Sunday, July 31, 2011

In My Mailbox (4)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, where we show off the books we got this week.

From the library:
-Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray
-Where She Went, by Gayle Forman
-The Goddess Test, by Aimee Carter
-Chime, by Franny Billingsley
-Mostly Good Girls, by Leila Sales
-Hex Hall, by Rachel Hawkins
-Once Was Lost, by Sara Zarr

Given to me:
-Supernaturally, by Kiersten White

I am SOOOOO excited for the books I got this week. They're all books that I've been wanting to read for a long time. I really can't decide which order to read them in!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Friday, July 29, 2011

Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

I've been looking forward to reading "Thirteen Reasons Why" by Jay Asher ever since I saw it on a list of teen must-reads sent out by Amazon. Using amazing self-control, I requested it from the library rather than buying it from Borders. So, finally, today it was my turn to borrow it from the library, and I ran (or, more accurately, speed walked) over to the library to get it. I started reading it, kept reading, then read it straight through. It's one of the most compelling books I've read in a while.

Here's the summary:
Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–-his classmate and crush–-who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice explains that there are thirteen reasons she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why. Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a first-hand witness to Hannah’s pain, and learns the truth about himself–-a truth he never wanted to face.
I'll admit that I've always had this morbid fascination with books about suicide. I just never can quite fathom why anyone would decide that life's not worth living, so reading about people who feel that way always fascinates me in a depressing way. But even if you don't share this morbid curiosity, I still recommend this book.

It's a quick read but not a light one (obviously). The writing style and storyline drew me in from the first and didn't let me go until I was done with it. And I love that the ending of the book, while leaving you thoughtful, doesn't leave you depressed.

The only issue I have with the book is the same issue I have with most books written by men with a female lead--I don't feel like he quite captured the experience of being a girl. But the author was obviously very sincere, so I'll give him points for that. And, really, most of the time he was pretty dang accurate. Maybe I'm just being picky.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (3)

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.

Highlight one book you have received this week (for review, from the library, purchased at the store, etc.) that you can’t wait to dig into!

Beauty Queens, by Libba Bray

From Amazon:
From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray comes the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A Lost-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns. And a body count.

I know, I know--practically everyone's already read this one. But I haven't yet, okay? I just got it from the library yesterday and am RIDICULOUSLY excited to read it. It seems like people either love love love it, or they are just "meh" about it--I really hope I'm in the former category, because I've been looking forward to this one for a while!

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Follow Friday (4)

Follow My Book Blog Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q. Let's step away from books for a second and get personal. What T-Shirt slogan best describes you?

My mom bought me this shirt a couple of Christmases ago, and it pretty much describes my philosophy on life: if I have a book or a cat, I'm happy; if I have a book AND a cat, I'm ecstatic. I totally plan to be a crazy cat lady when I grow up, and have, like, 20 cats and a bazillion books.


So, "Pegasus" by Robin McKinley. We all know how much I absolutely love Robin McKinley's books. And I liked this one too. It's just that, for some reason, I don't have that much to say about it (I know, right? SHOCKER! Karen doesn't want to go on and on about a book!).

But first, the summary (and don't be embarrassed to swoon over the ridiculously amazing cover):
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pegasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.
But it’s different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close—-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo—-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.
I actually think I know why I don't much to say. It's because this book felt like it spent the whole time setting up for the next book (!!! Robin McKinley's starting a series?!? But that's a whole 'nother topic.), and hence it didn't spend enough time being its own book. McKinley did an awesome job setting up the characters and the conflict, but . . . she didn't DO anything with them in this book; it's like it was all the background information we're going to need for the NEXT book. So now it feels like I'm trying to write a review about the first half of a book without having read the second half . . . it's kinda difficult.

But let me make it clear: I did like the book. And I LOVED the characters--Silvi, Ebon, the King, the tutor--I want them all to be my friends. And I thought McKinley did a great job developing the Pegasi--culturally, historically, socially--and making them and their interactions with humans so believable (well, you know, believable within the context of the story). So needless to say, I'm super excited for the next one to come out (20122014--Gah! I can't wait that loooong!).

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight
by Jennifer E. Smith
256 pages
Poppy, January 2, 2012

From Amazon:
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

It's a long wait for this one, but I'm excited. I'm not usually a fan of love at first sight, but the summary for this one sounds intriguing. Also I am MAJORLY in love with the cover: the black-and-white with red accents, the heart, and, holy hannah, how I adore the title font!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: The Education of Hailey Kendrick

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"The Education of Hailey Kendrick," by Eileen Cook
p. 90

"Forget flying, or setting fires with my mind--I was convinced being invisible would be the best superpower ever. Turns out being invisible sucks."


