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Friday, April 30, 2010

Book Blogger Hop (4)

It's that time again to do a fun little dance known as the Book Blogger Hop! It's hosted by Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books. Take some time to check it out. You'll be glad you did!

Friday Fill-In (13)

Friday Fill-In is a fun meme that's hosted by Janet at the Friday Fill-In blog. Just fill in your answers!

1. I was just thinking it was time to start a new book :).
2. I finally finished Dead-Tossed Waves and I left my book in the bookslot at the library.
3. Why does the weather keep getting wonky?!
4. Planning for my wedding was in my thoughts today.
5. One of my father's favorite sayings was ... I actually can't think of one. I don't think my parents were good at doing "sayings."
6. Someone was telling me how tired they were this morning--I know that feeling!
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to having a nice steak with my fiance (He's good at those), tomorrow my plans include relaxing and doing nothing important and Sunday, I want to continue the nothingness!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Here's what I'm waiting on this week:

Princess of Glass
by Jessica day George
Published: May 25, 2010

From Baker & Taylor:
"In the midst of maneuverings to create political alliances through marriage, sixteen-year-old Poppy, one of the infamous twelve dancing princesses, becomes the target of a vengeful witch while Prince Christian tries to save her."

I read another book by this author - Princess of the Midnight Ball - pretty sure it's the companion to this one. That one was really well written and I look forward to this next book. She definitely has a great handle on the whole retold-fairy tale market :). I'll be getting this one as soon as it hits the shelves!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (15)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. This week I'm reading:

The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan

"I don't take the same care my mother did when I decapitate the Mudo. I don't want to think about them as anything other than monsters."
Page 122

I'm going to be honest: I have only read the first 20 pages so far, but I am absolutely hooked into the story. It's ridiculous how good I know this is going to be. The first book, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, was amazing and I have really high hopes for this one. It makes me giddy thinking about sitting down with this book tonight :). I'm such a nerd.

Monday, April 26, 2010

IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq

Title: IraqiGirl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq
Author: ed, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field and John Ross
ISBN: 9781931859738
Publisher: Haymarket Books

Summary from BarnesandNoble.com:
"I feel that I have been sleeping all my life and I have woken up and opened my eyes to the world. A beautiful world! But impossible to live in.

These are the words of fifteen-year-old Hadiya, blogging from the city of Mosul, Iraq, to let the world know what life is really like as the military occupation of her country unfolds. In many ways, her life is familiar. She worries about exams and enjoys watching Friends during the rare hours that the electricity in her neighborhood is running.

But the horrors of war surround her everywhere—weeklong curfews, relatives killed, and friends whose families are forced to flee their homes. With black humor and unflinching honesty, Hadiya shares the painful stories of lives changed forever. “Let’s go back,” she writes, “to my un-normal life.”

With her intimate reflections on family, friendship, and community, IraqiGirl also allows us to witness the determination of one girl not only to survive, but to create, amidst the devastation of war, a future worth living for."
First Lines:

"Do you know that Aya's grandfather was killed last Thursday by one of the American soldiers' bullets? When Aya is eight years old and asks me how her grandfather died, what will I answer her?"
Page 1 (and also later in the book - this was a little bit of a preview at the beginning of the book.)

I don't read biographies. I really don't. But I picked this one up because it seemed like it would be really interesting - something way outside of the norm. I was absolutely blown away by this story.

This is the story of a girl living in Iraq in the last few years - it's a book that combines all of her blog posts about many issues dealing with war, politics, culture, family, and much more. It's a very honest and real look into a family who is living the horrors of war and how it is affecting them.

There's something about this story that makes you feel like you've been kicked in the gut. I mean, it's a heart-wrenching portrayal of war - and it's all true. I honestly couldn't believe some of the things that she was writing about. The things that happened in her everyday life. I just can't imagine living in a world with little electricity, bombs going off, curfews, and all that stuff.

Honestly this book just makes me very thankful for what I have. And it did make me question some of the world I live in. I'm not really one to get into political issues and all that, so maybe I'm a little sheltered. But to hear some of her stories really makes me wonder how things got to where they are. Who made these decisions. What are we trying to accomplish?

This book was wonderful and I absolutely recommend this to anyone. I think that older teens may get more out of the story - in thinking about the future and where they may be in the next few years. It's also an introspective story about Hadia trying to figure out who she is and how she is affected by her surroundings. It's just so powerful.

And here's something amazing: You can visit her blog to get the updates. I haven't sat down and read it yet, but I can imagine that it would be a very interesting continuation.
Other Blog Reviews:

I honestly couldn't find any other reviews out there - at least not ones put out by the publisher. So please, let me know if you've read this one. I'd love to add your review. If you haven't read it, I'd definitely recommend it.

Musing Mondays (5)

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page...! Just go to her blog to find her topic of the week.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about the war books.
With yesterday being Anzac Day, I thought I’d ask a theme question this week. Are you a reader of war books? And if so, do you have any favourites?

