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Top Ten Tuesday: Best Books Read in 2014 (So Far)

Hello!

Pat me on the back because I’ve been super organized! All of the posts for this week were pre scheduled because I am currently on a field trip! That’s right folks! For my first week of summer I am chaperoning a 5 day field trip to Disney in Orlando with around 60 6th graders! So that’s where I am today…Disney!

Insane? Yes! Fun? Yes!

The theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and Bookish) is the best books I’ve read so far in 2014. I’ve already read 43 books this year so it was difficult to narrow it down to the 10 titles I’ve enjoyed the most. So, after a good hard look at all the books I’ve read already in 2014, here are my favorites.

  The Crossover by Kwame AlexanderThe Diviners by Libba Bray 

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

The Diviners by Libba Bray (my review)

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel (my review)

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (my review)

Cress by Marissa Meyer The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Cress by Marissa Meyer (my review)

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers Alanna by Tamora Pierce

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (my review)

Alanna: The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge Serafina's Promise by Ann E Burg

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

So there you have it! Which titles made it onto your favorites of 2014 (so far) list?

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Perfect for Summer Lounging: Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hello!

It’s getting to be about that time…summertime!

Yes, it’s true! Teachers and students around the country are beginning to rejoice! Whoot!

With that said, let’s talk about a great read for your beach/pool bag. It’s not actually set in the summer, Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulbergbut it’s a fun contemporary novel…and what better for the summer than a good contemp?!

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder… are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?

From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Right?! It’s a romance…or is it?! Perfect for lounging by the pool or on the beach!

It has been said by reviewers before me, but I’ll say it again; Better Off Friends really is like the YA version of When Harry Met Sally. One of the best things about that movie was the mini interviews with all the different couples that were in between scenes throughout the movie, and Eulberg does something similar in this book. Instead of interviews with random couples however, she gives us dialog between Levi and Macallan as if they’re sitting with us at a table over coffee telling their story. Their back-and-forth teasing banter is just so spot-on!

In fact, so much of what Levi and Macallan deal with over the course of their story is so spot-on realistic. In addition to their own friendship/relationship drama, both Levi and Macallan are also confronted individually with the regular middle/high school woes. They have friend issues, family problems and school troubles just like normal teens do and Eulberg writes them with authenticity, while also keeping in line with the fun, light, and all around adorable plot.

Additionally, in keeping with the honesty of the story, both Levi and Macallan are average, non-perfect people. Most of the miscommunications and misunderstandings that go on between them stem from their flaws and inability to deal with awkward and difficult situations. Just like real life! I’m not a teenager anymore (not by a long shot!! haha) but I still struggle with figuring out how to deal when things are awkward and difficult!

The story’s pacing in quick. Levi and Macallan start off in middle school on the day they first meet and over the course of the book their story takes us all the way into high school. Both narrators give us the details on pivotal moments throughout the course of their friendship and they alternate chapter to chapter, which also helps an already fast paced story feel quicker, which can be good or bad depending on your preference. I happened to like the quickness because it makes it that much more perfect for your poolside summer lounging.

So do they remain just friends or do they take the leap and pursue more? I can’t tell you! You’ll have to pack Better Off Friends in your beach/pool bag! It really is a fun, sweet, and light-hearted contemporary read that will make you smile!

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Publisher: Point (February 25, 2014)

Format: e-galley

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA (possibly older MG too)

Buy the Book:

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Top Ten Tuesday: Friendship Favorites

Hi and Happy Tuesday!

As usual I’m participating in Top Ten Tuesday which is hosted by The Broke and Bookish. This week’s list topic is all about friendship books. The titles that have made my list today all highlight different parts of friendship that are important and all come highly recommend by me!

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin LevineThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

This touching historical fiction about friendship with those who you feel a connection with despite what others think.

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergBetter Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Eulberg deals with the question, can a boy and a girl be friends non-romantically?

Okay for Now by Gary D. SchmidtOkay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

This one deals with how friendship can heal and challenge us to be better.

The Humming Room by Ellen PotterThe Humming Room by Ellen Potter

A re-telling of The Secret Garden that reminds us that friendship is supposed to be life-giving.

Wild Things by Clay CarmichaelWild Things by Clay Carmichael

This one centers on how our friends can become our family.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This haunting read shows us what can happen if we don’t reach out to others in friendship.

