Saturday, February 28, 2009

This Week's Giveaway Roundup

I link to blog contests I know about in my sidebar, but I figured it might be easier to make this into a post at the end of every week. Here are the new contests I've encountered over this week, arranged by ending date.

Half-Birthday Contest (Stephanie), March 1

In the Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (CupcakeWitch), March 2


Paper Towns by John Green (The Shady Glade), March 2

The King's Rose by Alisa Libby (Lauren), March 3

3 Books (Ashley), March 7

The September Sisters by Jillian Cantor (Lauren), March 13

How to Ditch Your Fairy (ARC) by Justine Larbalestier (me!), March 15

5 ARCs Giveaway (Amy), March 30

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If you're hosting a giveaway and/or know of one that you'd like me to add to this post, leave a comment and I'll update as soon as possible. Don't forget to check my Contests sidebar for other ongoing contests that may or may not be ending soon!

Review: O.Y.L. by Scott Heydt

Tags: middle grade, domestic violence, infatuation

Jenna Durstine has not had an easy past couple of years. Her dad is in prison for domestic violence, and yet his presence burdens and frightens her with every move she makes. She is in love with her English teacher, Mr. Sansom, whose intelligence and genuine concern and interest in her make her nearly dizzy with happiness. He is her handsome protector…and totally O.Y.L.: out of her league.

A series of terrifying events leads Jenna into feeling betrayed by people whom she love, and she attempts to retaliate by taking advantage of and hurting those who love her. It will take an acceptance of the past and lots of growing up before Jenna realizes her true feelings and learns to control her behavior.

O.Y.L. was an amateur literary attempt, and it shows. Besides for grammatical and syntactic inconsistencies, the characters are caricatures of people with serious and important issues. This book touches upon themes that every teen must face when growing up—the distinction between love and infatuation, selfishness and selflessness—but the issues are handled awkwardly and incompletely. I was very disappointed in O.Y.L., but can see why, for example, middle school girls might be able to finish this book.

Rating: 1 out of 5

Friday, February 27, 2009

Friday Featured Blogger (2): Sophie from SMB, SLT

I really enjoy this event and so I'm excited to be featuring Sophie of the blog So Many Books, So Little Time! (An aptly named blog, if you ask me.) I really enjoy how her reviews are friendly and personal, making them fun and engaging reads. Sophie was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schoolwork and blogging activities to answer a few of my questions.

So! Tell us about yourself in a few short sentences. For example: name, age, location, hobbies, interests, pets... and so on, anything you want!

My name is Sophie, I'm 16 and I live in Crawley in England. I obviously love to read, watch movies and generally lay about all day!

Surely you can't be lying around the house all day reading! What's school like? Do you participate in any activities there?

I wish! College takes up most of my time; I usually don't get home until five. I don't like it too much which is probably why I don't participate in any activities there.

Tell us about your blog. When did you start it and why? What interesting things can visitors expect?

I started my blog at the end of January. I'd been reading book blogs for ages and I got home from college one day and just decided to set my own up. I didn't realise it'd take over my life (in a good way!)

Hehe, I can attest to that! Now quick! Name 3 (yes, I'm giving you 3 because everyone knows it's impossible to choose just one) favorite books and why you think everyone should read them. They can be any genre.

Aah, horrible question! Ok, Perfect Chemistry - Simone Elkeles because I couldn't stop smiling, The Twilight saga - Stephenie Meyer becaudse like most girls I'm in love with Edward (heard that one before I bet) and The Hunger Games - Suzanne Collins because it completely blew me away. I so wasn't expecting something so amazing.

I know we all agree, but why, personally, did you think The Hunger Games was so mind-blowingly awesome?

I really didn't expect it to be so amazing. I couldn't predict anything that happened and I fell in love with Peeta; he's such a sweetheart.

What's a book that changed your life?

Hmm. I think Matilda - Roald Dahl. This was the book that made me fall in love with books. Dahl was a genius storyteller.

Have you seen the movie version of Matilda? If so, what did you think of it?

I've seen Matilda so many times I can recite entire passages! It's great, I love it!

Favorite authors? Why?

Stephenie Meyer for obvious reasons. I also have a real soft spot for Nicholas Sparks' novels; they make me cry!

Favorite Sparks novel?

