“The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares

5454This book, the second in a series of four, picks up the summer after the last book (“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”) ended. The stories are only told throughout the summer, so we don’t know much of the characters’ lives during that time.

They’re set up that way because everything revolves around the Traveling Pants, which are only worn during summer. It’s pretty ironic that the only time these girls wear jeans is during the sweltering summer. Especially considering one of the rules of the pants is that you can never wash them. I mean ew.

But anyway, the four characters are Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget, and of course they have some shenanigans during the summer. Here’s what they are up to this go around:

  • Tibby — Attending some kind of summer film school at a college nearish. Friendzones one of her best friends and acts like a poser for a while. Offends her mother and then makes a documentary about Bailey, who she met the summer before.
  • Lena — Got a summer job at a clothing store (thanks to her mom) and then proceeds to be the worst employee ever. Has some boy drama, then has some more. Then has A LOT more. Mix in a little family tragedy.
  • Carmen — Rude to a boy who continuously tries to make an effort. Babysits some. Destroys the happiness of those around her.
  • Bridget — Up and decides to go to Alabama after she finds some letters from her maternal grandmother, who lives there, that her dad had been keeping from her. Lies about her identity, Grandma knew anyway.

My favorite story of these characters in this book is Bridget. I feel like she has the most change from the start of the book to the end. Plus she spends her summer in Alabama and I heart Alabama a lot. She stays in a town called Burgess, which I honestly didn’t know what a real place until I just looked it up and I lived in Alabama most of my life. But several places that I do know were mentioned, and it made me miss it a little.

It seems like there’s a little more about the relationships between the four main characters and their families in this book. The last book mainly focused on the girls themselves and the friendships they had with each other. So it was nice to get to dig a little deeper into who they are.

I haven’t started the third book in the series, “Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood,” but I will probably do so tomorrow. Plus I’m a little into “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Ersatz Elevator” by Lemony Snicket. You know, that other series that I’m also reading.

Bye for now,
Maegan

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“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares

sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants-book-coverI’m really not sure what made me want to reread this series, but it’s been on my mind lately. So about a week or two ago I started on this book, which is the first in a series of four.

For some reason, I remembered these books being much denser and taking much longer to read, but the chapters are not excessively long or anything and I think they come in right around 300 pages each.

I haven’t read the series in years, but I remembered the gist of things. Partly because I own both movies based off the series, which I’ll probably rewatch when I’m done reading the books.

The book centers on a group of four 16-year-old friends over the first summer of their lives where they will all be apart. The characters are somewhat stereotypical, but what are you gonna do? There’s sassy, Puerto Rican Carmen visiting her dad in South Carolina, discovering as she arrives that *surprise* he is engaged to some woman and lives with her and her two teenage kids; tall, thin, blond, sporty Bridget away at soccer camp in Mexico; “beautiful Lena,” who is spending the summer in Greece with her grandparents; and edgy, pierced-nose Tibby (short for Tabitha) who is stuck in their hometown working at a store called Wallman’s and I’m not sure if that’s supposed to be a play off of Walmart, Walgreen’s or both.

Basically the book starts off with Carmen casually buying a pair of jeans that she never intends to wear from a secondhand clothing store. The girls then discover that this one pair of jeans magically fits them all perfectly (not realistic at all) and they decide to mail them around from one person to the next until they’re back together at the end of the summer. Hence the traveling part of traveling pants.

Each character faces her own challenges through the summer, whether it’s boy drama, family drama, or the fact that Tibby meets and befriends a 12-year-old named Bailey who has leukemia. There is a pretty good amount of depth, but I’m sure it could go deeper. It works for the intended audience though.

I’ve already started reading book two, “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood,” and I’m about two-thirds of the way done with “A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Austere Academy” by Lemony Snicket. I’m trying really hard not to start another book before finishing these two series.