Along for the Ride by Sarah DessenAlong for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Dessen’s novel inspires me to be purposeful in my friendships and how sometimes you can be surprised by who wants to be your friend.

Smiles to Go by Jerry SpinelliSmiles to Go by Jerry Spinelli

A fun middle grades novel that deals with how friendships can change over time.

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann BrasharesThe Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares

Who wouldn’t want the love and support of this group of friends?!

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson LevineA Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

One I could have used in middle school because it deals with choosing your friends wisely.

Do you have any friendship related books I need to read? Feel free to share them in the comment section below! :)

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Reading Queue: March

The Reading QueueHi there!

Welcome back friends!

What is the Reading Queue?  Well, the Reading Queue is a monthly meme, hosted by Book Tasty (hola!) and Books: A true story where we share our reading plans for the month. You can check out other

Snowy House

I like the way our house wears snow!

participating blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide. Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

Well, let me start out by saying that February was a big month in our household. We had our second snow days ever! South Carolina had a huge snow and ice storm in early February and the school district was closed for about a week.  I love snow days because they force you to snuggle down and just relax!

What I read in February

Those snow days allowed me to read some really awesome books!

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFeversDark Triumph by Robin LaFevers (audibook)

LaFevers’ books are just amazingly engrossing. I cannot put them down.

United we Spy by Ally CarterUnited We Spy (Gallagher Girls #6) by Ally Carter (print)

A fitting end for my beloved Gallagher Girls series. I will forever wish I was a real Gallagher Girl!

The Sound of Your Voice Only Really Far Away by Frances O'Roark DowellThe Sound of Your Voice…Only Really Far Away by Frances O’Roark Dowell (print)

What a suprisingly sweet read. I really enjoyed this one!

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergBetter Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg (e-galley)

This was my first Eulberg read and I absolutely thought it was a winner!

Eye of Minds by James DashnerThe Eye of Minds (The Mortality Doctrine #1) by James Dashner (audiobook)

I really like Dashner’s ability to write page turners.

The Diviners by Libba BrayThe Diviners by Libba Bray (audiobook)

I listened to almost half of this audiobook in one day (thank you snow days) because it was THAT good. I had a hard time going back to work because it meant I couldn’t listen to this one all day!

My March Reading Queue

So I have high hopes for myself this month! There are a ton of books I want to read/listen to, so I figure I’ll go big or go home right!?

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell (audiobook)

VIrals by Kathy ReichsVirals by Kathy Reichs (audiobook)

Skybreaker by Kenneth OppellSkyBreaker by Kenneth Oppel (audiobook)

Starclimber by Kenneth OppelStarClimber by Kenneth Oppel (audiobook)

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. NielsenThe Shadow Throne (The Ascendence Trilogy #3) by Jennifer A. Neilsen (e-galley)

Jessica Darling's It List by Megan McCaffertyJessica Darling’s It List: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Popularity, Prettiness & Perfection by Megan McCafferty (print)

Jinx by Sage BlackwoodJinx by Sage Blackwood (print)

Icons by Margaret StohlIcons by Margaret Stohl (print)

March, you’re going to be a great reading month, I just know it! Are you familiar with any of the titles on my Reading Queue this month?  Are there any I should put ahead of others?  I’ve already started Fangirl, so that’ll be my first one of the month!


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Sheer Perfection: Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Hola!

Sometimes the perfect book comes along at just the perfect time. That’s what happened for me with Elizabeth Eulberg’s Better off Friends.

For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergLevi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder, are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Seriously, this one came along at the best time. I’ve been on a pretty big fantasy kick recently (for like the past year! haha) so I think I was ready for a quality contemporary read to really dig into. And talk about quality! Better off Friends is probably one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a while…right up there with Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Dessen!

I’d heard this one compared to a high school version of When Harry Met Sally and for real, Better off Friends is definitely an homage to that classic film. Macallan and Levi are kind of thrown together by their school principal, but quickly form a relationship based on need and a very silly British television show. Macallan is struggling to make a new life after her mother’s death, while new-guy Levi is simply looking to fit in, so both think of their friendship as kind of a new start. I can completely relate to Macallan and Levi’s friendship because it’s always been easier for me to be friends with guys than with girls. There is a freedom that comes from a friendship with a guy that one can’t get with another girl, but as Levi and Macallan soon discover that freedom usually comes with it’s own share of drama.

