Thursday, December 31, 2009

The most memorable books of 2009

I really can't believe it's almost 2010 already. 2009 just flew by so quickly! But hopefully 2010 will bring even more great books.

I've decided to compile a list of some of the best books I've read this past year. I'll pick one or two from each month that were my absolute favorites and post them, along with a link back to the review and a little comment about the book. Not all of them will have been released in 2009, but the majority of them will be. And definitely not all of the best releases this year are on here (for example, I still haven't read Catching Fire because I haven't read The Hunger Games!) But I thought this would be a great way to look back and remember all of the great books I've read and definitely want to read again. So, here we go! March is the first month I started blogging, so we'll start there.

March:
Leftovers by Laura Wiess
- The first Laura Wiess book I had read! It definitely got me hooked on her writing.

April:
Willow by Julia Hoban
- Willow became one of my favorite books, ever. It was just simply amazing. I also donated a copy to the local library in hopes of spreading it around a bit, and every single time I've checked upon the status of it, it's been taken out by someone. This made me so happy.

May:
The Rule of Won by Stephan Petrucha
- I'm not sure how many people actually read this book. It never seemed to get very big. But I loved the idea of it, and it was an interesting book that really made me think.

June:
How To Buy A Love Of Reading by Tanya Egan Gibson
- This book was just kind of... strange. Everyone either loved it, or hated it and didn't get past the first couple chapters or so. It definitely wasn't for everyone, but for some reason it's just stuck in my head since I've read it, in a good kind of way.

Identical by Ellen Hopkins
- Another great book I read in June. I love Ellen Hopkins, and this book was just phenomenal. I'm kind of at a loss for words about it.

July:
Fairy Tale by Cyn Balog
- This was a bit different from your typical fairy story, and I think that's what made me love it so much. The plot was so interesting and if I remember right, I finished the book in one sitting.

August:
Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
- Along with Willow, this has also become one of my all time favorite books. It's too great for words, really. I can't wait for the second book to come out!

Candor by Pam Bachorz
- As you've probably noticed, I love books with unique plot lines and books that make you think a bit, or make you see things in a different light. This was one of those books that kind of made me stop and think about the world around me.

September:
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
- Another book that became one of my all time favorites. (That's three so far, jeez!) I loved Patch's character. I loved the whole idea of the book. The cover is absolutely beautiful. But I still haven't read the finished copy to see the changes in the ending.

October:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- Another thought-provoking book! I love the whole other kind of world that the book took place in. Definitely a lot of interesting concepts in here.

Rage by Julie Anne Peters
- Perhaps I'm a bit biased about this one because I'm a total sucker for anything Julie Anne Peters or GLBT. But I thought the cover was gorgeous, and the book was a much needed story about dating violence in homosexual relationships.

November:
Hold Still by Nina LaCour
- This book was almost kind of haunting, when I think about it. But I really did love it, and it's actually one of the things that got me wanting to learn more about photography. It seemed like such a personal book, and I think that's what made it wonderful.

December:
Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern
- I loved this book because I could see so much of myself in the main character. And even when I couldn't, there were so many funny things going on that I couldn't help but love the book. The cover is simple, but I find it effective and cute.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Review: Get Well Soon

Title: Get Well Soon
Author: Julie Halpern

Publication date: September 1st, 2009

Summary:

Anna Bloom is depressed—so depressed that her parents have committed her to a mental hospital with a bunch of other messed-up teens. Here she meets a roommate with a secret (and a plastic baby), a doctor who focuses way too much on her weight, and a cute, shy boy who just might like her. But wait! Being trapped in a loony bin isn’t supposed to be about making friends, losing weight, and having a crush, is it?


Review:
I loved everything about this book, from the plain but cute cover to the fresh writing style. Getting to know Anna and the other patients through her letters was fun, and it actually made it seem like being in a mental hospital could be kind of fun. I loved each of the characters I got to know, and I especially liked Anna's developing relationship with Justin. I'm also a sufferer of irritable bowel syndrome and panic attacks, so I instantly fell in love with Anna's character simply because I could relate so well to almost everything she said. All of the things that happened were interesting to read about, like all of the seemingly weird rules at the hospital and the different personalities of each person. The voice was so real and fresh, and I just kept wanting to read more and more about her stay. The ending left me a bit sad, but I loved seeing how Anna really evolved throughout the book. There are some things I can't say without giving away spoilers, but I enjoyed this book tremendously.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A

Monday, December 28, 2009

CSN Bookcase winner!

First off, I am SO sorry. I got caught up in all the Christmas excitement and totally forgot to announce the winner of the CSN bookcase contest. So without any further delay, the winner is...

RaeReads!

She chose choice number one. Congratulations! I've sent you an email, please reply within 48 hours or a new winner will be chosen. Thanks to everyone who entered, and thanks again to Jason at CSN Bookcases for having me host the giveaway.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Holiday Break Reading Challenge, Activity #8


Merry Christmas to everyone! I hope that you all had a wonderful day with lots of yummy food and family and presents. Unfortunately I'm failing (a lot) with this reading challenge; I've only managed to finish one book so far, and I'll likely be busy doing other things this upcoming week (like playing with my awesome new camera!) But I'll try my hardest to at least meet my goal halfway before break is over.

I did participate in activity #8 over at the Holiday Break Reading Challenge blog, though I didn't do very well with that either. I scored 5 out of 15. It looks like I need to brush up on my Christmas literature! Go take the quiz yourself; I'm sure you'll do better than I did.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow for the winner of the CSN bookcase giveaway! You can enter up until Midnight tonight, Pacific time, if you haven't already.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Break Reading Challenge, Activity #3

For Activity #3 of the Holiday Break Reading Challenge, I needed to choose 3-4 books from my bookshelf and create a sentence. My sentence?
Strange Angels Teach Me What Happens Here.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Holiday Break Reading Challenge!

