Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking Forward to 2011!

I hope everyone has recovered from the holidays and that you're enjoying some post-holiday reading. Enjoy this last day of 2010!

I've set some goals for myself next year, blog-wise. Of course I want to expand my followers, so I plan on promoting myself and my blog more. I'm also going to enter the world of contests, so stay tuned for that! I also want to create a page within my blog where I can list every book as I read it in 2011. I'm not too sure how to do that yet, so if anyone has any suggestions, I'd love to hear them! I'd also like to create a nifty button for my blog; again, if anyone has any suggestions or would like to help, I would love it!!

I'm going to attempt two challenges this year. The first is the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, hosted by Kristi over at the Story Siren. The second challenge is the Off the Shelf Challenge hosted by the Bookish Ardour blog. In addition to these challenges, I'm also going to continue the Contemps Challenge that I started this fall. Not really sure how I'll do with three challenges, but since Off the Shelf is designed to help you clear your to-read pile and I only have about 15 books to read for each of the other challenges, I'm hoping I set reasonable goals for myself. Time will tell, I guess!

As of this writing, which is a few days shy of 2011, my Goodreads account says I've read 204 books this year. I don't think I want to set a number goal for myself this coming year (I didn't for 2010), but I do want to try and keep better track of what I've read--which is one of the reasons I've started this blog.

What goals are you setting for yourself this coming year?

Enjoy your reading and have a safe and happy 2011!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays! Some ramblings...

Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a happy & healthy holiday! I hope the upcoming holidays bring are enjoyable and full of good cheer, and that you get everything on your wish list!

Hope you don't mind if I blather on for a bit...I love Christmas, especially watching my daughter enjoy the holiday. She's been pretty low-key this year (is that typical for an 8-year-old?), but I know she'll be watching out for Santa on Christmas Eve! And of course we're all looking forward to spending some time with our families. (Seriously. I'm not being sarcastic at all. Some being the operative word there. LOL Just kidding, of course!)

Disclaimer: Our Christmas tree looks nothing like the one pictured above. We have colored lights--just like when I was a kid--and I can tell you exactly where each ornament came from, or who made it/gave it to us. I have ornaments from when I was a kid, from when Hubby and I were just dating, and every single ornament my daughter has made for me over the past 8 years. It's not a Better Homes & Gardens tree, but we love it!

We also have a lot of these guys around the house:

Nutcracker Christmas Decoration - Free high resolution photo

We developed a nutcracker obsession about 4 years ago. We try to see a production every year, and we have a small but steadily growing collection around the house. Our first and one of our favorites was a NY Giants nutcracker.

So I guess that's enough from me...once again, Merry Christmas and best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Lying Game by Sara Shepard

The Lying Game (The Lying Game, #1)
The Lying Game by Sara Shepard
HarperTeen, December 7, 2010
(review copy received from NetGalley)

Summary from Goodreads:

I had a life anyone would kill for.
Then someone did.

The worst part of being dead is that there’s nothing left to live for. No more kisses. No more secrets. No more gossip. It’s enough to kill a girl all over again. But I’m about to get something no one else does—an encore performance, thanks to Emma, the long-lost twin sister I never even got to meet.
Now Emma’s desperate to know what happened to me. And the only way to figure it out is to be me—to slip into my old life and piece it all together. But can she laugh at inside jokes with my best friends? Convince my boyfriend she’s the girl he fell in love with? Pretend to be a happy, carefree daughter when she hugs my parents good night? And can she keep up the charade, even after she realizes my murderer is watching her every move?
I loved this story and I will absolutely be following this series so I can get to the bottom of all the mystery. I even thought the whole twin-sisters-separated-at-birth-one thing worked (a stretch of the imagination, for sure, but for this story, completely plausible). I'm torn on the two voices, though. I mean, it's absolutely clear--to us, the readers--that Sutton is dead. There are times when Emma's not so sure, though, and those times had me practically screaming at her: "Yes, she's really dead!" Obviously, if Sutton is IN Emma's mind, she's got to be dead, right? Sutton can hear Emma but Emma can't hear Sutton.

The other thing that I've been thinking about is that Sutton, in life, was not really a nice person. In her afterlife, however, she seems to have changed. Both Emma and Dead-Sutton are shocked at some of the stunts Live-Sutton has pulled. Does death really erase all your memories of being an evil mastermind? I suppose only the next few books will tell!

