Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Movie review: Hugo

I don't get to the movies nearly as often as I'd like, and 99.9% of the time I do get to the movies, it's to see something that Best Girl wants to see--although to be fair, I usually want to see the same movies! We were lucky enough to get to the movies twice over Thanksgiving weekend, and I absolutely fell in love with both films.

First up was Hugo on the Wednesday of Thanksgiving weekend (actually, opening night). At first I was a little upset because I'd thought we were seeing the 2D version of the movie, but actually it was the 3D version. I don't really get the love for 3D of live-action movies--honestly I think they're a waste of time.

Not Hugo, though! Martin Scorsese is a genius--this film was absolutely stunning in every way, and the 3D was absolutely perfect. It was a gorgeous film visually, the cast was perfect for the roles, and I felt the story line stayed very true to Brian Selznick's Caldecott-winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret (it has been a while since I've read the book, though). Best Girl was impressed, as well, although she felt the film ran a little long. But, considering that she had zero interest in this movie before seeing the trailer, I felt it captured her interest rather well. And can I just say that Sacha Baron Cohen is absolutely spectacular as the Station Inspector. He is a magnificent actor.

There was only one other couple in the theater when we arrived--it did fill up, but didn't get anywhere close to selling-out status. Other family members hadn't even heard of the film when I mentioned it during the holiday, and I honestly don't think the trailer did this movie any justice. I hope that this beautiful film isn't going to be swept away too quickly, and that it will find its proper audience.

The review of the second film we watched will be posted soon!
Enjoy your reading (and viewing!)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Winner!

Wow, this was my best giveaway yet, as far as entries go--236 of you signed up to win. Alas, there can be only one winner, and has decided to pick...


Congratulations! I've already contact the winner and will have her prize out soon. Don't despair--I have TWO more giveaways coming up in December! What can I say, I want to spread some holiday cheer!

Enjoy your reading!

Stick by Andrew Smith

Stick by Andrew Smith
Feiwel & Friends, October 11, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Fourteen-year-old Stark McClellan (nicknamed Stick because he’s tall and thin) is bullied for being “deformed” – he was born with only one ear. His older brother Bosten is always there to defend Stick. But the boys can’t defend one another from their abusive parents. 
When Stick realizes Bosten is gay, he knows that to survive his father's anger, Bosten must leave home. Stick has to find his brother, or he will never feel whole again. In his search, he will encounter good people, bad people, and people who are simply indifferent to kids from the wrong side of the tracks. But he never loses hope of finding love – and his brother.
Oh, how I love Stark. He is so wise beyond his years in many ways, but in others, he's your typical teenage boy. These moments add some humor to this novel (my first by Smith, I'm ashamed to admit), and provide a respite from the heavy, heavy issues that make up the bulk of the story. "Abusive parents" isn't even the right term for Stark and Bosten's parents. WTF? How is it possible that two people can be as evil as Mom and Dad, but still be able to maintain a "normal" appearance in public? And how is it possible that Stark and Bosten think that the way they're treated is the norm? There's strict, and then there's PSYCHO, and it's not hard to guess where Mom and Dad are on this scale. 

Thank God for Aunt Dahlia, she is such a ray of California sunshine in the boys' otherwise utterly bleak and dreary world. She comes to them at just the right moment, and her appearance allows the boys to realize that their lives don't have to be miserable--everyone is entitled to happiness. That happiness is hard to come by, however, as Stark and Bosten show us. 

It's Stark's (I, like Dahlia and his best friend, can only see him as Stark, not Stick) unwavering belief in his brother, and his hope that the pair can have a happy future, that keeps this novel from being an otherwise dark and bleak novel. Stark is his own little ray of sunshine; even though he can't see beyond his missing ear, most of the people in his life can recognize him for the beautiful boy he is.

Fans of darker realistic fiction will enjoy Stick. I am just in awe at the depths of this novel (and I have to seriously reconsider my Best of 2011 list).