Holiday Break Reading Challenge

I love participating in challenges, and have desperately been looking for something fun to do over break, so I'm happy I found this lovely challenge. I'm starting a day late because I just found out about it, but oh well. Between today and January 3rd, I hope to read (at least) ten books. I don't have any specific books chosen yet; lately I've just been grabbing whatever looks good at the moment off of the shelf. After the first of the year I'll definitely get some books for the GLBT challenge in there. Right now I'm reading Waiting For You by Susane Colasanti. Click on the picture and sign up for the challenge, if you haven't already!

Review: What Happens Here

Title: What Happens Here
Author: Tara Altebrando

Publication date: May 6th, 2008


Summary:
When Chloe's parents decide to take her to Europe the summer before senior year of high school, she's ecstatic...she only wishes her best friend, Lindsay, could come too. Living in Las Vegas, they have long imagined the world through the casinos inspired by great cities and have vowed to travel the globe together someday. Unfortunately, Lindsay's parents won't agree to send her along.

So Chloe goes to Europe and sends postcards to Lindsay every day. But when she comes home, she must cope with shocking news that rips her family -- and Lindsay's -- apart. And as she tries to uncover the truth about what happened, Chloe soon begins to feel that Lindsay's brother, Noah, is the one person alive for whom she'd go to the ends of the earth....


Review:
This is one of those books that barely anyone has heard of, but I think it deserves more exposure. It was so packed with emotions, from euphoria to depression, and I could really feel each of them. As someone who lives in Nevada and therefore knows Vegas quite well, and having also been to many of the places in Europe that were talked about, I felt that this book captured the feelings of each of the places perfectly. I could easily relate to the feelings that the descriptions of each place evoked, and believe that anyone reading the book who isn't familiar with these places would be able to experience the same emotions, just by the style of writing. It was a fun book in the beginning, but also had a deeper kind of meaning in the last half. Definitely one of those books that sticks around in your mind for a while after you've read it. If you're looking for a book that will give you a different mix of feelings in a perhaps not so normal setting, this is a great book for that.


Characters: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Overall grade: B

Monday, December 14, 2009

CSN Bookcase Giveaway!

I've got a wonderful contest/giveaway to share with all of you! I would have loved to have another bookcase, but I just don't have the space at the moment. So I opted for a contest for my readers. One lucky winner will receive their choice of one of three bookcases from CSN Bookcases.

Choice One: Mylex 5 shelf bookcase











Choice Two:
Hanging corner bookshelf









Choice Three:
Winsome expresso storage shelf










Open to:

US and Canada

To enter:
Leave a comment with your email address and choice of bookcase.

Extra entries:
+1 for linking to this contest somewhere

Winner will be announced December 26th.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

GLBT Challenge


I saw this challenge and decided to use it as an effort to try and be more active on this blog again. GLBT is one of my absolute favorite genres to read (especially YA GLBT) and I have a whole shelf of my bookshelf with only GLBT-related books. So I thought this would be the perfect challenge.

Rules/Guidelines:

The basic idea of this challenge is to read books about GLBT topics and/or by GLBT authors.

The challenge runs year-round, and there will be three levels of participation:
  • Lambda Level: Read 4 books.
  • Pink Triangle Level: Read 8 books.
  • Rainbow Level: Read 12 or more books.
You don't need to choose your books right away, and they can change at any time. Overlaps with other challenges are fine.


You can read more about it here. I'm so excited to get started on this. I already have a couple of books in mind that I haven't read yet that would be perfect for this, and am also planning to re-read a few of my favorites. I'll aim for the Pink Triangle Level first and see how things go from there.

Books I've Read For The Challenge So Far:
1. David Inside Out (1/20/10)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Review: Hold Still

Title: Hold Still
Author: Nina LaCour
Publication date: October 20th, 2009

Summary:
dear caitlin.
there are so many things
that i want so badly to tell you
but i just can't

That night Ingrid told Caitlin, I'll go wherever you go. But by dawn Ingrid, and her promise, were gone, and Caitlin was alone. Ingrid's suicide immobilizes Caitlin, leaving her unsure of her place in a new life she hardly recognizes. A life without the art, the laughter, the music, the joy she shared with her best friend.

But Ingrid left more than a memory behind. Devastating and hopeful, playful and hopeless. In words and drawings, Ingrid documented a painful farewell in her journal - just for Caitlin. Journeying through Ingrid's final days, Caitlin fights back through unspeakable loss to find renewed hope.

Review:
Hold Still is a beautiful novel about a girl struggling with the suicide of her best friend. It was very emotional and powerful and it's one of those books that I know is going to stick in my head for long after I've read it. I especially loved two things about the novel, one being the fact that it's divided into seasons. The seasons seemed to mark different periods in Caitlin's life as she dealt with the depression, and I liked seeing the growth in each one. The other thing I really liked was how Ingrid's drawings and handwritten journal entries were incorporated, making the novel seem more personal. Hold Still was a beautifully written, captivating book that really let me see how it would feel to be in Caitlin's shoes. It's very raw and very real, and a book that I would definitely recommend. I really can't say enough about it.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Review: Muchacho

Title: Muchacho
Author: Louanne Johnson

Publication date: September 8th, 2009


Summary:

Eddie Corazon is angry. He’s also very smart. But he’s working pretty hard at being a juvenile delinquent. He blows off school, even though he’s a secret reader. He hangs with his cousins, who will always back him up—when they aren’t in jail.
T

Then along comes Lupe, who makes his blood race. She sees something in Eddie he doesn’t even see in himself. A heart, and a mind, and something more: a poet. But in Eddie’s world, it’s a thin line between tragedy and glory. And what goes down is entirely in Eddie’s hands.


