Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Mailbox (19)

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...definitely not as exciting as last week's IMM, but some great stuff nonetheless!

Borrowed from the library:
  • Choker by Elizabeth Woods
  • Such a Pretty Girl by Laura Wiess
  • The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (so I can have the complete trio when Forever is released)
Downloaded to my nook:
  • The New World by Patrick Ness (prequel to the Chaos Walking trilogy--currently FREE at Barnes & Noble!)
I also got some great swag from Steph over at The Thoughts of a Book Junky, for signing up for her A-Z Reading Challenge! Thank you!!

Enjoy your reading!

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler

A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler
Flux, May 1, 2010

Summary from Goodreads:
Fifteen-year-old Aura Ambrose has been hiding a secret. Her mother, a talented artist and art teacher, is slowly being consumed by schizophrenia, and Aura has been her sole caretaker ever since Aura's dad left them. Convinced that "creative" equals crazy, Aura shuns her own artistic talent. But as her mother sinks deeper into the darkness of mental illness, the hunger for a creative outlet draws Aura toward the depths of her imagination. Just as desperation threatens to swallow her whole, Aura discovers that art, love, and family are profoundly linked—and together may offer an escape from her fears.
This book was so moving and the writing so eloquent--simply a gorgeous debut novel. Aura's emotions are raw and real as she explores the possible correlation between creativity and schizophrenia. Here's a girl who has had to grow up way before her time, and through no fault of her own.

Readers can tell that the adults in Aura's life unfortunately don't care enough to realize something is wrong. And oh my lord. Her father is an absolutely despicable man and should be shot. To leave your wife and child because of your wife's illness is one thing, but to leave a then-12-year-old to have to deal with that illness, and essentially become the primary caregiver for that ill mom? All while living in the same town? He should have moved out of town, at least, so Aura doesn't have a constant reminder of what an idiot her father is. Aura's guidance counselor and teachers are only slightly better, making half-hearted attempts to coax her into an accelerated arts program. However, when Aura refuses, no one cares enough to wonder why.

Aura's struggle to deal with her mother's schizophrenia on her own is one that readers will understand, if not agree with. While it might be easy for us at first to judge Aura and her choices, once we we dive into Aura's world we realize just how strong the mother-daughter bond is, and perhaps we can come to see this situation in a new light. Really, a beautiful story.

Stay tuned--I'm honored to be a part of Holly Schindler's blog tour for her upcoming novel, Playing Hurt, coming March 1st!

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves

Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
Simon Pulse, January 4, 2011
read for A-Z Reading Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
Kit and Fancy Cordelle are sisters of the best kind: best friends, best confidantes, and best accomplices. The daughters of the infamous Bonesaw Killer, Kit and Fancy are used to feeling like outsiders, and that’s just the way they like it. But in Portero, where the weird and wild run rampant, the Cordelle sisters are hardly the oddest or most dangerous creatures around.
It’s no surprise when Kit and Fancy start to give in to their deepest desire—the desire to kill. What starts as a fascination with slicing open and stitching up quickly spirals into a gratifying murder spree. Of course, the sisters aren’t killing just anyone, only the people who truly deserve it. But the girls have learned from the mistakes of their father, and know that a shred of evidence could get them caught. So when Fancy stumbles upon a mysterious and invisible doorway to another world, she opens a door to endless possibilities….
I have to say that I was given plenty of advance warning about this novel. I heard that it was graphic, I heard that it was twisted, I heard that other readers couldn't finish it. After hearing all that, there was no question in my mind--I HAD to read this book! After all, my favorite non-YA genre has to be horror; I make it a point to buy, in hardcover, every new Stephen King book published, I took a class in college on the history of horror, reading everything from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to The Exorcist, Edgar Allen Poe to H.P. Lovecraft. So it's safe to say that I'm easily turned off by blood, guts, and dismemberment. Indeed, I thought I would be able to finish Slice of Cherry and add it to my list of favorite horror stories.

Alas, that's not exactly what happened. First of all, I was reading Slice of Cherry on my nook, and I find it takes me longer to read eBooks rather than paper. Most people say the opposite is true for them, but for me, I tend to read slower on my nook. So fro the get-go I knew it was going to take me longer to get through this book than I would have liked.

Secondly, I found myself confused at several points in the story. While I was aware this was a horror novel, I hadn't realized the paranormal element would factor so heavily in the story line. In addition, I didn't feel that there was enough backstory to explain the paranormal elements. (Disclaimer: I have not yet read Reeves' first novel, Bleeding Violet) Everything I've read about Slice of Cherry indicated that it was a stand-alone novel that just happened to have the same setting as Bleeding Violet. While this is true, I suspect that some things that I didn't understand in this book would have made sense had I read Bleeding Violet first.