Well, my answer for this one is probably going to be unsatisfactory for a Librarian. The truth is... I really don't like war books. I think I've figured out the reason why:

We were required to read them in school.

Stay with me here... I was one of those kids who really didn't do well with being forced to read. And I remember having an absolutely awful time with a little book called Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt. I'm not quite sure what my issues with it were - it was years and years ago (well, more like 15 or so, ahem). But I honestly walked away from that book - probably after weeks of being torn apart in the classroom - thinking I would never read anything like that again.

Hence my dislike for war books. I do realize how close-minded that is - but I was defintely a bit younger then. Perhaps I should try again. Not that book, of course. That might just be a recipe for disaster. So, maybe I should pose this question:

If I were to read one YA war-themed book, what should it be? I'm open to suggestions.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Title: Hex Hall
Author: Rachel Hawkins
ISBN: 9781423121305
Publisher: Hyperion Books/Disney

"Three years ago, Sophie Mercer discovered that she was a witch. It's gotten her into a few scrapes. Her non-gifted mother has been as supported as possible, consulting Sophie's estranged father - an elusive European warlock - only when necessary. But when Sophie attracts too much human attention for a prom-night spell gone horribly wrong, it's her dad who decides her punishment: exile to Hex Hall, an isolated reform school for wayward Prodigium, a.k.a. witches, faeries, and shapeshifters.

By the end of her first day among fellow freak-teens, Sophie has quite a scorecard: three powerful enemies who look like supermodels, a futile crush on a gorgeous warlock, a creepy tagalong ghost, and a new roommate who happens to be the most hated person and only vampire on campus. Worse, Sophie soon learns that a mysterious predator has been attacking students, and her only friend is the number-one suspect.

As a series of blood-curdling mysteries starts to converge, Sophie prepares for the biggest threat of all: an ancient secret society determined to destroy all Prodigium, especially her."
First Lines:

"Felicia Miller was crying in the bathroom. Again. I knew it was her because in the three months I'd been going to Green Mountain High, I'd already seen Felicia crying in the bathroom twice."
Page 1

I'm officially a fan of Rachel Hawkins. It honestly only took a few chapters to make me realize what a great writer she is. This book is just... in a word... fantastic. It's got all the elements I can possibly ask for: Fantasy, Romance, Humor, Mystery, and so on. It's such a fun story that I got into immediately. So hard to put down, but it honestly was a fast read.

I love the idea of some hidden island that takes care of wayward fantastical students. Of course, I think the whole boarding school thing is so exotic (I'm sure it's not really), so I was pretty much destined to love the setting. Also the fact that it was set in Georgia gives a lot of room for humor about the weather. I think one of my favorite analogies was in the first page of the first chapter: "I always wondered what it would be like to live in somebody's mouth." That's pretty damn accurate! :)

One thing I found a little weird about this story was the lack of male characters. I mean, there were dudes in the school... but only one was there for the romantic interest. The rest of the males were teachers or worked at the school - not students. I know there were a few little cameos of guys, but it was so played down that it's like they weren't really around. I guess I could have used a few more dudes to balance out the story (my opinion, obviously).

But even through that, I really enjoyed this book. It's so light hearted even through so much drama. I loved the main character and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book. Oh, that's another thing - there's got to be a next book. There's a little bit of a cliff hanger. I mean, this story definitely has an ending... but there's an obvious continuation. So look out for that! I know I will.

I'd absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for that fantasy romance genre. Or really anyone looking for witch stories... or ghost stories... It's just great for lots of readers. I think mostly girls are going to get into it, but I'll not hesitate to hand it to a guy. But that's just me :).

Check out Rachel Hawkins' Blog. She talks a bit about the next book in this series. There's a link to her website there too, but I tried it and didn't get a whole lot from it. Maybe it was just my computer. This is also her debut book, so she counts for my Debut Author Challenge. w000t!
Other Blog Reviews:

Wondrous Reads
Sparrow Review
Persnickety Snark
The Story Siren
The Book Smugglers
Zoe's Book Reviews
The Compulsive Reader
There are tons of other reviews out there. Take a sec to check them all out! Did you review it?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Tagged by Mara Purnhagen

Title: Tagged
Author: Mara Purnhagen

ISBN: 9780373210077

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

"Can Kate Morgan stand up for herself - without being labeled a snitch?

Kate is just as confused as her best friend, Lan, when she arrives at Cleary High to find the building's been "tagged" with a life-size graffiti mural. Could the culprit be one of their friends or classmates? And is the kind-of-amazing creation really vandalism, or a work of art? She's tempted to stay out of it - mostly because, as the police chief's daughter, she's worried about being labeled a snitch. But when the same mysterious graffiti starts appearing throughout the state, putting more pressure on the authorities to catch the vandal, her investigative instincts kick in.

