Monday, October 31, 2011

The Book I'm Most Thankful For

Beth Revis is hosting an awesome contest, asking bloggers to talk about the books they're most thankful for. For me, it's a no-brainer...Misery by Stephen King.

Misery is the first novel I read by Stephen King, and I remember finishing it on the bus on the way home from school my sophomore year. I was absolutely horrified by it--but completely intrigued at the same time. Over the years I've managed to work my way through most of Stephen's astounding collection and still make it a point to purchase each book he writes. 

I truly think that I wouldn't be the voracious reader I am today if I hadn't picked up Misery!

Enjoy your reading!

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

No real post today, just wanted to make sure to wish everyone a happy Halloween! As I mentioned earlier, my town does trick or treating the day before Halloween, because there's a humongous parade in the area on Halloween. We never go to the parade--too many people--so as you're reading this I'm likely taking down all the Halloween decorations already :)

Daughter dressed up as Hermione Granger this year. I prefer not to dress up, but if I did, this is who I'd be:

That's Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis in the classic Twilight Zone episode "Time Enough at Last," my all-time favorite TZ episode. My husband thinks this will be me someday. :)

Are you dressing up this year?

Happy Halloween, and enjoy your reading!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (58)

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

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

So here's what I got this week!

From Denise Jaden, to help promote her upcoming novel Never Enough (July, 2012): 
some awesome swag for my blog followers and teens at the library (thanks, Denise!):

From my Secret Spooky Swapper as part of the Spooky Swap (read all about it here!)--thank you, Shauna!
Yes, that IS The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer!
ARC received as part of the book tour over at Me, Myshelf and IDon't Breathe a Word by Holly Cupala!

ARC received from publisher (thanks, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers!): It's Our Prom (So Deal With It) by Julie Anne Peters:

Borrowed from the library:
  • The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore
  • A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (EXCELLENT book, could not put it down!)
  • Past Perfect by Leila Sales
  • Stick by Andrew Smith

Enjoy your reading! Forgive me if it takes me some time to reply to comments--we trick or treat the day before Halloween so I won't be near the computer for much of the day!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Bookworm Santa

My cosmic twin, Kristie, just posted about this event, so of course I had to sign up for it, too! It sounds easy enough, I'll be paired up with someone and will have to purchase a book from their wish list, and ship it so they get it on or before December 25. We don't reveal ourselves until then. I love sharing the book love, so this is a no brainer for me! I just spent some time adding titles to my Barnes and Noble wish list--I'll be perfectly happy with any of these titles!

You can learn more about My Bookworm Santa here

How funny would it be if Kristie and I were paired up together?

Enjoy your reading!

Friday, October 28, 2011

YA Spooktacular!

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

Welcome to this stop of Story 3 for the second annual YA Spooktacular, hosted by Wicked Awesome Books and Frenzy of Noise.

This year, there are THREE stories written by some of your favorite authors that will be posted throughout the week. 
Each story is a choose your adventure, where you get to decide what path to send the character down. Sometimes you live, sometimes you die, and sometimes you fall into a pit of no return. You can pick up the first one by going to Pure Imagination and you can click on the banner above to see all the info about the event--including all the prizes! 

There are also some TRICKS or TREATS scattered throughout the story, where you can enter to win prizes and get bonus points toward the prize packs. The prize pack for Story #3 will be up tomorrow at Escape from Reality:

On Halloween day, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click the banner above to see a full list of the YASpooktacular prize packs!


