“This One Summer” by Mariko Tamaki, illus. by Jillian Tamaki

This One SummerGenre:

Contemporary; young adult

Goodreads overview:

Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family.

But this summer is different.

Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

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Weekend Reads #45: A Late Friday Face-Off

Weekend Reads is a weekly discussion on a variety of topics. At the end of the post, I’ll include what I plan to read on the weekend. And since I missed yesterday’s Friday Face-Off, I’ve decided to post my late entry today. What is Friday Face-Off?

It is a bookish meme hosted by Books by Proxy that compares book covers to decide which is best.

This week’s theme:

Dead Men Tell No Tales

A cover which features something or somewhere related to death

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“The Dream Thieves” by Maggie Stiefvater

The Dream Thieves

Unfortunately, I was bored by this despite the fast cars, loud music, and drugs.

Quick summary:

The search for Glendower continues.

We focus on Ronan.

There is a new threat in the form of a Mr. Grey.

Anger sparks, feelings develop, dreaming, and Adam wanders aimlessly down a road.

My thoughts:

SPOILERS so skip to the Overall section below if you haven’t read the book.

It was an okay read. A solid 3 stars; but I was disappointed because I really enjoyed the first book and this installment didn’t match up to that one. This one starts out slow like the first, but this time the pace bored me and unfortunately, my interest didn’t rise much as the story progressed.

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“The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern

The Night CircusAhh…where to begin? I have so many thoughts about this book.

Quick summary:

“The circus arrives without warning.”

The Night Circus is a wonderful story about two magicians pitted against each other in a test of skills and ingenuity. Prospero, a famous magician, offers his daughter to this fateful competition believing that her natural abilities will make her a winner. But Mr. A.H—, a fellow magician, believes that anyone can be great at magic if they are dedicated to it, so he finds an orphan and trains him in the arcane arts.

No great detail is given about the competition, but as the story unfolds, we learn more about what is required. The stage for this competition? A circus, where magic can be displayed, unsuspected, in the open. The story is set in the real world, though a few years in the past. Magic is not a commonly accepted thing, but people delight in fancy tricks and deceptions at magic shows and circuses. The story is told from various points-of-view including the competitors’, Marco and Celia, and it jumps back and forth in time, depending on where the characters are (no, there’s no time travel).

We begin by being introduced to the characters. Then we see how the circus came about and how it ends.

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“The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” and “The Second Summer of the Sisterhood” by Ann Brashares

The Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsWhy did it take me so long to finally read these books? I’ve been missing out on a fun but touching story about female friendships and family.

Quick summary on both books:

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series is a contemporary young-adult series about the friendship of four teenage girls growing up in Bethesda, MD. All born within weeks of each other, the girls formed the Sisterhood when they discover a magical pair of pants that not only fits them all despite their varying body types, but also seems to bring about major changes in their lives whenever they wear it. They only wear the pants during the summer. The pants seems like any ordinary pair but when on, it accentuates the wearer’s features in an attractive way.

In The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, we follow the girls as they go their separate ways for the first time in the summer. Bridget, who is tall, blonde, and athletic, is off to soccer camp in Mexico and Carmen, a curvy Latina, travels south to visit her father in South Carolina. Tibby, an aspiring film maker, stays home and finds a summer job while working on a documentary and beautiful Lena visits her grandparents in Greece. The girls decide to stay in contact by mailing the pants to each other along with a letter over the summer.

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“Anna and the Swallow Man” by Gavriel Savit

Toward the end of last year, I requested this book from the publisher because the summary sounded interesting. What do they mean by a man who can speak to birds? I was curious and thought that I’d get a wonderful, fantastical tale. What I got instead was a profound story that hints at magical realism and focuses on a girl growing up in the midst of World War II with only a mysterious man to protect her.

Quick summary:

The story begins when Anna is seven living in Poland with her father, a linguistics professor. Due to her father’s influence, Anna is well versed in several languages at that age. Anna loves her father and spends much of her time with him and visiting his friends. One day, her father does not return from work and Anna finds herself alone on the street when she meets a most unusual man, who she calls the Swallow Man because he can speak to the birds.

The Swallow Man cares for Anna and protects her from the war that surrounds them. They spend much of the war walking in forests, only visiting towns and speaking to others when they need to. The Swallow Man also has a knack for languages like Anna, and is skilled at blending in with whomever he is around, a skill he teaches Anna to help them survive the war. He tries to preserve her innocence for as long as he can, but he can’t shield her from everything. And as the war continues and the Swallow Man begins to change, it falls to Anna to protect and provide for them both.

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