Thursday, June 23, 2011

What a Way to Start the Summer

Due to some severe, chronic overscheduling on the part of my mother, and partial laziness on my part, an entire week of summer enjoyment has passed us by, and I'm only halfway through Steinbeck's Grapes of Wrath! However, I've decided to make up to you for it, by enlisting my sister. I don't give her much credit, but between Gymnastic and Cheer practices, she reads a lot, too. And while we don't tend to read the same books, she really tries her hardest when she finds a good bit of fluff lit that I just have to see. So, for the first time, I'm having a Guest Poster: my sister, The Cheerleader, talking about one of her favorite summer reads. Thanks, Delly Beans!

My sister and I have very different preferences when it comes to what we like to read. For instance, she loves mystery novels and classic lit, while I prefer to read teen romances and real life fiction, like Sarah Dessen’s books, Just Listen and What Happened to Goodbye. We try to share books with each other, and most of the time we don’t like the plot or hate the characters, but we at least try to finish it. Then out of the blue we’ll find books we both love, like Howl’s Moving Castle.

So the latest book I’ve tried to get her to read is called Beach Blondes, by Katherine Applegate. The story is of a girl named Summer, who was invited by her aunt to stay with her for the summer in Crab Claw Key, Florida. On the way there, she’s told that her future involves three new guys: one that will seem a mystery, one that will seem dangerous, and one that will seem to be the right one. Summer ignores this until, to her surprise, she does meet three guys! Suddenly she’s thrust into the crazy life of Crab Claw Key where she makes great friends and has many adventures.

I first read this book last summer when I bought it, but I decided to re-read it because it just felt like the right way to start off my summer. The book has a big soap opera vibe to it, with all the drama that Summer goes through, which made it very enjoyable. However I found the main character, Summer, rather annoying. I might be just me, but I felt she could have handled all the situations she goes through better. Summer seems to be very confused with every choice she has to make, especially involving love, and I might not be able to understand her difficulty, because I’ve never been in love so I’ll have to wait and see.

Summer’s not the only character though, there’s also Marquez, a fun loving party girl who paints, and has her own boyfriend drama throughout the plot. Then there’s Diana. Diana is the daughter of famous romance novelist Mallory Olan. Mallory, never called Mom, is Summer’s aunt too. Although Summer is excited to go to Florida, Diana is not excited for her to come in the least bit.

The book Beach Blondes also has sequels. After Summer’s first summer in Florida, her friends come visit her in her hometown of Bloomington, Minnesota for winter break in Sun-Kissed Christmas. Then she goes back for spring break to Florida in the appropriately titled, Spring Break (also known as Spring Break Reunion). Finally Summer spends her last summer before college in Florida rediscovering what she wants in life in Tan Lines. I haven’t read Sun-Kissed Christmas, but I’ve read the rest and enjoy them all immensely.

What I find funny is the Spring Break book is very small compared to the summer books so I did some exploring on the internet, and I discovered each Summer book is really three books combined. Beach Blondes is a collection of June Dreams, July’s Promise, and August Magic while Tan Lines is a collection of Sand, Surf, and Secrets; Rays, Romance, and Rivalry; and Beaches, Boys, and Betrayal. As I found this out, it became obvious that these collections were an extreme re-release. While Beach Blondes and Tan Lines were both released in 2008, the collections of stories inside them were originally released in 1995 and 1996. My guess is that this was to bring in more profit from a later generation, and I believe it totally worked because I couldn’t even tell these books were written in a different decade. So good job to Katherine Applegate for writing great stories that I think teens will love.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Loose Ends Fit to Tie

And so, with a gasp and a shudder two mornings ago, students crawled out of darkened hallways, cast aside the shackles of the textbooks and binders that had bound them since September, and walked into the sunlight of summer (metaphorical sunlight, of course. After all, we are still in Washington).

While I love my friends, my teachers, and my school, summer has always served as a bastion of childhood freedom: freedom from drama between friends, freedom from the regular, daily torture of early wake-ups, etc. Homework has always managed to impose itself on my summer enjoyment, seeing as though even before the days of summer assignments, my mother would always gift us with shiny new math, spelling, and reading materials as the school year ended, in the expectations that we would still know how to divide fractions by the end of August. Summer assignments have acually only gotten better over the years: this year, it involves a huge collection of books to choose from, including Dickens and Twain, and last year, Annie Dillard's An American Childhood impacted me to the point where I'll probably end up rereading it again this summer. :) The AP Calc and AP Chem book assignments awaiting me, however, are proving a little less easy to get excited about.

So, in the end, despite the fact that I'm beginning summer after ending, scholastically, one of the worst semesters of my life, nothing will keep me from bounding out the doors of district-mandated school attendance with a spring in my step. I have way too many books on my bookshelf, that have been sitting there way too long, to be in any way sorry to be leaving the school year behind. Things I'm excited to read this summer:

1.Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck. We started it in class about 7 days before school ended. It's too good not to finish, right?

2. Mystery books I've been hoarding for forever, in wait for a good vacation on which to enjoy them.

3. Books too long and classic to be fully enjoyed during the school year.

4. American History and Southern Regionalism-based classics.

5. Assorted readings and rereadings that all don't fit one category, but definitely all fit in my bookcase, and therefore, my heart!