Gripping, thought-provoking, and hopeful,
Muchacho is a rare and inspiring story about one teen’s determination to fight his circumstances and shape his own destiny.

Review:

*I reviewed this book for BookDivas.com, so the review I'm posting here is the exact one I posted there.*


Though it wouldn't have been a book I'd buy, I liked this book and I'm glad I got the chance to read it. It was written almost like a journal entry, or like it was directly to the reader from Eddie. It had a raw kind of writing that made it seem as if I were reading a memoir of someone's rough life instead of a fiction book. I loved the glimpse that I got into Eddie's tough world of struggling and delinquency. This is one of those books that, while you might not necessarily love it, it's worth reading for the experience it puts you through.

Characters: 6/10
Plot: 6/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: C

Saturday, November 7, 2009

In My Mailbox (11/2 - 11/7)

This week, I got two great books. One that I've been eagerly awaiting:

Hold Still by Nina Lacour

And another that I already have a copy of:

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Would anyone be interested in a giveaway of Evermore, or do most of you already own it? If I get enough interest, I'll hold a giveaway for it in a few weeks.

What amazing books came in your mailboxes this week? I've kind of been out of the loop for a few weeks, and I'm trying to really get back into blogging more. I'd love to see what books you all have been getting recently.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Winner of 100 followers comment contest!

It's time to announce the winner of my comment contest for reaching 100 followers, for a copy of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott! Thanks to everybody for entering :) And the winner is entry #36....


Arielle from B.A.M. Book Reviews!

Congrats Arielle! Send me an email to claim your prize :)

If I don't hear from her within 72 hours, another winner will be chosen. Thanks again to everyone who entered and posted about my contest!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Want to trade books?

I'm in the process of doing a thorough cleaning of my bookshelf, so I thought I'd post a list of books I'm willing to trade/sell here. :) I'd prefer trades, and it doesn't have to be even because my main goal is to get rid of these books and make sure they have loving homes. So if you've got a book I really want, I'm probably willing to trade 2 or 3 books for it. Comment here or send an email if you're interested in any of these, along with what you have available, and we'll see what we can work out. I'll edit this post as I do more cleaning.

Paperbacks:
A Time For Dancing by Davida Wills Hurwin
Love Lessons by David Belbin
The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron
Learning to Swim by Ann Turner
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
Chill by Deborah Reber

Hardbacks:
Trash by Sharon Darrow (signed)

ARCs:
Adios to All the Drama by Diana Rodriguez Wallach (signed)

Friday, October 30, 2009

Blog Tour Review: Give Up The Ghost

Title: Give Up The Ghost
Author: Megan Crewe

Publication date: September 15th, 2009

Summary:

Cass McKenna much prefers ghosts over “breathers.” Ghosts are uncomplicated and dependable, and they know the dirt on everybody…and Cass loves dirt. She’s on a mission to expose the dirty secrets of the poseurs in her school.
But when the vice president of the student council discovers her secret, Cass’s whole scheme hangs in the balance. Tim wants her to help him contact his recently deceased mother, and Cass reluctantly agrees.

Review:
I think this is my new favorite ghost story. It's hard for me to believe that this is Megan Crewe's first novel. It was a well balanced mix of fun and some not so fun moments, and at the end I was left with that feeling of wanting to go back and read the whole book again. Everything was completely believable, and this is a great ghost story for someone who maybe wants to get into them but doesn't want anything scary. There was absolutely nothing scary about it. I personally enjoyed getting to know the ghosts that Cass talked to. The only people we really get to know are Cass and Tim, but I still loved all of the supporting characters as well. Give Up The Ghost is both charming and serious, and I think it's one of those books that everyone should give a chance even if it doesn't sound like something you'd really be into. You may be pleasantly surprised just as I was.

Reviewed as part of One ARC Tours.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: B

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Review: Rage: A Love Story

Title: Rage: A Love Story
Author: Julie Anne Peters
Publication date: September 8th, 2009

Summary:
Johanna is steadfast, patient, reliable; the go-to girl, the one everyone can count on. But always being there for others can’t give Johanna everything she needs— it can’t give her Reeve Hartt.

Reeve is fierce, beautiful, wounded, elusive; a flame that draws Johanna’s fluttering moth. Johanna is determined to get her, against all advice, and to help her, against all reason. But love isn’t always reasonable, right?

In the precarious place where attraction and need collide, a teenager experiences the dark side of a first love, and struggles to find her way into a new light.


Review:
My review may be a bit biased because of my love of everything by Julie Anne Peters (and I also think the cover is gorgeous), but I found this book to be amazing and unique. Not just because it features a lesbian relationship, but also because of the realistic and somewhat scary glimpse it gives us of dating abuse. Nothing was sugar-coated, and it was intense to read. I could easily sympathize with Johanna and all of the situations that she had to deal with. The ending didn't quite wrap it up as well as I would have liked, but it was still satisfying. The writing was simple and nothing spectacular, but the story itself more than made up for that. I was actually a bit scared by the time I finished reading, just because of the intensity of it, but I will definitely read it again. It's a great book that shows how dangerous dating violence can really be, and that it doesn't only happen in heterosexual relationships.