I did appreciate the horror aspects of the story. The idea of two girls having "Bonesaw Killer" blood is quite intriguing, and I love the way the girls managed to rationalize their murders. I also liked how each of the girls had a chance to second-guess their "project." When Fancy started waffling on the task, I thought Kit was going to be the more malicious of the two, and then suddenly Kit was the one with misgivings.

Of the two sisters, I liked Kit more. Fancy seemed needy and possessive to the point of weirdness when it came to Kit. I get it, you're sisters, you're best friends, but really? You can't possibly understand why Kit would want to spend time with a boy? Seriously, Fancy, cut those ties, or your last memory of Kit will be her running away from you.

I would love to read a prequel of how Fancy and Kit's father, aka the "Bonesaw Killer," came to be a serial killer, or revisiting the girls in the future (now that I know what to expect!).

purchased eBook.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

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

This week I'm waiting for Pearl, by Jo Knowles.

Summary from Amazon:

Bean (née Pearl) and Henry, misfits and best friends, have the strangest mothers in town. Henry’s mom Sally never leaves the house. Bean’s mom Lexie, if she is home, is likely nursing a hangover or venting to her friend Claire about Bean’s beloved grandfather Gus, the third member of their sunny household.
Gus’s death unleashes a host of family secrets that brings them all together. And they threaten to change everything—including Bean’s relationship with Henry, her first friend, and who also might turn out to be her first love.
I loved Jumping Off Swings and know I'll enjoy this one, too--Jo Knowles has a gift for writing.

Amazon lists July 19, 2011 as the publication date.

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It was a good idea, in theory

My supervisors independently decided it would be a good idea for me to attend a workshop on the best new YA literature. I thought it was a great idea, too--hey, I LOVE YA lit, what better way to spend the day than just talking about all the great new stuff out there?

The workshop was today, and it was enjoyable. The presenter was an absolutely astounding booktalker--she only referred to her notes a few times, and she must have booktalked dozens of books. And we all got to take home this huge handbook with tons of resources, booklists, ideas, etc. The workshop was geared more towards teachers and school media specialists, so there were parts that didn't really apply to me--projects, reports and stuff--but I did get several ideas for projects I can do with my teens. I've read several of the books in the handout, but not many of the ones discussed at the workshop, which was surprising. The presenter also spent a decent amount of time on new non-fiction, which is not one of my strengths, so that was a bonus for me.

But when the day was done, and I was driving home, I made an observation: was it really a smart idea to send a YA-book-geek to a workshop about YA books? Could anyone not foresee that I was going to come home with dozens of titles to add to my already overflowing to-read list? Did no one notice that I already spend more time reading than I probably should (according to my husband; I get dinner on the table most nights, keep the house reasonably clean, and the kid is growing up happy and healthy; I personally think I'm balancing reading with real life OK.)? A woman who currently has 24 books in her to-read pile (plus countless others on her nook) and keeps a journal of to-reads according to release date has NO RIGHT attending a workshop that will only ADD to said to-read lists!

I know sarcasm is hard to read in a blog post, so I hope you can all understand that my complaints are tongue-in-cheek. I really did enjoy the conference and I did come up with several titles I want to read; the problem now is finding the time to read them all!

Here are some of the titles that caught my eye; any opinions on them? (Note that some of them have already been on my radar!)
  • Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
  • Rikers High by Paul Volponi
  • Blank Confession by Pete Hautman
  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper
  • They Called Themselves the KKK: Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
  • Dirty Little Secrets by CJ Omololu
  • Short: Walking Tall When You're Not Tall at All by John Schwartz
  • Payback Time by Carl Deuker
Enjoy your reading!

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf Books for Young Readers, January 11, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.
With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.
Wow. I, just, WOW. I did not anticipate how much this book would move me. From the very first chapter, where Jessica is slowly coming out of anesthesia after the operation to remove her foot, I was sucked into her life. Jessica and readers alike learn about the complications of the surgery, recovery, and process for creating a prosthetic limb. Van Draanen's writing is so realistic that I was cringing right along with Jessica the first time she tried to "hop" up the stairs in her house.

I was also brought to tears at least twice during the reading of this novel, which is quite a rarity for me. Yes, I cry constantly during movies and TV shows (sometimes even during commercials), but crying while reading isn't something that comes naturally for me. And what makes it even better is that they were tears of happiness, not sadness. Just to read about the outpouring of support Jessica gets when...well, I don't want to spoil it, but I felt as though I was right there with her.

I also loved the relationship Jessica developed with Rosa. Once Jessica began to realize that Rosa was a wonderful person who just happened to have cerebral palsy, she began to put her own problems into perspective. I was truly heartened to see these two girls become friends, and to see how they each offered the other help when it was needed. I also appreciated that Jessica was able to see beyond herself and her problems--large though they may be--to help a friend who has problems of her own.