Borrowed book from the library. I also had an eGalley from NetGalley.
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, November 28, 2011

2012 Debut Author Challenge

Because I was so successful with the 2011 Debut Author Challenge (32 as of this post!), I've decided to go ahead and sign up for the 2012 Challenge, hosted by The Story Siren.

Here are just some of the debut novels I'm looking forward to reading in 2012:
  1. Fracture by Megan Mirand
  2. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
  3. Slide by Jill Hathaway
  4. What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen
  5. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  6. Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
  7. Where it Began by Ann Redisch Stampler
  8. What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang
  9. Breaking Beautiful by Jennifer Shaw Wolf
  10. Cracked by KM Walton
  11. The Vanishing Game by Kate Kae Myers
  12. Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic
So that's my first 12, but I'm sure that I'll be reading way more than that! You still have time to sign up for this challenge; head over to the Story Siren to learn more!

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In My Mailbox (62)

Today's the last day to enter my Gratitude Giveaway! Click here!

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!

Received from publisher for review: See You at Harry's by Jo Knowles (squee!). What's amazing about this is that I was actually contacted by the publisher to see if I wanted an ARC. Well, duh, of course I was! Thanks, Heather at Candlewick! For those of you interested, See You at Harry's is available at NetGalley, too!

Received from author for review: Scary School by Derek the Ghost (middle grade fiction; I'm hoping my daughter will read along with me):

Won in a contest over at Books for Company (thanks, Jodie!): a signed copy of Bitter End by Jennifer Brown!

Borrowed from the library:
  • The Hunger Games Companion: the Unauthorized Guide to the Series by Lois H. Gresh
  • Hooked by Catherine Greenman
  • The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti (determined to finish my A-Z Reading Challenge!)
  • Keeping the Moon by Sarah Dessen (also for A-Z Challenge!)
  • The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler 
  • Prized by Caragh O'Brien (sequel to Birthmarked--which I really enjoyed!)
eGalley received from NetGalley (wait, wasn't I on a self-imposed NetGalley ban???): 
  • New Girl by Paige Harbison
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King

Have you entered my Gratitude Giveaway yet? Click here!

Everybody Sees the Ants by A.S. King
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October 3, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Lucky Linderman didn't ask for his life. He didn't ask his grandfather not to come home from the Vietnam War. He didn't ask for a father who never got over it. He didn't ask for a mother who keeps pretending their family is fine. And he certainly didn't ask to be the recipient of Nadar McMillan's relentless bullying, which has finally gone too far.Lucky has a secret—one that helps him wade through the daily dysfunction of his life. Grandad Harry, trapped in the jungles of Laos, has been visiting Lucky in his dreams—and the dreams just might be real: an alternate reality where he can be whoever he wants to be and his life might still be worth living. But how long can Lucky remain in hiding there before reality forces its way inside?
Printz Honor recipient A. S. King's distinctive, smart, and accessible writing shines in this powerful novel about learning to cope with the shrapnel life throws at you, and then taking a stand against it.
I'm starting to develop some intense fangirl crushes on a few YA writers, and I haven't really tried to keep that a secret. I am determined to read everything by certain authors because I love their style, or the way they can cross genres, or because they create interesting scenes, characters, and/or plots. I have a lot of favorite authors.
There are a select few, however, that just seem to...float...above everyone else, whose works are just so full of excellence that these authors should be crowned kings and queens of literature. I've recently decreed that Patrick Ness is one of those authors, and, after having finished this novel, will argue that A.S. King deserves to sit on that throne with him. Please Ignore Vera Dietz was one of my favorite novels from last year, and was highly regarded in many award circles. I have no doubt that Everybody Sees the Ants will be, as well.

There are just so many contemporary issues in this story, but of course the novel can't really be considered true realistic fiction. While I absolutely adored Lucky in this novel, and felt he was a strong character with a good sense of self (even if he doesn't realize that he has such a strong sense of self), the ants are fantastic! I love their snide comments and gestures throughout this story. Of course, it's the ants, and Lucky's dream-trips to Vietnam, that prevent this novel from being solely realistic fiction, and shove it right into its own genre--which is where it ought to be.