Hmmm, I think The Notebook or A Walk to Remember. Or maybe The Choice. I love the way he writes and the setting of North Carolina so it's very hard to choose just one!

Nice favorites. I’m a fan of The Rescue myself, although I haven’t actually read many of his more recent novels. What are some of your favorite movies?

I'm a sucker for romance so I love The Notebook and Dirty Dancing but I also love musicals like Rent and Grease. And Juno and The Lost Boys are brilliant.

And what are some things you just LOVE to receive for presents? :)

Books. Seriously, if I just got a stack of books for Christmas or my birthday I'd be a happy girl!

And finally, 2 things about yourself that can spark conversation. (e.g. I'm ambidextrous, I can recite the alphabet backwards in less than 10 seconds, etc...)

I'm actually not that interesting. Let's see, I have 5 brothers and 2 sisters and I'm studying Biology, Chemistry, Psychology and English Literature at A-level. I hope they're slightly interesting!

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Thanks for answering my questions, Sophie! I hope you guys visit her blog, stop by to say hello, read a few of her reviews, ask her more about life in England, etc.! :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Review: The Opposite of Invisible by Liz Gallagher

Tags: YA, love triangle, friendship, romance, art, Seattle

Alice and Jewel are the same person. Best friends since they can remember, they are both outsider artists; everyone thinks Jewel is gay because Alice is the only person he ever talks to, and Alice just doesn’t talk at all to anyone else. They both like the same quirky, gory, and eccentric stuff that can be found in Seattle. They are never apart, and yet no one else sees them. They are invisible.

However, as a high school sophomore, Alice is beginning to want something more. She has a major crush on Simon Murphy, a popular and gorgeous football player who is clearly out of her league. So Alice can hardly believe it when Simon starts talking to her. Pretty soon they are apparently an item—the oddest, most incomprehensible item the school has ever seen, perhaps. There’s no pretense about Simon when he’s around her, though. He is a genuinely good and sincere guy who understands his popular crowd is not all that great sometimes and envies the artsy crowd—Alice included—for being able to be themselves.

But her budding relationship with Simon puts a strain on Alice and Jewel’s friendship, which was so close they were practically a couple. A week ago Alice had no prospects; suddenly she is stuck choosing between two. Either she begins a new life with the guy of her dreams and explore a new social life, or she remains with Jewel and continues to be invisible to the rest of the world.

Which one will Alice choose? Or can she have both?

I absolutely loved this book because all the characters are so real. There are no annoying stereotypes because it seems like every character defies them. There are no easy answers because, well, that’s life, and Liz Gallagher portrays it so very sweetly. This is a short and quick read, but it will linger with you.

Similar Authors
Sara Zarr
David Levithan

Rating: 4 out of 5

A small but necessary life update

So I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm in the middle of reading How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier and, WOW! I haven't read something this fun in a long time. I absolutely can't wait to write and post my review because those of you who have not been fortunate enough to read this delight will want to pick it up the first chance they get!

And don't forget that you can win an ARC of How to Ditch Your Fairy on my blog here. Trust me, you won't want to miss out. :)

As for other news, I was at my college swimming Conference championships this weekend, and look what I got!

That's my fellow breaststroker, Rosalie, on the right--she did AMAZING and dropped at least 4 seconds in every one of her events. And that's me on the left... with my gold medal! Yes! I managed to beat out the top-seed 200 breaststroker by .03 seconds (that's, like, a fingernail's length). Standing on the way top of the podium was terrifying. (Also, the fact that I was Conference champion still hadn't sunk in yet at that point--although it hasn't really sunk in yet now.)

But anyway. Competition is fierce in the breaststroke events, and I'm just happy that I've made one of my goals for my college swimming career come true. Next year is a different story, but you can bet I'll be right back in the thick of the lot, making waves.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Review: The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

Darkest Powers, Book One

Tags: YA, paranormal, series, ghosts, demons, werewolves, mental illness, mystery

On the day that fifteen-year-old Chloe Saunders finally gets her period, she sees the ghost, her first since her childhood. It freaks her out so much that she is sent to the hospital and then referred to Lyle House, a private home for mentally ill adolescents--otherwise known as a place to lock the crazy kids up in.