Eulberg writes the swoony, drama laden friendship between Macallan and Levi with expert skill. Each chapter alternates between Levi’s narration and Macallan’s. As I’ve mentioned in the past, sometimes switching between narrators can annoy me, but Levi and Macallan’s voices are so clear and distinct that I never have to check back to see who is telling the story. In between each chapter Eulberg has inserted commentary from both narrators, just like in When Harry Met Sally, and the banter between the two is sheer perfection! These were probably my favorite parts of the story, they just added both fun and perspective to Macallan and Levi’s story.

But this isn’t just Levi and Macallan’s story. Throughout the book, we get glimpses of how friendships change as we get older, especially in that transition from middle school to high school. Also, we see the way in which Levi’s mother serves as a stand-in mom for Macallan who is navigating her teenage years without her own mother. Each of these secondary relationships are realistically painful and joyful and just so well portrayed.

You really need to consider adding Better off Friends to your TBR list. I promise you wont’ be sorry, especially if you are looking for a strong contemporary read! It is most definitely a YA title, but I believe that older middle school readers, as well as adults, will appreciate it just as much as I did.

Author: Elizabeth Eulberg

Publisher: Point (February 25, 2014)

Format: ARC (e-galley)

Length: 288 pages

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: YA/MG

Buy the Book: Better Off Friends

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Waiting on Wednesday: Better Off Friends

Hi there!

This is my first Waiting on Wednesday for 2014! If you’re not familiar with this weekly event, Waiting on Wednesday is special time set aside to highlight an upcoming new release that we’re especially excited for.

So, this week I’m excited for Elizabeth Eulberg’s newest romance Better Off Friends, which, I must say, has a super cute cover!

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth EulbergFor Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can’t be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan’s friends. They are platonic and happy that way.

Eventually they realize they’re best friends — which wouldn’t be so bad if they didn’t keep getting in each other’s way. Guys won’t ask Macallan out because they think she’s with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can’t help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated? Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again — and one kiss away from true love?

Summaries online describe Better Off Friends as a YA version of When Harry Met Sally, which sounds pretty darn good to me! Seriously, the more and more I think about this book, the more I get excited about it. It sounds like it’ll be the perfect contemporary romantic comedy that I’ll be in the mood for around Valentine’s Day, which is good timing because Better Off Friends is scheduled for release on February 25.

Yay! Who else is excited about this one?!

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Top Ten Tuesday: My Students’ Picks

Mirage by Kristi Cook

Hi there! Each week I participate in The Broke and Bookish’s Top Ten Tuesday.  This week is a Rewind week which mean we can choose any topic we prefer. This week I decided to share the spotlight with some of my students. I asked some of my top Media Center patrons (“My Reader Girls/Boys” is what…
Continue reading »

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Waiting on Wednesday: Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality

Hi there again!

This week’s Waiting on Wednesday (hosted by Breaking the Spine) I want to highlight upcoming new release Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg

Everybody loves Lexi. She’s popular, smart, funny…but she’s never been one of those girls, the pretty ones who get all the Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulbergattention from guys. And on top of that, her seven-year-old sister, Mackenzie, is a terror in a tiara, and part of a pageant scene where she gets praised for her beauty (with the help of fake hair and tons of makeup).

Lexi’s sick of it. She’s sick of being the girl who hears about kisses instead of getting them. She’s sick of being ignored by her longtime crush, Logan. She’s sick of being taken for granted by her pageant-obsessed mom. And she’s sick of having all her family’s money wasted on a phony pursuit of perfection. The time has come for Lexi to step out from the sidelines. Girls without great personalities aren’t going to know what hit them. Because Lexi’s going to play the beauty game – and she’s in it to win it.

I’ll be honest, when I first head of this book I wasn’t to interested, but then I read up a little more on it and it does sound like it could be an interesting read. I like revenge stories, so that’s always fun! Also, I’m intrigued to see how Eulberg deals with the controversy surrounding child pageant life.

Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality is expected to be published in only a few short days…March 1 to be exact!

 

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Top Ten Tuesday: April New Releases

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Hello and Happy Tuesday everyone!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and Bookish to encourage interaction between book bloggers and to showcase books (what else?!). I must say I
don’t always stick with the official theme
and today is a good example of that! Oh well!