Oh, and then there's the whole murder thing. Who did it? Why? Shepard is a genius for giving us just enough information to whet our appetites, without revealing too much of anything at all! And fortunately I don't think we'll have to wait too long for more info--Goodreads lists the second book in the series, Never Have I Ever, with an anticipated release date of April 8, 2011.

Enjoy your reading!

In My Mailbox (14): early edition

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

I don't know about you guys, but I generally work on my IMM during the week, so I don't forget to post anything. So I'm typing this draft on Monday evening. I came home from work today to find SEVEN packages waiting for me. SEVEN. One of them was a gift I'd ordered for my mom, and two were gifts from dear friends (that went right under the tree, so as of this writing I don't know what's in them), but four packages were all book related, and they were all won!

Packages #1 & 2: Won from PAYA Auction
I won the Elizabeth Scott package, which was a signed copy of Grace and a second copy of my choosing. I chose Living Dead Girl, naturally (while a difficult read, it's definitely one of my faves). For some reason (but I'm not complaining!) I got two packages--one with Grace and Love You, Hate You, Miss You (which I've already read & loved) and the second one had Living Dead Girl and Stealing Heaven (which I haven't yet read). Squee!!!

Here's a pic of the autograph inside :

Package #3: Won from a contest over at A Life Bound By Books: The Jumper Chronicles: Quest for Merlin's Map by W.C. Peever

OMG Can you stand it?? To be honest, I entered this contest for my daughter months ago and promptly forgot all about it. She happened to be standing there when I opened it and spotted this, which means I have ZERO chance of getting any of the candy:
Here's a closeup of the candy, all from Dylan's Candy Bar:
This is such an awesome prize, and I'm so happy I (i.e., my daughter) won LOL I'd wanted to meet Wendy at the Collingswood Book Festival, but didn't get the chance.

But wait! There's more! Books I borrowed from the library:
--Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
--Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
--The Gift (Witch & Wizard #2) by James Patterson

Will probably post a separate IMM for any books I receive for Christmas, so stay tuned!

Enjoy your reading!

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
Knopf Books for Young Readers, October 2010
Summary from Goodreads:
Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?
Vera Dietz has spent her life flying under the radar, desperate to complete high school as an unknown. Her best friend Charlie was the keeper of her secrets, and she of his, until they slowly drifted apart. Now Charlie is dead and Vera knows she must reveal his secrets.

This was a powerful story. It wasn't a true love story, although it's obvious to readers that while Charlie loved Vera and Vera loved Charlie, neither knew how the other really felt. Knowing that that love existed and was lost before it could be explored is always a sad and intriguing story. The back and forth between past and present was most helpful for readers to truly appreciate their friendship, and grieve when it takes an irrevocable turn for the worse.

I thought the characters were drawn very well. Vera was particularly interesting, even as she spent her life trying to be the opposite. She's smart and witty and teenage me would've really enjoyed her company. The amount of patience she showed with her recovering alchoholic and frugal-to-the-point-of-being-cheap father was astounding. It's nice to see a parent with faults who still loves their child unconditionally. It's something I don't recall seeing a lot lately but it's honest and true.

Fans of realistic, contemporary fiction will certainly enjoy this novel, and Charlie and Vera's story will linger in their thoughts long after the book is finished.

Borrowed from the library.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)
Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman
Dutton, April 5, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:

It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Julliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.
I loved, loved, LOVED If I Stay, so was ecstatic to hear that the story will continue! While I thought the first book ended brilliantly, who am I to turn down a sequel? I cannot wait to see how the choices Mia and Adam have made affected them, and how they've grown as individuals.

What are you waiting for?

Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Matched by Ally Condie

Matched (Matched #1) 
Matched by Ally Condie
Dutton Juvenile, November 30, 2010

Summary from Goodreads:
Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.
The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.
I have been waiting forever for this book...early reviews were absolutely positive, so I actually broke down and pre-purchased it for my nook. I waited until vacation actually started (December 1) to begin reading, only to find out I'd forgotten to download it once it was released (and couldn't download while in "airplane mode"). ARGH!

But once I WAS able to start reading Matched, I couldn't stop! The hype is very well deserved. The writing is spectacular and the world Ally Condie has created is absolutely amazing. It's not just another book where some unknowns govern what they think is best for society...although it is about that. But this Society monitors every little thing you do--your meals are prepared and brought to you (created according to your personal nutritional demands), your dreams are monitored (each family member takes a turn with the skin tags at night), and of course you have no control over who you marry or fall in love with! It's an incredible world and I have great respect for Ally for creating it, and can't wait to see how the world develops (disintegrates?) in the upcoming books in the series.