Now Eli, Kate's favorite coworker at the local coffee shop, is MIA. With Lan preoccupied with her own boy troubles, Kate needs to figure out some things on her own. Like why she can't stop thinking about Eli. And what she will do when all the clues about the graffiti point to someone she's close to..."
First Lines:

"When I got off the bus that crisp January morning and stepped onto the parking lot, the only thing I could see was a crowd of students gathered near the east wall of our school. It looked like some sort of rock concert, except instead of holding up lighters and swaying to a heavy guitar ballad, people were raising their cell phones to snap pictures and inching forward amid the rumbling."
Page 7

Honestly I was a little worried about this book. I read a couple of reviews that weren't exactly stellar - things like the title being a little misleading because the art was more "mural" than "tagging." I can see where that's coming from, but it really worked in this story (even if it was a little teachy about what tagging is).

There were several things I really liked about this story. One is the discussions the characters had in one of their classes about what is considered art. I really enjoy that conversation - mostly cause I think graffiti has the potential to be beautiful. I think it's a really good conversation for people to have. Of course, this is all coming from someone who lives in NYC and sees graffiti pretty much everywhere. :) ahem.

I also really enjoyed the relationship of the parents to Kate in this story. They were just really... realistic. At least in my mind. I also really loved that her mother is a cake maker - it's so creative and interesting. That's one of those jobs that I can imagine being amazing. Maybe that's just me.

One other thing I loved was the conversation of finding a passion. There was a conversation about Kate finding her passion - and what it was about. Everyone around her had a passion for something specific... and not necessarily something artistic. Questioning that is so very high school. I remember having the same thoughts. Just a really cool insight.

There's definitely a touch of romance and relationship talk in this book, but it's really not the focus. It's a well developed book and I look forward to reading the next thing by this author. Speaking of which... check out Mara Purnhagan's website. It's got info about her and upcoming books.

This book also counts for my Debut Author Challenge, which is always fun. I will definitely be recommending this one on to any age teen looking for some fun realistic fiction.
Other Blog Reviews:

Good Books and Wine
Chick Lit Teens
Reading Rocks
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
YA Book Queen

Friday Fill-In (12)

Friday Fill-In is a fun meme that's hosted by Janet at the Friday Fill-In blog. Just fill in your answers!

1. Where are my dollars going? Coulda sworn they were right here!
2. If wishes were horses I'd need a massive barn.
3. I'd like to see myself finish this "to be read" pile. Seems never ending.
4. When I was a teen, I thought I wouldn't even make it to 28. Yeah, I know... depressing.
5. One of my mother's favorite sayings was "stop poking your brothers." :)
6. I'd have a hard time doing without my calendar. I'm addicted, really.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to going to a movie, I hope, tomorrow my plans include working and Sunday, I want to get some stuff done!

Book Blogger Hop (3)

It's that time again! Jennifer from Crazy-for-Books is hosting her Friday Book Blogger Hop! It's a very cool way to find new blogs to read - I've found several in the past few weeks and look forward to finding more.

Have a great hop everyone!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite

Title: Immortal: Love Stories with Bite
Author: Various - edited by P.C. Cast
ISBN: 9781933771922
Publisher: BenBella

"When you're immortal, true love really is forever.
Rachel Caine revisits the setting of her popular series, where the vampires are in charge and love is a risky endeavor, even when it comes to your our own family.
Tantalize author Cynthia Leitich Smith gives us a love triangle between a vampire, a ghost, and a human girl, in which none of them are who or what they seem.
Claudia Gray takes us into the world of her Evernight series, in which a pre-Civil War courtesan-to-be is courted by a pale, fair-haired man whose attentions are too dangerous to spurn - in more ways than one.
Vampire Academy author Richelle Mead brings us the tale of a young vampire on the run from the rest of her kind, and the human boy who provides the getaway car - as well as a reason to keep running.
Wicked series writer Nancy Holder immerses us in a post-apocalyptic New York where two best friends are forced to make a choice that may kill them both.
Rachel Vincent explores a new corner of her Soul Screamers universe with the story of a leanan sidhe capable of inspiring the musician she loves to new creative heights - or draining him, and his talent, dry.
Master fantasist Tanith Lee shows us what happens when a bright young woman with some supernatural savvy encounters a misguided (but gorgeous) young vampire.
And Kristin Cast, co-author of the House of Night series, introduces us to a new kind of vampire one with roots in Greek mythology, and the power to alter space and time to save the girl he's meant to love."
First Lines:

"So... just what in the hell is it with you teenagers and vampires? Huh? Okay, I have my suspicions."
Page vii from P.C. Cast's Introduction

That's quite the summary, huh? The back of the book does a good job of lining up the types of stories you're going to read so I don't have to! woo hoo :). As with many short story books, this one has quite the theme... vampire romance (obvs). And it's absolutely going to appeal to those Twihards and lovers of other wonderful vampire series. I mean, look at that cover!

