Aug 21, 2014

Thoughts on Thursday #3: Summer Reading

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When I say summer reading I don't mean just reading in the summer. No, I'm talking about the terrifying assigned summer reading that schools give students at the end of the year. That dreaded list that tells us that while we might not be going into a building labeled "school" every weekday morning, school stills controls our lives.

Now everyone has a different approach to that list we'd all like to burn. Some take it, sit down, and don't get up until they've finished it. Then there are the majority of people who wait until 2 weeks before school starts to even start their book and they finish it the night before the first day of school. 

Guess who I am?

I literally HATE these lists and since I am taking AP English Language and Composition in the fall (aka in 11 days) that means that I have not 1, not 2, but 3 books that I have to read. I decided this summer that I was going to read these dreaded book in July and be carefree in August because I totally forgot that I am THE BIGGEST PROCRASTINATOR TO EVER LIVE.

Example time!

Instead of waiting the night before to start a HUGE project due the next day, I wait until 5 in the morning THE DAY OF to start the project which usually leads to me doing that project in the middle of all my different classes. This usually results in me not paying attention in class and not knowing what to do on the homework (yeah, I'm doing that in class the day of too) Yeah, I'm that kid....

Now I hate these lists for a lot of reasons but the biggest reason would have to be the fact that they take away a lot of time from my regular reading schedule. Last summer I only had to read one summer reading book and I read 70+ books, this year I have to read 3 and I'm lucky if I even read more than 30. I'm not a fan of classics or nonfiction reads and that was the whole list from which I had to choose 3 books from, so naturally I started the whole procrastination process. 

These are the three books I picked to read this summer:
Jane Eyre     The Faith of a Writer: Life, Craft, Art    
I started Faith of a Writer in the beginning of July and I finished it in mid-August...that was bad. Now I am reading Jane Eyre which is 500+ pages and I still have to read the book on Fredrick Douglas. Add this to the AP Psychology Experiment that I have to write a report on and it creates a very stressful time for me.  

I know that some school's have reading lists that can have some really interesting reads on them. I remember a few years back looking at a school's reading list that had the Twilight Saga on it and they had new YA releases all the time. These school's have one goal in mind--get kids to read. They don't care what the kids read as long as at one point in the summer they had a book in their hand. My school's objective is to have the kids read a book from the genre they will be studying in English class that year. 

I really hate that process. Every time I picked up a book of my choice this summer I felt guilty because I knew a should have been reading a book from the list and ended up not reading anything. Right now I am going through the same thing. I know I should be reading Jane Eyre but I really want to read If I Stay or Silver Shadows but I don't read anything. I force myself to read Jane Eyre right before going to bed so I get some reading done.

I really think that more schools should focus on getting kids to read what they want which means adding more current popular reads or not forcing kids to read at all. One school in my district has gotten rid of summer reading entirely because they saw kids who were starting English with a failing grade because they hated the reading list and didn't do the assigned reading. 

Do I think this is the answer?

No, I think it would be more beneficial to just have kids read what they want in the summer and have them turn in a short summary of the books they read in the summer rather than assigning anything.

What do you think of assigned summer reading? 
What should I talk about next Thursday?

Aug 9, 2014

New Releases (Week of 8/10/14)

So I was looking at the list of new releases on the 26th and let me tell you, that list is very daunting. Anyhoo, this week I am looking forward to 3 new releases and one is a book that MANY of you are looking forward too as well!

This first release has a very unique cover, it is...Random by Tom Leveen!

RandomRelease Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of Pages: 224

"Who's the real victim here? This tense and gripping exploration of cyberbullying and teen suicide is perfect for fans of Before I Fall andThirteen Reasons Why.
Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.
He asks for a single thing—one reason not to kill himself.
The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he'll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can't help but suspect the caller is a fraud. But what if he’s not? Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.
With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger—and maybe redeem herself—leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…"
The book is by a Youtube sensation...My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with your Gut by Hannah Hart!