Wish me luck,
Maegan

“The Martian” by Andy Weir

18007564I’ve wanted to read this book ever since I saw the movie based off it a couple years ago. And now that I’ve read the book I want to watch the movie again. But from what I remember from the movie, it was pretty spot-on with the book.

The premise is that astronaut Mark Watney has just been stranded on Mars after his mission was aborted, he was injured, and his crew mates all thought he was dead. He is a much stronger man than most for being able to live on Mars alone for this long. He ends up being there about a year and a half, which is ridiculous when you think about it.

Anyway, shenanigans ensue because obviously it’s Mars. There’s always some problem that needs fixing or some impending doom that Mark has no idea he’s about to walk right into, but NASA can’t tell him because there are no functioning communications systems.

The book is told primarily from Mark’s point of view in the form of mission logs. Once it gets a little more into the plot, that alternates with the higher-ups at NASA and occasionally Mark’s original crew.

There’s a ton of science going on in this book, which I am super not into (science, that is), but things were explained relatively well. There were still a few parts where my eyes started glazing over while reading about chemical reactions and the like, but I made it through. It seems like there’s a lot more that goes into space missions than any of us non-space people would know. It was just a very interesting take and a different type of book than I usually choose. But I am glad that I read it.

That’s all for now,
Maegan

“Room” by Emma Donoghue

7937843This book is amazing. I remember reading it years ago right after it was published, not knowing what it was about or that it was such a new release. I was actually in high school at the time and I remember that I’ve never really forgotten any part of the plot because of the intensity of the situation and just how interesting the book is.

“Room” is told from the perspective of Jack, a five-year-old boy who’s only ever known the inside of a soundproof 11×11 garden shed, thanks to “Old Nick.” Jack refers to everything by its name, which is why he and his ma live in Room, use Toilet, play on Rug, etc. Jack’s mother is never named, but he just calls her Ma. Through his interactions with her, you come to realize that a lot of bad stuff has happened to Ma, but she’s doing a dang good job of raising him anyway.

I love the fact that this book was written from Jack’s point of view because it’s just such a different thought stream that you usually don’t get to see. The boy doesn’t really think in coherent sentences, but it’s clear that he knows a lot for someone who had never been outside or met another person before.

Obviously Ma does a lot to keep Jack safe and healthy, and because of that the two have an extraordinary bond. Mostly because they’ve been alone for five years, just the two of them. And because they’ve been in Room so long, Jack has in some ways become attached to the room itself. He doesn’t understand that it’s not normal, and he doesn’t really understand what happened to his ma and why they’re in Room to begin with.

This book is just different from most of the books I’ve read before. It could be a true story, based on the plot, and it was just such an interesting choice using Jack as the narrator. I’m sure that I will eventually read this one for a third time.

Here’s to finishing books three days in a row,
Maegan

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Wide Window” by Lemony Snicket

The_Wide_WindowI’ve finished another. Progress.

This is the third installment of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” which detail the lives of poor Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who lost their parents and their massive house and all their belongings in a fire.

At this point, they’ve already been forced into Count Olaf’s house, then Uncle Monty, and now Aunt Josephine. Funny thing about Aunt Josephine: She lives in a house that is basically hanging out from a cliff over the top of a lake, but she’s terrified of everything, included, but not limited to, stoves, telephones, doorknobs, and welcome mats. Aunt Josephine means well but she is really not a very good guardian for the three orphans. And she is super annoyingly into grammar. I mean, I appreciate the nuances of the English language, but she corrects every grammar mistake made in her presence, to an unreasonable degree.

Of course, Count Olaf shows up, no one believes the orphans, Count Olaf is evil, and the Baudelaires are still miserable. At this point, they don’t have any more relatives to go to, so who knows what will happen to them next. Well I know because I’ve read the series before and watched the first season of the Netflix series. Nevertheless, more despair to come.