I think my favorite of the stories comes from Richelle Mead. This isn't all that surprising considering my love of her Vampire Academy Series. This story is called Blue Moon and is really well fleshed out. I know that short stories sometimes lack a little.... umph. This one had me wishing for more chapters. It's all about a world where vampires rule and one girl has a prophecy to change it all - and she doesn't want to. So she runs away. It's a great base and the story is written wonderfully. Kudos Mead!

I had a little heart pitter patter when I saw there was a story from Rachel Caine (why are there so many Rachels?) that was based on her Morganville series. I'm a fan :). The normal series is written from Claire's point of view, but this one went a little deeper with Shane and his dad. It's a really interesting addition to the series... and I'm wondering if it's going to play a small part in the next book. hmmm.

The rest of the stories in the book are wonderful as well - I just don't want to bore you with my take on each one. All of these authors are so experienced, it's almost like gliding through a simple obstacle course. Easy peasy. So seamless. As always, they're just impressive. :)

The introduction by P.C. Cast is absolutely wonderful. If you don't read this entire book, you at least need to read the intro. She writes about why vampires have taken off - what teens really love about it... and why she's so into it. It's really introspective and a great kick off for the rest of the stories.

I do recommend this book for those who are into the vampire romance stuff. It's definitely meant for the older teen - considering the amount of sensuality and such. ahem. It gets a bit steamy at some spots. But it's a great book and I'm glad to pass it along.
Other Blog Reviews:

All Things Urban Fantasy
Tink's Place
There really aren't many reviews out there for this one... so be one of the few! :) At least that I could find. Did you review this one?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

This week I'm waiting on ...
by Jeri Smith-Ready
Released: May 04, 2010

From Baker and Taylor:
"Sixteen-year-old Aura of Baltimore, Maryland, reluctantly works at her aunt's law firm helping ghosts with wrongful death cases file suits in hopes of moving on, but it becomes personal when her boyfriend, a promising musician, dies and persistently haunts her."

I've been excited about this one since I first saw the cover for it - just so pretty! I think it's going to be a great ghost story. Here's hoping I get it the day it comes out! :)
Claire de Lune
by Christine Johnson
Released: May 18, 2010

From Baker and Taylor:

"Astonished to discover she is the latest in a line of female werewolves, 16-year-old Claire hides her lupine identity from her boyfriend, whose father is a werewolf hunter, and resolves to help her pack defeat a human-killing rogue werewolf."

You know... I've read a lot of the urban fantasy stuff lately, but I'm still excited to get my hands on this one. There's something very interesting about the idea of a werewolf hunter. Vampire hunters, sure... but I don't think I've read about werewolf hunters. So it might be pretty interesting. :)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (14)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading. This week I'm reading:

Immortal: Love Stories with Bite edited by P.C. Cast

"I punched my father full in the face. Hard. With all the rage and resentment that I'd stored up over the years, and all the anguish, and all the fear. The shock rattled every bone in my body, and my whole hand sent up a red flare of distress. My knuckles split open."
Page 81
From the short story "Dead Man Stalking" by Rachel Caine

I actually haven't read this far in the book yet, but knowing the Caine short story is based around her Morganville Vampires series makes this quote really interesting. I'm so excited to get to that one now! All short stories about vampires? Yes, please :).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Possessed by Kate Cann

Title: Possessed
Author: Kate Cann
ISBN: 9780545128124
Publisher: Point/Scholastic

"She thought it was an escape... but she might be trapped forever.
Rayne can't wait to get away - from the stifling head of summer in London, from her controlling older boyfriend, Damian, from the tiny apartment she shares with her mother and little brother. So when she finds a job at a secluded country estate, Rayne jumps at the chance to escape.

But as soon as she arrives, her retreat feels like another prison. The ancient estate is suffocating, filled with spooky relics and a strange energy that seems to surround her everywhere she goes. Rayne wants to believe it's all just her imagination, but as she spends more time in the countryy she becomes more convinced that there's something out there... something that wants her to stay... forever."
First Lines:

"Rayne sat on the end of her narrow bed next to Jelly's cot, painting her nails. It was the end of August and the heat was vile."
Page 1

It's very rare that I read a book and think it's truly "horror." I mean, we have this label we put on books that are dark, mysterious, or really any type of ghost story. But there seem to be very few that actually fall into the category of horror. This one absolutely qualifies.

There are parts of this story that seem built to make you shiver. They're things like hearing things that may or may not be there - dark, scary hallways or woods - thinking someone is there when there isn't. And so on. Having grown up in a semi-spooky, old house, there are some of those types of things that are a bit familiar. But all of that is just kind of obvious ... and this book has more to offer than that.

This book also has the horror of people who believe they are something they are not - or perhaps the horror is that they ARE who they say they are. That probably didn't make any sense, but the story is a bit about identity - most of the characters aren't exactly what they seem. Even the ones that seem harmless. The setting is also really magical - it's almost like places you visit on school trips, but this is much more in depth. It's cool to think about living in one of those places.

