How I Spend My Summer Vacation

| Tuesday, June 1
No, this is not the horrible essay your teacher possibly made you write that first week of school when you were 10. See, the verb is in the present tense, "spend," not "spent." People always assume that since I have the whole summer off every summer, I get to have all sorts of glamorous travel plans and exciting adventures. That is not the case. First of all, I'm a teacher. I don't have enough money to go on exciting vacations all summer long. Second, the Hub doesn't get much time off from work, and I'm not big on traveling by myself.

So what do I do with three months off each year? Aside from getting the 18 off-contract professional development hours I need for every school year, I read. A lot. Basically, I live off books for the summer. My stack of "To Read" books on the bedside table is so tall, Hub suggested I not buy anymore books until I put a good dent in this stack. I've made pretty good progress so far. I've removed six books from the pile you see here.

Every once in a while, once I read a few books, I'll give you my opinions whether you want to read them or not. What have I been reading? These are the first five down for the summer. And yes, I know, I've only been student (and responsibility) free for a week and a half. So what? :) Most of what I've been reading first is YA lit. It's a bit easier and faster to get through.
 Book#1: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan
I enjoyed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Riordan well enough, so I was excited to learn that he was writing a new series that focused no on Greek mythology, but Egyptian. Turns out Red Pyramid is much more than that. It delves into Egyptian mysticism as well as the pantheon of gods and goddesses.

Sophie and Carter Kane are a brother and sister who discover a secret about their family history in the midst of tragedy. They soon discover that gods and goddesses are being awakened in the modern world. There are those on Earth that wish to allow this and those that wish to keep it from happening. The Kanes get stuck in the middle, must learn how to use their newly found powers, and help to keep chaos from being unleashed by Set. This is the first of a series, and it was enjoyable enough that I'd like to keep reading. As a matter of fact, I think it's better-written than the Percy series.
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Book #2: The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett
This book is one of the first "grown-up" fantasy books I've ever read. I've never been much into the epic fantasy wizards and dragons type or books. I actually picked this one up for my husband before he went on an international business trip. It sounded interesting enough to me, but right up his alley. Once summer started, I decided to give it a go at his insistence. I'm glad I did. Once I was able to get through the stodgy first few chapters, I really enjoyed it. As a matter of fact, I'm adding the second of the trilogy to my stack once I found where the hub put it...

In this book, the world is haunted by demons called corelings. People have forgotten how to fight them over the ages. All they have are their herbal medicines and magical wards to protect their homes, farms, and cities. Humans cower in their homes at night, hoping the wards hold. The population is connected only via the messengers who brave the open road to travel from town to village to hamlet, carrying goods and news. When one small town is visited by a messenger after a vicious coreling attack, he inspires courage in a young boy named Arlen. This is his story, the story of a crippled fiddle player, and one of a talented young herb gatherer.
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Book #3: Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson
As I've loved many of Anderson's books in the past, such as Speak, Catalyst, Wintergirls, and Fever 1793, I was hoping that I'd enjoy this one as well.  Sadly, it was a bit of a struggle to get through. Basically, it's the story of a seventeen-year-old boy named Tyler who has a roller-coaster of a senior year thanks to a graffiti prank and an accident involving his arch-nemesis's twin sister. Oh and he's got a messed up family. It was honestly more shallow than any of Anderson's other books I've read. Usually the emotions of the characters draw me in. They're raw and intense, but this book didn't get that way until the very end, and by then, I was pretty much over the book.
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Book #4: Phoenix Rising by Karen Hesse
I think that Karen Hesse is better when writing historical fiction, also when writing in a non-traditional narrative form. This was another relatively disappointing (and depressing) book that I chose based on authors' past performances. Nyle lives with her grandmother on a sheep farm in Vermont. She's dealt with way too much loss in her short thirteen years, but when a nuclear power plant in the southern part of the state explodes, her life changes even more. Her grandmother takes in evacuees who are both sick with radiation poisoning, and Nyle must come to terms with life and death. It was a quick read, but it was too depressing.
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Book #5: The Necromancer by Michael Scott
This is my current favorite YA fantasy series. It, too, involves taking ancient mythological creatures and bringing them into modern day, but Scott has woven a much richer tapestry bringing together Greek, Egyptian, Norse, Celtic, Mesoamerican, and ancient Mediterranean cultures and gods along with real historical figures who have been made immortal by these Elder gods. As always, there's some kind of war going on, and humans are caught in the middle.

In the fourth book of the series, we find the protagonists, twins Josh and Sophie Newman, back in San Francisco with Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. Sophie has been taught Air, Water and Fire magics already, but Josh only has Water. The plan is to take him to Prometheus for instruction in Fire magic. Dr. John Dee, the magician, has been declared an outlaw by his master Elders and is on the run with another dastardly plan, this time aided by Virginia Dare. Machiavelli is starting to question his purpose and loyalties, but still goes on the quest with Billy the Kid to set a horde of monsters, including a sphinx, loose on SF. Joan of Arc, Scathach, William Shakespeare, Comte de Saint-Germain, and Palamedes find themselves in an alternate Shadowrealm with an impossible task set before them. Over the course of a day and a half, more power is unleashed, Shadowrealms are explored, and history of the world as we know it is revealed.
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Now I'm on to my sixth book. The weather's been too crappy to be outside, plus with my lovely grass allergy, I don't really want to be outside this time of year. My plans are to get to the gym a few times, get to the pool in my in-laws' neighborhood, take a few sewing classes at a local craft and fabric store, cook, eat, sleep, oh, and if you didn't realize it, read a few books.
Even Puppy says to pick up a book this summer!


Annabelle said...

I have a bad habit of buying books and never reading them. Glad to see you're making some progress! Enjoy your summer. :)

Angela said...

Ooo, a book list *drools*

If you're looking for another good series this summer, look into getting Fablehaven. It's awesome! I wrote my first ever book review on my blog about it. ^_^ And I can't wait to read more of the series.

The Ashes said...

I have 20+ "to-read" books. Gah

Shinxy said...

OMG! Cute puppy!

Neurotic Workaholic said...

I think a "reading" vacation is perfect! My dissertation director gave me a long reading list (that I'm actually supposed to add more books to as I continue my research) for the summer. But I've barely made a dent in it because I've been reading "fun" books instead.

Emily Jane said...

I think I should start making a PHYSICAL pile of "to reads" like that - I always buy books, shelve them, and then end up not reading them for another two years!

Kara said...

Me, too, that's why my pile of books is so big already. I'm determined to actually read some of the books I've been buying.

It's been a big one at school. I'll have to check it out.

Sounds like you'll need an entire suitcase for books!

Problem is, not only is he cute, he knows he's cute and can manipulate me.

@Neurotic Workaholic
Reading for "fun" always trumps reading for any other purpose!

It's a better way for me to actually see what I have to read. Or I leave them lying around the house randomly to find and pick up.

Melissa said...

This post rocks. I love YA Lit and I'm especially excited to see reviews of these particular books. The Red Pyramid is currently making its rounds, but I'm on hold for it next!

Kara said...

If you liked PJO, then you'll really dig the Kane Chronicles. Riordan was still getting his voice with the PJO series. He's much better here! (and I'm totally ready to read books 9 & 10 of The 39 Clues as well!)

Anonymous said...

yay to reading! lol no seriously. i'm right with you, i enjoy having free time to devote to reading fiction JUST BECAUSE.
"no more classes, no more books, no more teachers' dirty looks!'
haha couldn't resist :p

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