If you loved Please Ignore Vera Dietz, you'll love Everybody Sees the Ants. I don't even think that I can do this novel justice with this review, so I'm going to to stop here. Just, go read it!

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have you entered my Gratitude Giveaway yet? Click here!

I hope all of my US followers have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday (and that my international followers have a wonderful Thursday LOL). I do enjoy the Macy's Day Parade, and while I love Thanksgiving food in general, the day is generally too full of stress and travel to actually be considered enjoyable. However, it's a day off from work, right? :)

I am, as always, thankful for all of my followers (over 600 of you now!). I'm also so thankful for the blogging community in general; the day that I discovered that yes, other people love talking about YA books as much as I do was a happy day indeed!

Of course, I'm thankful for my family, especially Best Girl (I like that better than Daughter). My life truly had no meaning until she became a part of it. She is, simply put, the most amazing 9-year-old you would ever have the fortune to meet.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reminder: enter my Gratitude Giveaway Hop!

This is just a gentle reminder that my Gratitude Giveaway Hop is still going on!

Click here for the original post to see what I'm thankful for.

Click here to go directly to the entry form!

Contest is open until November 27.

Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin

My Beating Teenage Heart by C.K. Kelly Martin
Random House, September 27, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Ashlyn Baptiste is falling. One moment she was nothing—no memories, no self—and then suddenly, she's plummeting through a sea of stars. Is she in a coma? She doesn't remember dying, and she has no memories of the life she left behind. All she knows is that she's trapped in a consciousness without a body and she's spending every moment watching a stranger.
Breckon Cody's on the edge. He's being ripped apart by grief so intense it literally hurts to breathe. On the surface, Breckon is trying to hold it together for his family and his girlfriend, but underneath he's barely hanging on.
Even though she didn't know him in life, Ashlyn sees Breckon's pain, and she's determined to find a way help him. As her own distressing memories emerge from the darkness, she struggles to communicate with the boy who can't see her, but whose life is suddenly intertwined with hers. In alternating voices of the main characters, My Beating Teenage Heart paints a devastatingly vivid picture of both the heartbreak and the promise of teenage life—a life Ashlyn would do anything to recover and Breckon seems desperate to destroy—and will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, John Green, and David Levithan.
Here's my problem with this novel--we CARE about these characters, knowing that their paths will never meet in the way we want them to, that their grief isn't something that's going to magically disappear, knowing (SPOILER) that the ending of this book might not necessarily be a happy one. Still, sometimes you're just in the mood for a heart-wrenching tale, and when that time comes, My Beating Teenage Heart will fit the bill. There is sadness in this novel, to be sure, but it will leave you with such a sense of hope for the future, it's almost indescribable. If you enjoy books that explore what might happen in the great hereafter--or even in the "so-so in-between" between here and the hereafter, you'll enjoy this novel.

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Saving June by Hannah Harrington

Did you enter my Gratitude Giveaway yet? Click here!

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Harlequin Teen, November 22, 2011
Read for 2011 Debut Author Challenge AND YA Contemps Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
Harper Scott, trying to come to terms with her perfect older sister June's suicide, takes a road trip and finds love with a mysterious boy who had a connection to June-- and may know more about her sister's life and death than he's telling.
I don't really know what's going on with this book--the woman in charge of purchasing for the YA Collections for our library system gave me an ARC of Saving June way back in, I don't know, March or April? My copy has the cover pictured above, and lists an on-sale date of May 2011.

So of course it was September before I got to the book LOL and when I went looking for information on it, I discovered that the new publication date is November 22, and there's a new cover, too (that I think I like much better):

I can't find any information on this book anywhere! I'd originally put it on my to-read pile because it was one of the YA Contemps titles. The last post on their website with this title on it is from February, and I don't remember Hannah Harrington posting at all on their site. So, for whatever reason it appears this title is no longer associated with the challenge. HOWEVER, because it was listed on the original challenge list, and because it was the only title I had left, I am counting it, and I can officially say I COMPLETED THE 2011 YA CONTEMPS CHALLENGE! (Completed meaning that I've read all of the titles. I haven't actually reviewed all of the titles.)