At Lyle House, Chloe takes medication for her diagnosis--schizophrenia--and attends to a strict schedule of chores and schoolwork. But she continues to encounter strange occurrences, such as the ghost who's attempting to contact her. It just might be that there's more to herself than she knows... and more to Lyle House and her housemates than others are letting onto. Chloe and her newfound friends may be in much more danger than they expect.

After hearing so much hype about Armstrong's upcoming sequel, The Awakening, I'm very glad I picked The Summoning up. It felt to me almost like Harry Potter with a female protagonist and fewer subplots. The strength of this series lies in its idea: these teenagers with supernatural powers are funneled into this peculiar house for possibly sinister purposes! The characters' interactions with one another are spiritful, the dialogue vibrant; the characters themselves, though, do not stand out to me in the heavily populated world of YA paranormal fiction.

The exception may be Chloe, who is wonderful, constantly changing and growing and doubting herself--all the things that a normal teenage girl should do, all without being petty or annoyingly shallow. I also found Derek interesting, and would like to see much more of him in the future. Perhaps there will be a romance between him and Chloe...?

But that's a minor complaint, for the story more than makes up for the less-than-outstanding characters. The Summoning ends on a suspenseful, slightly disappointing note as readers wait for the sequel impatiently to find out what happens to Chloe and her friends.

Similar Authors
J.K. Rowling
Garth Nix

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Waiting on Wednesday (4)

Okay, these books are out already, but I have yet to find a copy of them, so they're considered being "waited on" in my book!

Daughter of the Flames by Zoe Marriott

Inside an ancient temple in the mountains, fifteen-year-old Zira trains in the martial arts to become a warrior priestess who can defend the faith of the Ruan people. Bearing a scar on her face from the fire that killed her parents, the orphaned Zira is taught to distrust the occupying Sedornes. Terror strikes when the forces of the tyrannical Sedorne king destroy the only home she knows. To survive, Zira must unravel the secrets of her identity, decide her people’s fate — and accept her growing feelings for a man who should be her enemy.

Ooh, a strong-sounding female protagonist in a fantasy setting. My kind of book! Also, the cover is just really darn beautiful. I love the use of striking orange on a black background.


Here's another one by the same author, which also looks great...

The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott

Shadows fall across the beautiful, lush kingdom after the queen is attacked by an unnatural beast, and the healing skills of her daughter, Alexandra, cannot save her. Too soon the widowed king is spellbound by a frightening stranger, a woman whose eyes reflect no light. In a terrifying moment, all Alexandra knows disappears, including her beloved brothers, leaving her banished to a barren land. But Alexandra has more gifts than she realizes as she confronts magic, murder, and the strongest of evil forces, and is unflinchingly brave as she struggles to reclaim what is rightfully hers. Fantasy lovers will be held in thrall by this tale full of visual detail, peppered with a formidable destructive force and sweetened with familial and romantic love.

I absolutely adore retellings of fairy tales (Robin McKinley and Shannon Hale are two of my favorite authors) and so this one seems like something I would really enjoy. Hopefully I can get my hands on the two soon!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Review: Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine


Also known as: Finding Violet Park

Tags: YA, death, disappearance, family

One night, 15-year-old Lucas Swain enters a taxicab company office and is immediately attracted to a strange urn sitting on the shelf. He learns that it contains the ashes of one Violet Park, a well-known pianist who lived in the neighborhood, and that the urn was left in the backseat of a taxi years ago. Lucas doesn't understand exactly why Violet called out to him from the dead, but he feels certain that it has something to do with his father's disappearance five years ago. Peter Swain, lifetime ladies' man and difficult to love, simply vanished into thin air one day, leaving behind a distressed wife with two children and another on the way.

The more Lucas finds out about Violet, however, the more he may be forced to admit that his father was never the hero that Lucas makes him out to be by wearing his clothes and clinging to memories of him.

ME, THE MISSING, AND THE DEAD has a simple but powerful premise. One may hardly believe that a story about a teenage boy who is obsessed with some lady's ashes would work, but it does, and it works beautifully. Lucas (by way of Valentine) keeps a morbid subject funny by constantly interspersing lists in different fonts and by having normal adolescent male observations about his older sister, his friends, and girls. Valentine's language is captivatingly easy to read, even delving into the mystical at appropriate times.