One thing that did bother me a little about the story is that the main character, Rayne, seems to have all her problems branch from her love interests. Each boy gives her some kind of heartbreak - and sometimes more. It's almost a little too much like the girl isn't able to be without a boy in her life (which, I suppose, could be a bit realistic)... which made it a little hard to identify with.

Otherwise this story is a solid ghost story and will keep readers guessing throughout. There are hints as you go along, but the ending gave me a little more to think about than I expected. This is a great story for teen girls mostly - guys may just get into the horror aspect of it. I'll definitely be recommending it on to those looking for more horror-like horror :).

Check out Kate Cann's website here. Apparently Possessed was published under other names in the UK - and it looks like there is a sequel that hasn't been published in the US (I wonder if it will be?). It looks like she has a lot more titles that I haven't ever seen - probably because I'm not in the right country. Maybe we'll get to see some of those eventually!
Other Blog Reviews:

/- la femme readers -/
Library Lounge Lizard
Dark Faerie Tales
The Book Whisperer
Shooting Stars Mag
The Book Butterfly

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fang by James Patterson

Title: Fang (Maximum Ride #6)
Author: James Patterson
ISBN: 9780316036191
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

"Fang will be the first to die.
Maximum Ride is used to living desperately on the run from evil forces sabotaging her quest to save the world - but nothing has ever come as close to destroying her as this horrifying prophetic message. Fang is Max's best friend, her soul mate, her partner in the leadership of her flock of winged children. A life without Fang is a life unimaginable.

But there will be another...
When a newly created winged boy, the magnificent Dylan, is introduced into the flock, their world is upended yet again. Raised in a lab like the others, Dylan exists for only one reason: he was designed to be Max's perfect other half.

To replace Fang.
Thus unfolds a battle of perfection versus passion that terrifies, twists, and turns and meanwhile, THE APOCALYPSE IS COMING."
First Lines:

"I'm a girl of extremes. When I love something, I'm like a puppy dog (without all the licking). When I'm cranky, I'm a wasp (like, a while hive of 'em). And when I'm angry, I'm a mother bear with a predator after her cubs: dangerous."
Page 3

Every time I write a review for one of Patterson's books, I always mention that I've never read any of his adult stuff. That's still true, but I think I've decided I'm not going to try it. His stories are so very, very formulaic. It's like he sits down with a flow chart and just fills in the story pieces. Now, this may be the mark of a good writer (since it does seem to work), but I'm not so sure.

Now, this isn't to say I didn't like this book. I'm a fan of the Maximum Ride series and I'm always excited for the next one to come out. Not to mention that they're extremely fast books (I read this one in very little time). I do have to say that this one fell a little short of the bars - it almost felt a little rushed. Lots of time passed, but very little action. Well, I mean, there is action (it wouldn't be Maximum Ride without it), but it's sort of the obvious stuff.

You do have a couple of new characters - that fit the mold of the whole story. There are a few new story developments, but not much. People are still after them, they still have inner drama, and there's a battle. Ta da!

I do know that this review sounds like I'm not really into this series anymore. I was a little disappointed, but its fairly typical plot was almost comforting. I'm not gonna lie, the ending made me tear up a little bit. So, I will continue passing along this series to kids - mostly in that middle and lower high grades. It's a solid story that any kid can appreciate.

Here's James Patterson's Maximum Ride Website. Here's another website that highlights Patterson's YA Series... dunno if it's really official, but there it is :).
Other Blog Reviews:

Off My Bookshelf
Community Book Stop (The Trailer)
The Bookette

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson

Title: Scarlett Fever
Author: Maureen Johnson
ISBN: 9780439899284
Publisher: Point

"Scarlett Martin is in a frenzy.

Faced with her family's financial woes, Scarlett has taken on the job of assistant/indentured servant to a newly minted theatrical agent, professional eccentric Mrs. Amy Amberson. Scarlett ends up at the beck and call of a Broadway star (her own age!), dealing with territorial doormen, and walking a small dog with insecurity issues - all while starting her sophomore year at one of New York's most rigorous high schools.

It doesn't help that Scarlett's brain is clouded with thoughts of Eric, her former sort-of boyfriend. She has thousands of things to say to him, if only he would call. And then there's her new lab partner, the impossible Max, who's on a quest to destroy what little mind she has left.

Meanwhile, her older brother, Spencer, has become New York City's most controversial TV villain; her ever-reliable older sister, Lola, is sliding off the rails; and her younger sister, Marlene, most worryingly, has suddenly become... nice.

But somehow Scarlett will prevail... right?"
First Lines:

"It was four thirty in the morning, and Scarlett wanted answers. Unfortunately, four-thirty-in-the-morning questions are often of a very different nature than, say, three-twenty-in-the-afternoon questions."
Page 3

I can pretty simply say that I love all of Maureen Johnson's books. well, I haven't read every one of them, but I'm getting close. This was another one of her wonderful creations that made me laugh pretty endlessly. I do think this was the first sequel of hers I've read... but maybe I'm just remembering that weirdly. On to the book!