“What do you need from us?” I asked.
Does it matter?” He smiled broadly, enough to show a full set of teeth, discolored and broken as glass, slightly bloodstained. I closed my eyes. No. This was not happening. Not real. Couldn’t be. And opened them again.
“Sorry, Josh. I’m as real as your pretty girlfriend.” He laughed, then spit a long bloody shot of phlegm over his shoulder, and in two strides had closed the distance between himself and Kara. 
“Poor girl,” he crooned. “You should have listened to your doubts. This is all your boyfriend’s fault, I’d say. Boys. Always looking for a little late-night fun in the corn. Ain’t that right, Josh?”
I didn’t answer. My mind was racing, dead-set on finding a way out of this. The creature’s skeletal fingers cupped Kara’s chin, forcing her to look into his eyes. “But what begins in curiosity,” he hissed, “often ends in tragedy.”
“Don’t touch me,” she whispered. “Please.” I knew that it was taking everything in Kara to stay calm. My protective arm around her shoulders squeezed her tight, but I could give her rigid body no comfort.
“One kiss,” the creature insisted. His voice wheedling and sing-song. “Why, look at you, dear. So young and rosy and fresh. Your fate is horrific. But my special kiss will make it much better.”
“Get. Away. From. Her.” I spoke though gritted teeth. Every particle of me wanted to run, now!—and yet Kara and I needed to stay cool if we were going to escape this nightmare. But as the beast’s red lips lowered themselves to my girlfriend’s neck—no! not my hot, awesome, almost-two-years-my girlfriend Kara! Whose cute nose-freckles I once had counted. Whose smart-ass grin each morning made Honors Chem vaguely bearable. I knew I had one chance. I had to take it. Even if the endless maze of night was all around us. Even if we were running blind. And terrified. And lost.
“Go!” My pull was so strong, so fierce, that it spun both Kara and the creature out of balance. After a gasp of surprise, Kara was instantly in control, a gazelle on my side. In those wild seconds, sprinting and lunging though the darkness, I wondered if it had all been an illusion.
The sealed exits. The “dead” girl in the orange hoodie, the Corn Stalker himself … we raced closer, closer. Euphoria and adrenalin burned in my lungs. I was right! It wasn’t real—look! Because we’d just made another right turn, and another, we were gonna get outta here—it was all just some crazy prank with actors and mirrors—I was practically laughing, thinking of the mugs of hot cider and breathless laughter coming to us just as soon as—
And then we saw them.
“Nooo …” Kara’s scream caught and died in her throat, as we stumbled to a shocked, confused halt.
An endless, twisting chain gang of young people. All in various states of decay and breakdown. Shackled at the ankles. Some without shoes, or coats. They shuffled slowly. Those who could swing scythes, did so. Their eyes barely registered us. The guys all looked defeated and exhausted. Like beaten dogs. The girls seemed altered in a different way. Their faces devoid of expression, as if spellbound.
“You see?” rasped the Corn Stalker, who’d swept in on us in a moment. “I can help Kara. She didn’t want to be part of this night. It’s often the case with the girlfriends. And so I save them. Call me a gentleman.” His laugh was thin, a child’s. “There is so much work that needs to be done. So many local farms. We must keep moving, moving. These mazes don’t create themselves. It’s intricate work. An art, really.” His fingers wrapping Kara’s wrist, tugging her.
And this time, pure terror conspired to make her limp as a rag doll. She stumbled from me, her weight traded as the Stalker handed me a scythe.
In mute disgust and abject horror, I watched the creature force Kara to submit to his death kiss. His fangs sinking expertly into her neck, drinking just enough to transform her into the slack-jawed, unfocused and trancelike state of the other imprisoned girls. Finished, he pushed her roughly to her place in the line. I saw the chains wrapped around her Doc Martens.
Somehow, my ankles also had been bound. The dread iron weights felt like a hundred pounds, dragging me toward my sure grave.
“Your fate is to know. Hers is blissful unawareness. It makes a kind of perfect symmetry, don’t you agree, Josh?” The creature wiped the fresh blood from his chin. “And symmetry is critical to our maze art. We’ll take a few more workers, and then move on. We must be quick.”
Somewhere far ahead, I thought I heard the blissful, muffled laughter of other couples.
Still leaping through the maze, still looking for the exits and escape.
Still searching, fruitlessly for the end of the game.
Try again from the beginning and see if you can escape the corn stalker. (

About the Author:

Adele Griffin has written a number of books for young adults, including Where I Want to Be, Amandine, The Other Shepards, the Witch Twins and Vampire Island series, Picture the Dead with bestselling illustrator Lisa Brown, and the new "Generation Facebook" novel The Julian Game. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

You can find Adele here: her websiteTwitterher blogGoodreads and you can order her books here: Amazon  B&N  The Book Depository

Now it's time for a Treat! Enter to win a signed copy of Tighter by Adele Griffin!
Contest is open through October 31 to US residents age 13 and up.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Dear Bully (aka The Most Powerful Book I've Read This Year)

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

Dear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories 
Edited by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones
Harper Teen, September 1, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
You are not alone.
Discover how Lauren Kate transformed the feeling of that one mean girl getting under her skin into her first novel, how Lauren Oliver learned to celebrate ambiguity in her classmates and in herself, and how R.L. Stine turned being the “funny guy” into the best defense against the bullies in his class.
Today’s top authors for teens come together to share their stories about bullying—as silent observers on the sidelines of high school, as victims, and as perpetrators—in a collection at turns moving and self-effacing, but always deeply personal.
This book is heartbreaking. It's amazing that so many of these authors were bullied but used that to become such strong individuals. It's also amazing that so many of these authors attempted to get adults to intervene only to be told to ignore the bullies, or to suck it up.