Ultimately this book is about family, forgiveness, and growing up. It should appeal to most audiences and makes for a good, lingering one-time read.

Similar Authors
Jaclyn Moriarty (Feeling Sorry for Celia)
Jerry Spinelli
E. Lockhart (The Boyfriend List)
Catherine Gilbert Murdock (Dairy Queen)

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Check Out Amanda's Zombie Release Party!

Wow! The amazingly sweet author Amanda Ashby is celebrating the release of her YA novel Zombie Queen of Newbury High by having guest author bloggers and giveaways every day until March 5th, her book's release date! Just to give you an idea of some authors who have already participated and are giving out prizes:

Stephanie Hale
Melissa Walker
Tina Ferraro

And those are just part of the incredible lineup for the first TWO days! And there are, like, eight more days left of this party. Do the math.

Lots of chances to win books and get to know cool authors who talk waaaayyyyy too much about zombies. :) Head over to Amanda's blog to help her celebrate!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Giveaway: How to Ditch Your Fairy (ARC) by Justine Larbalestier!

Nancy, whom I met on PaperBackSwap, was kind enough to send me a whole lotta ARCs of How to Ditch Your Fairy by Justine Larbalestier! So I am excited to be holding my second giveaway: I will be giving away up to EIGHT ARCs of How to Ditch Your Fairy!

Summary from B&N (because I haven't read it yet, either. Grrr):

Welcome to New Avalon, where everyone has a personal fairy. Though invisible to the naked eye, a personal fairy, like a specialized good luck charm, is vital to success. And in the case of the students at New Avalon Sports High, it might just determine whether you make the team, pass a class, or find that perfect outfit. But for 14-year-old Charlie, having a Parking Fairy is worse than having nothing at all—especially when the school bully carts her around like his own personal parking pass. Enter: The Plan. At first, teaming up with arch-enemy Fiorenza (who has an All-The-Boys-Like-You Fairy) seems like a great idea. But when Charlie unexpectedly gets her heart’s desire, it isn’t at all what she thought it would be like, and she’ll have resort to extraordinary measures to ditch her fairy. The question is: will Charlie herself survive the fairy ditching experiment? From the author of the acclaimed Magic or Madness trilogy, this is a delightful story of fairies, friendships, and figuring out how to make your own magic. 

Doesn't it sound like fun?? I read Magic or Madness by Justine and enjoyed that one very much, so I'm looking forward to reading this one. [edited] Read my review of this great book here!

To enter, leave a comment answering the following question:
What kind of personal fairy would you most like to have?

For additional entries:
+1 if you follow me
+1 if you blog about this somewhere and leave me the link
+1 if you link to this contest in a sidebar
+2 if you add me to your blogroll (sorry I can't return the favor at the moment. I'm in the process of trying to find a better layout but with 4 papers coming up in the next 2 weeks it might be a while!)

No need to enter separate comments for each of the additional entries. This contest is open WORLDWIDE (yes, I know how much y'all like that *smiles*) and will end Sunday, March 15, 2009.

Good luck!! :)

In My Mailbox (3)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren (idea created indirectly by Alea!).

Me, the Missing, and the Dead by Jenny Valentine

Me: Lucas Swain—I'm nearly sixteen years old and live in London. I was fairly normal until the night I found Violet. Then everything changed.

The Missing: Dad. He disappeared five years ago. Nobody knows what happened to him, and nobody cares except me. It's enough to drive you crazy.

The Dead: That's Violet . . . in the urn. Speaking of crazy—I know she's trying to tell me something, and I think it's about my father. . . .

A dead lady may not be much to go on, but my dad's out there somewhere, and it's up to me to find out where.

North Korea Kidnapped My Daughter by Sakie Yokota
from LibraryThing's Early Reviewers program

On November 15, 1977, 13 year-old Megumi Yokota disappeared without a trace while on her way home from school. Twenty years later a newspaper revealed she was abducted by North Korean operatives and was still in North Korea. Megumi and at least 13 others were taken from coastal cities in Japan during the 1970s and 80s, shoved into holding cells on spy vessels, and shipped off to North Korea to train agents in Japanese culture and customs. The perpetrators of the Korean Air Flight 858 bombing in 1987 posed as Japanese nationals thanks to such training.