As a matter of fact, the entire cast of characters in this novel was perfect. Mom and Dad demonstrated just the right amounts of hopefulness and hopelessness, little sister Kaylee showed the right balance of fear and annoyance at having her life disrupted, and Jessica's friends were both supportive and horrified. In such a terrifying situation, you don't just feel one emotion--it's more like a roller coaster of feelings, and I feel Van Draanen did an excellent job of portraying this realistically.

I highly recommend this book. You don't have to be a runner to appreciate the story (I'm proof of that!) of a girl who struggles to be who she once was. You will certainly come away with a new perspective of your life and problems once you've read it.

ARC received from I Read Banned Books as part of her Banned Books Tour. Thank you so much for letting me participate!

Enjoy your reading!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Geek Magnet by Kieran Scott

Geek Magnet by Kieran Scott
Putnam Juvenile, 2008
Off the Shelf Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:

Everyone loves KJ Miller, especially the geeks. She's pretty, smart, and super nice to everyone, which has made her the geek pied piper of Washington High. If only Cameron, the star of the basketball team, would follow her around and worship her the way her dorky entourage does.
As the stage manager of the spring musical, Grease, KJ has to deal with a few geeks, but she also gets to hang out with Tama, queen of the popular crowd and star of the play. Tama has the solution to all of KJ's problems: get cruel. After all, the nice girl never gets the guy. Can KJ actually pull off a transformation into a mean girl?
Cute was actually kind of fun to see how KJ handled being mean to her geeks. I think we can all understand how KJ feels...she wants to attact the attention of the hotties, but the only guys that pay her any attention are the geeks. It's what's inside that counts though...oh, who am I kidding? These are high school kids, what's outside counts more. The whole thing with KJ's father felt a little cliched, though. Still, this is a cute story and it's fun to see what KJ learns about her geeks, the popular kids, and even herself. 3.5 out of 5 (She's So Dead To Us remains my favorite by Kieran!)

Purchased book (and had it signed by Kieran herself!)

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

In My Mailbox (18)

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

It was a really, really good week for me, book-wise!

Won from Gayle Forman:
  • If I Stay and Where She Went (ARC) (squee!)
Won from Icey Books, who participated in the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Hop:
  • Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Won from the 200 Followers Contest at Frenzy of Noise:
  • Afterlife by Claudia Gray (ARC)
From publisher for review:
  • Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore (ARC)
As part of the I Read Banned Books book tour, for review:
  • The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

eGalley received from the author for review:
  • Illegal by Bettina Restrepo
From author event:
  • Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockart
  • Ghostgirl: Lovesick by Tonya Hurley
  • Across the Universe by Beth Revis (from Fireside Books, where she had her launch party last week--signed & everything!):

Borrowed from the library:
  • The Radleys by Matthew Haig
  • Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen

What did you get this week?
Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Christi's Adventures: E. Lockhart & Tonya Hurley Author Visit!

Sorry guys, this is kind of a long story--my adventures to get to E. Lockhart and Tonya Hurley!

So I had heard a while ago that E. Lockhart (Real Live Boyfriends, among others) and Tonya Hurley (Ghostgirl trilogy) were going to be the Barnes & Noble in Princeton, NJ. Princeton is not that far away from me--I mean, it's not close, but I used to go to college near there (and I commuted for a year), so it's completely doable, just over an hour each way. And the "snow" that we were supposed to get Thursday night turned out to be nothing, so I decided to make the drive out there.

But first! I get home from work and rush inside to try and throw some dinner together for dear daughter (Toy Story mac & cheese! Yay!). While I was doing that, dear hubby went into the garage. And heard a hissing noise. And discovered a hole in one of my tires. He wasn't able to plug it, but he was able to get the spare on for me. I decided that while a flat tire was probably a sign I shouldn't head out, I was going anyway.

It took me TWENTY minutes to get my crapppy GPS to register the Barnes & Noble address, and even then I'm pretty sure it had me heading to Princeton by way of Venezuela. See, I pretty much knew where I was going. As I said, I went to school not far from there; as a matter of fact, on the night he proposed, now-dear-hubby took me to this very same Barnes & Noble to get bridal magazines. So I *kind of* knew where I was going. I just hadn't been out that way in over ten years, and wanted the GPS as reassurance. But last night, man, that GPS was all over the place. Even as I was pulling in to the Barnes & Noble parking lot 'she' was recalculating to figure out how to get me where I wanted to be. Ugh.

