Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books I’d Recommend As Good Beach Reads

Since I focused on a destination travel-type theme for the Top Ten Books I’d Play Hooky With list a couple of months ago, I decided to interpret this week’s theme in the literal sense. Unfortunately, it turns out that I haven’t actually read that many books set at the beach, but that didn’t stop me from following through on my idea even if I didn’t make it to ten books.

1. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Nearly any of Dessen’s books would be great beach reads material, but Along for the Ride has the added bonus of being set in a beach town and also featuring one of my favorite of Dessen’s male leads.

2. Rites of Spring (Break) by Diana Peterfreund
Okay, the bad news is that you will probably have to read the first two books in Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series before reading this third installment (set on a private beach island) in order to get the maximum effect of character development. The good news is that the entire series is fantastic, and you’ll likely want to run right out to find the fourth and final book as soon as you finish this one.

3. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
Narrator Bria travels to some pretty interesting places during her time in Central America; it goes without saying that Wanderlove features descriptions of numerous beaches and, while the travel conditions don’t always sound ideal, Bria’s story is guaranteed to put a little bit of the wanderlust in you.

4. Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols
An omnibus edition that combines The Boys Next Door with its sequel, Endless Summer is a lighthearted tale of flirting and fun. While the beach in this one is technically a lake, there’s enough wakeboarding and water antics to satisfy.

5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
This one doesn’t quite fit under the light and fluffy category, but it’s still a perfect beach read. Stiefvater’s mythology is captivating, and her descriptions of the ocean community where the story takes place offer up images of my favorite kind of beach: chilly and a little desolate.

6. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot
While Cabot’s Princess Diaries series remains my favorite of those I’ve read, her Mediator series features a mainly likeable protagonist and a nice slow-burn romance. Since it’s set in California, our former New York-native main character must adapt to the sunny skies and shores of the West Coast all while trying to keep her little secret (she can see dead people) under wraps.

7. The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland
I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, as I found the characterizations and conflicts a bit too simplistic to be believable. However, it’s got some nice descriptions of a summer spent at a tiny beach resort and so serves as an excellent source of vicarious sand and surf.

Since I haven’t actually read the following books, I didn’t feel comfortable putting them on the main list. However, from what I’ve heard, if you’re craving a story set at the beach (preferably with a bit of romance thrown in), the Summer series by Jenny Han and The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares are good bets.

And since I feel bad about not quite reaching ten books this week, here are a couple of my favorite beach films thrown in for good measure.

Mamma Mia
So liking Abba is pretty much a prerequisite for watching this film; otherwise I suspect the experience will be a bit akin to a root canal. As it is, Meryl Streep’s and Pierce Brosnan’s attempts at singing are nearly enough to send me running for the hills, but the cinematography of Grecian beaches is to die for (and there’s also Colin Firth; who can resist that?)

Shag
I may be a bit biased toward this film since I actually spent the greater part of my childhood growing up in Myrtle Beach and so can recognize many of the locations they used for filming. (Sadly, the Pavilion amusement park is no longer there.) However, even those who have never been to Myrtle will be able to relate to this story of young people taking a road trip for one last hurrah after graduating high school. Since it’s set in the sixties, it has the added bonus of a soundtrack filled with great beach tunes.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Spring Fever: Top Ten Books I’d Play Hooky With

I’d honestly play hooky with any book that I own, so to narrow down the choices, I decided to go for books that fit the Spring Break travel theme.

1. Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

The whole series offers some light entertainment, but the third novel in particular, Rites of Spring (Break), seemed especially fitting.

2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Anna’s adventures throughout her year studying abroad in France offer the perfect cathartic  getaway.

3. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

Seeing a little bit of underground Australian culture makes me want to travel to the continent even more.

4. On the Road by Jack Kerouac

Kerouac’s masterpiece isn’t only the hallmark of a generation; it’s also probably the best novel depicting a road trip to ever be written, no matter how atypical the trip might become.

5. Under the Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy by Frances Mayes

Until I can realize my own dream of renovating a Tuscan villa, reading of Mayes’s adventures will have to suffice.

6. Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Matson’s tale of two teens connecting on a cross-country road trip is cute and satisfies a craving for aimless travel.

7. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

While many of Dessen’s novels feature the beach town of Colby, this one happens to be my favorite.

8. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

Amidst all the turmoil and action that Mac endures is a trilling depiction of Dublin that makes me want to hop a plane to Ireland.

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

9. Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

While Hubbard’s depiction of backpacking through Central America didn’t inspire me to plan a similar trip for myself, it’s still fun to watch Bria acclimate to a foreign culture.