So, that long-winded intro leads me to my review of this book. I enjoyed it immensely. It's a grief story, there's a road trip, and the characters discuss some of the most awesome music ever--that is, I knew most of the artists and songs they were discussing (hello! "A Boy Named Sue" by Johnny Cash is one of the most awesome songs. Ever.) In addition, Jake, the mysterious boy, is HAWT. Very rarely do I find the male characters in YA literature even vaguely attractive, for a myriad of reasons that perhaps I'll share with you at a date in the future. But there was just something about Jake that was so smokin' hot!

Harper's grief is real--her older sister, the seemingly perfect June--has killed herself and left no indication why. Her mother is drowning in her grief and her wine, dad is content to maintain his MIA status, and Aunt Helen constantly judges Harper and shoves religion down her throat. It's no wonder the poor girl can't grieve properly. Thank God she has her best friend Laney, quite possibly the most awesome best friend-slash-sidekick ever. Laney is adventurous to Harper's cautious, but what's great about these two friends is that the recognize each other's weaknesses and never try to force their opinions on the other. This has the potential for disaster, of course--perhaps Harper should mention Laney's drinking, and maybe Laney should tell Harper how much her smoking bothers her--but for the most part these two are absolutely accepting of each other.

And the road trip is just fun, even though it's not a happy road trip at all. I LOVE the songs Jake introduces to Harper, and I LOVE that playlists are included (they were in the ARC, anyway). This is a poignant debut novel, and fans of contemporary fiction will enjoy it.  

Read ARC.
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (61)

Did you enter my Gratitude Giveaway yet? Click here!

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 A Bookish Affair (thanks, Meg & Veronica!):
  • Nightfall in Mogadishu by Veronica Li eBook
Purchased through Scholastic book club from Daughter's class:

  • The Strange Case of Origami Yoda &
  • Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger (I love these books and am so happy that Daughter is enjoying them, too!)

Borrowed from the library:
  • Kill Alex Cross by James Patterson (adult fic)
  • Faking Faith by Josie Bloss
  • Crossed by Ally Condie (yay!)
What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Did you enter my Gratitude Giveaway yet? Click here!

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Dutton, September 29, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn’t believe in fashion . . . she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit -- more sparkly, more fun, more wild -- the better. But even though Lola’s style is outrageous, she’s a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. 
When Cricket -- a gifted inventor -- steps out from his twin sister’s shadow and back into Lola’s life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door.
There is so much to love about this book, I don't even know where to begin. Stephanie Perkins has created another tale of awesomeness. Lola is the epitome of quirkiness. She really is a good student, daughter, friend, and girlfriend. She is her own person, no matter what others think of her. She has two dads, but that's just a fact in this book, not a driving plot line. (yay!) And almost best of all? Anna and St. Clair are back! Double yay!!

But you know what I loved best about Lola? Are you ready? 

She's, like, legally blind without her glasses. It was so refreshing to read a book with a main character with poor vision. Dude, there are tons of us with visual difficulties out there, yet very few novels--YA or not--contain characters who have less than perfect vision. Or, if they do wear glasses or contacts, it's just mentioned, not the difficulties that can arise when your glasses break or contacts rip. I LOVE that Stephanie covered these topics in this book. And again, Lola's eyesight wasn't a major plot point, she didn't spend hours bemoaning her poor vision or researching LASIK surgery. Lola's poor vision is just a part of her...and for someone who's been wearing glasses since she was 5 (and contacts since 9), it was nice to be able to relate with a character in that way.