Characters: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 7/10
Overall grade: B

Sunday, October 18, 2009

In My Mailbox (10/12 - 10/17)

This week in my mailbox, I received a couple of very exciting books:
-Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
-Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters

I am SO excited for these two books! As you probably know, I've already read/reviewed the ARC of Hush, Hush, but I can't wait to read it again and find out how the ending's been changed.

And when I opened another package and found Rage, I was squee-ing and jumping up and down for a good five or ten minutes. Julie Anne Peters has always been one of my favorite authors because of the topics she writes her books on, and even before I started blogging and finding out about more upcoming books, I was eagerly anticipating the release of Rage. I finally have my hands on a shiny copy with its gorgeous cover, and I can't wait to start reading it. In fact, I think I'll start right now.

What was in YOUR mailbox this week?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Review: The Maze Runner

Title: The Maze Runner
Author: James Dashner
Publication date: October 6th, 2009

Summary:
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.

Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.

Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.

Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.


Review:
This book kept me wanting more and more the entire time I was reading it. From the first page, I was intrigued by the strange place that Thomas was brought to. Everything was described so clearly, it was like I was right there in the middle of it. The Glade was so intricately designed and left me with many questions, most of which were answered as I kept reading. It was a bit hard to get into at first, because I had so many unanswered questions about what was happening and the slang that they were using, but I quickly got a feel for the place and the slang. The characters were all unique and each played an important role by the end, thought at first it was somewhat overwhelming trying to remember who was who.

I felt that it ended almost too abruptly, because I had a million questions at the end that I didn't feel were answered very clearly. But I look forward to reading the second book, and The Maze Runner is definitely a book that I will be keeping on my shelf to read again.

Characters: 9/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 10/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In My Mailbox (10/5 - 10/10)

This is my first In My Mailbox post in quite some time. Because I haven't been as active on the blog lately, I've stopped receiving books as well. But this week was very exciting, as of a few minutes ago when the FedEx truck pulled up. What did the FedEx man bring, you ask?

CATCHING FIRE! Plus awesome t-shirt and pin. *does happy dance* Now I just need to get The Hunger Games, because I haven't even read it yet.

Award!


I recently received an award over at Strange & Random Happenstance. Woohoo! Thank you :) It's the Heartfelt Award!
"Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you're relaxing, seeking comfort, or sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about...feeling warm inside."

Cookies? Tea?? This is making me hungry! Plus the fact that I'm sick.. Well, I may just have to go get some tea and relax. Doesn't sound like such a bad idea, and would be a perfect thing to do after receiving this award. :)

Anyways, here are the rules that go along with the award:
1) Put the logo on your blog/post.

2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

Nominees!:
Kate at Read This Book!
Vania at Reverie Book Reviews
Liyana at LiyanaLand!
Khy at Frenetic Reader
Briana at The Book Pixie

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Trailer Tuesdays

Trailer Tuesdays is a feature I've started, meant to be somewhat like Waiting on Wednesday but in book trailer format. Every week I'll feature a book trailer of an upcoming or recently released book that I want to read.

This week's trailer is for a book that came out earlier this year, A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell. But I haven't read it yet, and this trailer really makes me think I should pick up a copy. Plus I love the cover.






I'm sure some of you have reviewed this book. Link me to it, I'd love to see your reviews. :)

Thursday, October 1, 2009

100 Followers contest

Here it is, finally! The first of October, and the launch of my contest for reaching 100 followers.
This contest is going to be a bit different than contests I've had before. I've seen comment contests on other blogs and have always been intrigued by them, so I thought I'd run one myself. But to prevent spam, there are a few rules. Here's how it's going to work:

- Winner of the contest will be announced on November 1st and receive a hardback copy of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott. For every 200 comments I receive, another book will be added and another winner chosen. This post will be edited with updates.

- Each comment you make between now and October 31st will count as an entry.

- Comments may be made on any post (other than past contests), but only one comment per post will count.

- Only comments that add to the post/discussion will be counted. If it's only a few words, such as "Great post!", then I reserve the right to determine which comments count as entries.

- You get 2 extra points for each time you post about this contest elsewhere (blog, twitter, etc). Make sure to leave a link on this post each time you do this to earn your entries.

- This contest is open worldwide.

Thanks to all of you for being followers and/or reading my blog! My posts have been few and far between lately, because I'm putting more energy and effort into my schoolwork than my blog. Though I'm hoping this will give me incentive to try and read/post more often :)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Winners of Ruined giveaway!

Today is the 27th, and that means it's time to announce the 5 lucky winners of my Ruined giveaway! Thanks to everyone who entered and helped spread the word - this was definitely the best turnout I've had for a contest yet. :)
Congrats to the winners:
Katie
Paradox
Addicted Book Reader
Bianca
Froggy

I'll be sending out emails shortly to the winners. You have 48 hours to reply before I pick a new winner. Congratulations!

If you didn't win, there's still my 100 followers contest that will be coming up around the first of the month - so watch out for that. :)

Review: DupliKate

Title: DupliKate
Author: Cherry Cheva

Publication date: September 29th, 2009


Summary:
Getting into Yale has been her dream for years—and being generally overworked and totally under-rested is the price of admission. But when she opens her eyes the next day, she comes face-to-face with, well, her face—which is attached to her body, which is standing across the room. Wait, what?
Meet Kate's computer-generated twin. Kate doesn't know why she's here or how to put her back where she belongs, but she's real. And she's the last thing Kate has time to deal with right now. Unless . . .
Could having a double be the answer to Kate's prayers? After all, two Kates can do more work than one. Or will keeping her twin a secret turn her dream future into a living nightmare?
Review:
I honestly wasn't very excited for this book at first. The cover made me think that it was going to be about some stuck up girl (I'm not really sure why, because I don't think that when I look at the cover anymore..). But when I got the opportunity to read DupliKate, it showed me that you can't always judge a book by its cover. Instead, it was about a girl who I felt I could totally relate to - someone who works her absolute hardest to get what she wants.

