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.

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

Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley

That Summer by Sarah Dessen

The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas

Hiren's Magical Adventure by Kathleen Patel

World on Fire by Hayley B. James

Doubletake by Rob Thurman

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Reading Now

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

The Week Ahead

The Burmudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson

Jane by April Lindner

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

  • Doubletake by Rob Thurman
  • Twilight’s Dawn by Anne Bishop
  • Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas
  • Two-Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt
  • What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
  • The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
  • Jane by April Lindner
  • Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

For Review

  • Hiren’s Magical Adventure by Kathleen Patel (from Author/Blogger Network)
  • The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland

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

  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  • The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
  • The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
  • An Offer From a Gentleman by Julia Quinn
  • On the Way to the Wedding by Julia Quinn
  • It’s In His Kiss by Julia Quinn
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

  • The Key to the Golden Firebird by Maureen Johnson
  • Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta
  • Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
  • Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
  • Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill
  • Hidden by Kelly Armstrong
  • I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block
  • Beastly by Alex Flinn

Won

  • Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (plus tons of swag)

Review: The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

I’ve still not made my peace with Elizabeth Scott. While many compare her writing to that of Sarah Dessen, I’ve yet to see it, and I’m not even particularly enamored of Ms. Dessen’s work. Even so, Scott’s young female protagonists, while meant to embody the indecision, insecurity, and angst of the volatile teen years, fail resonate the way that Dessen’s characters do, for all that I often find Dessen to overwork her characters’ quirks to the point of insincerity. Still, at least Dessen always manages to draw me into the internal struggles of her characters, sometimes to great effect (Just Listen, The Truth About Forever) and other times less thoroughly (This Lullaby, Lock and Key). Scott, on the other hand, reminds me more of young adult writers such as Deb Caletti and Susane Colsanti, whose work continually seems defeated by its own inability to flesh out its characters into believable figures.

Most of The Unwritten Rule comprises of protagonist Sarah’s obsessive deliberation over

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott

the melancholia of her status as invisible best friend to the golden girl who has it all, including the guy Sarah has held a flame for for years. I felt as if I were reading the diary of a very immature, very self-conscious middle school student, which was only exacerbated by the complete lack of plot. This is not an exaggeration; Sarah’s hang-ups are the entire focus of the book, as she agonizes over what she perceives as her own traitorous actions toward a best friend who constantly and subtlely puts Sarah down. In all honesty, if Scott was aiming to convey something approximating an actual year in the mind of a young teenage girl, she succeeded. Unfortunately, my own diaries from that era contain more intrigue and depth than Scott’s story. Yet for all my criticisms, I appreciated the fact that Scott did in fact capture the frustration of that period in life and the fact that, often in romance, there isn’t a purely innocent party, but nor is there a clear villain. Sarah’s best friend, Brianna, comes the closest to conveying this message as she is the most three-dimensional character.

While I wouldn’t seek out The Unwritten Rule, and can offer at least a dozen titles to satisfy those hungry for a pure young adult romance, it’s not completely irredeemable. I finished it fairly quickly, unlike Scott’s Bloom, which I didn’t finish at all, or Perfect You, which I had to resist the urge to fling at the wall. I’ve not read any of Scott’s non-romantic work, so perhaps she excels in that genre, but as far as young adult romance goes, I’m not a fan.