I don't want to get into my whole sordid childhood, but just know that it sucked. Elementary school was wretched, high school was worse...things didn't really look up for me until I went away to college and could become a new person. Ugh, I really hate even thinking about it. But did the bullying make me a stronger person? I really don't think so. I'm a very paranoid person--I constantly think people are talking about me--and even though I think I'm a good, loyal, trustworthy friend, I can't hold onto a "best" friend for more than a few years, for one reason or another.

What the bullying has done has made me hyperaware and attuned to my daughter's childhood. I prayed she wouldn't get my curls (she did) or my vision (yup--my husband jokes that it's my fault but I say that his good vision and straight hair should be the dominant gene, which means that HE failed. LOL Give me enough time and I can make anything his fault.). Still, I think she's much cuter than I ever was, and she certainly has a more outgoing personality. I'll make sure to never cut her thick, curly hair too short, and as fashionable as plastic glasses are, I can't look at them without picturing my hideous Coke bottles, so I'll keep steering her towards the stylish metal frames. While I have told her at times to just ignore certain people or things, I've also told her that there are times when it's acceptable and even required to stand up for herself. If that day should come, and if she should get in trouble for standing up for herself, I will be proud to stand up for her as well.

Oh my god, I cannot believe I got into all of that, and will probably delete most of it. Just know that I think Dear Bully is the most powerful book I've read this year. It's not my favorite, and it made me very uncomfortable at times, but it was also reassuring to know that other people--authors I look up to and admire--were bullied when they were younger--many even worse than I was. And these authors are stronger because of that.

I feel Dear Bully should be required reading for all parents--perhaps they should be given a copy at kindergarten, middle school, AND high school orientation. In addition, all students should be required to read it, as well. Perhaps, if they're being bullied, they can realize they're not alone. And perhaps, if they ARE the bully, they can see themselves in these pages, and realize the harm they're causing. Teachers and other caregivers should be required to read it, as well, to know that "just ignore it" is not always (or often) an acceptable solution to a bullying problem. Basically, I can't think of anyone who won't benefit from this book in some way.

It just scares me, as a parent, to know that my daughter will probably go through this at one point in her life. I want to be able to help her through. The stories and resources in this book might help.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Halloween Spooky Swap!

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

So I saw a post somewhere about the Halloween Spooky Swap, which is kind of like Secret Santa but for Halloween. It's hosted by A Tale of Many Reviews and Julie did a fab job of getting everyone paired up (I think, anyway!).

My Swap-ee was Shauna from California, and I literally spent ages debating on just the right gift for her. I tend to over think things like this, as I want so badly for the giftee to enjoy everything!

Shauna said she loves Tim Burton and Neil Gaiman (but only owned eBooks mostly), so a Coraline graphic novel was a no-brainer. I hesitated over the DVD, because I was afraid that she would already own it, but in the end I tossed it in.

And, of course, candy was a requirement. I sent Shauna a spider-filled lollipop, Bertie Bott's Flavour Beans (Shauna loves Harry Potter), an X-ray gummy bear, and a Ghiradelli chocolate bar. I found a cute Halloween candleholder and packed the goodies in a pumpkin luminary, with a cushy pair of socks to keep everything safe.

I neglected to take a picture of the package before I mailed it, but apparently Shauna loved everything, and blogged about it--with pics!--here.