North Korea Kidnapped My Daughter is Sakie Yokota’s memoir of the last 30 years without her daughter. Her resounding faith is inspirational as is her unfaltering determination to repatriate Megumi. Mrs. Yokota vividly recounts the horrifying panic when Megumi went missing and the entire ordeal of her daughter’s absence.

O.Y.L. by Scott Heydt

Sent by the author himself for me! Yay! Thanks, Scott! I'll be reading this and putting up a review soon.




Hope everyone had a nice, book-filled week as well! I'll be updating soon with how my weekend of swimming conferences went. It's good news, but I'm glad to be back! :)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Win an ARC of Perfect Fifths, and Life Update

No, I'm not giving the ARC away... but Megan is! She recently held a book trailer contest, and is now holding a contest within a contest! Watch the three winners of the Perfect Fifths book trailer contest on the following links:




All these creative people with time on their hands to spare... but hey, awesome entries and winners!

As we all probably know (since we're such big fans), Perfect Fifths, the fifth and final book in the Jessica Darling series, is out in hardcover on April 14, 2009, but is available for pre-order now, at basically any book-selling site you can think of, so I'm not even going to bother linking to them.

Want to find out how you can enter to win an ARC of Perfect Fifths? Click here! But hurry, the contest ends February 20th. That's tomorrow. *gulp*

As for more personal affairs, I'm going to be AWOL for the weekend, as I'm heading off to my swimming Conference championships. I'm pretty pumped about it, think I'm going to kick a few *ahem* asses, get some personal bests... hopefully win a medal or two? We'll see. I don't like to think ahead for stuff like that; my mental imagery work doesn't extend to that! I'll try to be on and leave comments on your blogs during my mid-afternoon breaks (when I should actually be taking a nap to get ready for finals at night), but I hope you all have a GREAT weekend!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (3)

Swim the Fly by Don Calame

Three adolescent boys with a single goal: see a real live naked girl. The result? Razor-sharp, rapid-fire, and raunchy, of course. And beyond hilarious.

Fifteen-year-old Matt Gratton and his two best friends, Coop and Sean, always set themselves a summertime goal. This year's? To see a real-live naked girl for the first time — quite a challenge, given that none of the guys has the nerve to even ask a girl out on a date. But catching a girl in the buff starts to look easy compared to Matt's other summertime aspiration: to swim the 100-yard butterfly (the hardest stroke known to God or man) as a way to impress Kelly West, the sizzling new star of the swim team. In the spirit of Hollywood’s blockbuster comedies, screenwriter-turned-YA-novelist Don Calame unleashes a true ode to the adolescent male: characters who are side-splittingly funny, sometimes crude, yet always full of heart.

A book about boys? A book about swimming? A book about boys AND swimming? This should be interesting!

Swim the Fly will be released in hardcover by Candlewick on April 14, 2009.


City of Glass (Mortal Instruments, Book 3) by Cassandra Clare

To save her mother's life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters -- never mind that enter-ing the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight.

As Clary uncovers more about her family's past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadow-hunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadow-hunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he's willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City -- whatever the cost?

Love is a mortal sin and the secrets of the past prove deadly as Clary and Jace face down Valentine in the final installment of the New York Times bestselling trilogy The Mortal Instruments.

Bet I can name more than 10 people reading this who absolutely can't wait for this third book in the fantastic Mortal Instruments series. :)

City in Glass comes out in hardcover from Simon & Schuster on March 24, 2009.

This makes me sad... :(

A happy (and unusually self-indulgent) Steph decided to use some of her Chinese New Year money on the fantastic site www.BookCloseouts.com because she found some GREAT stuff there. But look!

ISBN Order Ship Title Total
------------------------------
--------------------------------------------

0439895766 1 1 A Curse Dark As Gold $6.99
0803730012 1 1 The Rules Of Survival $6.99
1847381340 1 0 Skin Hunger (Resurrection of Magic, Bk. $0.00
0061284394 1 1 Evernight $5.99
0061236179 1 1 I Love You, Beth Cooper $3.99
0061140988 1 1 The Fury and Dark Reunion (The Vampire D $3.99
076362537X 1 1 Guyaholic $5.99
1842555049 1 1 I, Coriander $2.99
0370326849 1 1 This is All $4.99
0099488167 1 1 A Swift Pure Cry $4.99
0399246754 1 1 Dragonhaven $6.99
1595141162 1 1 Love, Meg $6.99
0441010563 1 1 Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits $2.99

Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey sold out before I could get a copy of it. Sad sad sad sad sad. :( I was really looking forward to reading it too. Has anything like that ever happened to you?