I’ll probably wait to start the fourth book, “The Miserable Mill,” until I’ve finished a book or two because I’m literally reading three other books right now too, which is pretty bad of me. But there’s just so much I want to experience that I can’t help myself. Fingers crossed that I can wrap up “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson before it’s due back at the library.

I love libraries,
Maegan

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Reptile Room” by Lemony Snicket

The_Reptile_Room_USA.pngI finished this book a couple days ago (while I was enjoying the pool at my apartment complex). It’s a short book, so it’s one of those that you could probably finish in one sitting if you had a couple hours to spare.

In this second installation of the Baudelaires’ tale, the three orphans have convinced everyone that Count Olaf is insane and they have now been passed on to their Uncle Monty, whom they have never met before. His name is actually Dr. Montgomery Montgomery (no lie) but “Dr. Monty” just flows so much better.

You know from the beginning that something is going to happen because the author actually writes that this story will not have a happy ending and *character* will face *certain demise.* It’s actually pretty dark for a children’s series.

But anyway, Count Olaf is still evil and Mr. Poe (the banker who manages the children’s fortune) is still oblivious so more crazy antics that the Baudelaire orphans have to put up with.

I haven’t started reading the third book yet, “The Wide Window,” but I am reading “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson. Plus I’m still working on “Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded” by Hannah Hart. They’re both really good books so far, I just haven’t made time to sit down and read them like I should.

To be honest, my to-be-read list keeps growing and growing and I feel like I’m barely making a dent. It’s a struggle. But I will conquer.

Later,
Maegan

“A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning” by Lemony Snicket

BadBeginningObviously I’ve read this series before, but it’s probably been 10 years since I read it through. I remember when the books were still coming out and being so excited that “The End” was about to be released, and that was in 2006.

I decided to read the series again after I watched the new Netflix original version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” I think the actors look and act similarly to the movie that was released a while back with Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, but Neil Patrick Harris is the supreme Count Olaf.

In case you’ve never read the series or seen the show or movie, this series is about a trio of orphans, the Baudelaire orphans, who lose everything they’ve ever known in a terrible fire. In “The Bad Beginning,” they are forced to live with their despicable relative Count Olaf, whom they have never met nor heard of before. He’s pretty evil.

Sometimes it’s frustrating to read the books because you just know what a terrible situation these kids are in and how no one listens when they speak, no matter how rational the thought. I know it’s a fictitious work, but it’s still hard to imagine that there might be children who have to go through something like that.

The book is pretty short, so I finished it in I think two sittings. Next up is the second book, “The Reptile Room.” Also still reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart but I’m making progress on that one.

Until next time,
Maegan

“Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks

201610-two-by-two-burst-680x1019Let me say right off the bat, this was not Nicholas Sparks’s best work. I’ve read a lot of his books and I’ve only recently noticed how awkwardly they are written, but that’s not even the first thing I noticed about this one.

The book is about Russell Greene, an everyday man with a wife and child. The book literally starts with the birth of his daughter, London. Then all of a sudden, she’s a six-year-old. Lots of things happen in this dude’s life, but it takes a while to get there.

The pacing of the book seemed very off to me. It took literally half the book to get to the point and then even then it felt like we dwelled on things that should have just passed by and we glossed over major moments in the story. At the end there was a huge plot twist (ok, maybe not *huge* but still pretty big) and it felt like we only read about that one thing, until it wasn’t a thing anymore. And the book basically ended in the middle of things. To end it, all the loose ends were just tossed into the epilogue and you’re left thinking, “Why in the world would you do that?” It’s like all these big decisions were made and then just added in as an afterthought. I did not like.

In addition, the characters weren’t that likable. The best one was London, and she was 6. At the beginning I thought that Russell (a.k.a. Russ) was going to be a relatable character, but then I realized that he’s basically a doormat. And he reminds me of someone in my family who I just really don’t like and that’s all I could think about the entire time. Plus his wife is a mean woman and I can’t stand her. His parents aren’t that great either, they seem very hands-off. The best adult characters are Russell’s sister, Marge, and her partner, Liz. They seem like they would be chill individuals.