When Rina, Kate's "twin", comes out from the computer, it's almost completely believable. For a moment, my reaction was something like "Seriously? You've got to be kidding me", but the more I read about Rina, the less I questioned the situation and the more I wanted to know what would happen next. DupliKate was a light but very entertaining read, and something that I would definitely read again. I often found myself wondering what I would do in Kate's situation, because the characters were so real and the situation seemed so believable. If you want to read something light and fun, but with elements of seriousness, try this.

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: C

Monday, September 21, 2009

Reminder and new contest

I thought I'd post a quick post with updates, as I haven't really been around as much lately. There will be no Trailer Tuesdays this week, because I am swamped with tests in school and have minimal time for blog posts.

My Ruined giveaway ends in 5 days, so there's still time to enter (or link to it somewhere for more entries) if you haven't done so already!

Secondly, and more exciting, is the fact that sometime in the past couple of days I've hit the benchmark of 100 followers! When I started my blog, I never dreamed that I'd even reach 50 followers. I did promise to hold another contest when I reached 100 followers, but as you've probably noticed, things around the blog have been a bit slow lately. School is a bit busier this year, and my blog is taking a backseat to studying and various other things. So the contest for 100 followers will be posted within the first few days of October, after I've had time to organize everything. I want to thank all of you for following me, and those of you who leave me comments. It's because of you that I am motivated to keep doing this, even when things get super busy.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Review: Unclaimed Heart

Title: Unclaimed Heart
Author: Kim Wilkins

Publication date: July 9th, 2009


Summary:

The rules for a young English woman in 1799 are simple: Do what you're told; stay out of the way; and don't, under any circumstances, ask questions.
But Constance Blackchurch is insatiable, headstrong, and complex; and the quest to find her missing mother is too much to resist? As is Alexandre Sans-Nom, the pearl diver who steals her heart, uproots all of her social expectations, and can either ruin or save the family she loves.

Review:
I've never really thought of myself as a historical fiction fan, so I picked up this book a bit reluctantly. But I enjoyed it so much that I'm willing to give other historical fiction books a try as well.
Neither the cover nor the title of the book really interested me, but I'm glad I gave it a shot. From the first page, I was drawn to the main character and wanted to know more about her. It started off with a scene that I'm sure we can all relate to - ditching something we're supposed to be doing in favor of doing something we WANT to do. Constance was definitely a relatable character. Her relationship with her father was interesting to read about, as were the feelings she had for Alexandre. The details of all the aspects of running a ship were well presented, but not over done. I think that's what made me like this book so much - the fact that the historical part wasn't terribly overwhelming, but rather something that nicely complemented the story.
Overall, it only took me a couple of hours to read through it, but those few hours were well spent. If you're reluctant about historical fiction, give this one a try and it might just change your mind.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 9/10
Overall grade: B


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Trailer Tuesdays

Trailer Tuesdays is a feature I've started, meant to be somewhat like Waiting on Wednesday but in book trailer format. Every week I'll feature a book trailer of an upcoming or recently released book that I want to read.

This week's trailer is for Beautiful Creatures by Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia. It comes out on December 1st, 2009.



Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.

Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.

In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.


I've heard great things about this book, and can't wait to get my hands on a copy even though the release date isn't for another few months. The cover is so simple, yet amazing.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Review: Adios To All The Drama

Title: Adios To All The Drama
Author: Diana Rodriguez Wallach
Publication date: January 1st, 2009


Summary:
Mariana Ruiz thought she left her summer fling in Puerto Rico, that is until she finds Alex sitting across from her at the breakfast table. Living two doors down from her visiting old flame isn't easy, especially given the unresolved sparks still lingering for her locker buddy Bobby - and they don't exactly go unnoticed. Her best friends are little help as Madison deals with her IM-only 'boyfriend' and Emily sinks into secret mode after her parents' recent breakup. The only relationship that seems to be working is her estranged aunt Teresa who's tying the knot on New Years with Mariana and her cousin Lilly as bridesmaids. But the last wedding detail left unplanned is who will Mariana kiss at midnight? Strained friendships, stolen kisses, and secret loves create plenty of surprises to unfold before the New Year's bells start ringing.

Review:
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was interesting enough, and some of the characters I really cared about (unfortunately most of them were the minor characters). I really liked the ending because it captured how I felt things should be throughout the whole book. It was entertaining, and a light read.


But on the other hand, most of the characters I couldn't care less about. Especially the main character's boyfriend. Which made it hard for me to read, because obviously a big part of the book was the narrator talking about her "relationship" with him. I didn't really start to care about the main character a whole lot, until about 60 pages before the book was over. Then I couldn't put it down. But that makes for a total of maybe 70-80 captivating pages out of roughly 330 (of my ARC copy. The actual book has less pages, I believe.)


***Two things I felt I should mention that may have an effect on my review - take these into consideration when reading:***
1) The copy I read was an ARC copy. Perhaps things are a bit different in the finished version that might change my opinion.

2) I haven't read either of the two books that come before this one. I get the feeling that if I knew more on the background of a lot of the characters, I might be more sympathetic towards them.