The first book was wonderful - awesome setting (NYC), hilarious characters, and a very cool premise. All of that is continued in the next book... which, of course, means I loved this one too. Johnson's writing style is very witty and snarky. So much fun! There were a few spots where I literally LOLed and had to explain myself to people around me. But that's just the nature of the beast, huh?

I also love that the setting is the city. A lot of books use the city as the backdrop, but this one really made you feel like you knew the place. And how awesome is it that there was a shout-out to the Shake Shack - home of the best milkshakes in the city. I've often spent a few too many calories there. It's just awesome there was a mention in the book about it.

One of the things I really like about the story is the emphasis on theatre. Now, this could be because I grew up in a family of actors, but it was a really cool to read about a theatrical family. Not that we were quite as intense as this family, but it's still a fun story. Of course, that was what makes the humor that much more awesome :). There's also a new romance that gives this story another level of interest.

I absolutely recommend these books for any teens - mostly girls, I suppose. And this is definitely counting for my chick lit list for 2010. Woo hoo! Also, Maureen Johnson's blog is hilarious, so you should check that out.
(I apologize for any crazy statements during this review - Squidbillies is on at the moment. Keep getting distracted. oops! :))
Other Blog Reviews:

The Book Smugglers
Mrs. Hill's Book Blog
Zoe's Book Reviews
The Compulsive Reader
Today's Adventure
Y.A. New York

Monday, April 12, 2010

Top 100 YA Books

As I'm sure many of you have seen, April from Good Books & Good Wine has compiled a list of Top 100 YA Titles. It's a pretty extensive list and I'm pretty excited to see some of the stuff on it. Some are a little more weird, but that's okay. A few bloggers have been commenting on each book... that would take a bit of time. And I saw someone else just mark the ones they have read - which I love doing.

So all of the books in bold are the ones I've read. I never do as well as I think I will on these things. Let's see...

100. Hate List by Jennifer Brown
99. Abhorsen Trilogy by Garth Nix
98. A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly
97. Among The Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
96. Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis Claus
95. Forever by Judy Blume
94. The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale
93. Tithe by Holly Black
92. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
91. Wings by Aprillynne Pike
90. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
89. Angus, Thongs And Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
88. Marked by PC And Kristin Cast
87. Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
86. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
85. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
84. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
83. Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
82. The Mediator series by Meg Cabot - the first one
81. The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen
80. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
79. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
78. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
77. Evernight by Claudia Gray
76. If I Stay by Gayle Foreman
75. Life As We Knew It series by Susan Beth Pfeffer
74. Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston
73. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa
72. Alana: The First Adventure series by Tamora Pierce
71. Stardust by Neil Gaiman
70. Unwind by Neil Shusterman
69. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
68. Paper Towns by John Green
67. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
66. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith
65. Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli
64. The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night Time by Mark Haddon
63. The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell
62. Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz
61. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
60. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
59. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
58. Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
57. Eragon by Christopher Paoloni
56. Morganville Vampires series by Rachel Caine
55. The Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith
54. Fallen by Lauren Kate
53. The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
52. The Princess Diaries series by Meg Cabot
51. Inkheart series by Cornelia Funke - the first one
50. Number The Stars by Lois Lowry
49. Lord Of The Flies by William Golding
48. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
47. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashares
46. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
45. The Summoning series by Kelley Armstrong
44. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
43. Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
42. Ender's Game series by Orson Scott Card
41. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
40. Wake series by Lisa McMann
39. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
38. Are You There God? It's Me Margaret by Judy Blume
37. Looking For Alaska by John Green
36. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
35. A Great And Terrible Beauty series by Libba Bray
34. His Dark Materials trilogy by Phillip Pullman - first one only
33. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
32. Romeo And Juliet by William Shakespeare
31. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
30. Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr
29. Forest of Hands And Teeth by Carrie Ryan
28. Holes by Louis Sacher
27. The Outsiders by SE Hinton
26. The Catcher In The Rye by JD Salinger
25. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
24. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
23. The Diary of Anne Frank by Anne Frank
22.Uglies series by Scott Westerfield
21. Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia
20. Poison Study series by Maria V. Snyder
19. Book Thief by Markus Zusak
18. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carlson Levine
17. Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead
16. Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
15. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
14. Anne of Green Gables series by LM Montgomery - only first one
13. The Giver by Lois Lowry
12. The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
11. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
10. Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis
9. A Wrinkle In Time series by Madeline L'engle
8. Graceling series by Kristin Cashore
7. Percy Jackson And The Olympians by Rick Riordan - first one only
6. Nick And Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
5. Pride And Prejudice by Jane Austen
4. To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
3. Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
2. Harry Potter series by JK Rowling
1. The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins

Hmmm. 57/100. That's not too shabby. I probably should have done better, but some of these are new enough that i haven't gotten around to them yet. So that's my excuse.

How did you do?

Musing Mondays (4)

Musing Mondays is a meme hosted by Rebecca at Just One More Page...! Just go to her blog to find her topic of the week.