Review: Rhyme by William C. Marks

Illustrated by Erin E. Gennow

Tags: picture book, pigs, politics, rhymes

In the gorgeously dirty city of Muck, Rhyme--so named because that's all he speaks in--is elected Penator. In a series of stirring speeches reminiscent of famous political U.S. speeches, Rhyme transforms Muck into the muddiest and best place for pigs to live.

Rhyme is well-loved in his city, but he needs to go on an adventure. He catches a train to Joyville, where he immerses himself in studying, working, and interacting with humans. He misses the mud of Muck, however, but when he returns it is only to find that his rival, Ulysses S Grunt, has been elected Penator in Rhyme's absence and has cleaned all the streets up! Will Rhyme's charisma and love of dirt win out over the clean sullenness of Grunt?

It's been a while since I've read a picture book, but this one helped me remember how much fun they are. Children will be delighted with Rhyme's, well, rhyming speeches, and I'm sure there will be boys who can empathize with Rhyme's love of dirt. Adults will get a kick out of all the pig jokes so aptly illustrated by Gennow (need a book? Go to Boar-ders! The train departs from Pen Station). I'm going to give a special shout-out to Gennow's wonderful illustrations. She really brings the pigs to life and creates a fun, pig-inhabited world that will engage both children and adults. There are new things to look at on each page with every rereading.

However, I wanted to know a bit more about how Ulysses S Grunt takes over Muck and makes it... not Muck. So much emphasis was placed on Rhyme's journey in Joyville, and not enough on the conflict between the two rivals at the end. But that is a petty wish on my part. The story is sweet and uplifting.

Thanks to William Marks and Genesis Kobos for sending me this book to review.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Review: Evermore by Alyson Noel

Book One of the Immortals series

Tags: YA, paranormal, death

After the accident that took her parents' and sister's lives, 16-year-old Ever can see people's auras and read their thoughts. She even has conversations with the annoying ghost of her little sister, Riley. The stimulus she receives from the outside world is overpowering, and so she constantly tries to shut it out by wearing large hoodies and toting an iPod with earphones in everywhere.

Until the new student, Damen Auguste, comes into her life. He's dark, beautiful, talented, and perfect--and Ever is terrified of him, even when she's mysteriously drawn to him as his presence and touch somehow manages to calm the psychic chaos in her head. However, there may be more to Damen than he's admitting, and it involves Ever as well--involves her to the point where it may cost her her life if she doesn't come to turns with who she is and what she can do.

I've tried reading Alyson Noel's other books before, and I didn't get very far into them. Now I remember why. Ever's character is about the only redeeming thing I can find in this book. Her character grows and changes in the course of the novel, from a sullen and frightened trauma victim to a teen beginning to "come into herself," so to speak. I found the other characters flat and annoying. Ever's friends Miles and Haven didn't seem real, and I was especially annoyed that there seemed to be no development to Damen and Ever's romance; it was like one moment they've just met and she's avoiding him, and the next--BOOM!--he's stalking her with red tulips and she's grudgingly admitting to herself that she likes him. Please. Additionally, while the story idea is intriguing, the writing lacks immediacy and there are lots of moments when I wanted to throw the book across the room because I did not understand why insert-your-choice-of-plot-device was thrown in so suddenly and randomly.

Still, it's not hard to see why the Immortals series will have a large fan base. Damen--or at least the idea of him--gives Edward Cullen a run for his money. Fans of Stephenie Meyer may do well to check out Alyson Noel's latest book.

Similar Authors
Stephenie Meyer
Melissa Marr

Rating: 2 out of 5

Monday, February 16, 2009

In My Mailbox (2)...