Let's face it, I LOVE "Jane Eyre." I love it in all its forms: the original book (basically, one of my favorite classics), the movies (who could decide whether Timothy Dalton or Toby Stephens makes a better Rochester?), the musical (pretty sure I could sing every song from memory). I even managed to like "The Wide Sargasso Sea" (a prequel to "Jane Eyre" by a different author) based solely on the fact that it was related to "Jane Eyre."

I just really, really, really like "Jane Eyre." It's something about the way that Jane is quiet and reserved but still unfailingly stands up for herself and what is right--something I really connected with when I read it for the first time in high school. And of course I adore Mr. Rochester--one of those literary heroes that I feel like I should hate for being such a jerk but love anyway.

Anyway, back to "Jane," by April Linder: I was basically in love with the book before I read it, based solely on the fact that it was a modernization of "Jane Eyre." So when I got it, I started reading the book as soon as I got out of work--while I was still walking to the bus stop, actually. So guess what I was doing for the next five hours?

Already knowing the story of "Jane Eyre" by heart, I obviously wasn't held in suspense by the basic storyline. Rather, I was drawn in by my curiosity to see how Lindner modernized the story. And can I just say that the book met all my expectations? I really couldn't have asked for more.

Basic storyline? Jane Moore, forced by her parents' deaths to drop out of college, becomes a nanny for the famous rock star Nico Rathburn. I was impressed over and over again at how Lindner managed to keep all the elements and characters of "Jane Eyre" that I know and love but put her own spin on them. The only transformation that I rolled my eyes at was her naming the dog Copilot (the original dog's name is Pilot).

As I was reading, I kept trying to imagine what I would think of this book if I had never read "Jane Eyre." And I honestly don't know what I would've thought. Because the main reason I love this book is that it parallels "Jane Eyre" so well without getting boring. My thoughts as I was reading it were basically always along the lines of "!!!Lindner did that part perfectly!!!" or "!!!I didn't think Lindner would be able to pull that off, but she totally did!!!" "Jane" is definitely going on my list of favorite books.

So, in case you couldn't tell, um . . . I REALLY recommend this book. Even if you’re not a huge “Jane Eyre” fan, or if you’ve never read it, give this book a shot--because I think it’s completely wonderful in its own right.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

“Honey, Baby, Sweetheart,” by Deb Caletti. Here’s the summary:
It is summer in the Northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, and sixteen-year-old Ruby McQueen, ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl, finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. But Ruby is in over her head, and finds she is risking more and more when she's with him.

In an effort to keep Ruby occupied, Ruby's mother Ann drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs. When it is discovered that one of the group's own members is the subject of the tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. But for Ruby, this mission turns out to be much more than just a road trip. . . .
I read my first Deb Caletti book, “The Secret Life of Prince Charming,” a couple months ago, and really liked it. So since then I’ve been working my way through Caletti’s other books, and though they were all pretty good, I think “Honey, Baby, Sweetheart” is my favorite so far. Which is kinda weird for me, because I’m usually all about characters falling love, and this book is the opposite—the dissolution of a relationship. But there was just something so real about the characters and their struggles that I couldn’t help but relate to them and root for them and sigh when it was all over. As usual for Caletti’s books, the relationships between family members were central to this book. I loved that Ruby’s relationship with her family was so normal. She fights with her mother and her little brother, but at the end of the day, they’re the most important parts of Ruby’s life and they love each other.

I really appreciate the way Caletti deals with romantic relationships, in this and all her other books. She’s never one to gloss over problems and make everything fairy-tale perfect, but neither are the relationships dramatic or unrealistically intense. They just feel . . . realistic. And more than that, they make you think. I mean, before I started reading Caletti, I would have listed Sarah Dessen as the author with the most realistic romantic relationships. But now, although I still LOVE Sarah Dessen, I’ve noticed that her books never make me think outside of the book—I don’t analyze anyone’s relationships besides the characters’. But Caletti seems to always make me think about my own life and my own relationships, and I really appreciate that in an author.

And I absolutely love Caletti’s writing style. It’s so easy and down to earth. And she always seems to share these gems of wisdom that I feel like I should commit to memory. Let me give you a sample from one of my favorite paragraphs:
This is what I know: We are all a volume on the shelf of the Nine Mile Falls Library, as story unto ourselves, never possibly described with one word or even very accurately with thousands. A person is never as quiet or unrestrained as they seem, or as bad or good, as vulnerable or as strong, as sweet or as feisty; we are thickly layered, page lying upon page, behind simple covers.
So really, pick up “Honey, Baby, Sweetheart,” or any of Caletti’s other books for that matter. You won’t regret it.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Follow Friday (3)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read.

Q. Name 3 authors that you would love to sit down and spend an hour or a meal with just talking about either their books or get advice on writing from?


1. Meg Cabot
2. Kiersten White
3. Julia Quinn

My entirely scientific reasoning for this is that if they can write characters that I want to be BFFs with, the authors themselves must be fairly awesome. Also, their books are witty and smart and hi-larious, and I wouldn't mind spending time with those kinds of people.