Two things I wasn't crazy about? Cricket's twin sister, Calliope, and Lola's boyfriend, Max. SHE is just a manipulative, conniving, spoiled brat, and does not deserve to have the incredible Cricket as her brother. Max is just a jerk. The age difference between Max and Lola is the same difference between my husband and I, except we were 18 and 23 to Lola and Max's 17 and 22. Still, if my husband had ever treated me the way Max treated Lola, well, let's just say he wouldn't be my husband today. 

Regardless of my feelings for Max and Calliope, they were still driving forces in this novel, and besides, it really says something about Stephanie Perkins as an author that she can create characters that make me feel so strongly about them, whether in a positive or negative way. Basically, I love to hate them.

If you read and loved Anna and the French Kiss, well, you've probably already read Lola and the Boy Next Door. If you haven't read either one, what are you waiting for? If you love contemporary fiction, you will adore Stephanie Perkins' novels!

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Hop!

Hello, and welcome to my Gratitude Giveaway Hop! I would like to thank I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and All-Consuming Books for co-hosting this hop. This hop is a thank you to all of my followers, old and new. I just cannot even begin to explain how much it means to me that you guys think I'm worthy of a follow. You are the best.

Because this is a gratitude giveaway, I wanted to give away something from one of my favorite authors, and something from an author who, unforunately, was taken from us far too soon--but we should be grateful that she was able to give us two fantastic novels before she left us. So, one lucky follower will win hardcover copies of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott and The Mermaid's Mirror by LK Madigan.

To enter, you just need to be a GFC follower and a US resident age 13 or up. The contest will close on November 28 at 12:01am.

Enjoy your reading and good luck!

Once you're done here, be sure to hop over to the other blogs to enter their contests!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Elizabeth Scott's next novel!

Ack!! I am so freakin' excited right now! I just discovered that Elizabeth Scott's next novel, Miracle, will be released on June 5, 2012! Which is awesome because I love Elizabeth Scott, but also because June 5 is my birthday! It's like, a sign from the universe or something. Or, like Elizabeth Scott found out it was my birthday and demanded this book be released that day. Yeah, I like that one. :)

Here's the summary from Goodreads:
I sat there and wondered again why I'd lived… 

Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. The truth is, she 
doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back. Scared and alone, Megan doesn’t know who to turn to. Her entire community 
seems unable—or maybe unwilling—to see her as anything but Miracle Megan. Except for Joe, the beautiful boy next door with a tragic past and secrets of his own... All Megan wants is for her life to get back to normal, but the harder she tries to live up to everyone’s expectations, the worse she feels. This time, she may be falling too fast to be saved…

I. CANNOT. WAIT. It should go without saying that I've already pre-ordered a copy from Barnes & Noble!
Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Christi's Adventures: Ellen Hopkins' Triangles Reading and Signing (and Megan McCafferty, too!)

When I found out (at her signing at the Princeton Barnes & Noble) that Ellen Hopkins would be returning to the area to promote her debut adult verse novel, Triangles, I knew I had to be there. And so I was.

While I was waiting for my cosmic twin, Kristie, to show up (unfortunately she got incredibly lost and was way late), I spied a semi-familiar face among the crowd--Megan McCafferty! That's right, the author of the Jessica Darling series and Bumped came out to meet Ellen! I was a little fan girly but kept it together.

After the librarian introduced her, Ellen read a little from Triangles. There were some...younger the audience, so Ellen did a little self-censoring while she was reading. I completely understand why she edited herself--Triangles is a spicy, steamy novel! This made her reading a little choppier than it was when she read from Perfect, and unfortunately she didn't come across as lyrical as she had in the past. Still, I love hearing Ellen read, because she reads her words the exact way I hear them in my head while I'm reading. It's incredible.

After her reading she answered a few questions (several from Megan McCafferty!) and talking a little about her upcoming projects, and then we lined up for the signing. Guess who I was directly behind?