Today’s MUSING MONDAYS post is about the ‘best’ books'.
There’s been some discussion on my blog this week about what should or shouldn’t make a ‘best' books’ list. What elements do you think lands a book in that ‘best’ category? Think of your top 5 best books and tune in next week to see the collated list.

I don't know if it's just me, but this question is really kind of difficult. I mean, the books that are "best " to me may not be considered the best for someone else.

I run into this all the time when we are given the ALA best books lists and such. I mean, they're great books (most of the time)... but there are times that those books just aren't popular with teens. And we all know that sometimes the most popular things are a bit... smutty. Or not that well written. I'm not going to name any of those for the sake of my sanity.

But I guess my own criteria for "best" books are things like...
* Characters that are believable/people I would like to meet
* The writing is so seamless, you don't even realize you've been sitting there for hours
* Concepts that are really original.

And I think there's a certain feeling that a great book gives you - almost something I'm not sure I can put my finger on. I guess it's those that you finish them and think, "wow. I need to give this to ___ and ___ and ___. They will love it." It's also the books that you don't relish the idea of starting another book after them - because you're still soaking it in. I love that feeling.

Unfortunately, I think my "best" list changes all of the time. Either because my perspective changes... or my definition of great changes... or something like that. So, I'll try to list the ones that I've thought amazing things about recently. I suppose this is why there are best lists every year - so these are my 2009-2010 picks :).

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Weird. Looks like mine are all fantasy/sci fi. Go figure. And I apologize to all those expecting classics - they're just never my favorites. :)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Title: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore
ISBN: 9780547258300
Publisher: Graphia: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

"Deadly Grace

Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she wasd eight - she's a graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. A niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king's thug.

When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change.

She never expects to become Po's friend.
She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace - or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away..."
First Lines:

"In these dungeons the darkness was complete, but Katsa had a map in her mind. One that had so far proven correct, as Oll's maps tended to do."
Page 3

There are times when I had listened to book recommendations sooner. I've been hearing wonderful things about this book since it first came out. One of my coworkers really loved it and gets excited every time he hears news of sequels or companions or whatever. And, I guess when we finally got our paperback copy in, I decided to give it a shot.

And man was it worth it!! Sometimes I shy away from high fantasy - I'm not always in the mood for a new world with new rules and such. But this one was well worth the mental effort. To be fair, there wasn't a whole lot of mental effort required. This book is written so well, I almost felt like I'd fallen into a warp that transported me there. Everything was just so seamless and well done... I was just really impressed.

Not only is the writing flawless, the characters are distinct and very original. I hope they don't make a movie of this one because I don't want to see it screwed up, but I'd love to see a movie of it just to get an interpretation of the characters. That didn't make sense, did it? I'd like to meet the characters - that's better. They were all just so... powerful, complex, introspective, mostly good hearted.... the list goes on.

One thing I really appreciated was the absolutely powerful female main character. I know there are lots of female main characters - but no one can hold a candle to Katsa (well, maybe Katniss from Hunger Games - they're actually a little similar in toughness and all). Anyway, she's awesome and I loved her ending (no, not her death - where she ended up at the end of the story). It just all fit so well and made me so happy!

I'm officially recommending this book to literally everyone. I think adults will love it just as much as teens. There is a little of the hanky panky, so perhaps not young teens. The adventure of it will interest the guys (not just the guys, but you know) and there is a bit of romance for those that love it. I also really think that the writing will just draw anyone into the story - enough so that you almost don't remember that you're reading about a place that doesn't exist.

The author has a really active blog, so go take a look at that. I'm nervous about reading Fire because it's not exactly the same characters... but maybe I'll give it a try. I think I might be more excited about Bitterblue that is due out later this year. Guess we'll see!
Other Blog Reviews:

Hip Librarians Book Blog
The Dramaturge at Home
Amy's Blog
Medieval Bookworm
Bart's Bookshelf
S. Krishna's Books

There are lots of other reviews, so take a minute to look around!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Friday Fill-In (11)

Friday Fill-In is a fun meme that's hosted by Janet at the Friday Fill-In blog. Just fill in your answers!

1. In 1992, I was 11 years old. And sadly I just had to do math to figure that out.
2. Spring always seems to bring laughter and smiles.
3. Do what you are able, with what you have been given, where you find yourself.
4. On the beach is where I'd like to be.
5. The trees and flowers are telling me that Spring is FINALLY coming.
6. I'm thankful that the seasons are something that just keeps going on.
7. And as for the weekend, tonight I'm looking forward to not being at work (I'm on the late shift), tomorrow my plans include working again (I'm just lucky like that) and Sunday, I want to rest! And maybe get some laundry done. It's an exciting life I lead... I know :).

Book Blogger Hop (2)

It's time again for the Book Blogger Hop! This is a weekly event hosted by Crazy-for-Books, so go by there to check it out!