Book Blogger Hop (2)

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.

This week's question:
What’s the ONE GENRE that you wish you could get into, but just can’t?

YA paranormal. Hands down. I've tried and I've tried and I've tried, but, with the exception of "Paranormalcy," by Kiersten White, I seriously CANNOT get into YA paranormal. And I really wish I could. Because I read all these reviews of paranormal books that people rave about, and I'm like, "Awesome! I'm totally going to read this book!" And I'm all determined to finally get into the genre. But then TRAGEDY ALWAYS STRIKES, and I never enjoy the book--and honestly, I usually end up skimming by halfway. Gah! I just really want to like YA paranormal. What is wrong with me?

Can anyone recommend, like, THE ONE--aka a paranormal that I might actually like? You know, the YA paranormal you hold near and dear to your heart and practically consider one of your children? Because this is a genre I feel like I'm missing out on.


Since there is officially LESS THAN A WEEK (!!!) until "Supernaturally," by Kiersten White, comes out, I thought I'd post my original review of "Paranormalcy," since 'tis the season and all that jazz.

I was going to say that I was pleasantly surprised by "Paranormalcy," by Kiersten White, but I realized that doesn't fully capture my feelings about the book. You see, my expectations were so low, but the book ended up being so GOOD . . . maybe "ecstatically surprised" better captures the emotion? I don't know--I'm not feeling eloquent. But seriously, this book ROCKED.

The summary:
Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours. But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures. So much for normal.
I'm not generally fond of books about vampires/werewolves/fallen angels/fairies. Minus the fallen angels, "Paranormalcy" has all of the above. So believe me, I was shocked to discover how much I enjoyed the book. But here's why I loved it: Evie, the main character, was AWESOME! (See, I told you I wasn't feeling eloquent. Hence, my overuse of words in all caps . . . I'm desperately trying to compensate.) But, no, really, she is. I'm definitely adding her to my list of literary BFFs. She's just so funny and quirky and down to earth and easy to relate to despite her freaky powers. And admittedly, I probably love her even more since I read "Paranormalcy" right after reading "Nevermore," by Kelly Creagh, in which the main girl drove me batty--I seriously wanted to reach through the screen of my Kindle and SMACK that freakin' Isobel. Ahem. Anyway, Evie was just so much fun to hang out with for 352 pages.

Another benefit of the book is Lend, Evie's shape-shifting love interest. He's a good, solid, quality guy. He's pretty perfect actually: cute, funny, sincere . . . really I could go on and on. I know sometimes in books this type of guy can get boring after awhile, but I liked Lend from start to finish.

And speaking of Lend, let me share my favorite quote. Just thinking about this part makes me smile:
[Evie is obsessed with normal teenage life, and she's talking to Lend about what his life outside the Center is like.]

"But, yes, I have a driver's license."

I leaned back against the wall, sighing. "Man, that must be so cool."

"It ranks right up there with the lockers. In fact, sometimes I put my license in my locker, and it's so cool I worry the whole thing might explode with the coolness of it all."
And that right there sums up why I love Lend.

So really, need I say it? Read it!

Oh, and P.S. the title names are HIlarious funny.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Girl Is Murder

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

Okay, technically this book came out yesterday, but I'm counting it as my Waiting on Wednesday, because I've been waiting for SO LONG (aka since March) for it to come out. I haven't gotten it yet, so I'm still waiting . . .

The Girl is Murder
by Kathryn Miller Haines
352 pages, Roaring Brook Press
July 19, 2011

From Amazon:
It's the Fall of 1942 and Iris's world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop's cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There's certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business.

I was basically borderline obsessed with Nancy Drew growing up. I'm pretty sure I've read most, if not all, of the original books. So since this book has got a Nancy Drew vibe going on, you can count me in! Also, um, I LOVE THE COVER!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Honey, Baby, Sweetheart," by Deb Caletti
Page 1

"What happened the summer of my junior year was not about recklessness. It was about the way a moment, a single moment, could change things and make you decide to try to become someone different."

I Now Pronounce You Someone Else

"I Now Pronounce You Someone Else," by Erin McCahan. The summary:
Eighteen-year-old Bronwen Oliver has a secret: She's really Phoebe, the lost daughter of the loving Lilywhite family. That's the only way to explain her image-obsessed mother; a kind but distant stepfather; and a brother who has a small personality complex (he thinks he's Jesus). Bronwen must have been switched at birth, and she can't wait to get away from her family for good.

Then she meets Jared Sondervan. He's sweet, funny, everything she wants--and he has the family Bronwen has always wanted too. She falls head over heels in love, and when he proposes marriage, she joyfully accepts. But is Jared truly what she needs? And if he's not, she has to ask: What would Phoebe Lilywhite do?
Admittedly this was one of those books that I refused to admit to reading due to the seemingly YA sappiness of the title and summary. Some books I just can't tell most people about for fear of losing their respect for me and my reading tastes, even if the book turns out to be good. Like this one. I really was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book--it wasn't as sappy and shallow as I was expecting it to be.