I found this picture on Twitter and it originally came from ;
I believe this is the librarian who hosted the event.
If you look at the line, Megan is wearing a striped shirt and is clutching her copy of Triangles. I am lurking standing right behind her. Kristie showed up during this time, and was towards the back of the line texting me to see if I'd spoken to Megan yet. I hadn't--I'm a pretty shy person. After a couple minutes, though, I just excused myself and asked if she was Megan. Of course she said yes, and then...she said she was remembered me from somewhere and was going to say hello, but it wasn't "her" event. Squee! I still get giddy when I'm recognized LOL So I explained that I met her at the Bumped launch party. We talked for quite a while, actually--I remembered that she lived in Princeton and she explained that the library opened up right after she moved here, so it felt like her library. We also talked about Thumped, the sequel to Bumped. And this is where I felt like a total idiot, but I really, really thought the sequel was going to be titled something else, but she said no, it was always going to be Bumped. Not like I argued with her or anything, but for some reason I have some other title in my head. Anyway, it made me look like a tool because a real fan should have known that Thumped was in production and scheduled for a spring 2012 release. I asked about a possible tour, and she said there wasn't as much drive for sequel tours, which I think just stinks. Attention publicity-type peoples: I'd love to see Megan tour for Thumped! Thank you.

After we chatted and she met Ellen and then ran screaming away from the stalker fan girl monopolizing her time left, it was my turn to meet Ellen again. And, my camera battery was dead. Again. What the hell--I had this same problem when I met E. Lockhart! Fortunately, cosmic twin Kristie came to my rescue, so I would have this to show for my efforts:
Thanks for coming to my rescue, Kristie!
After I was done, I hung out to wait for Kristie, and we explored the Princeton Public Library some. It's a gorgeous place and I was very envious of everything--it's really quite beautiful.

We didn't hang out too long, as we both had long drives home. Still, another fun night out and I feel very, very lucky to have had the opportunity to meet Ellen Hopkins not once, but twice over the past month!

Enjoy your reading!

Monday, November 14, 2011

The Saga of Larten Crepsley by Darren Shan

The Saga of Larten Crepsely by Darren Shan
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Book 1: Birth of a Killer (October 2010)
Book 2: Ocean of Blood (April 2011)
Book 3: Palace of the Damned (October 2011)
Book 4: Brothers to the Death (April 2012)

Here's the summary of Birth of a Killer from Goodreads:

The highly anticipated prequel to the New York Times bestselling Cirque Du Freak series!Before Cirque Du Freak...Before the war with the vampaneze...Before he was a vampire.Larten Crepsley was a boy.As a child laborer many centuries ago, Larten Crepsley did his job well and without complaint, until the day the foreman killed his brother as an example to the other children.In that moment, young Larten flies into a rage that the foreman wouldn't survive. Forced on the run, he sleeps in crypts and eats cobwebs to get by. And when a vampire named Seba offers him protection and training as a vampire's assistant, Larten takes it.This is his story.
I had read the first two books in the Cirque du Freak series and liked them well enough. I even watched the movie (I know, I know, but I do love John C. Reilly. Sadly, even he wasn't enough to save this movie.). The premise is interesting enough (even for a non-vampire-lover like me!), but I find it really hard to find time to dedicate to a series. In addition, the first two books seemed really young to me. I think they'd be a great fit for 6th or 7th graders, maybe 8th.
Still, I was intrigued by this newest saga from Darren Shan (here's a tidbit not at all related to anything: I love the name Darren. My daughter was going to be a Darren if she'd been a boy). In general I really adore prequels, especially when they're written and/or read after the fact.There's just something about reading someone's past history to give you a sense of why they behaved a particular way in their present or future (that made way more sense in my head!). So I picked up the first book, Birth of a Killer, with interest.
I was quite pleased, I have to say. The tone of this trio (since #4 isn't out until next year I can only review the first 3 books, of course) is definitely older--this is a set of books for the high school set--especially if they loved Cirque du Freak a few years ago! I absolutely loved reading about Larten as a boy, how the orange hair came about, and how he ended up where he did. 