As for my package, well, it arrived in the mail today and I could not have been more pleased. Shauna totally picked up on my love of all things Disney (which I had played down as a "slight obsession") and apparently lives close enough to Disneyland (jealous!) to get me some authentic Disney Parks merch. Shauna got me an adorable Halloween Minnie Mouse and...wait for it...a Minnie apple! I am so excited for this, I can't even tell you. We're leaving for Disney World in just under two weeks, and this was the perfect thing to get me even more excited for our trip! Um, and oh, yeah, chocolate-covered caramel apples are one of my favorite foods! :)

Minnie and her marshmallow ears
But wait, it gets better! Shauna did her homework--she went on my Goodreads page to see what books I had already read and/or owned, and then picked one off my to-read list that she figured would be a scary read: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin. Woot! I borrowed this from the library last week but haven't read it yet, so the library copy goes back. Shauna also sent some bat stickers, as I'd said that bats were my favorite Halloween decoration.

Here's a picture of all my loot:

Isn't this the coolest package ever? Thanks again to Julie over at A Tale of Many Reviews for hosting this totally fun event, but most of all thanks to Shauna for the awesome Halloween gift! 

Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

You Against Me by Jenny Downham
David Fickling Books, September 13, 2011 (first published 2010)
Read for A-Z Reading Challenge

***This review contains spoliers!***
Summary from Goodreads:
If someone hurts your sister and you're any kind of man, you seek revenge, right? If your brother's been accused of a terrible crime and you're the main witness, then you banish all doubt and defend him. Isn't that what families do? When Mikey's sister claims a boy assaulted her at a party, his world of work and girls begins to fall apart. When Ellie's brother is charged with the crime, but says he didn't do it, her world of revision, exams and fitting in at a new school begins to unravel. When Mikey and Ellie meet, two worlds collide. Brave and unflinching, this is a novel of extraordinary skillfulness and almost unbearable tension. It's a book about loyalty and the choices that come with it. But above all it's a book about love - for one's family and for another.
I'm not sure why, but this book has been on my radar forever, and I've been waiting to read it forever. Something about the plot line drew me in--this isn't the story of the girl who claims she was raped, nor is it the story about the boy who claims he had consensual sex with the girl who claimed rape. This is the story about the girl's brother and the boy's sister, and the relationship that develops between the two. It sounded so intriguing to me.

Unfortunately, it didn't live up to the hype. It took me forever to get through this novel, and by the end, I could not see why Mikey was so obsessed with Ellie. I get the she was conflicted, but jeez, ****SPOILER ALERT****

she freaking withheld and deleted evidence--knowingly. And that's supposed to be OK, because she wanted her brother to be innocent? Well, hell, I want to be a millionaire, but that won't hold up in court after I attempt to rob a bank!

I get it that she's in an uncomfortable spot, and seriously, her parents are complete tools. Mom comes around somewhat, but her dad clearly plays the "favorite child" game, and Ellie is not the winner. And really, the only people who think her brother, Tom, is such a hero are Ellie and her parents. Pretty much everyone else, Tom included, can see what a loser he is.

I wasn't that impressed with Mikey, either. I tell you, a relationship that starts out based on lies is pretty much doomed to fail.  All we learned about Mikey was how much his life was changed as a result of his sister being raped. I get that he might question if she was, in fact, raped, but he doesn't really show her any kind of sympathy or support. A total louse. I'm so sorry that I didn't like this book, I really wanted to, especially because I enjoyed Jenny Downham's debut, Before I Die, so much.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Library Program: Read a Movie

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

This library program was just a smidge different from others, as it took place over two separate evenings, a week apart. My Book Cafe group selected a book that also had a movie counterpart (and that the library owned enough copies of), and we read the book, and the following week we watched the movie. The book that the group chose to read/watch was I am Number Four by James Frey's fiction farm Pittacus Lore. I'm not going to rehash the book for you; feel free to check out my review here. This post will focus more on the actual programs.

The book discussion went over very well, I thought. We had about 15 teens in attendance (which is just awesome for my branch!), and 7 of them had actually read the book. We were able to discuss the various components of the book without revealing too many spoilers, and the teens who hadn't read the book were interested enough to actually put it on hold after we were done!

The following week we held the movie program, and I had 19 teens attend (woohoo!). I find it's really hard to host a movie program, because I'm constantly shushing the kids, they just won't shut the heck up and our sound system isn't that spectacular. Still, it held their interest.