Yes, the book is about a high school girl who gets engaged. But it wasn't as roll-my-eyes lame as I thought it would be, because the author takes it beyond the "he makes me giddy so it must be love" point and explores some of the bigger issues about marrying young. Like, am I willing to give up my other possible futures for this? Is this worth missing out on the experiences everyone else my age is having? Am I willing to be an Us rather than a Me at this point in my life? What about practical things like money, insurance, and birth control?

And the book wasn't all about falling in love and marriage. There is also a strong storyline about Bronwen's relationship with her family, especially with her mom and step-dad. (Can I just say her step-dad is so completely wonderful? I wanted to hug him.)

And, of course, as is requisite for me liking any book, I adore Jared--Bronwen's boyfriend. He's straight up quality, ya know? He's good for her and to her, and I love him for it.

The only real issue I had with the book is the fact that no one seems to take issue with this 17-year-old dating a guy who's 21. What parents would be okay with that? I'm just sayin'.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is a meme hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, where we show off the books we got this week.

For the first time, this week I got books in my actual mailbox. You see, my awesome sister attended RWA a few weeks ago and got me a ton of really great books, and I got them in the mail this week. I'm so excited!

Given to me:
-Sleeping Beauty, Vampire Slayer, by Maureen McGowan
-Cinderella, Ninja Warrior, by Maureen McGowan
-Never Cry Werewolf, by Heather Davis
-The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting
-Once Dead, Twice Shy, by Kim Harrison
-Tempest, by Julie Cross
-The Demon Trapper's Daughter, by Jana Oliver
-Born at Midnight, by C.C. Hunter
-Cold Kiss, by Amy Garvey
-When the Stars Go Blue, by Caridad Ferrer
-Graveminder, by Melissa Mar
-Enclave, by Ann Aguirre
-Firelight, by Sophie Jordan
-Forgive My Fins, by Tera Lynn Childs
-Fins Are Forever, by Tera Lynn Childs
-The Iron King, by Julie Kagawa

Three I'm most excited for?

With the exception of the last 6, I haven't heard of most of these books. Have any of you read them? What did you think?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Follow Friday (2)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee.

Q. What do I do when I am not reading?

I read with pretty much all my free time, so the answer to what I do when I'm not reading is basically sleeping, working, and running errands. But I guess some of my time is also spent watching movies with my roommates, doing stuff with friends, spending time with my family, and running. And blogging/reading blogs, obvs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Book Blogger Hop (1)

Book Blogger Hop
Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy for Books.

This week's question:

How/Where do you get your books? Do you buy them or go to the library? Is there a certain website you use like paperbackswap?

I get almost all my books from the library--my local library has a really good YA selection. The only problem is that you have to get on the waiting list for almost any well-known or new YA, which means sometimes I have to wait a few months for a book that I want. So when there's a book that I don't want to wait for at the library, I'll go to the bookstore--usually Borders since it's right by my work. I'll also buy books on my Kindle if I want a book but don't want to make the effort to go to the bookstore. I used to buy way more books, but a lack of shelf space and money got me hooked on the library.

Four books I love

Sometimes I read books that I really like and I want to post about, but since they're books that deal with tough issues, I don't always feel like I can universally recommend them. So I thought that today I'd post about my favorites of these books, because I really do love them even though they require quite a bit out of you emotionally.

"Speak" by Laurie Halse Anderson

This book is about Melinda, who is raped at a party and calls the cops. However her friends don't know why she called the police, so they exclude her socially. Melinda withdraws into herself, and since she doesn't tell anyone about the rape, her family and those around her don't understand her behavior. But throughout the school year, she begins to come to terms with what happened.

One of the reasons I love this book is because the part where Melinda confronts the guy who attacked her is so well constructed. I don't want to ruin it for you, but it's such a powerful scene, and I really just wanted to stand up and cheer for Melinda when I read it.

"Story of a Girl" by Sara Zarr

When Deanna is 13, her father catches her having sex with her brother's 17-year-old friend Tommy. Her relationship with her dad is ruined, and the boy spreads the story around the school, so that by the time Deanna makes it to high school, she is known as a slut. The story takes place the summer after her sophomore year, when Deanna deals with her issues: her reputation, her dysfunctional family, meeting Tommy again, and falling for her best friend's boyfriend.

I love how Deanna comes into her own in this story, and how she takes control of her life.

"Such a Pretty Girl" by Laura Wiess

In this book, 15-year-old Meredith's father, who sexually abused her throughout her childhood, is released from prison early. Her mother refuses to acknowledge what happened in the past and provides no protection for Meredith, trying to push her into "being a family" again and leaving her alone with her father even though it's against the law. Meredith's father hasn't changed, and Meredith has to deal with his increasingly inappropriate behavior.

