of it ended up being too much for me. 

23. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Another reread, but I guess I had forgotten a lot of it since I last read it (4 years ago) because there was a lot that happened that I hadn't remembered. I love this whole series, and didn't really like this book the first time around. This time, though, I enjoyed it a lot more and ended up loving the way it ended. It brought such a sense of closure to the whole series which was a nice change of pace compared to a lot of series that seem to leave it open for future books, and thus don't give you that closure with the characters you have followed through multiple books. I hope the movie version of this is just as satisfying. I liked the movies for both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, thought of course I didn't always agree with the parts of the book they left out to make it fit into a movie. 

24. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
I know I just read this book in the fall, but I loved it and felt like reading it again. I love the way Gillian Flynn writes. The way she weaves her tales in a way to build the suspense and mystery and then seamlessly pulls all the pieces together. It really is beautiful the way she does it. The only thing I don't like about her writing is that it's rather dark and gory. Gone Girl isn't bad, there's only one scene that really got to me, but her other books are too much and end up giving me nightmares. In Gone Girl, Amy and Nick Dunne are having a difficult marriage when Amy suddenly goes missing on their 5th wedding anniversary. Evidence suggests that Nick may have had a hand in his wife's disappearance. When I read Amy's diary entries, I got one picture of Nick and Amy and when I read Nick's perspective I got a completely different picture. Trying to pick out the truth within all the lies and games is what kept me glued to this book; even the second time around. 

25. Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
I have NO idea what I chose this book. I'm not even a Mindy Kaling fan (I don't not like her, I just don't even really know who she is). However, the first chapter made me laugh, so I just started reading. Honestly though, it was a waste of a read for me. It was mostly autobiographical with some randomness put in (hmm... sounds like my blog). I found myself cracking up at some of the things she wrote, but for a lot of it I just kind of read and didn't think about it. I could probably tell you very little about her life, which is sad considering I read the entire book. Not a bad book, if you're a fan, but not something I'd read again. 

26. L.A. Candy by Lauren Conrad
I remember when this book first came out I was all The Hills-obsessed (guilty) and wanted to read it, but then the library had a huge waiting list and I was so not spending my money on it. When I noticed it on my Overdrive app, I just had to read. I loved LC on The Hills and thought she was a sweetheart. This book was interesting because it felt like it could have been LC's autobiography. In it, roommates and BFFs Jane and Scarlett are "discovered" by a reality TV producer to star in their own show; L.A. Candy. While there are many perks to being on the show, the girls quickly discover what reality TV life is really like. There are some parts of the book (actually many) that felt like I was reading the script from The Hills just with different names. That said, I still really liked it a lot.

27. Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad
So of course I had to read her second book. Same main characters, same basis idea, more drama and shenanigans. Thoroughly enjoyable, though not exactly thought-provoking. 

28. Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad
Same as the first two. Fun to read, nothing to think about. I do like the way she wrapped up the series. Apparently there are a couple of other books Lauren has written, so I might check some of those out next month.

29. The Host by Stephenie Meyer
I'll admit it, I'm a super Twilight nerd. I loved all four books and semi-liked the movies (And yes, I bought all of them). I originally read The Host when the Twilight books were big because I liked Meyer's style of writing. I decided to reread it this month because I recently watched the movie on Netflix, but I couldn't remember if I actually liked the book. I liked it, but I didn't love it. It gets a little convoluted at points and is longer than it really needs to be. I like the premise of it; an alien species takes over human bodies and uses them as hosts. Their intent is to create a more peaceful world and continue their spread across multiple planets. The story focuses on one of the aliens; Wanderer or Wanda who has been placed in the body of Melanie; a tough, determined rebel who is one of the few non-hosted humans left on the planet. Usually when an alien takes over a body, the human disappears and the alien takes over. However, Melanie refuses to leave and Wanda has to figure out how to exist with this human still inside her. It's a very interesting dynamic and leads to a lot of questions and uncertainties. 

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