My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your GutRelease Date: August 12, 2014
Publisher: It Books
Number of Pages: 240

"One day, sad cubicle dweller and otherwise bored New York transplant Hannah Hart decided, as a joke, to make a fake cooking show for her friend back in California. She turned on the camera, pulled out some bread and cheese, and then, as one does, started drinking. (Doesn't everyone cook with a spoon in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other?) The video went viral and an online sensation was born.
My Drunk Kitchen includes recipes, stories, full color photos, and drawings to inspire your own culinary adventures in tipsy cooking. It is also a showcase for Hannah Hart's great comedic voice. Hannah offers key drink recommendations, cooking tips (like, remember to turn the oven off when you go to bed) and shares never-before-seen recipes such as:
The Hartwich (Knowledge is ingenuity! Learn from the past!) Can Bake (Inventing things is hard! You don't have to start from scratch!) Latke Shotkas (Plan ahead to avoid a night of dread!) Tiny Sandwiches (Size doesn't matter! Aim to satisfy.) Saltine Nachos (It's not about resources! It's about being resourceful.)This is a book for anyone who believes they have what it takes to make a soufflĂ© for the holiday party and show up the person who apparently has nothing better to do than bake things from scratch. It also recommends the drink you'll need to accompany any endeavor of this magnitude. In the end, My Drunk Kitchen may not be your go-to guide for your next dinner party . . . but it will make you laugh and drink . . . I mean think . . . about life."
The last book is by a very popular author, it's...ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER BY STEPHANIE PERKINS!

Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3)Release Date: August 14, 2014
Publisher: Dutton
Number of Pages: 339

"From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.
Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new."

What new releases are you excited about?

Aug 6, 2014

Review: Before You by Amber Hart

Before You (Before & After, #1)Author: Amber Hart
Publisher: K-Teen
Number of Pages: 320

"Some say love is deadly. Some say love is beautiful. I say it is both.
Faith Watters spent her junior year traveling the world, studying in exquisite places, before returning to Oviedo High School. From the outside her life is picture-perfect. Captain of the dance team. Popular. Happy. Too bad it’s all a lie.
It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don't care.
Eighteen-year-old Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn't stand a chance of fitting in. Nor does he want to. His only concern is staying hidden from his past—a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him everything. Including his life.
At Oviedo High School, it seems that Faith Watters and Diego Alvarez do not belong together. But fate is as tricky as it is lovely. Freedom with no restraint is what they long for. What they get is something different entirely.
Love—it will ruin you and save you, both."

Fans of Simone Elkeles's Perfect Chemistry will instantly fall for Diego and Faith's story and for their perfect chemistry. It is definitely a read to push down my sister's throat.

This story blew me away. I'm a very big fan of Simone Elkeles so when I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to have it. It lived up to its expectations. I read this book in a solid 4 hours and I had a hard time parting myself from it throughout those 4 hours.

Diego and Faith have this thing that just made them click. Their chemistry was definitely spot on with them understanding each other and willing to sacrifice for each other. They both had issues that they were dealing with and they helped each other get past those issues to be their true selves.
"I definitely don't get everything I want. But, if I could pick anything in this world to hold onto, it would be you."
There were so many quotes in this book I could have latched onto and just absorbed but there were SO many. The amount of romantic, real, and funny quotes in this book was just making me delirious with happiness. This book really just pinched, clawed, and tore itself into my heart. It was just the type of book I was looking for to get out of the reading slump I was in.

From what I've read it seemed to me that some people thought that this book was a bit too similar to Perfect Chemistry, and that maybe true, but for me this book seemed a bit darker and more issue heavy. Not only did this book deal with romance, first love, and drugs, but it also dealt with the aspect of society and how much they can influence how we as people act. This is something I really deal with at home so it was great seeing it as an issue in a YA read.

This is definitely a great read and while I said it already I will definitely be making my sister read this (she's one of the biggest Simone Elkeles fans I know). I do HIGHLY recommend this. The ending nearly killed me but it was well worth it :) .

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars!!
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.