Characters: 6/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall rating: C-

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Review: Hush, Hush

Title: Hush, Hush
Author: Becca Fitzpatrick
Publication date: October 13, 2009

Summary:
Nora Grey is responsible and smart and not inclined to be reckless. Her first mistake was falling for Patch. Patch has a past that could be called anything but harmless. The best thing he ever did was fall for Nora. After getting paired with Patch in biology, all Nora wants to do is stay away from him, but he always seems to be two steps ahead of her. She can feel his eyes on her even when he is nowhere around. She feels him nearby even when she is alone in her bedroom. And when her attraction can be denied no longer, she learns the secret about who Patch is and what led him to her. Despite all the questions she has about his past, in the end, there may be only one question they can ask each other: How far are you willing to fall?

Review:
All I can say is, wow. Hush, Hush will not disappoint you. Unless, of course, you don't like reading unique, suspenseful books. I couldn't put it down, and finished it in only a few hours.

The theme of forbidden love has been done a million times before, but Becca Fitzpatrick makes it new and exciting. Patch is mysterious and dangerous; you'll love him one minute and hate him the next. He's an independent guy with a hidden past, and you won't really be able to figure him out until the end. Nora's best friend Vee really got on my nerves sometimes, but she was definitely an important part of the book and I liked her more by the end.

Each chapter brings twists and turns that you'll never see coming, that add complexity to the story. Every time something new was revealed, I was second-guessing myself even though I thought I had it all figured out just a minute before. Don't even think about picking up this book if you've got other important things to do, because they will be shrugged off in favor of finishing Hush, Hush. I was on the edge of my seat for the whole book, and when I finished it I immediately wanted to read it all over again. Amazing debut novel - I can't wait to see what else Becca Fitzpatrick comes up with.

Characters: 10/10
Plot: 10/10
Originality: 9/10
Writing: 10/10
Overall grade: A+



Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trailer Tuesdays

Trailer Tuesdays is a feature I've started, meant to be somewhat like Waiting on Wednesday but in book trailer format. Every week I'll feature a book trailer of an upcoming or recently released book that I want to read.

This week's trailer is for Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick. It comes out on October 13th, 2009.

Nora Grey is responsible and smart and not inclined to be reckless. Her first mistake was falling for Patch. Patch has a past that could be called anything but harmless. The best thing he ever did was fall for Nora. After getting paired with Patch in biology, all Nora wants to do is stay away from him, but he always seems to be two steps ahead of her. She can feel his eyes on her even when he is nowhere around. She feels him nearby even when she is alone in her bedroom. And when her attraction can be denied no longer, she learns the secret about who Patch is and what led him to her. Despite all the questions she has about his past, in the end, there may be only one question they can ask each other: How far are you willing to fall?


I do already have the ARC (which I absolutely LOVED) and my review will be up tomorrow. I think this trailer is completely awesome though, and wanted to share it in case and of you haven't seen it.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Giveaway: Ruined by Paula Morris


Summary:
When Rebecca Brown goes to New Orleans to stay with her voodoo-obsessed aunt, she finds the beautiful city haunted by the effects of Hurricane Katrina. Rebecca is also startled to discover a haunting of a different kind: near a graveyard one night, amid the Spanish moss and beneath the moonlight, she meets a ghost girl named Lisette, who has been dead for 150 years. Lisette helps Rebecca unearth an ancient mystery in her aunt’s house, along with some troubling historical truths. Meanwhile, Rebecca must juggle adjusting to her snooty new prep school, developing a serious crush on a handsome boy, and dealing with an elite group of popular girls who may be linked to the ghostly mystery themselves.


Want to win a copy? Well here's your chance! I'm giving away 5 copies of Ruined: A Novel by Paula Morris. Watch this video of Paula Morris talking about the book, and then sign up to win!



To enter:
Leave a comment with your name and email address. Comments without both of these will be disqualified.

Extra entries:
+1 Post about this contest on your sidebar, and leave a link
+1 Tweet about this contest. Make sure to include @whatbrireads
+1 For becoming a follower
+2 If you're already a follower (thanks!)
+2 For commenting on my review (something more substantial than "Great review", please)

Open to:
US only - no P.O. Boxes

Deadline:
Last day to enter is September 26th. Winners will be announced on September 27th.




Sunday, September 6, 2009

Q&A with author Paula Morris

Today I have a Q&A post with Paula Morris, author of Ruined: A Ghost Story. It was sent to me by the publisher, and it's somewhat of a precursor to an upcoming contest I'll be holding for Ruined. So enjoy the interview, and watch for the contest! (If you comment on the interview before the contest is posted, you'll earn an extra entry into the contest!)

What inspired you to write Ruined?
I’ve been living in New Orleans for five years. Lots of people come to visit, so I get to play tour guide on a regular basis. I’ve also taught some classes on the history of Mardi Gras, and on the city’s literary past. New Orleans is such a unique city, with such a rich and complex history. The more I found out about it, the more I wanted to write about it myself.

After Hurricane Katrina, when the city felt turned upside down, I went to see a tarot card reader in a French Quarter voodoo shop. He told me that the storm and the flood had fractured time, and displaced hundreds of ghosts. He said he kept seeing ghosts everywhere. I hadn’t really thought about the ghosts of the city, but after that conversation, pieces of the story started taking shape in my mind.

You capture New Orleans beautifully in the book. What are your favorite spots in New Orleans? Is there particular local lore or history that appeals to you?
I drive through the Garden District — and past Lafayette Cemetery — a lot, especially when I’m taking visitors on a literary tour. It has tremendous physical beauty and character. But there are interesting stories on every corner in New Orleans. I also like taking people through Tremé, around the Bywater, and into Holy Cross in the Lower Ninth Ward. There are two stunning “Steamboat houses” right by the Mississippi river levee there.