I love Meredith. She is so strong and so brave. She refuses to let her father's abuse cripple her or stop her from being in control of her life. She knows the odds are against her in terms of having a successful life, but she doesn't let that stop her. Plus, the ending of the book is so wonderful.

"This Gorgeous Game" by Donna Freitas

This book is about Olivia, who wins a writing contest, and as a prize gets personal tutoring from a famous author/priest. At first Olivia is flattered, but as the man's intentions get more and more intense, Olivia gets more and more scared. She doesn't tell anyone that the author is stalking her, because he hasn't done anything physically to her and everyone admires him, but Olivia eventually reaches her breaking point.

I love the author's writing style and Olivia's narrative voice. I really, really love it. I also love how her friends and family rally around her once they find out. It's so awesome to see that after feeling increasingly isolated, Olivia is surrounded by people who care about her.

Do you have any books that you love but feel like you can't necessarily recommend them to everyone?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Survival Kit

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

The Survival Kit, by Donna Freitas
October 11, 2011
368 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

Amazon summary:
When Rose’s mom dies, she leaves behind a brown paper bag labeled Rose’s Survival Kit. Inside the bag, Rose finds an iPod, with a to-be-determined playlist; a picture of peonies, for growing; a crystal heart, for loving; a paper star, for making a wish; and a paper kite, for letting go.

As Rose ponders the meaning of each item, she finds herself returning again and again to an unexpected source of comfort. Will is her family’s gardener, the school hockey star, and the only person who really understands what she’s going through. Can loss lead to love?

I loved Freitas's "This Gorgeous Game," so I'm excited to read her newest book. I adore the cover so much!


Here's the deal--I really wanted to like "Mistwood," by Leah Cypess. The premise seemed so interesting:
Isabel remembers nothing. Nothing before the prince rode into her forest to take her back to the castle. Nothing about who she is supposed to be, or the powers she is supposed to have.

Prince Rokan needs Isabel to be his Shifter. He needs her ability to shift to animal form, to wind, to mist. He needs her lethal speed and superhuman strength. And he needs her loyalty—-because without it, she may be his greatest threat.

Isabel knows that her prince is lying to her, but she can't help wanting to protect him from the dangers and intrigues of the court . . . until a deadly truth shatters the bond between them.

Now Isabel faces a choice that threatens her loyalty, her heart . . . and everything she thought she knew.
I guess I'll start off by saying I'd give "Mistwood" a 3 out of 5. It wasn't bad, but it could've been so much better. It's just that the characters fell completely flat for me. Isabel is boring . . . which is quite an amazing feat for someone who is involved in so much intrigue and action. And Rokan annoyed me more often than not. He was just so rash and full of himself and always either lounging around in his doublet or doing something stupid. I basically couldn't stand him. And we all know that if I don't like the male lead, there's no hope. And really, don't get me started on the relationship between Isabel and Rokan . . . there's basically no reason for them to each like the other.

But I will give Cypess kudos for the basic plot--it really was a good idea. The whole shifter-who-can't-remember-what's-going-on angle was intriguing, and Cypess did a good job at keeping the plot from getting too predictable. And there was a twist towards the end I was totally not expecting. Seriously. That part made the book go up a few points in my estimation.

So it's not like I'm saying not to read "Mistwood." I did generally enjoy it. I just really, REALLY wish the characters had been given a little more, you know, character.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Teaser Tuesday: Lock and Key

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

-Grab your current read
-Open to a random page
-Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
-BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
-Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Lock and Key, by Sarah Dessen
Page 126

"His skin, freckled and pale, seemed to almost glow in the bit of light the window allowed, and, this being Marshall, you could clearly make out his collarbones and ribs. The boy was skinny, but unfortunately for me, I liked skinny boys."

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Last Little Blue Envelope

“The Last Little Blue Envelope,” by Maureen Johnson, is the sequel to “13 Little Blue Envelopes,” which I madly, truly, deeply adored. So I was super excited to read this book--which is always the cause of my downfall. More on that later. Here’s the summary:
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack—and the last little blue envelope inside—she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure—one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.
I think I just need to go into books with lower expectations. That’s probably a really bad philosophy, but lately I’ve just been feeling like the books I’ve been looking forward to have been letting me down--probably because my expectations are too high. It’s not that I didn’t like “The Last Little Blue Envelope,” because I did, it just wasn’t everything I was hoping it would be.

I liked that Ginny was the same old Ginny that I knew and loved from the first book--normal and good-hearted and surprisingly brave. But Keith, Ginny’s old flame, let me down in this book. I’ll admit that he had some jerk-esque qualities in the previous book, but they were under control and I liked him anyway. But in this book, I just couldn’t handle him. I just wanted to punch him sometimes for being so mean to Oliver (the guy who finds Ginny’s lost envelope and gets this whole adventure started). I could see why he was acting the way he was (jealousy, over-protection, dislike, etc.), but really, there’s no excuse for being so rude to someone, even if you don’t like them. Seriously.