....is late this week because I went home this weekend for Valentine's Day and my dad's birthday, thus having access to all the books that came for me through PaperbackSwap, contest winnings, etc., as well as the lovely used bookstore that's near my house. I ended up getting so many books (for such a great price, though!) that I decided just to take pictures of them and list them out, so that this post isn't 1340982456 miles long. Cheerios.
An American Childhood by Annie Dillard
Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer
Played by Dana Davidson
The Power of Their Ideas by Deborah Meier (read this for my Education class and really enjoyed it)
That Summer by Sarah Dessen
Rites of Spring (Break): an Ivy League Novel by Diana Peterfreund

Sister Light, Sister Dark by Jane Yolen
The Neverending Story by Michael Ende
Echo by Francesca Lia Block
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Millicent Min, Girl Genius by Lisa Yee
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope

Of Sound Mind by Jean Ferris
Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson (won in a giveaway on Kaye's blog; thanks!)
The Innocent by Posie Graehme-Evans
A Separate Peace by John Knowles
The 13th Reality: the Journal of Curious Letters by James Dashner (from YA Books Central)

Maximum Ride: the Angel Experiment by James Patterson
Girls Dinner Club by Jessie Elliot (ARC)
Deerskin by Robin McKinley
Evermore by Alyson Noel
Night World Volume 1 by L.J. Smith

I also got the following from the libray:

Creepers by Joanne Dahme - Heard about and really want to read The Plague, coming out in a few months, and so I borrowed this. Plus, it's really cool cuz it has color on the inside pages!
Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder
The Summoning by Kelley Armstrong

And also a few not pictured (cuz they are mostly rereads and I had put them away before remembering to take pictures of them):
The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker (unread)
On the Road by Jack Kerouac (unread)
Running Out of Time by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling - I'm determined to collect the whole series in hardcover.
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling - ditto ^_^
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta - hardcover!! Because I love the cover on the HC copy. Problem, now, is of course that I now have TWO copies of this wonderful book. Hmm, what to do with my brand-new paperback version... anybody interested in trading? :)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review: Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

Book One in the Underland Chronicles

Tags: middle grade, adventure, war, series

Eleven-year-old Gregor thought he was going to spend his whole summer sweltering in his NYC apartment babysitting his two-year-old sister Boots and his deranged grandmother. But when he and Boots fall through a chute in his laundry room, they end up in the Underland, a scary world filled with huge, creepy critters, he doesn't realize that life as he knows it is going to completely change.

For the royal human family in the Underland thinks he is the long-awaited "Overland" warrior from a vague prophecy. The prophecy insists that Gregor--along with an odd assortment of allies that includes members of the royal family, spiders, cockroaches, bats, and even the dread rats--embark on a quest that may determine the survival of them all.

Even though he doesn't think he is the warrior, Gregor has a personal motive for going along with the prophecy: it's one way he can possibly discover what happened to his father, who disappeared years ago. That, and the thought of keeping Boots safe and getting back home to New York City, keeps Gregor along the path of mortal danger, and causes him to make decisions he never knew he was ready to make.

GREGOR THE OVERLANDER marks the beginning of a remarkably well-written fantasy adventure series for nine- to twelve-year-olds. It's been a while since I've read anything in this genre, so maybe I can't justifiably say that I thought characterization slightly lacking and the ending all too suden. Because I found tears pricking at my eyes at many touching moments in the book. Gregor is an admirable protagonist who grows throughout his adventure, and all of the supporting characters are interesting and unique in their own respects. Middle-school boys and girls alike will want to pick this book up, and for the rest of us who are anxiously awaiting the release of Collins' Catching Fire (the sequel to The Hunger Games), this is a great series that will engross us in the meantime.

Similar Authors
Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jeanne DuPrau (City of Ember)
Nancy Farmer (The Ear, The Eye, and the Arm)
Rick Riordan

Rating: 4 out of 5

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Review: Generation Dead by Daniel Waters


Tags: YA, paranormal, zombies, prejudice

They don't like to be called zombies. Or dead heads, or worm food, or whatever pejorative terms the "creative" people of the world are coming up with. They're differently biotic: American teens literally rising from the dead into some semblance of their former selves. Everyone is terrified of them. What are they, and why have they come back from the dead?