Look forward to finding some new and wonderful blogs (as though my blog reader needs more to d0).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

Waiting on Wednesday" is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

May 4 is going to be a fun day - there are a few things coming out that I'm looking forward to. Here are two of those:

White Cat (The Curse Workers)
by Holly Black
Released: May 4, 2010

Summary from Baker & Taylor:
"Rendered an outsider because of his dubious family of magical con artists, Cassel struggles with lingering guilt over his role in a friend's death years earlier and begins experiencing bizarre dreams about a white cat that make him question his dead friend's actual fate."

I love all things Holly Black, and really look forward to this one. Her recent short story book just reminded me how much I love her stuff.


Vampire Rising (Alex Van Helsing)
by Jason Henderson
Released: May 4, 2010

Summary from Baker & Taylor:
"Attending a boarding school in Switzerland, the 14-year-old descendant of a legendary vampire hunter learns of a secret school for vampires nearby and a dangerous vampire clan lord who is using his students to execute a deadly plot. A first teen novel by the creator of the Sword of Dracula comic book series."

I think this book looks fascinating. I haven't read the comic series by this author, but I think it sounds really cool. I'm excited to get my hands on this one!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Teaser Tuesday (13)

Teaser Tuesday is a bookish meme hosted byMizB at Should Be Reading. This week I'm reading:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

"Kasta heard the king speak her name, and her shoulders stiffened. She didn't look at him, for she didn't wish to encourage him to draw her into his conversation. She couldn't make out his words; most likely he was telling some guest the story of something she'd done."
Page 68

I actually haven't started this book yet because I finished my last one so late last night. So technically, this is a teaser for me too! :) I'm pretty excited about this one because I've heard so many good things - from coworkers and cobloggers. So I'm ready to find out what all the fuss is about!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Girl Stays in the Picture by Melissa de la Cruz

Title: Girl Stays in the Picture
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
ISBN: 9781416960966
Publisher: Simon and Schuster

"If you can't be a mega teen superstar sensation, then maybe you'll be lucky enough to join the entourage.

devon - one name only, please - is the latest and jail-bait-est pop star to hit number one on the Billboard chart, and she's making her big-screen debut in Juicy. But after her stint in rehab, the studio isn't so sure she's their girl anymore. If they cut anymore of her lines, she'll be a silent film actress! Can Devon regain her star status? She needs to watch her back and make sure that flash doesn't catch her causing a scene, and we don't mean the kind you can yell "Cut!" after.

livia has lost the weight and gained the attitude in the Hollywood party scene. Her dad's an Oscar-winning producer, and with a hot Beverly Hills boyfriend on her arm as well as her photos all over the pages of Gosizzle.com, Livia looks like she has a perfect life. But looks can be perfectly deceiving...

And there's fresh-faced casey, who left a job bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly to play personal assistant to her best friend... and Devon's rival. she's got the biggest crush on the biggest star of the film - a hot Brit known for loving and leaving. Will Casey stay true to herself while trying to find a place in his universe?

Stars. They're just like us. But what does that mean for the rest of us? Stay tuned, people."
First Lines:

"As far as Devon was concerned, there was only one way to arrive in Saint-Tropez: on board a magnificent seventy-five-foot yacht. She didn't become the most famous sixteen-year-old in the world by playing wallflower."
Page 7

There's something so light and easy when chick lit is done right - even when it's over 400 pages long. I've enjoyed de la Cruz's other series... specifically Blue Bloods. I got into that one from the beginning, so I haven't jumped in on her others. But I really love her writing style. I know that some people have said that there is a lot of name/label dropping and such... which there is... but the story would seem very empty without it (I think).

One thing I really liked about this book was the story being told by a few varying perspectives. The story is about these three girls who find unlikely friendship and love through a summer of movie-making madness. Having the voice of each girl gives the story a bit of depth and interest that might not be there otherwise. The locations in this book are also fabulous. You can almost picture yourself on beautiful beaches and gorgeous views. Perhaps this book might be best read on the beach :).

The ending was a little shocking. You spend the last part of the book really wrapping things up - just like they are wrapping up the movie. Friendships solidify, relationships end/get more series, etc. It all makes sense until you're tossed the cliffhanger in the last few pages. It's almost as if someone said, "you gotta leave them wishing for the next book!" and this was thrown in at the end. It's a little abrupt. Do I want to read the next book? Well, yes... I just didn't like how I was introduced to it.

I will repeat a lot of people in saying that girls who are into the Gossip Girl series or Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants will love this book. I would also hazard a guess that if you like her other chick lit series', you'll probably love this one. I'll be recommending it, for sure. It's a lot of fun and gives you some insight into the lives of the elite.

Melissa de la Cruz's website has lots of info on upcoming projects (mostly Blue Bloods). Perhaps we should questions why there's not another Girl novel on deck!
Other Blog Reviews:

Kiss the Book
Pop Culture Junkie
Books, Movies, and Chinese Food
Young Adult Books Central
Read This Book!

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