But! I'm FINALLY there! Late, but there. I missed Tonya's reading and most of Emily's, but was there to hear the Q&A portion. Both authors are pretty sure that each book is the last in their respective series. Tonya indicated that Ghostgirl had been optioned for TV by Fox, and will be animated if/when it comes to the small screen. (Disclaimer: I have not yet read the Ghostgirl series, although I've always meant to, so I really didn't know too much about Tonya. Like, that she was a TV writer. Or that she was instrumental in the Mary-Kate and Ashley craze of several years back.) She did speak about the artwork for her books, and how she passed over a prior book deal because she wanted to make sure her book was done right. She had complete control over her covers and such, which isn't that common for a first-time author.

This led to a conversation with Emily, who revealed that she had no control over her covers. She spoke about the difference between the hardcover and paperback editions of The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, and the changes made to the Ruby Oliver series when the fourth book came out. Fans will know that the original covers of the first three books featured iconic images--specifically, a ceramic frog, a ceramic penguin, and a marshmallow snowman (my favorite cover, and apparently Emily's, as well!). When Real Live Boyfriends came about, the publishers decided to revamp all the covers--the reprints and Real Live Boyfriends show a model in various poses. Emily said it's very unusual for a publisher to want to repackage older books like that, so she was grateful. As far as control over the cover, though--she was asked to provide examples of what kind fo clothing she's like the model to wear.  

The pair was asked what other YA they enjoy reading, and Tonya revealed that she doesn't read that much YA. Emily did recommend Jaclyn Moriarty, particularly The Spell Book of Listen Taylor and The Murder of Bundy Mackenzie. For adults, she said that The Magicians by Lev Grossman is like Harry Potter for grownups, and a really good read. 

Then it was time for signing. There actually weren't that many people there, so it didn't take as long as I'd expected. I bought three books from each author and had them signed--one each for me, one each to give away to my teens at the end of summer reading , and one each for future contests right here on this blog! So stay tuned! I just have to say that Tonya's books, especially the hardcover versions, are absolutely. GORGEOUS.

Emily was a little surprised when I told her I'd read most of what she's written--the only one I missed was How To Be Bad, which she wrote with Lauren Myracle and Sarah Mlynowski).

I didn't have my picture taken with them because 1. I hate having my picture taken 2. I was by myself and felt a little weird asking random strangers to take my picture, and 3. my camera battery was nearly dead. UGH.

All in all, even though it seems like the fates were plotting against me (did I mention that I coasted into Princeton on fumes and almost forgot to find a gas station on the way home?), I had a quite enjoyable evening.

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
Razorbill, December 14, 2010

Summary from Goodreads:

Instead of celebrating Memorial Day weekend on the Jersey Shore, Jane is in the hospital surrounded by teddy bears, trying to piece together what happened last night. One minute she was at a party, wearing fairy wings and cuddling with her boyfriend. The next, she was lying near-dead in a rosebush after a hit-and-run.
A great mystery here! I think it's really rare to find a decent murder (or attempted murder) mystery in YA, but Jaffe has done it. We, the readers, know that someone's out to get Jane, and Jane knows, too, but no one else does, and no one believes her. I spent the whole book (as I usually do with a mystery) trying to figure out whodunnit, and I was wrong on all counts. I was even suspecting Jane's sweet nurse (whose name escapes me at this moment--Lorraine?) at one point! (Was I right? I'm not telling!)

I've read other reviews that have bashed this book, and I don't think it's totally warranted. This is a fun, suspenseful read.

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

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

This week I'm waiting for What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen.
Summary from Goodreads:
Another town. Another school. Another Mclean. Ever since her parents' bitter divorce, Mclean and her father have been fleeing their unhappy past. And Mclean's become a pro at reinventing herself with each move. But in Lakeview, Mclean finds herself putting down roots and making friends—in part, thanks to Dave, the most real person Mclean's ever met. Dave just may be falling in love with her, but can he see the person she really is? Does Mclean herself know?
Of course I'm waiting for the newest Sarah Dessen. I mean, it's SARAH. DESSEN. But! Just in case knowing a new Sarah Dessen is coming out isn't enough of a teaser, Sarah just posted an excerpt from the book on her blog! I just read it and it is fantastic! Now I REALLY can't wait for the book, but sadly, it doesn't come out until May 10th. The agony!

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Grace by Elizabeth Scott

Grace by Elizabeth Scott
Dutton, September 2010
read for A-Z Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:

Grace was raised to be an Angel, a herald of death by suicide bomb. But she refuses to die for the cause, and now Grace is on the run, daring to dream of freedom. In search of a border she may never reach, she travels among malevolent soldiers on a decrepit train crawling through the desert. Accompanied by the mysterious Kerr, Grace struggles to be invisible, but the fear of discovery looms large as she recalls the history and events that delivered her uncertain fate. Told in spare, powerful prose by acclaimed author Elizabeth Scott, this tale of a dystopian near future will haunt readers long after they've reached the final page.