I found Cassia's feelings quite believable and realistic. She's known Xander forever, so one part of her already loves him, and that part is relieved and excited to discover he's her Match. However, there's another part of her that won't quit asking, "What if?" I can't say at this point if I'm Team Xander or Team Ky. Both seem likable enough...I can't wait for book 2, Crossed, scheduled to be released "in 2011."

(P.S. Ally posted on her website that she thinks Neil Diamond would be a perfect Grandfather, and I thoroughly agree. I think he's the perfect image for this character!)
(purchased eBook for my nook)
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, December 20, 2010

I Resisted Temptation!

I went to Barnes & Noble tonight to get a couple of last minute gifts...didn't get everything I needed,  but boy was I salivating over the teen section! There were TONS of titles there, I could've spent hundreds and still not gotten everything I wanted. BUT, I was good and didn't buy a single thing for myself. Partly because I'm still trying not to buy too many books, and partly because I'm hoping to get some gift cards for Christmas, so I can buy eBooks for my nook.

It was SO hard, though, especially when I saw Courtney Summers' Fall for Anything a day before release date! My library doesn't even have it on order yet! Here are some others I'm coveting and spotted tonight:

  • Newes from the Dead by Mary Hooper
  • Killing Britney by Sean Olin
  • Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
  • Party by Tom Leveen
  • Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
  • Anna & The French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (although this one is in-transit to my branch, so I'll be getting it soon!)
  • Scars by Cherly Rainfield
  • A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
That's not to say, of course, that these will be the first ones I buy if/when I get a gift card...there's just so many!

What are you coveting?

Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

In My Mailbox (13)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.

A great week for me!

  • Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted, FROM Lauren Baratz-Logsted! I love this book, so having my own autographed copy is just incredible for me! Lauren is one of many awesome writers who make up the Girlfriends Book Club.
  • Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales from a contest over at The Book Cellar.
  • Powerless: the Synthesis by Jason Letts (eBook) from contests held at Confessions of a Bookaholic and A Life Bound by Books.
eGalley received from NetGalley:
  • Populazzi by Elise Allen
Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Desires of the Dead Widget and Giveaway!

Kimberly Derting, author of The Body Finder and the soon-to-be-released (February 15, 2011) Desires of the Dead, posted this great widget on her blog. She also announced a giveaway, appropriately titled "The Big Frickin Huge Ginormous Desires of the Dead Widget Contest." Prizes include swag and signed copies of her books (both published and ARCs). She's generously provided lots of options for extra entries, so head on over to her blog and check it out. Feel free to grab the widget for your own blog! You can add the widget whenever you'd like, but this contest closes on December 31st!

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

YA Highway's Second Annual Winter Giveaway!

I just discovered this blog (I subscribe to hundreds of blogs but it seems that every day I find another one that I just can't live without!) of YA authors from all over the world. They are currently hosting their second annual winter giveaway, and you can enter to win one of 26 (!!) prize packs, including ARCs, audiobooks, swag, and lots of other really cool stuff. The contest closes on December 22, so you've still got some time to head over there, follow YA Highway, and sign up!

Enjoy your reading!

Waiting on Wednesday (6)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme event created by Breakingthespine to help showcase upcoming releases. I first learned about it through WORD for Teens.

Across the Universe
Across the Universe by Beth Revis

I have been waiting it seems like forever for this book to be released! Luckily the wait is almost over--January 11, 2011 is almost here!

Here's the info from Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone--one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship--tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming. 
And Beth is hosting the Epic Contest of Epic over at her blog. She has 100 prizes to give away, including swag, ARCs and the mega grand prize of all prizes. Best part? She's not announcing the winners--you'll just have to keep an eye on your mailbox! Head on over and enter until December 20th!

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Top Ten of 2010

I've read a LOT of books this year, and having to narrow my favorites to just 10 might prove a little difficult. Let's see how this goes...

In no particular order (links will take you to Goodreads):

1. Matched by Ally Condie (will hopefully have a review up later this week)
Matched (Matched #1)

2. Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness (MUST read The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and the Answer first, though)
Monsters of Men

3. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
The Mockingbirds (The Mockingbirds, #1)

4. The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
The Twin's Daughter

5. Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan

6. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan
Will Grayson, Will Grayson

7. The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend by Kody Keplinger
The DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend)

8. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else 

9. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

10. By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead by Julie Anne Peters
By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead

Oh, but there were so many great books this year! What's on your Top Ten list?

Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

I'm going to do the Off the Shelf Challenge!

Off The Shelf! 

I discovered this challenge thanks to Mindi Scott. I'm already signed up for the Debut Authors 2011 Challenge and didn't really want to stretch myself by doing any others, but the Off the Shelf Challenge is perfect for me. This challenge is to tackle your to-read pile--the books you already have but haven't gotten around to reading yet.

I'm going to try the "Trying" level--15 books. I've got a ton of great books just sitting and waiting for me:

  1. Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
  2. Geek Magnet by Kieran Scott
  3. Another Pan by Daniel & Dina Nayeri
  4. Kingdom Keepers III by Ridley Pearson
  5. Heavenly &
  6. Penitence by Jennifer Laurens
  7. Adios, Nirvana by Conrad Wesselhoeft
  8. Songs for the Teenage Nomad by Kim Culbertson
  9. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
  10. Halo by Alexandra Andornetto
  11. Pretty Little Liars books 3-8 by Sara Shepard
  12. The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Bezenoff
  13. Unthinkable by Shirley Duke
  14. Virals by Kathy Reich
  15. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
The challenge runs from January 1 through December 31, 2011 and reviews are optional. Head over to the Bookish Ardour's Reading Challenges page to learn more and sign yourself up!

Enjoy your reading!

In My Mailbox (12)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.
A quiet week for me, as I've just come back from vacation...finding it a little hard to get back into the swing of things!

ARC received from publisher:
  • You Killed Wesley Paine by Sean Beaudoin
Borrowed from the library:

  • The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith Secret Santa gift (from the Book Blogger Holiday Swap) came today! It was truly a Secret Santa so I can't thank him or her properly, but I love everything!

I got some cute coasters, monogrammed cocktail napkins, a journal (for my to-read list!), and...Twenty Boy Summer! One of my all-time favorite books but for some reason I've never purchased it for myself, so this is AWESOME! Thank you, my Secret Santa!!

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme event created by Breakingthespine to help showcase upcoming releases. I first learned about it through WORD for Teens.

How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend
How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
Chronicle Books, May 4, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
David Gershwin's summer is about to take a turn for the weird. When his dad's new patient Zelda tells him she’s from outer space and on a quest to take Johnny Depp back to her planet, he knows he should run away screaming. But with one look from her mean, green eyes, David's hooked, and soon he's leaping across rooftops, running from police, and stealing cars just to stay by her side. He might not be a typical hero, but David's going to get the girl even if it takes him to the ends of the earth—or beyond.

I've chosen this book to read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, and I specifically chose this book because of its title. I think it sounds like a fun book, and one that perhaps might interest boy readers.

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

In My Mailbox (11)

In My Mailbox is an Internet meme hosted by The Story Siren to share new books received, purchased, or borrowed.
I'm actually on vacation this week, but I got some great books before I left!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King
 Downloaded to my nook:
  • Matched by Allie Condie (yes, I broke down and pre-purchased so I could have it right away. CANNOT WAIT to read it!
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman (have already read it, but it's a great book to add to my collection)
 eGalley from NetGalley:
  • Unthinkable by Shirley Duke
Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Miss Page-Turner's City of Books Holiday Giveaway!

Miss Page-Turner is hosting an incredible contest over at her blog. Simply follow her blog and fill out the form here to enter. You can also gain extra entries by tweeting, adding her button, or blogging about the contest.

So what do you win? Well, this is an international contest (open to any country the Book Depository ships to), and one winner will be able to select one of these 2011 release novels to preorder:

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (January 4th 2011)
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (February 1st 2011)
Across the Universe by Beth Revis (January 11th 2011)
Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton (April 26th 2011)
Timeless by Alexandra Monir (January 11th 2011)
Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (January 11th 2011) 
What are you waiting for? Head over to Miss Page-Turner's City of Books, become a follower, and enter to win!
Enjoy your reading!

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme event created by Breakingthespine to help showcase upcoming releases. I first learned about it through WORD for Teens.

OK, this Wednesday is slightly more exciting than most for me, as I'm literally waiting for my vacation to start! And what better way to gear up for a (hopefully) warm vacation than by spotlighting a book about freezing cold snow?

Trapped by Michael Northrop
Scholastic, February 1, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....
Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....

I'm getting a little panicky just thinking about being stuck in a school for a week during a snow storm with no heat, electricity, or hope of escaping. I can't wait to see the direction this story takes! Trapped is scheduled to be released in February--just in time for snow season! Trapped is also part of the YA Contemps Challenge.

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!