The second book, Ocean of Blood, was equally intriguing, as Larten is a teenager (well, in vampire years, anyway) and readers will be amused to discover that typical teenage angst transcends the years--and the species! And also, the ending of this book? Cliffhanger. Well, as much of a cliffhanger as you can have, already knowing that eventually Larten ends up with the Cirque. Anyway.

I just finished book 3, Palace of the Damned. Still good, but now I'm getting antsy, knowing the "end" of the saga is near. There are still tons of questions I want answered. In addition, reading this book reminded me of another reason I don't like reading series: unless I read  them one after the other, it's far too difficult for me to recall what happened from one book to the next. I did have that problem with this book, but Darren Shan was very good about retelling events without making it sound like a retelling. For instance, how in Sweet Valley High or The Baby-Sitters Club the author always takes a few pages to re-introduce everyone--you basically know you can skip, like, five pages of the first chapter because they're just copied and pasted from book to book? This saga isn't like that. Darren is a master at gently reminding us of what happened without making it sound repetitive.

Was happy to see an entry for the final book, Brothers to the Death, on Goodreads, although currently there's little more than the title and the release date--April 30, 2012. But at least I know the end is in sight!

You can learn more about the quartet at Darren's website--click here!

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

In My Mailbox (60)

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 I Am a Reader, Not a Writer: Crossroads by Mary Ting with a matching necklace (thanks, Kathy & Mary!):

Won from a contest in Princess Bookie's Contest Craze: Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave (thanks, Cindy & Ryan!):

Won from a contest over at Ramblings of a Teenage Bookworm: ePub of Whirl (Ondine Quartet #1) by Emma Raveling (thanks, Faye & Emma!):

And, it's not in my mailbox now, but pretty soon I'll be getting a HUGE credit card bill from Walt Disney World! :) We had an awesome vacation and I finally started reading Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick and it's absolutely AMAZING!

What did you get?
Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd, with illustrations by Jim Kay
Candlewick Press, September 27, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:

This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. . . .This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.
Shortest. Review. Ever. There will be no spoilers, no descriptions of what's going on. I read this book in one day, in between my library visits to the English classes at the local high school. I finished it as I was waiting for my daughter to get home from school. I think it took about 2 hours, total.

A gorgeous and harrowing story, made even more so once you know how this story came to be. Patrick Ness is my new hero. And Jim Kay's illustrations are exquisite. This is a beautiful story, not scary in the way you might think. Stunning. Heart-breaking. Unique. You have to read this book.

Seriously, Patrick Ness is a genius. I already suspected as much, what with the Chaos Walking trilogy, but this book seals the deal for me. This one's going on my Top 11 of 2011.

(Oh, and I have to say that  I'm thoroughly enjoying this trend of YA-books-with-illustrations/photographs--A Monster Calls, Miss Peregrine, Every You, Every Me.)

Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In My Mailbox (59)

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 Princess Bookie as part of her Contest Craze: a signed copy of The Latte Rebellion by Sarah Jamila Stevenson (thanks, Cindy!):

I've already read The Latte Rebellion; you can read my review here!

Not that much, I know, but don't feel sorry for me--I'm in Walt Disney World, after all!

Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Christi's Adventures: Disney!

Disney 2010
So, Daughter & I are headed to Disney World for a week of fun times! I'm super excited to be there for the end of the Food & Wine Festival at Epcot. I cannot wait to drink eat all the yummy beverages foods that will be available! Plus, I just love Disney World in general, the happy atmosphere, the fun rides and attractions, getting to spend some quality time with my best girl--and did I mention my parents and my brother & his family are coming with? We're traveled with the 'rents before, but this is my brother's fam's first real vacation in, well, ever. His kids are 2 (almost 3) and 4, and I am uber-excited to experience Disney through their little eyes!

But I digress! While I have a boatload of library books waiting to be read, I don't want to pack any more than I have to, so I'm only taking my nook. I have several books on there to read--not sure which one I want to tackle first!
  • Prized (eGalley) by Carach O'Brien 
  • Tighter by Adele Griffin
  • Ashes by Ilsa Black
  • How to Be Bad by Lauren Myracle, E. Lockhart, & Sarah Mlynowski
  • Tell Me a Secret by Holly Cupala
So please forgive the lack of posts this coming week, but rest assured that posts will return as soon as we do!

