Appaloosa Summer- Tudor Robins

Appaloosa Summer is book one of the Island Trilogy by Tudor Robins. It was a cute little summer read. I read it on the plane over to Northern Ireland a few weeks ago.

Meg, the main female character goes through the tragic loss of her horse. In an attempt to have a change of scenery, pace, and peace from what has happened she find solace at her parents vacation house along the St. Lawrence river working at the local bed and breakfast.

Jared, the main male character is the classic, attractive hurting cowboy. Twist of fate and tragedy in his own life have left him distance and withdrawn.

The two of them find each other that summer and bond over their grief, their fears and a scruffy appaloosa mare.

It was obviously a young adult book. I do look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy as they are available. I found the characters absolutely endearing and charming. I hope that as the series continues that the characters themselves continue to grow and really come into their own. Though Meg and Jared are in their mid-late teens, they have a lot to learn and growing up to do. Hopefully, they will continue to do both of these things together. Because they are so freaking adorable in that totally mushy gushy perfect way. I would definitely recommend this book to my younger high schoolers, or even middle schoolers.

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Adulting- Kelly Williams Brown

I am the baby of the group. Eric is 3.5 years older almost to the day, Jake the roommate and his girlfriend/my best friend Emily aren’t far behind him. And then there’s me. Still in school. Still living with my parents. At a lovely 21 years of age I look at my friends, who are older than me and want to just have it together. What did they figure out that I haven’t? I saw this book floating around and figured WHAT THE HECK LETS DO IT! What could it hurt? So I put it in my library order along with 24 other books. I received my first installment today.

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It really is a sickness-the whole book thing. Since Adulting happened to be on top of the pile- that’s what I started with.

I will begin with my problem with this book, according to the author- I am an adult. Like a 40 year old mom apparently.  Though the knowledge in this book is really REALLY good, I was thankfully brought up with awesome parents who taught me how to cook chicken, take care of my car, clean and communicate professionally. So at 21 I’m old. I’m completely ok with this. With that being said, not EVERYONE is that fortunate, OR their parents tried and they just need a refresher course.

The book contains 468 tips, tricks and steps to help you make the leap from kid/young adult to an actual adult. These are then broken down into categories like “Cooking” “Get A Job” “Family” “Domesticity,” you get the idea. It was a super easy and quick read which was nice as well.

I can’t remember any very specific steps that I did not agree with or outright oppose. What I liked was that with each step she gives a brief explanation, story and justifies why wearing holey jeans and a sweatshirt is not appropriate. It is here in the explanations that the real advice is given. Instead of reacting like this, try doing this instead.  It’s simple stuff that makes you go “Oh yeah, that sounds good.”

Not everyone knows to check the water pressure when look at an apartment/house. Not everyone realizes that it’s not appropriate to NOT RSVP, regardless of whether it is an acceptance or declining of an invitation. Throughout the book she has these great little drawings to help break up the lists. Mostly flow charts. But the shark was a personal favorite.

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I am partial to the “Is this outfit office appropriate” flow chart. I was in observations at a high school and was appalled at what some of the teachers were wearing. You are supposed to be an example and are working with both young women AND young men. Those partially see-through leggings with a shirt that just barely covers you butt is NOT APPROPRIATE. You are not crawling around on the floor with pre-schoolers, even then it’s not ok. I’ll hop off that soap box now….Bottom line- every woman should have this next to her mirror as a check list every morning.

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As a commuter for school I really liked her list of things to keep handy in your car as well as how to take care of it. I can not tell you how many times an extra deodorant, car charger, box of granola bars and extra sweatshirts and shoes have saved me in my years of commuting. The emphasis on oil changes is so important and people so often put it off. My father graciously taught me how to change the oil in a car in case need ever arose for me to have to do so, but I have reached the point of paying really nice guys to just do it for me.

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Things I would have added:

469- WASH YOUR FACE! No matter how tired you are, or how much makeup you do or don’t wear; give your face a good scrub.

470- Moisturize. Everywhere. Your scalp to your feet should be shown love. All year round. Coconut oil your whole body once a month. Your body will THANK YOU.

471- Shave at least once a week all year round. You never know who you might run into at the gym, if you’ll have nothing but a dress clean, or heaven forbid you find yourself in a position where someone is touching or touches a furry leg. :O

472-480 Teacher stuff. All of her job advice is focused on business or office jobs. Which, the majority of the population fulfill. But I’m a teacher. It’s a whole different world and ball game.