And Oliver. I’m not really sure how I feel about him, honestly. But I think my overall feeling about Oliver is that he didn’t live up to his potential as crush material--Ginny never really seems to get to know him, and thus I didn’t either. Which is a shame, because he seems like he would be an interesting guy to get to know. We do find out a little about his backstory, but it’s only like a page’s worth at the very end. But I guess even though we don’t get many details about him, we can tell he’s a good guy based on his ability to ignore and rise above Keith’s immaturity. Ug, Keith.

Basically, if you enjoyed the first book, this one is good for reminiscing and finding out what actually was in the lost thirteenth envelope, but I don’t think it really can stand on its own. And if you loved Keith in the first, you might want to approach this one with caution.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

In My Mailbox (2)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Purchased by moi:
-The Piper's Son, by Melina Marchetta
-Silent in the Grave, by Deanna Raybourn
-Silent in the Sanctuary, by Deanna Raybourn
-Silent on the Moor, by Deanna Raybourn

Borrowed from the library:
-I'll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan
-Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt
-The Education of Hailey Kendrick, by Eileen Cook
-Hate List, by Jennifer Brown
-The Bird Sisters, by Rebecca Rasmussen

Three I'm most excited for?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Follow Friday (1)

Follow Friday is hosted by Parajunkee.

Q. Let's step away from besties...What is the worst book that you've ever read and actually finished?

Most of the things I had to read for school fall into this category, because now if I don't like a book, I don't finish it. So the top three books I remember disliking the most but having to finish (usually because there was test or essay looming over my head) are "The Crucible," "Animal Farm," and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

TGIF (1)

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads! Check out her blog for more info!

Blogger Confession: What's the last book you could not finish? (or had a hard time finishing?)

I used to feel obligated to finish a book, but recently, if I put a book down and don't pick it up again, I've stopped feeling guilty about it. I still do feel bad about quitting books that have been recommended to me, but I find myself getting over that too.

The last two books I couldn't finish:

-"Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side," by Beth Fantaskey: This book was recommended to me by a couple of my sisters, but I just couldn't finish it for some reason. I think it was probably my hangup about paranormal YA holding me back.

-"The Fortunes of Indigo Skye," by Deb Caletti: I've been reading a bunch of Deb Caletti recently, and I've generally enjoyed them, but this one had me skimming about half-way through then quitting around three-fourths. It was a little too predictable for me.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes

"13 Little Blue Envelopes," by Maureen Johnson, is one of those books that has been following me around for a while. In fact, it may be the one that has been chasing me the longest. It came out right before I went to college (that was the fall of 2005, for those of you who, for some reason, don't have all the details of my life memorized), and I saw it at a bookstore. I read the summary and thought about getting it but, for reasons I don't actually remember, decided not to buy it (this was obviously before my YA-obsession stage; I think I was into mysteries at that point). After that, I saw it all the time at other bookstores, Walmart, etc., and the more time that passed, the fuzzier my memory got about why I decided against the book, until I started thinking that since I didn't buy it the first time, there was obviously a good reason and it wasn't worth my time now.

Finally, a couple months ago, I saw it for free on Kindle (one of those random deals), probably a result of the sequel coming out at the end of April. So I decided to give it a try. There's a line I love in "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" (if you haven't read that book yet, HOP TO IT) that goes, "Perhaps there is some sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers," and that's how I feel about "13 Little Blue Envelops": I'm glad it didn't give up on me and kept following me around until I gave in. (Good thing it's a book and not a man, because otherwise that behavior would just be stalkerish.)

It's about a girl named Ginny, who receives a letter from her crazy Aunt Peg, telling her to head off to London with only a backpack full of necessities--no maps, no guides, no phone, and no money except what Aunt Peg provides. The thing is, though, that Peg died unexpectedly a few months earlier. But Ginny decides to go anyway, and receives 12 more envelopes, which she can only open one at a time as she finishes the tasks Peg set out for her. Soon Ginny is traveling all over Europe, meeting new people, getting lost, and just generally trying to survive on this trip that is WAY out of her comfort zone.

I think part of the reason I like this book so much is that I love Ginny. She's shy and awkward and fairly horrible at interacting with people (okay, obviously she reminds me of, well, me). But despite all this and the fact that she's too practical to be comfortable with this crazy trip, she goes anyway, which is one of the things I admire most about her--how she attacks the challenges in the envelopes even though they are hard for her. And I love that although she changes and pushes the boundaries of her comfort zone, she doesn't lose who she is at her core. I feel like in some YAs that deal with changing and growing up, the characters are unrecognizable by the end of the book. But in this one, Ginny's still herself at the end, only a little braver.

And man, can I just say that after reading this book, I seriously want to be sent off on a mysterious pre-paid quest across Europe? I've basically accepted that fact that I'll always be too poor to actually afford to go to Europe, but this book helps me feel like I'm living that fantasy, even if it's just for 300 pages.