Here are the things that occurred to me as I was watching the movie--I did a lot of WTH while we were watching (the "H," of course, is Heck):

  • I totally get the hype over Alex Pettyfer. How old is he--is he too young for me to find attractive? (heads to Wikipedia--hmmm, 21...OK, I can swoon!) But he does NOT look 15.
  • WTH with the Mogadorians? They were NOT at all as I pictured them (although I was constantly referring to them as Muppets, which means they REALLY didn't fit my my preconceived notions LOL)
  • And the home ec class, that was the ENTIRE premise of how Hottie Alex and that girl met and got together? Yeah, where was that?
  • And SAM? NOT into aliens? WTH??
  • Movie Henri could never have been mistaken for a Frenchman.
  • John knows nothing about his Legacies. NOTHING.
  • The Spring Carnival. In its entirety. Everything was wrong with this.
  • Movie Mark did not have the opportunity to show us his growth and maturity like Book Mark (hee hee) did.
  • The chest was not so much of a chest as a fancy shoebox.
  • SAM'S DAD. That was NOT information we were given in the book. I kind of inferred it, but it was never explicitly said, and I figured it would be explained more in the upcoming sequel(s).
I really could go on and on. I was trying to explain this to my teens and I don't think they got it. As a movie, I thought it was pretty good. It's not what I normally gravitate to, but it was definitely interesting, exciting, and cool. As a movie adaptation, however, I thought it blew chunks. I get it that moviemakers can't go through a book page by page and put that on the screen; however, so many of my bullet points above were such integral parts of the plot that they should have been put in the film. Ugh.

Anyway, the kids really enjoyed it and I guess that's all that matters. :)
Enjoy your reading (and watching!)!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (57)

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

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

So here's what I got this week!

Won from a contest over at Judge the Cover Book Reviews: Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (thank you!!)

Bought from The Compulsive Reader (thanks, Tirzah!): You are Not Here by Samantha Schutz:

Borrowed from the library:
  • Everybody Sees the Ants by AS King
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  • Dead End by Jason Myers
  • Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch (adult nonfiction)
Purchased and signed:
  • Triangles by Ellen Hopkins (adult fiction!)--yes, I made the trek to Princeton to meet the fantastic Ellen Hopkins again!
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Library Program: Kieran Scott!

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

Waaayy back in the summer of 2010, I approached Kieran Scott through email and asked if she would be interested in visiting my library for an author program. She agreed, and after meeting her at the 2010 Collingswood Book Festival, we were able to schedule a date for January 2011.

Unfortunately, Kieran got pretty sick (and was also pregnant, although that's not unfortunate, of course!) and had to reschedule her visit. She got in touch with me over the summer and we picked an October Saturday for her to visit. 
It just happened to be the nicest Saturday that we've seen in months, so even though I advertised the hell out of this program (through our library's Facebook page, tons of posters around the branch and the system, blast-emailing my teens to remind them, sending press releases), on the afternoon of the program I only had two teens show up. UGH. At least one of the teens had started reading (and was really enjoying) She's So Dead to Us, and the other teens is just so enthusiastic about everything--basically, if I could only have two teens show up, I'm glad it was these two! 

Kieran was very gracious about the whole thing--she spoke at length about her writing process (she outlines everything) and how she develops her characters, and why she writes some titles as Kate Brian (and Emma Harrison before that!). We talked about the differences in the covers of She's So Dead to Us and He's So Not Worth It, and about how, exactly, Privilege spun off from Private (and The Book of Spells was mentioned, too!). She didn't reveal too much about what was going to happen in This is So Not Happening but did talk a little about what she's working on next--although we're not at liberty to reveal that yet!

Kieran was also nice enough to sign the books I'd purchased, and Teen 1's book, and then graciously gave Teen 2 a copy of She's So Dead to Us, which I thought was really sweet of her. Then she posed for pictures and we all enjoyed some brownies!

All in all, it was a great afternoon, and while of course I'm disappointed that the turnout was so poor, I think we still had a wonderful time. I really think the weather worked against us. Kieran is a fantastic author and we were so fortunate to have been able to spend some time with her. Those who didn't come certainly missed out.

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Burnout by Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Did you enter my latest giveaway? 