So, every month brings brand new books to munch on and April is no different. Because April has tons of fabulous looking new releases that deserve a little spotlight time, today’s Top Ten Tuesday is meant to highlight some of these titles. Let’s get started!

The List by Sibohan VivianThe List by Sibohan Vivian (April 1)

It happens every year. A list is posted, and one girl from each grade is chosen as the prettiest, and another is chosen as the ugliest. Nobody knows who makes the list. It almost doesn’t matter. The damage is done the minute it goes up. This is the story of eight girls, freshman to senior, “pretty” and “ugly.”

The False Prince by Jennifer A NielsenThe False Prince by Jennifer A. Neilsen (April 1)

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.

Take a Bow by Elizabeth EulbergTake a Bow by Elizabeth Eulberg (April 1)

Emme, Sophie, Ethan, and Carter are seniors at a performing arts school, getting ready for their Senior Showcase recital, where the pressure is on to appeal to colleges, dance academies, and professionals in show business. For Sophie, a singer, it’s been great to be friends with Emme, who composes songs for her, and to date Carter, soap opera heartthrob who gets plenty of press coverage. Emme and Ethan have been in a band together through all four years of school, but wonder if they could be more than just friends and bandmates. Carter has been acting since he was a baby, and isn’t sure how to admit that he’d rather paint than perform. The Senior Showcase is going to make or break each of the four.

Shell Game by Ridley PearsonShell Game (Kingdom Keepers #5) by Ridley Pearson (April 3)

As the five Kingdom Keepers enter high school, everything is about to change. The Maintenance Base that controls all four parks in Disney World is under attack by the Overtakers, a group determined to change Disney forever. Relationships between the Keepers are no longer as simple as they once were. The Keepers even lose one of their most valuable supporters. But there’s work to do . . . The Disney Dreamleaves Port Canaveral on an historic cruise to Los Angeles with a special treat in store for guests: the Disney Host Interactive guides are on board. But all is not right below decks. Strange things are happening. Only the Kingdom Keepers know the truth behind their invitation to be in attendance: nearly every Disney villain is aboard the ship, including Maleficent.Fear by Michael GrantFear (Gone series #5) by Michael Grant (April 3)

Despite the hunger, despite the lies, even despite the plague, the kids of Perdido Beach are determined to survive. Creeping into the tenuous new existence they’ve built, though, is perhaps the worst incarnation yet of the enemy known as the Darkness: fear.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversGrave Mercy (His Fair Assassin Trilogy #1) by Robin LeFevers (April 3)

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw WolfBreaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf (April 24)

Allie lost everything the night her boyfriend, Trip, died in a horrible car accident—including her memory of the event. As their small town mourns his death, Allie is afraid to remember because doing so means delving into what she’s kept hidden for so long: the horrible reality of their abusive relationship. When the police reopen the investigation, it casts suspicion on Allie and her best friend, Blake, especially as their budding romance raises eyebrows around town. Allie knows she must tell the truth. Can she reach deep enough to remember that night so she can finally break free?

The Selection by Kiera CassThe Selection by Kiera Cass (April 24)

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon. But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks. Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself.

Thumped by Megan McCaffertyThumped (Bumped #2) by Megan McAfferty (April 24)

It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. Since then, their story has become irresistible to legions of girls: twins separated at birth and living different lives, each due to deliver sets of twins . . . on the same day! In a future where only teens can “bump,” or give birth, babies mean money, status, and freedom. Cursed by their own popularity, the girls are obsessively tracked by their millions of fans, who have been eagerly counting down the days to their “Double Double Due Date.” Without a doubt, they are two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and there’s only one thing they could do that would make them more famous than they already are: tell the truth.

Supergirl Mixtapes by Megan BrothersSupergirl Mixtapes by Megan Brothers (April 24)

After years of boredom in her rural South Carolina town, Maria is thrilled when her father finally allows her to visit her estranged artist mother in New York City. She’s ready for adventure, and she soon finds herself immersed in a world of rock music and busy streets, where new people and ideas lie around every concrete corner. This is the freedom she’s always longed for. But just like her beloved New York City, Maria’s life has a darker side. Behind her mother’s carefree existence are shadowy secrets, and Maria must decide just where—and with whom—her loyalty lies.

Are you excited for any of these newbies? Are there any I left off my list that you can’t wait for?