I think the only problem I have with the book is that Ginny never really has that final moment of insight about herself that is the staple of YA figure-out-who-you-are books. And while I guess that's probably more realistic and true to life, it still felt weird not having that genre convention in a book that otherwise follows the rest of the conventions. So for me, the ending felt a little flat--I was all prepared for this big epiphany that never occurred.

But overall, a good book. I'm even thinking about investigating the sequel, which is really quite an endorsement, considering my disdain for sequels.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote, which I mostly like because it was one of the many moments of the book when I was like, "Did the author secretly observe me as the model for Ginny? Cuz she's just getting too eerily similar to me..."
[From a letter Ginny writes to her friend--the rest of the book is in third person]

I have always been kind of proud that I have never lost it over a guy. I have never been one of those people who freaked out in the bathroom or did something lame [. . .] I have always been very whatever about the whole thing. The guys I would have liked were totally unattainable, so, given the choice between making a huge effort for guys I wasn't really interested in or being an independent human being (hanging out with my friends, making plans to escape New Jersey, injuring myself on household appliances), I decided to be an independent creature."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: Supernaturally

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight books we can't wait for.

by Kiersten White
352 pages
Harper Teen
July 26, 2011

I feel like I've been waiting for this sequel to "Paranormalcy" for FOREVER. And it's finally less than a month until it comes out. My deep and abiding love for the first book totally caught me off guard, so I'm all prepared to love this one as well.

Five Flavors of Dumb

I wasn't quite sure going in if I would like "Five Flavors of Dumb," by Antony John, because it had some elements I wasn't sure whether I would like. But the book really did end up surprising me in the best way possible.

First, the summary:
Eighteen-year-old Piper has gotten herself into a mess. Because of her big mouth, she has one month to get a paying gig for her high school’s hottest new rock band, called Dumb. In Piper’s mind, the band couldn’t have a more perfect name. Just look at the members: one egomaniacal pretty boy, one silent rocker, one talentless piece of eye candy, one angry girl, and one nerd-boy drummer--five discordant personalities who, when put together, seem ready to self-destruct at any moment. Getting them an actual gig seems impossible. Add to that the fact that Piper doesn’t know if their music is good or not, because, well, she’s deaf.

But Piper is determined to get the band a gig to show her classmates that being deaf doesn’t mean she’s invisible. And as she gets to know the five flavors of Dumb, some hidden talents, secret crushes, and crazy rock music emerge. She doesn’t need to hear the music to sell it, but Piper wants the chance to feel the music too. Does she have what it takes to manage Dumb and discover her own inner rock star?
So there were three main things I was worried about going in (and they are totally the result of my own prejudices and preferences). The first was Piper's deafness. I mean, I think it's awesome that the author created a completely different challenge than most YA characters have to deal with, but I wasn't sure how Piper's deafness would affect the story--I didn't want it to be the story. But I think John manages to create the perfect balance: since Piper's deaf, it obviously affects the way she interacts with people, and it creates tension within her family, but John makes Piper about so much more than her deafness. She's sarcastic and creative and smart and strong and compassionate. She doesn't view her deafness as a disability and doesn't let it affect her going after what she wants. Piper's not awesome despite her deafness, she's plain straight-up awesome.

The second thing I was worried about before I got into the book was the band aspect. The main story line is the development of the band Dumb, and I didn't know if I would like it because band dynamics haven't ever really interested me. But I definitely became emotionally invested in the individuals in Dumb--especially Kallie, the beautiful "weak-link" guitarist. Just like the characters, I misjudged Kallie as just a pretty face in the beginning, but as she became more real and both her insecurities and strengths were slowly revealed, I came to admire her so much. By the end of the book, she was definitely my favorite character besides Piper. Most of the characters in this book surprised me in similar ways: people I thought I had down showed me sides I didn't initially guess they had: Josh, Finn, Piper's dad, Ed, Tash . . . and the list could go on.

The last hang up I had before I read the book was that it was a male author writing a female main character--and in the first person to boot. I've just never really found a book where a male author wrote what I thought was a completely believable female lead. But Antony John proved me wrong with this book. If I hadn't known it was a male author before I read it, I wouldn't have guessed. I feel like male authors don't always spend time dealing with the characters' emotions and insecurities, but John did, and I was just really, really impressed with his ability to write girl freak outs and emotional blow ups accurately.

For some reason, it was a book I could put down without any qualms, and as a result it took me longer to finish than usual, but I really do recommend it. Any book that could take my prejudices and preferences and turn them on their heads was definitely worth my time.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Brightly Woven

I enjoyed "Brightly Woven," by Alexandra Bracken. That's pretty much the most accurate description I can think of for how I feel about the book. I didn't fall madly in love with it, I didn't hate it, I just . . . enjoyed it. I feel more than lukewarm towards it, I'll read it again, I'll recommend it to others--it just didn't quite grab me all the way.