Burnout by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
Margaret K. McElderry, September 13, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:

On the day after Halloween, Nan wakes up in a subway car. She is not dreaming. She doesn’t know where she’s been or what she’s done. She’s missing a whole day from her life. And she’s wearing skeleton makeup and a too-small Halloween costume that she doesn't remember putting on.Nan is not supposed to wake up in places like this anymore. She’s different now, so far from that dangerously drunk girl who hit bottom in the Nanapocalypse. She needs to find out what happened to her, and fast. As she tries to put together the pieces of the last twenty-four hours, she flashes back to memories of her previous life. But she would never go back to her old friends and her old ways. Would she?
The deeper Nan digs, the more disturbing things get. This time, she may have gone one step too far. This time, she may be a walking ghost.
I found Burnout to be an enjoyable mystery. It was a little misleading at first, because the jacket says that Nan wakes up in a subway. Well, she does, but that's not exactly where the story starts. If that makes sense. I guess what I'm saying is that the first 10 pages or so are a little confusing. But if they're confusing for us, imagine how poor Nan must feel.

I liked Nan, actually. Her attraction to Seemy was a little odd, but you know what? If you're pretty much a loner, and a cool kid takes an interest in you, you're going to do whatever you can to hang onto that. Even if that means doing a ton of stuff you don't actually agree with, or want to do.

Seemy, on the other hand, is an abhorrent human being. What a selfish loser. While I can understand why Nan would be so eager to hang onto her only friend, I can't understand why everyone finds Seemy so attractive in the first place. Ugh.

Still, I can absolutely see that Nan is a better friend, and will do whatever it takes to figure out what happened that night. And boy, it is NOT at all what I expected. And the back and forth between present and past helps us see Nan for the person she is, not the person who wakes up in a subway car wearing an ill-fitting Halloween costume.

Burnout is an enjoyable, fast paced read suitable for mystery and contemporary fans alike.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Barry's Book Bonus Giveaway!

Barry Lyga graciously offered signed copies of some of his books for bloggers to host giveaways, so of course I volunteered! I have up for grabs one signed copy of Goth Girl Rising, seen here:

And Barry's autograph:

Here's the summary from Goodreads:
Time is a funny thing in the hospital. In the mental ward. You lose track of it easily. 
After six months in the Maryland Mental Health Unit, Kyra Sellers, a.k.a. Goth Girl, is going home. Unfortunately, she’s about to find out that while she was away, she lost track of more than time. Kyra is back in black, feeling good, and ready to make up with the only person who’s ever appreciated her for who she really is. But then she sees him. Fanboy. Transcended from everything he was into someone she barely recognizes. And the anger and memories come rushing back. There’s so much to do to people when you’re angry. Kyra’s about to get very busy.

Here's what you need to know: you have to be a US resident age 13 or older, and a GFC follower, please. I'm attempting to use Rafflecopter this time, so you can gain extra entries by following me on Twitter, or by retweeting the contest. The contest is open until  November 3.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
Margaret K. McElderry, September 13, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Everyone has something, someone, somewhere else that they’d rather be. For four high-school seniors, their goals of perfection are just as different as the paths they take to get there. Cara’s parents’ unrealistic expectations have already sent her twin brother Conner spiraling toward suicide. For her, perfect means rejecting their ideals to take a chance on a new kind of love. Kendra covets the perfect face and body—no matter what surgeries and drugs she needs to get there. To score his perfect home run—on the field and off—Sean will sacrifice more than he can ever win back. And Andre realizes that to follow his heart and achieve his perfect performance, he’ll be living a life his ancestors would never have understood.
Everyone wants to be perfect, but when perfection loses its meaning, how far will you go? What would you give up to be perfect?
A riveting and startling companion to the bestselling Impulse, Ellen Hopkins's Perfect exposes the harsh truths about what it takes to grow up and grow into our own skins, our own selves.
LOVED it. Just absolutely loved it. Perfect wasn't exactly what I was expecting. I totally knew it was a companion to Impulse but I thought the events would take place after Impulse. Instead, Perfect and Impulse take place simultaneously. Different but still awesome, as Ellen Hopkins have given us new characters to love.

Perfect is, obviously, about four teens who are striving for perfection--as defined by someone else. Cara and Kendra, characters that we only glimpsed briefly in Impulse, are fully fleshed out, along with two other new characters for us to love and/or hate.

Will this book be controversial? Probably. Let's see, we've got anorexia, steroid use, homosexuality, date rape, and, oh! Let's not forget Conner's attempted suicide that unknowingly put all of this into motion. So, yeah, there are definitely some tough topics addressed in this novel, but, as Ellen herself said, these things are going on right now in our world. Shouldn't teens going through these same exact things be allowed to know that they're not alone?