OK, lesser of two evils, anyone? Can anyone fault Grace for desperately trying to escape both of these horrible worlds? All of Grace's fellow Angels are happy--ecstatic, even--to complete their mission (thereby killing themselves in the process). It's been drilled into them that Angels only exist to fulfill their mission, and for these girls that's enough. At a pivotal moment, however, Grace discovers what want feels like and nothing can stop her from trying to escape the only life she's ever known.  Even the knowledge that she'll be making this journey with a stranger, Kerr, who has his own story to tell, isn't enough to stop her from finally living her own life.

Through glimpses into the past Scott shows us the world Grace was brought up in, and readers will easily grow to sympathize with her plight. I can certainly understand the People's point of view--the land is the land and Keran Berj is really an evil dictator. However, over time they have completely warped their vision until their violent retataliations are just as bad as Keran Berj's ruling. This story gives a shocking glimpse into the world of suicide bombers--how brainwashing is such an integral part of their propaganda.

Dystopian fans will enjoy this novel...dystopian fans who are ready for a stand-alone dystopian novel will enjoy it even more!

*Living Dead Girl will always remain my favorite Elizabeth Scott novel, though!
Enjoy your reading!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Stylish Blogger Award!

Steph over at Thoughts of a Book Junky just honored me with the Stylish Blogger Award! Thank you so much, I'm so flattered that my little blog is considered stylish! :o)

Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  • Be sure to thank the person who gave you the award in your post.
  • Share seven fun things about yourself.
  • Pass the award on to ten bloggers who you think are extremely stylish.
  • Be sure to let the winners know they were chosen. 
So here are 7 fun (?) things about me:
  1. When I have free time, I enjoy baking. I just whipped up some yummy cookies and cream Oreo cheesecake cupcake thingys over the weekend (using an Oreo instead of a crust!)--my first Martha Stewart recipe.
  2. Love the NY Giants and therefore despise the NY Jets, which is making this a most difficult postseason for me.
  3. I only started reading YA during the summer of 2009--not even two years ago!
  4. I have a slight (OK, huge) crush on Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs. Oddly, hubby does not feel threatened LOL
  5. My favorite movie of all time is Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Made hubby take me to a sci-fi convention on our 1st wedding anniversary so I could meet all four "kids."
  6. I cannot survive without coffee--on my days off I typically go through 2 pots a day.
  7. I love Disney World, and even though we just visited in December, am secretly planning another trip LOL
The 10 stylish bloggers I'm giving this award to are:
  1. Hafsah at Icey Books
  2. Amber & Cheryl at Just Your Typical Book Blog
  3. Sarah at YA Love
  4. Ella, Reggie, & Lori at Deliriously Falling
Be sure to stop by and visit all of these lovely ladies, as well as Steph at Thoughts of a Book Junky!

Enjoy your reading!

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Simon Pulse, October 2010
read for A-Z Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
The higher you aim, the farther you fall….
It’s Violet’s junior year at the Westfield School. She thought she’d be focusing on getting straight As, editing the lit mag, and figuring out how to talk to boys without choking on her own saliva. Instead, she’s just trying to hold it together in the face of cutthroat academics, her crush’s new girlfriend, and the sense that things are going irreversibly wrong with her best friend, Katie.
When Katie starts making choices that Violet can’t even begin to fathom, Violet has no idea how to set things right between them. Westfield girls are trained for success—but how can Violet keep her junior year from being one huge, epic failure?
This was such a fun, fun novel! I loved that the chapters were kept relatively short--the book almost read as a series of very short stories instead of a novel. Sales did a wonderful job of creating exquisite voices for her characters. Both Violet has a wicked sense of humor, as does her best friend, Kate, and for me the highlight of this story was reading how the two play off of each other. Together they are certainly a force to be reckoned with.

Violet is a strong young woman who sets impossibly high goals for herself, but is quite realistic in how she expects to achieve said goals. I mean, this isn't a girl who just says she wants straight A's, but one who devotes all of winter break studying to get those straight A's. But Violet  is far from perfect, and these imperfections make the reader love her all the more. She makes mistakes and she screws up, just like the rest of us.

I thoroughly enjoyed this debut novel. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys contemporary fiction, and I'm looking forward to reading more by Leila Sales!

(I won this book in a contest)

Enjoy your reading!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

L.K. Madigan Feast of Awesome Giveaway!

The 2009 Debutantes are hosting an awesome giveaway to honor and support fellow deb L.K. Madigan, who last week revealed some very devastating news on her blog. Forty randomly chosen winners will receive copies of both Flash Burnout and The Mermaid's Mirror (both of which are on my to-read shelf). To enter, you just have to spread the book love, and leave a comment on this post detailing how you spread that love. The contest runs through January 31, so you have plenty of time to spread the love!