One more thing. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again, the writing and dialogue are way too formal and try-hard. People don’t talk like that, Nicholas! I know it’s proper grammar, but no one speaks those words in the real world. And if you do, people probably think you’re pretentious. At some points in the book the conversation was so robotic that I actually imagined robots speaking in my mind while I was reading. That shouldn’t be your goal here, bro.

Overall, I might read this book again, but it will be a while before I do. I’m definitely keeping it because my grandma gave it to me for my birthday and she wrote a nice inscription in it and I love my grandma a whole lot.

Next up is finishing “Buffering” by Hannah Hart. Plus I started rereading “A Series of Unfortunate Events” by Lemony Snicket, so I’m about 30 pages in on “The Bad Beginning.” I probably haven’t read those books since high school and I forgot how short they are. And also how clever they are.

I think I’ll go sleep now,
Maegan

“Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon

9780552576482As far as teen fiction goes, I was pretty impressed with this book. I became interested in it after seeing a trailer for the movie that recently came out based on the book, so I put myself on the waiting list to get the audiobook from my public library.

The book is about Madeline, who basically lives in a bubble house because she has a rare disease where literally anything could kill her if she has a reaction to it, and Olly, the boy who moves in next door.

It’s a great story about young love (in a non-annoying way, because usually it’s annoying) and learning that the people closest to you might not actually be trustworthy. That’s probably not the main point of the book, but that’s what I took away from it.

While I was listening to the book, I thought that the story had a very obvious ending that I didn’t want to happen, and I wasn’t disappointed because there was a big, giant plot twist at the end. There wasn’t really a big reveal though, just a kind of gradual shifting of the plot. There was still a happy ending, but it also left plenty of questions unanswered. Maybe room for a second book? I do like the idea that the story lives on in your imagination though.

As I said, I listened to this one on audiobook, and it was pretty short so I got through it within a couple days.

I think sometimes I’m influenced by the person who reads the audiobook. It’s something about their voice or inflection or something, I just think to myself, “A normal person wouldn’t act like that or say those things.” I really like audiobooks where the author is the one reading because they know exactly how that character is supposed to feel in that moment. It’s even better when it’s a memoir read by the author because really, why even try to get someone else to read about your own experiences?

In this book, it sounds like the supposedly 18-year-old Maddy is a 40-year-old woman, so it was good but there was room for improvement.

Now I’m reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart (still) and I just started “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks. I have a pretty substantial to-be-read list and it just keeps growing and growing so thank goodness for digital copies of books. Never thought I would say that.

For now,
Maegan

“Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir” by Jenny Lawson

letpretendthisneverhappened11At least it didn’t take me THAT long to finish this book after I finished “Furiously Happy.”

There have been plenty of moments where things were mentioned in one or both of the books and I couldn’t remember where it first came up. And there was a trippy moment at the end of this book where Jenny Lawson wrote, “That’ll be in book two!” and I had to stop and think about whether that actually was in book two. I kinda don’t think it was.

But anyway, this book is the memoir of Jenny Lawson, the Bloggess. I’ve heard of her before and I’ve seen these books in the stores, but I had never picked them up. I got this one as a Christmas present this past December, and it’s got a cool inscription from the author. I really have a thing about signed books.

There’s plenty of stuff going on in this book that you just think can’t be real life, but it’s a memoir so it’s definitely real life. There’s also a lot of taxidermy going on, but that’s explained in the book.

It’s interesting to see how someone else describes their life and to imagine that this is what the life of someone else is like. It’s impressive to me when someone has the guts to share their own story to begin with. And there were plenty of opportunities for a laugh in this book.

Next up, I’ve already got three more books in the works. I’m reading “Buffering” by Hannah Hart, “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon, and “Two by Two” by Nicholas Sparks.

Bye for now,
Maegan