I'm very grateful for Ellen Hopkins. She's not afraid to tackle the hard-hitting issues, and with Perfect, she's not afraid to stand up and say, "I'm not perfect. No one is perfect. But I'm perfect enough for me. And you should be, too." (not a direct quote but she did say something similar at her book signing.)

And Jenna! Oh, poor Jenna. She's such a broken soul and I want to know so much more about her. Ellen said that there *might* be a Jenna book in the future, because she wants to know more, too. I'm seriously hoping so, because there is just so much more to her than we got to see in this novel.

Purchased book.

Enjoy your reading!

Monday, October 17, 2011

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done by Gabrielle Zevin
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, September 6, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:

In 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.
You don't really need me to tell you about this book, right? You've already heard it's fantastic? Good, then I won't have to tell you. I did love this story, though! It's dystopian but not really, as it takes place in 2083. It made me feel so old to realize that if I existed in Anya's life, I'd be dead. Older than Nana. Ugh.

Anyway, enough about how old I am. Because honestly, even if I wasn't older than Nana, I'd probably be a hot mess in this world Gabrielle Zevin created. Chocolate is illegal and caffeine is the world's most dangerous drug? Yeah, I would totally be a homeless junky, willing to sell my soul for "just another hit." While I absolutely adore chocolate, I cannot survive without my coffee. Even thinking about having to give it up is giving me heart palpatations.

OK, I'm better now. What I loved about this book is the combination of old-school ganster politics and future-world rules and regulations--and how even though the two are so different, they're really quite similar. Even in 2083 appearances matter, and the daughter of the forbidden chocolate-making empire had best not fall in love with the assistant D.A's son. The addictions may change (alcohol is freely given, but heaven help you if you're found with chocolate in your possession) but the problems remain the same. I also loved that the title of each chapter reflects something (or somethings) that Anya has done. What I didn't like about this book was that it's one of I don't know how many. Two? Three? Ugh, I want more!

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (56)

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

So here's what I got this week!

Won in a contest over at Page Turners Blog (thanks, Stacey & Pixie!): Skyship Academy by Nick James (signed)!

Received from Barry Lyga as part of Barry's Blogger Book Bonus (thank you!): Goth Girl Rising. I'll be posting a giveaway later this week!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
  • The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
  • Following Christopher Creed by Carol Plum-Ucci
  • Blood Wounds by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • My Beating Teenage Heart by CK Kelly Martin
  • Palace of the Damned (The Saga of Larten Crepsley #3) by Darren Shan
  • Walt Disney World with Kids 2012 by Kim Wright (adult nonfiction)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Christi's Adventures: Meeting Chef Anne Burrell!

Last Tuesday I took my daughter to the Freehold Barnes & Noble to meet chef and food network star Anne Burrell, who's promoting her new cookbook, Cook Like a Rock Star.

I have to say that I was so disappointed with the setup at this B&N. I guess Debbie at the Princeton store has spoiled me! There were only about 20 chairs set up, which were all, obviously, taken by the time we got there at about 6:40pm. So, standing room only shouldn't be too bad, right? Right, except that SRO consisted of standing in a single file line next to the periodicals. My poor kid couldn't see anything.

But Anne was a delightful speaker. She talked about the cookbook for just a few minutes, and then spent the rest of the time answering questions from the audience, particularly from the kids in attendance. She even acknowledged the woman behind me who had a question.

There were a lot of questions on how Anne got into the business, what filming a show is like. What I loved is that at one point Anne said, "If you're in culinary school because you want a food show, you need to drop out right now." She said she didn't want to be discouraging, but take a look at all of the chefs in the world, and look at how many chefs are on TV--it's awesome if it happens, but you shouldn't expect it to!

Ugh, they HAD to have Tyra Banks' book on display right there, right?

Much better, see ASHES right there.

I did like that people with children were allowed to get in line first, so we only had to wait about five minutes for the actual signing. My daughter got all starstruck, though, and we were kind of rushed, so I don't even think I said much more than hi. And this is the first book event I've attended with actual bodyguards--see the gentleman in the snazzy suit in the background? There were 3 or 4 similarly dressed gentleman surrounding the area. OK, she's a TV star, but she's not, like, Emeril. Strange. But fun!

Daughter has decided that we're going to try the macaroni & cheese recipe first. I'll let you know how it comes out!

Enjoy your reading--and your eating!