Here are some suggestions for spreading the Book Love:
  1. Adding her books onto your Goodreads shelf.
  2. Blogging, linking, tweeting about this contest.
  3. Adding reviews to sites or on your blog if you've read Lisa's novels. vlog about it!
  4. Telling your friends about Lisa's books if you've read them.
  5. Buying her wonderful books for yourself, for a friend.
  6. Checking them out from your local library, requesting them if they aren't carried.
  7. Generally spreading the Book Love, however and any way you can.
You can learn more at the 2009 Debutantes website.

Enjoy your reading!

In My Mailbox (17)

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!

Purchased for my nook:
  • Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
For review from publisher (Hyperion):
  • The Darlings are Forever by Melissa Kantor (read my review here!)
eGalleys from Simon & Schuster's Galley Grab:
  • Haven by Kristi Cook
  • Stay by Deb Caletti
  • Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult (not really YA but I love her stuff!)
ARC (gifted from collections department at work!):
  • Stork by Wendy Delsol
Work related:
  • I applied for and was granted ALA's Great Stories Club Round IV grant on behalf of my branch and the juvenile facility I visit monthly. My package arrived today, so I can start booktalking at my visit on Tuesday! I'm so excited to be able to give the students their own copies to read! And this year's choices were excellent, I thought: The Hate List by Jennifer Brown, Dope Sick by Walter Dean Myers, and The Brothers Torres by Coert Voorhees. (and my phone actually takes halfway decent photos!)

Enjoy your reading!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor

The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor
Hyperion, January 4, 2011

Summary from Goodreads:
Jane, Victoria, and Natalya. Together, they are the Darlings. Best friends forever. They have matching necklaces, their own table at Ga Ga Noodle, and even a shared motto: May you always do what you’re afraid of doing.
When the friends begin freshman year at three different high schools in distant corners of New York City, they promise to live by their motto and stay as close as ever. The Darlings know they can get through anything as long as they have each other. But doing scary new things is a lot easier with your friends beside you. And now that the girls aren’t spending all their time together, everything they took for granted about their friendship starts to feel less certain. They can’t help but wonder, will they really be the Darlings forever?
I thought this was a very sweet book and a great start to a new series. For much of the novel I was thinking it was a very sweet, innocent story (and it many ways it remained so), but there were just a few scenes that had me remembering that these girls are high school freshmen, not middle school girls.

Is freshman year awkward for everyone, or was that just me? Starting a new school, being a little fish in a really big pond...add to that not knowing a soul in that new school, and perhaps you can sympathize with the Darlings a little. BFFs since forever, they are now going to three separate high schools and their impromptu visits now have to be carefully scheduled around school, homework, and extracurriculars. Jane is a budding actress with a big part in her school's fall play, Natalya has her hands full trying to befriend the popular clique, and Victoria has to deal with her wannabe senator dad and his entourage. Will the three be able to hang on to their friendship amidst all of this stress?

I would definitely be interested in reading more of the Darlings' adventures through high school, but I also think a companion book or series of the girls in their younger days would be awesome, too. Yes, we learned about how the three girls became friends, and how important Nana was in their lives, but when we meet the Darlings, Nana is already gone, and darn it, she sounds like a woman I'd love to know. I think younger versions of these three girls would make interesting characters for tweens. 

I think the Darlings have plenty of stories in their past AND future, and I can't wait to get to know them better!

(review copy received from publisher)
Enjoy your reading!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

Forget You by Jennifer Echols
MTV, July 2010

Summary from Goodreads:
WHY CAN’T YOU CHOOSE WHAT YOU FORGET . . . AND WHAT YOU REMEMBER? There’s a lot Zoey would like to forget. Like how her father has knocked up his twenty-four- year old girlfriend. Like Zoey’s fear that the whole town will find out about her mom’s nervous breakdown. Like darkly handsome bad boy Doug taunting her at school. Feeling like her life is about to become a complete mess, Zoey fights back the only way she knows how, using her famous attention to detail to make sure she’s the perfect daughter, the perfect student, and the perfect girlfriend to ultra-popular football player Brandon. But then Zoey is in a car crash, and the next day there’s one thing she can’t remember at all—the entire night before. Did she go parking with Brandon, like she planned? And if so, why does it seem like Brandon is avoiding her? And why is Doug—of all people— suddenly acting as if something significant happened between the two of them? Zoey dimly remembers Doug pulling her from the wreck, but he keeps referring to what happened that night as if it was more, and it terrifies Zoey to admit how much is a blank to her. Controlled, meticulous Zoey is quickly losing her grip on the all-important details of her life—a life that seems strangely empty of Brandon, and strangely full of Doug.
I enjoyed this story, although it wasn't as Oh My God as I thought it would be. (I suspect I'll enjoy Echols' previous work, Going Too Far, more.) The story itself was fine and I thought the characters were realistic. Yes, unfortunately there are dads out there who refuse to buy their daughter a new car because they're afraid the daughter will get spoiled, while their 24-year-old girlfriend drives around in a spankin' new car. And makes his daughter pay him back for the towing fees after she crashes her car. And forbids her to speak about her mother's sudden absence. Yeah, Father of the Year right here, folks!