What kind of research did you have to do for Ruined? How did you manage to describe the Mardi Gras floats so accurately? Have you ever been on such a float yourself?
I did a ton of research for the novel — reading books, talking to people, taking a cemetery tour — though obviously a lot is made up. For example, the Mardi Gras krewe called Septimus is imaginary, and any local can tell you that no krewe would be permitted to end their parades back in the Garden District!

Carnival season is a great time of year in New Orleans, and I’ve been to dozens and dozens of parades, watching various krewes ride. I know a number of people who belong to different krewes, both in the city and the suburbs, and they’ve told me lots of stories. I’ve never been on a float — just on the receiving end of beads.


Ruined is coming out around the fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Can you talk a little bit about the effects the Hurricane had on the city, and how they influenced Ruined?
The storm, and the flood that followed, had a profound and ongoing impact on the city. Our population is much smaller than it used to be. Many neighborhoods were washed away, and have yet to recover. Some of the older parts of the city, like the French Quarter and the Garden District, lie on high ground, close to the river levee, so they had no flood damage. Tourists visiting the city and just spending their time in those neighborhoods would have no idea of the extent of the devastation — eighty percent of the city was underwater. I was conscious, writing Ruined, that it was set largely in an unflooded neighborhood. But the psychic scars of the flood — and the city’s evacuation, ruin, and slow recovery — exist everywhere, as Rebecca, the protagonist, finds out.

You’ve also written books for adults. Can you tell us how your experience writing for teens differs from writing for adults?
I got some very good advice from my teenage niece when I was working on the book. She told me it needed a lot of mystery and a little romance. I hope I managed both.


When did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get your start as an author?
When I was a child, I wrote stories all the time, but as an adult real life took over — in the form of work, and travel, and building a new life in various places. (I’ve lived in eight different cities, in three different countries.) Writing is a vocation, I think, but you don’t always discover it right away. When I was living in New York, about ten years ago, I started going to creative writing night-classes at the West Side YMCA, and began writing stories again. My first adult novel, Queen of Beauty, was written while I was pursuing a creative writing degree in Wellington, New Zealand; I wrote a lot of my second novel, Hibiscus Coast, while studying at the famous Iowa Writers’ Workshop. I have to say, I think keeping going is harder than starting, in some ways.


What are some of your favorite books/favorite authors?
So many! For short stories: William Trevor, Alice Munro, Deborah Eisenberg. For novels: Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Ian McEwan, Lloyd Jones (a New Zealand writer). Favorite authors from childhood: Eleanor Estes, Edward Eager, and Helen Clare. I’m also an expert — read: bore — on the Chalet School series by Elinor M. Brent-Dyer, and the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve been to all the Little House sites — in seven different states!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Review: Ruined

Title: Ruined: A Ghost Story
Author: Paula Morris
Publication date: August 1st, 2009

Summary:
Rebecca Brown couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to live while her dad is away on business. She's staying in a creepy house with her aunt Claudia, who reads tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda.
Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Rebecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans. There's just one catch.
Lisette is a ghost.
A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.
As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend - and as she begins to trust Anton Grey - she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?


Review:
What started off as a lighter story about a girl being sent to New Orleans while her father is in China, evolved into a thrilling page-turner at the end.
Paula Morris uses vivid imagery so that I could clearly see everything in my head. At first, I was a bit confused/disinterested because it seemed like too many things were going on at once (Anton, Lisette, the parades, the cemetery, her father going to China, etc.). It was slow at quite a few points. But about 2/3 of the way through the book it all begins to come together, and then I couldn't put it down. There was also a lot of culture and history about New Orleans and the old-line families interspersed throughout the book, which I felt added depth and made the story more interesting. It's a great ghost story with a lot of history behind it.

Characters: 7/10
Plot: 8/10
Originality: 8/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: B

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Trailer Tuesdays

Trailer Tuesdays is a feature I've started, meant to be somewhat like Waiting on Wednesday but in book trailer format. Every week I'll feature a book trailer of an upcoming or recently released book that I want to read.

This week's trailer is for Girl on the Other Side. It comes out on October 30th, 2009.



Tabby Freeman and Lora Froggett go to the same school, but they live in totally opposite worlds. Tabby is rich, pretty, and the most popular girl in her class. But behind closed doors, her 'perfect' life is rapidly coming apart at the seams.

On the other side, Lora is smart, timid, and the constant target of bullies. While struggling to survive the piranha-infested halls of her school, she becomes increasingly nervous that somebody might discover the unbearable truth about what's been happening to her family.

Despite their differences, Tabby and Lora have something in common - they're both harboring dark secrets and a lot of pain. Although they've never been friends, a series of strange events causes their lives to crash together in ways neither could have ever imagined.

What will happen when the dust finally settles and all their secrets are forced out into the light?