This book would be FANTASTIC for high school seniors and college students who aren’t freaks like me. It would be great for people like me who just need a refresher or encouragement to hold steady on the path to actual adulthood. It’s nice to know not everyone has it together no matter HOW together they look or portray themselves to be. It’s nice to know that being an adult is not the easiest thing in the world, but in 468 Easy(ish) steps you can certainly get yourself pointed in the right direction.

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The Selection Series- Keira Cass

I read the whole series in a day. A friend of mine bought The Selection on the recommendation of one of her middle schoolers. When I saw the picture of the book my interest was piqued. I got it as quickly as possible. In my rush, I didn’t realize it was a series and subsequently had to go book hunting two more times.

Not quite post apocalyptic, definitely along the lines of The Hunger Games in that the democratic government has fallen and a new order has evolved. The way this comes about is a bit freaky….and unusually realistic…like it could happen.

The protagonist of the series is America. Yes, she is named after the previous name of the nation, now called Illead. The country has been divided by the caste system and she has grown up in a lower caste. The King’s son has come of age for marriage and all girls of appropriate age are asked to “apply” to be apart of the selection. This whole thing turns into a mix between Cinderella and The Bachelor at this point. Of course America is chosen. Against her will she goes, only because the love of her life Aspen breaks up with her to allow her to do better for herself and her family. Dreading the stuffy Prince, when she finally meets Maxon, she is surprised by how normal he is. The claws come out with some of the girls and it quickly dwindles down to about 15 girls.

By the second book, they are down to The Elite, hence the books title. It is all about the top 6 girls left. By this point, The Selection is more than a beauty contest, popularity contest or romantic contest. It has become very political very quickly. Destroy the caste system, beat the rebels that happen to want to destroy the government order- ya know, the usual things. They all start to escalate even further. America is falling in love with Maxon but Aspen, who showed up as a guard in the palace is ruining things. TEAM MAXON ALL THE WAY! Seriously, Aspen just got annoying. SOMETHING needed to be done about him. Of course it wasn’t. But that’s ok. Because America and Maxon have a special relationship. He is in love with her and has been FOREVER. But she told him she really wasn’t interested but would help him by weeding out the girls that are there for the wrong reason. But Maxon asked America to try to love him and asked if he had a shot and she said YES! So it’s all kind of weird, but they are totally in love they just can’t see it. UGH. OH and the King is a total butt head. Completely. Hope he dies in every single book.

The third book The One gets intense. Sneaking out of the palace, getting attacked by one rebel group while simultaneously secretly meeting and working with the other, and America and Maxon get super complicated. Maxon has to make a choice but they both keep playing cat and mouse about their feelings and America keeps doing big, dramatic rock the boat things. Did I mention she and Maxon are working with one of the rebel groups? And I just want to double check, I said the King was A TOTAL BUTTMUNCH RIGHT!? Ok, just wanted to clarify that. Because the second of the two gets even worse and you wish he dies even MORE. At this point, the selection is still happening, there are now 5 girls, America has almost been sent home by Maxon or the King twice now, but it’s almost like a sub plot because the political mumbo jumbo has taken over.

I can’t give away who Maxon picks. I can’t give away who America picks- Aspen or Maxon. I can tell you that you are reading along and all of the sudden there is a rebel attack on the palace and 5 pages later you are at the epilogue. WHAT KIND OF ENDING IS THAT!? She could have totally had at least another 20 pages. Really hammed up the drama, gave it a good solid ending. It all seemed very rushed and brushed off. Lots of questions are left kind of half answered or just acknowledged but not discussed as they deserved.

There are two side novellas with the series “The Prince,” and “The Guard.” Maybe some more is given in these two side books, but I doubt it.

Let’s face it, anytime you read anything new-world-ordery or post apocalyptic it’s compared to The Hunger Games and every other book in that category out right now. Why is that the “thing” to do. Write books in a setting like that? At least Harry Potter was in its own world like Lord of the Rings or something. I’m a little over the new-world-ordery or post apocalyptic thing. But that is neither here nor there. As far as entertainment value, I read through them fast and I was hooked so I will definitely give them that. They lacked a substance and depth that I was really hoping they would have, or at least develop as the series went on. I would definitely suggest them to my high school students. They might be a bit on the older side for middle school. I cried. It kind of ripped my heart out and it certainly played on the emotions of the reader. I think they would make pretty decent movies just because there isn’t much depth so not much would be missed by transcribing them from book to the big screen. Overall I would give the books 3.5/5 stars. But that might just be because I’m “old.”

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PS. On Kiera Cass’s website, each book has additional content including a play list that goes along with each book.

http://www.kieracass.com/books/