Doug was hot hot hot as the brooding boy with a sketchy past, and Brandon was your typical high school lugnut. The only character I really had any problem with, actually, was...Zoey. I just couldn't relate to her at all. I can't stand girls who get all possessive and clingy after what amounts to a one-night stand. I was almost expecting to see her create a Brandon-shrine to pray to every night. Ugh. What makes Zoey think that player Brandon is suddenly going to change his ways?

So it was a good story. The characters were certainly memorable, and the whole plotline about what actually did happen between Zoey and Doug had me hooked. I'm not sure what else I was expecting, but I know I certainly wasn't expecting to dislike Zoey so much! I'd give it a 3 out of 5.

Purchased eBook.

Enjoy your reading!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2011 A to Z Reading Challenge!

The 2011 A to Z Reading Challenge is hosted by Steph over at Thoughts of a Book Junky. Hey, why not? Doesn't sound too hard, you have to read 26 books this year, one for each letter of the alphabet. I'm already doing three challenges, what's one more? :o) Plus, Steph's got some really great giveaways to go along with the challenge, and everyone that signs up (and provides a mailing address) will get some swag in the mail! Fun! You can learn more and sign up here.

I'm going under the assumption that all books I read so far this year will count, and also that I can cross over challenges. I doubt my list will be complete, but here's what I'm shooting for so far.

A: Across the Universe by Beth Revis
B: Bumped by Megan McCafferty
C: Choker by Elizabeth Woods
D: Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
E: Everfound by Neal Shusterman
F: Family by Micol Ostow
G: Grace by Elizabeth Scott
H: Here Lies Bridget by Paife Harbison
I: The Implosion of Aggie Winchester by Lara Zielin
J: Jump by Elisa Carbone
L: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
M: Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
O: Of All the Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
P: Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler

R: Rival by Sarah Bennett Wealer
S: Slice of Cherry by Dia Reeves
T: Trapped by Michael Northrop

U: Unthinkable by Shirley Duke
V: Virals by Kathy Reich
W: The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
X: XVI by Julia Karr
Y: You Against Me by Jenny Downham
Z: Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

So, what do you think? Have any suggestions for the blank letters I've got (K, N, Q)? Think you're up for the challenge?

Enjoy your reading!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher

The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
Sourcebooks Fire, January 1, 2011
read for A-Z Challenge & 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:

Vera and her brother, Will, live in the shadow of the Great Panic, in a country that has collapsed from environmental catastrophe. Water is hoarded by governments, rivers are dammed, and clouds are sucked from the sky. But then Vera befriends Kai, who seems to have limitless access to fresh water. When Kai suddenly disappears, Vera and Will set off on a dangerous journey in search of him-pursued by pirates, a paramilitary group, and greedy corporations. Timely and eerily familiar, acclaimed author Cameron Stracher makes a stunning YA debut that's impossible to forget.
OK, if you know me at all by now, you'll know that I love dystopian fiction. Hunger Games, Maze Runner, XVI, Matched, Delirium...these are all fantastic reads. I can't really explain why I love the genre so much, but I do like dark reads, and I love exploring the alternate futures that authors create.

I did like The Water Wars. I think Stracher did a great job creating a future universe run by people who "own" water. It's just that I thought Stracher's future was a little too realistic. I don't think we're too far away from this world of dry showers (still trying to wrap my head around that one), water pirates, and wars being waged over rivers, lakes, and streams. Realizing that Stracher's world might very well become our reality makes me a little uncomfortable. It also made me so very thirsty! I had to have a big glass of water next to me the whole time I was reading.

The story is well-written and the characters are portrayed very realistically. Vera and Will have that awesome sibling bond that I never had with my brothers, and it's always refreshing to read about a brother and sister looking out for one another. The relationship between Vera and Kai is very sweet and innocent, and readers will absolutely understand why Vera is so determined in her quest to find him. My favorite character in the story, though, was definitely Ulysses, the unofficial pirate king-with-a-heart-of-gold.

All in all, The Water Wars was a unique dystopian novel, and a powerful debut novel. While it may be uncomfortable to think about our future without water, perhaps that was one of Stracher's goals in writing this book. Anyone who reads this book should become at least slightly more conscious of their personal water usage and consumption.