10. A Room with a View by E.M. Forster

Forster’s delightful tale features extended stays in both Florence as well as Surrey, making me eager to plan a European tour of my own.

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi over at The Story Siren to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Bought

  • The White Road by Lynn Flewelling

Won

  • Black Howl by Christina Henry (Thanks to Ivy at Manic Readers and ACE Publishers)
  • Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (Thanks to Random House Publishing)

For Review

  • Burn by T.J. Klune (from NetGalley)
  • Ember by Kristen Callihan (from NetGalley)

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

It’s Monday! What are you reading? is a meme created at Book Journey to catalogue everything read in the past week, what you’re working on now, and what you hope to get to in the coming week.

The Past Week

Graveminder by Melissa Marr

The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson

Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse

Firelight by Kristen Callihan

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones

Reading Now

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Week Ahead

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is a meme created by Kristi over at The Story Siren to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Bought

  • Pegasus by Robin McKinley
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
  • Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
  • Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsay
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  • The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
  • One Day by David Nicholls
  • The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac
  • Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
  • Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
  • The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
  • Faery Tales and Nightmares by Melissa Marr

For Review

  • World on Fire by Hayley B. James (from NetGalley)
  • The Merchant’s Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (from NetGalley)
  • Firelight by Kristen Callihan (from NetGalley)
  • Beauty in the Beast by Christine Danse (from NetGalley)
  • Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard (from NetGalley)

Received

  • Disillusionists trading cards (thanks to Carolyn Crane!)
  • Wild & Steamy Anthology by Meljean Brook, Jill Myles, and Carolyn Crane
  • Thief! by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Eddis by Megan Whalen Turner

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Warning: This review contains spoilers.

I adore novels that read like a travelogue, especially when said novel comes equipped with sketches, photos, lists, and other scrapbook-like mementos from said trip. It should come as no surprise, then, that I found Wanderlove to be a delightful journey.

I am an indoors girl. No amount of sunshine or scenery could ever begin to overcome the fact that I am hopelessly and decidedly un-rugged. With that in mind, Wanderlove had a giant hurdle to leap in gaining my praises, since every other page reminded me once again of the hows and whys of my hotel and luggage travel persona. Since I’ve never

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

been there myself, I’ll have to take it on faith that Bria’s escapades through Central America do a good job of bringing the local culture and landscape to life. Unfortunately, the detailed accounts of her struggles while roughing it backpacker-style didn’t do much to endear me to the idea of this mode of travel. Yet Hubbard’s story doesn’t demand equal enthusiasm for the wander bug in order to resonate. I adore stories that bring you along for the ride, no matter how uncomfortable that ride might seem at times, and in this Wanderlove excels.

Bria was a likable narrator, perhaps a bit too self-conscious, yet that criticism might emanate from the fact that I saw too much of my own high school self in her. While I understand that her one-sided relationship with her ex served as the catalyst for the path to self-discovery, I felt that Hubbard dwelled too much on remembrances of Toby that ultimately proved unnecessary. Rather than fleshing out the causes for Bria’s hesitance and lack of direction, the flashback scenes merely felt like rehashing the same melodrama time and again while never really making Toby seem like a character in his own right. Had this particular plotline been resolved through present-tense ruminations rather than flashback, it would have propelled the story along while still serving the same illuminating purpose.

I enjoyed Starling and Rowan as supporting characters, though Starling perhaps served as too much of a foil. Though her character begins to gain some depth, it occurs nearly at the end of the novel and so seems something of a throwaway. Rowan showed the greater potential of the two, and I feel that Hubbard did a good job of rounding out his character without revealing too much. Since Bria has only known him for a handful of days, it would be ludicrous if we the readers gained much more insight than she would be able to realistically in just over a week. Yet we and Bria learn enough to make their connection plausible, if improbable. As another reviewer has mentioned, I appreciated the fact that Bria doesn’t sway from her decision to attend college, even after her relationship with Rowan becomes solidified. It is rare to see the achievement of potential be weighed responsibly against the excitement of young love, and Hubbard’s novel does well to imbue its protagonist with the strength to take the mature route.

Conversely, I was a bit surprised that she allowed Rowan to temper his own wanderlove somewhat in response to his desire to be near Bria. Unlike many reviewers, I felt the novel gave a good indication of Rowan’s decision to ground himself near Bria in the near future, rather than providing the unresolved ending that many readers have lamented. While the romantic in me appreciated this concession, I felt it was a tad too neat considering how adamantly Rowan had subscribed to his wanderlove philosophy throughout the rest of the novel.

In all, Wanderlove is a worthwhile read for those who like to reminisce about those in-between years when identity seems an elusive thing, and for those whose feet itch to take them to places far away.