Here's the summary:

Just as the rains come after ten long, dry years, a young wizard, Wayland North, appears, to whisk Sydelle Mirabil away from her desert village. North needs an assistant, and Sydelle is eager to see the country--and to join him on his quest to stop the war that surely will destroy her home. [***Okay, this sentence is exaggerating a bit--at first Sydelle definitely does NOT want to go. Just had to make that clear. This part of the summary bugs me every time.***] But North has secrets--about himself, about why he chose Sydelle, about his real reasons for the journey. What does he want from her? And why does North's sworn enemy seem fascinated by Sydelle himself?

I think one of my main problems with this book is how Sydelle seems to fall in love with North so randomly. It's like one chapter she hates him and by the next she cares for him--but it wasn't really obvious to me how or why she falls for him. I also thought the book had a bit of a rocky start in terms of Sydelle being a realistic character in terms of her emotions and reactions, but after the first couple of chapters she evens out. I also though the characters should have been a little older to be believable. Sydelle is 16 and North is 18. I think it would've been better if Sydelle had been 18 and North 20, or something along those lines. They just acted older than their ages, and it came as a shock to me whenever I remembered their actual ages.

I did really like, however, how the author made me just as unsure of my feelings towards North as Sydelle was. I started off liking him, then I wasn't so sure any more, then he started growing on me again.

I think most of the issues I had with it can be attributed to the fact that this is the author's first book. I'll definitely give any other ones she writes a try.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

In My Mailbox (1!)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Purchased by moi:
-"Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)," by Sarah Mlynowski
-"Imaginary Girls," by Nova Ren Suma
-"Second Helpings," by Megan McCafferty

From the library: (I kinda went crazy at the library this week . . . )
-"Hold Me Closer, Necromancer," by Lish McBride
-"Five Flavors of Dumb," by Antony John
-"The Last Little Blue Envelope," by Maureen Johnson
-"Silent in the Grave," by Deanna Raybourn
-"Looking for Alaska," by John Green
-"The Jumbee," by Pamela Keyes
-"Summer of My German Soldier," by Bette Green
-"Lock and Key," by Sarah Dessen
-"Ship Breaker," by Paolo Bacigalupi
-"Honey, Baby, Sweetheart," by Deb Caletti
-"Revolution," by Jennifer Donnelly
-"The Six Rules of Maybe," by Deb Caletti

Three I'm most excited for?

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Sky is Everywhere

So, my current love affair is with a book called "The Sky Is Everywhere," by Jandy Nelson.

Here's the summary:
Seventeen-year-old Lennie Walker, bookworm and band geek, plays second clarinet and spends her time tucked safely and happily in the shadow of her fiery older sister, Bailey. But when Bailey dies abruptly, Lennie is catapulted to center stage of her own life—and, despite her nonexistent history with boys, suddenly finds herself struggling to balance two. Toby was Bailey’s boyfriend; his grief mirrors Lennie’s own. Joe is the new boy in town, a transplant from Paris whose nearly magical grin is matched only by his musical talent. For Lennie, they’re the sun and the moon; one boy takes her out of her sorrow, the other comforts her in it. But just like their celestial counterparts, they can’t collide without the whole wide world exploding.
Okay, I admit that the summary makes the book sound a little weird, and while I can't say that the description is inaccurate, I can say that it doesn't really capture the spirit of the book. Lennie, the main character, is so likable, and the way she tells her story pulls you in and has you rooting for her the whole time. And the book manages to be humorous even though the subject matter is fairly serious. In other words, the book is just so amazing--despite the really awkward love triangle.

And speaking of the love triangle, both boys are fairly awesome. It took me a while to warm up to Toby because the whole time I was like, "STOP! You're Bailey's boyfriend. Quit trying to get with Lennie!" But as I got to know Toby better, I could see his good qualities and that his grief over Bailey's death went way deeper than I thought. Then there's Joe. There's something to be said for honest, straightforward boys. Joe's so exuberant and joyful and not at all brooding or mysterious. He's the kind of boy I would want for a real live boyfriend. Dark and distant guys are great in books, but give me a Joe for real life any day.

And I absolutely love the author's writing style. It's written in first person present tense--a combination that I know some people don't like. But the narrative voice is so down to earth and accessible I can pretty much guarantee you'll like it. Here's a sample from one of my favorite parts:
"So much you don't know about me, Lennie." He smiles and takes his index finger and presses it to my lips, leaves it there until my heart lands on Jupiter: three seconds, then removes it, turns around, and heads back into the living room. Whoa--well, that was either the dorkiest or sexiest moment of my life, and I'm voting for sexy on account of my standing here dumbstruck and giddy, wondering if he did kiss me after all.
See what I'm talkin' 'bout?

Anyway, here's another book to add to your "Recommended by Karen" list.
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