Purchased eBook.

Enjoy your reading!

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

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

This week I'm waiting for Wither, by Lauren DeStefano.

Summary from Goodreads:
What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden's genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden's eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.
A lot of bloggers were lucky enough to get ARCs of this book (unfortunately I wasn't one of the lucky ones), and I don't think I've read a bad review yet. I love, LOVE dystopian fiction, and this sounds like it will be a fresh take. Cannot wait. Wither is scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster on March 22. 

What are you waiting for?
Enjoy your reading!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Across the Universe Release Day!

It's The Launch of the Good Ship Godspeed!

(logo courtesy of Jeremy at

I am so excited that it's FINALLY 1.11.11, because that means Across the Universe by Beth Revis will be available TODAY!!! I was not one of the lucky ones to receive an ARC or early finished copy, so I haven't read the book yet. Early reviews are spectacular, though, and the story sounds so interesting that I just can't wait to dive in!

What's that? You've been living under the proverbial rock & haven't heard of ATU? No worries, check out the book trailer here:

Then check out this awesome video, where Beth talks about the inspiration for the book and the workings of the Godspeed ship:

Of course, I haven't read the book yet, but I think all three areas of the ship look worthy of exploration! I think the Feeder Level is the one most people on the ship would be familiar with, so I'd have to say that the Keeper Level would be where I'd sneak off to explore. Oh, and the Contingency sounds awfully intriguing, too. :o)

Links links links!

Across the Universe Official Website
Across the Universe Facebook Fan Page

Not sure if you'll like ATU? Head over to io9 to read an 111 page excerpt FREE from 11:11am untill 11:11pm today (01.11.11) only!

Follow Beth Revis!
 And of course, Penguin!
Have you already read ATU? What did you think? I was going to pre-order it for my nook, but I love the cover (actually, that the cover is reversible!), so I think I might actually buy a physical copy!

Enjoy your reading!

XVI by Julia Karr

XVI by Julia Karr
Puffin/Speak, January 6, 2011
read for A-Z Challenge & 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Summary from Goodreads:
Nina Oberon's life is pretty normal: she hangs out with her best friend, Sandy, and their crew, goes to school, plays with her little sister, Dee. But Nina is 15. And like all girls she'll receive a Governing Council-ordered tattoo on her 16th birthday. XVI. Those three letters will be branded on her wrist, announcing to all the world—even the most predatory of men—that she is ready for sex. Considered easy prey by some, portrayed by the Media as sluts who ask for attacks, becoming a "sex-teen" is Nina's worst fear. That is, until right before her birthday, when Nina's mom is brutally attacked. With her dying breaths, she reveals to Nina a shocking truth about her past—one that destroys everything Nina thought she knew. Now, alone but for her sister, Nina must try to discover who she really is, all the while staying one step ahead of her mother's killer.
Not just your everyday dystpoian novel! Julia Karr makes her debut with XVI, which follows Nina as she approaches her "sex-teenth" birthday. The world she lives in is in many ways similar to ours; Karr has just tweaked certain elements to the extreme. Nina's world is made up of constant 'verts' (advertisements--sound familiar?) and not-so-subtle government propaganda. There are definite class divisions, as well, with higher-tiered teens getting the good jobs and scholarships while lower-tiered teens are faced with the prospects of menial jobs requiring little to no education.

So far none of this stands out, right? Well, that's where the XVI comes in. When a girl turns 16, she's given the government-ordered XVI tattoo (and a series of STD vaccinations) and is now considered to be "of age" for sex. Turning 16 is treated with great importance in Nina's world and the media spews out endless propaganda encouraging girls to embrace their new status. Some girls take this to the extreme and become promiscuous, while others choose not to. But that doesn't really matter, because the XVI tattoo is kind of like a free pass for men to do whatever they want to these girls. There are very few repercussions for those accused of rape--indeed, in most of these cases it's determined that the girl asked for this violent act.

Arghh...I don't want to reveal too much, you definitely have to give this book a try! Nina is NOT a "sex-teen" but a girl with a sound mind and heart, and a wonderful group of friends and family to turn to (I'm LOVIN' Gran and Pops!). Of course it's not enough for Nina to have to deal with all this sex-teen stuff; no, she has to figure out who murdered her mother and why. And what really happened to the father who died all those years ago--or did he? And trying to protect her best friend Sandy from joining FeLS, an elite all-female training program that Nina suspects is more harmful than helpful to its participants.

And...but perhaps I've already said too much; you just need to read this book. Karr has created a futuristic world where women are treated as property, but what's worse is that very few of them realize they're being treated as such. I am very anxiously awaiting more from Julia Karr, and definitely give this 5 out of 5.

Purchased eBook.

Enjoy your reading!