Enjoy your reading!

Friday, November 4, 2011


I've got some winners to announce!

The winner of Barry's Book Blogger Giveaway, and a signed copy of Goth Girl Rising by Barry Lyga, is...


The winner of the YA Spooktacular, and a signed copy of Tighter by Adele Griffin, is...


Congratulations to both of you, and thanks to everyone who entered! More giveaways to come soon!

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart

You Are My Only by Beth Kephart
EgmontUSA, October 25, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Emmy Rane is married at nineteen, a mother by twenty. Trapped in a life with a husband she no longer loves, Baby is her only joy. Then one sunny day in September, Emmy takes a few fateful steps away from her baby and returns to find her missing. All that is left behind is a yellow sock.
Fourteen years later, Sophie, a homeschooled, reclusive teenage girl is forced to move frequently and abruptly from place to place, perpetually running from what her mother calls the "No Good." One afternoon, Sophie breaks the rules, ventures out, and meets Joey and his two aunts. It is this loving family that gives Sophie the courage to look into her past. What she discovers changes her world forever. . . .
The riveting stories of Emmy and Sophie—alternating narratives of loss, imprisonment, and freedom regained—escalate with breathless suspense toward an unforgettable climax.
I was very anxious to read and review this novel. The idea of a baby getting kidnapped right from her yard is, for a parent, horrifying. I was expecting big, scary things from this novel. Unfortunately, while the storyline was good, the plot just wasn't as developed as I would have liked. The story is told in alternating viewpoints, and while Sophie is pretty forward about her upbringing, Emmy is more reluctant to share how she ended up where she did. The whole hospitalization thing seemed forced--something that may have been believable in the 1950s but less so in the late 1990s (but perhaps I'm putting the late 1990s in a better light than they deserve?). I was also so completely confused by the many references to Kepler. I get that the mother is slightly delusional and thinks that this stuff is important--and maybe it is, but it wasn't explained that well in the book. It was kind of like, hmmm, what is this model that she's making? Am I intrigued enough to get up and look it up?" Ultimately, the answer was no. I feel like that kind of information is going to be put in a book, it should have some kind of lasting relevance to the storyline.

eGalley received from NetGalley.
Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

October in Review

Did you enter my latest giveaway?
Today's the last day to enter!

2011 is almost over! I cannot believe it! Let's see how my October shaped up:

I read 14 books, only 2 of which filled a challenge requirement--one each for the 2011 and A-Z challenges. I'm going to somehow have to read those last three books--K, Q, and Z--so I can officially complete the A-Z challenge! 13 books isn't that great, but it is what it is. According to my calculations (which might be wrong, I never claimed to be good at math), I'm at 158 books so far this year, which means I have two months to read 42 books if I want to hit my goal of 200. Um, so I might fail there, as well. Hmmm...

Meanwhile, there are something like 40 books on my to-read pile right now. Ugh! All the books I got at the Collingswood Book Festival plus the tons of library books I have to get to. And I feel myself getting into a reading slump, which is not good. Hopefully it passes quickly!

October found me visiting the Collingswood Book Festival and the Princeton Library to see Ellen Hopkins again (and to fangirl stalk Megan McCafferty a little!). Work wise, I spent a frantic seven full days over three weeks visiting every single English class in the local middle school and high school to have the kids sign up for library cards--we're talking something like 65 classes! Technically I did two visits in November, but my stats for the October visits were well over 1400 students. That's a LOT of library card apps to process! It was absolutely an exhausting endeavor but I have to be proud of myself for doing it. This partnership will be so beneficial to all parties involved, and it's been long overdue in my branch. So, yay for me! Now I just have to get back there and hand out the cards!

How was your October?
Enjoy your reading!