For the casual reader, having a month off of school would mean picking up a book every now and then to glance through or maybe, if they're lucky, finish at a leisurely pace. For me, winter break meant cramming as much reading time as I possibly could into a four-week time span. That being said, I wasn't reading the entire time I was home, but I was able to finish a solid five novels. These are the books I read, short synopses of each, and what I thought of them!
1. "Vampire Kisses" by Ellen Schreiber
This is the first book in a nine-book series and follows a girl named Raven Madison, a sixteen-year-old girl obsessed with anything and everything vampire. And I don't mean the Twilight-era sparkly vampires of the early 2000s, I mean the original vampires in Dracula. When she meets a real-life vampire who's just moved to her sleepy town, she's instantly enthralled with him and the romance soon follows. This book was a pretty quick read and overall I enjoyed it, but there were a few times that I thought it was a bit longer than necessary. Maybe I just wasn't feeling it at the time, but the arc of a girl who's completely obsessed with her romantic interest just felt a little *too* evident and I got over it kind of quickly. On Goodreads, I gave the book 3/5 stars.
2. "Kissing Coffins" by Ellen Schreiber
"Kissing Coffins" is the second book in the Vampire Kisses series. The second novel still centers on Raven Madison, although this installment occurs as her boyfriend, Alexander Sterling, has disappeared from town and she goes after him. Also in this book, she meets the first of what I assume is a long list of Alexander's enemies. To me, this book just felt like a repeat of the second Twilight book, when Edward Cullen leaves Bella and she goes after him to bring him home. I don't know why, it just kind of gave me those vibes. The book itself was still good but I haven't made up my mind if I want to continue the series or not. I gave this another 3/5 on Goodreads.
3. "The Freedom Writers Diary" by Erin Gruwell
This is the only nonfiction I was able to read over break, but I have to say it's one of the best I've ever read. I'm sorry to say that I hadn't known about the story until I watched the movie with my mom. However, as soon as I figured out there was a book, I went to Barnes & Noble the very next day and purchased it. If you don't know what "The Freedom Writers Diary" is about, it's basically a collection of diary entries from several of author Erin Gruwell's high school English students. Published first in 1999, Erin Gruwell was fresh out of graduate school when she took a job at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. At the time, many educators (even those within its four walls) viewed the school and its students as trouble cases who wouldn't amount to much of anything. But Gruwell saw things differently and she began to raise up young adults who not only grasped the curriculum better but who also grasped their place and value in the world with a new fervor than before. This collection of diary entries written by Gruwell and her students shows the uplifting nature a great educator can possess and details assignments, social events, and more that Gruwell used as a tool to grow her students' abilities. If you can't tell by my somewhat short synopsis, I loved reading this book. As an aspiring teacher about to enter her own classroom, there were so many helpful tips and stories that I know will help me become the best teacher and mentor I can possibly be for my future students. I gave this 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
4. "Going the Distance" by Beth Reekles
Okay, so this is by far my favorite book that I read during my winter break and I actually binge-read it in one sitting whilst taking a break from another book I was reading at the time. This is the sequel to Reekles' bestselling novel "The Kissing Booth," which has become world-famous since the release of its movie counterpart on Netflix in May 2018. I wrote a more detailed review of this book/series and it's on my Odyssey profile if you'd like to check it out. Basically, this novel is a continuation of Elle Evans and Lee Flynn's stories after the first novel ended with both entered into fairly new relationships. They are now seniors in high school trying to juggle college apps, schoolwork, and their relationships while seeing how their friendship and life together has changed. I ADORED this book and, while it wasn't necessarily a literary masterpiece, it was a rollercoaster of emotions and I already want to reread it! I also really want her to write more books in this universe. Although, I know there was a 10-year gap between the two current books so we may have to wait a while! I gave this 5/5 stars on Goodreads.
5. "The Lovely War" by Julie Berry
I was super excited about reading this after I saw it at Barnes & Noble, read the synopsis, and put it on my Christmas list! Thankfully, my parents got it for me in addition to several other books and it was my first novel read from the ones I received during the holiday. "The Lovely War" basically follows two couples during the WW1 era as they navigate war, long-distance relationships, and love in the 1910s. Interjected in this narrative is a "trial" put on by some of the most popular Greek gods and goddesses - Aphrodite, Apollo, Ares, Hephaestus, and Hades. They each include their own involvement in the lovers' stories and how they affect each human character. Aphrodite and Ares have the most impact because they are the god or goddess of love and war. I think this novel's plot was very interesting and I was honestly so excited to start reading it, but I do think it could've been a bit more concise. In other words, I don't think it needed to be as long as it was but I still enjoyed it and the audiobook version is spectacular because it had a full cast for all the different characters' voices. If you read this novel, I recommend finding the audio recording! I gave this novel 4/5 stars on Goodreads.
There you go! That's the handful of novels that I read over winter break. If you found something interesting on this list and start reading, let me know what you think in the comments!