This sounds SO good! And I think the cover is wonderful and fits perfectly. Will definitely be getting this when it comes out.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

In My Mailbox (8/24 - 8/29)

I got some very exciting books this week! Unfortunately they've just been sitting on my bed all week while I've had to deal with the first week of school and tons of homework (I don't EVER remember having this much homework the first week of school!) But now that it's the weekend, I'm getting in as much reading time as I can.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls.
Just like
Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift.
Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
**********
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Nora Grey is responsible and smart and not inclined to be reckless. Her first mistake was falling for Patch. Patch has a past that could be called anything but harmless. The best thing he ever did was fall for Nora. After getting paired with Patch in biology, all Nora wants to do is stay away from him, but he always seems to be two steps ahead of her. She can feel his eyes on her even when he is nowhere around. She feels him nearby even when she is alone in her bedroom. And when her attraction can be denied no longer, she learns the secret about who Patch is and what led him to her. Despite all the questions she has about his past, in the end, there may be only one question they can ask each other: How far are you willing to fall?
**********
Ruined: A Ghost Story by Paula Morris
Rebecca Brown couldn't feel more out of place in New Orleans, where she comes to live while her dad is away on business. She's staying in a creepy house with her aunt Claudia, who reads tarot cards for a living. And at the snooty prep school, a pack of filthy-rich girls treat Rebecca like she's invisible. Only gorgeous, unavailable Anton Grey seems to give Rebecca the time of day, but she wonders if he's got a hidden agenda.
Then one night, among the oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery, Rebecca makes a friend. Sweet, mysterious Lisette is eager to show Rebecca the nooks and crannies of New Orleans. There's just one catch.
Lisette is a ghost.
A ghost with a deep, dark secret, and a serious score to settle.
As Rebecca learns more from her ghost friend - and as she begins to trust Anton Grey - she also uncovers startling truths about her own history. Will Rebecca be able to right the wrongs of the past, or has everything been ruined beyond repair?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Movie Review: Sleepy Hollow

This is my fourth and final movie review as part of the Gothic Film Club, hosted by Write For A Reader and sponsored by Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of the Sisters. It's been quite fun, and has given me a reason to watch movies that I haven't seen before. I'll definitely participate in any similar events in the future.

This week, I watched
Sleepy Hollow, which is obviously based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Ichabod Crane is sent from New York City to Sleepy Hollow, to investigate a series of murders in which the victims have been beheaded by a Headless Horseman. He doesn't believe what the locals tell him, and sets off on his own investigation - until he meets the horseman for himself.

For me, this movie got off to a slow start. For the most part I found it somewhat entertaining, and able to hold my attention well enough with interesting parts here and there. But near the end was when I really started to get into it; when the plot twist was revealed and a lot of the action started. I think that Johnny Depp did a good job playing Ichabod Crane, but I didn't feel like I really got to know any of the other characters that well. Maybe that's why I felt the movie was lacking something, but couldn't quite place my finger on it. Overall, it was interesting enough, but probably something I'd only re-watch on a rainy day with nothing else to do.

Overall rating: 3/5

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trailer Tuesdays

Trailer Tuesdays is a feature I've started, meant to be somewhat like Waiting on Wednesday but in book trailer format. Every week I'll feature a book trailer of an upcoming or recently released book that I want to read.

This week's trailer is for Hold Still by Nina Lacour. It comes out on October 20th.




Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself

Monday, August 24, 2009

Blog Tour Review: This Is What I Want To Tell You

Title: This Is What I Want To Tell You
Author: Heather Duffy Stone
Publication date: March 1st, 2009

Summary:
Nadio and his twin sister, Noelle, always had a unique bond. And somehow, Keeley Shipley fit perfectly into their world. But when Keeley spends the summer in England, she comes home changed, haunted by a dark memory. As she and Nadio fall in love, they try to hide it from Noelle, who's jealously guarding a secret of her own. Slowly, a life-long friendship begins to crack under the crushing weight of past trauma, guarded secrets, jealousy, obsession... and an unexpected love that could destroy them.

Review:
This was a great debut novel, and even just a great novel. It started off kind of slow, but as secrets began to either form or be revealed, I was drawn in. Both Nadio and Noelle tell their stories from their own viewpoints; which I think was exactly how it needed to be told. The writing is simple and almost poetic, and does a great job of telling the story, but the lack of quotation marks was somewhat frustrating. I felt sympathy and strong connections toward each of the characters, and enjoyed seeing them evolve throughout the book. This Is What I Want To Tell You is a powerful book about falling in love and having secrets.

Reviewed as part of Traveling to Teens.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 6/10
Overall grade: C

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Review: Slept Away

Title: Slept Away
Author: Julie Kraut

Publication date: May 26th, 2009


Summary: Laney Parker is a city girl through and through. For her, summertime means stepping out of her itchy gray school uniform and into a season of tanning at rooftop swimming pools, brunching at sidewalk cafes, and—as soon as the parents leave for the Hamptons—partying at her classmates’ apartments.

But this summer Laney’s mother has other plans for Laney. It’s called Camp Timber Trails and rustic doesn’t even begin to describe the un-air-conditioned log cabin nightmare. Laney is way out of her element—the in-crowd is anything but cool, popularity seems to be determined by swimming skills, and the activities seem more like boot camp than summer camp.

Splattered with tie dye fall out, stripped of her cell, and going through Diet Coke withdrawal, Laney is barely hanging on. Being declared the biggest loser of the bunk is one thing, but when she realizes her summer crush is untouchably uncrushable in the real world, she starts to wonder, can camp cool possibly translate to cool cool? Summer camp might just turn this city girl’s world upside down!

Review:
What I expected from this book is pretty much what it was. A light, quick, and fun read about a city girl being shipped off to summer camp by her parents. As someone who's never even been close to a summer camp, it was fun for me to read about all the activities, the mess hall, and the crazy counselors. One thing that made me not able to put this book down was the humor. Laney's sarcastic humor and comments that were made throughout the book had me literally laughing out loud at some points. She was definitely a character I could relate to and empathize with, and that made it even more enjoyable because it almost felt like I was in her shoes while I was reading. The writing was unique and to the point, and created a clear picture in my mind of what was happening. All of these things made for an enjoyable but quick read.

Characters: 8/10
Plot: 7/10
Originality: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Overall grade: C