High school junior Phoebe doesn't share the world's qualms. In fact, she just might have a crush on Tommy Williams, a quietly powerful differently biotic boy who shocks all the students of Oakvale High when he tries out for the football team, just to prove that he can. Phoebe admires Tommy's guts, but there are people less happy with his actions, most notably Pete Martinsburg, fellow teammate and soul-crushing zombie-hater who just might do anything to stop the differently biotic from living a life that is not theirs to live.

Phoebe's best friend Adam is secretly in love with her, and thus finds it difficult to believe that she can like, well, a dead guy like Tommy Williams. But as Adam begins to learn about the plight of the differently biotic, the prejudices and difficulties they face, he realizes that maybe the only way he can help Phoebe be happy is by protecting Tommy... no matter the cost.

Wow! Daniel Waters creatively plugs into the typical YA reader's love for paranormal romance and ends up teaching us all a lesson about civil rights, prejudice, and tolerance. All of the characters are carefully constructed to be three-dimensional: readers can even empathize with the jerk Pete Martinsburg's tortured feelings towards zombies. I also appreciated the generous--and accurate!--details about sports (football, baseball, Frisbee) because that is not something I come across often enough in YA literature. While occasionally the lecturing about tolerance goes on for a page too long, overall GENERATION DEAD is a fun way of being enlightened about the issues regarding bigotry and prejudice.

Rating: 4 out of 5

Friday, February 13, 2009

Friday Featured Blogger (1): Jenny aka prophecygirl!

Friday Featured Bloggers is a (soon-to-be) weekly feature on my blog that interviews new/little-known bloggers with interesting and intelligent blogs. I'm excited to introduce as our first Friday Featured Blogger:

Jenny (aka prophecygirl) from Wondrous Reads!

I'll let her describe herself, so without further ado...

Steph: So, Jenny! Tell us a little about yourself.

Jenny: I'm Jenny, aged 21, from Manchester in the North-West of England. I have a full time job at a Borders store, which is pretty much the best place I could ever hope to work! I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, books, music (Jimmy Eat World, Coheed and Cambria, Brand New), movies, TV shows, the internet and the Titanic. I have two pets, a dog called Rupert and a cat called Jess. Jess is mine... I love cats!

S: Ooh, Borders. I’ve always wanted to work in a bookstore. What's the best and worst thing about working there?

J: The best thing about working at Borders is seeing pretty much every book as soon as it comes in, discovering new authors, and getting discount on the books. The worst is seeing lots of books that I want, and giving them a rather large amount of my wages back come payday (lol).

S: Haha, that’s not a bad “worst thing” at all! So tell us about your blog. When did you start it and why? What interesting things can visitors expect?

J: I started my blog almost a month ago, on a Saturday night after work. I used to post all my reviews on the Amazon and Borders sites, but decided that I'd prefer to have them all in one place. I have a thing for book covers, so every week I post a 'Cool Cover', and a 'US Vs. UK' cover debate. I also talk about UK goings on (books sites, etc...), and review most of the books I read.

S: I love your ‘Cool Cover’ and ‘US vs. UK’ posts. It’s so refreshing to look at YA book covers from other countries… especially as some of them are even nicer than the US versions. And now…quick! Name 3 (yes, I'm giving you 3 because everyone knows it's impossible to choose just one) favorite books and why you think everyone should read them.

J: My three favourite YA books are really easy for me to choose: Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I'd also like to mention I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, which is my favourite adult book. I think everyone should read them because they deal with lots of different themes and issues, and are just amazing stories that I found impossible to put down.

S: Is I Am Legend the book that the movie starring Will Smith was based on? That movie creeped me out! Are you a fan of those horror or scary movies?

J: Yes, the Will Smith movie was based on I Am Legend, however, they changed it a lot. The book is an amazing vampire story, about the last man on Earth, and how he survives on his own (and if anyone likes vampire books, you should definitely read it!). The movie was quite different, which was a shame. But to answer the question about horror and scary movies - yes, I love them! Vampires especially. I've yet to find a movie that has scared me, though I keep trying!

S: Oh, wow. It’s actually a vampire book? Count me in, then! Although you can watch your horror and scary movies yourself, hehe. *shudders* Speaking of which, What's your opinion on the hype over Twilight? Since you have it listed as one of your 3 favorite YA books.

J: The Twilight hype... hmm. Well. I think it's great, as it means more people will read the book, and fall in love with the amazing story and characters. I think Stephenie Meyer deserves every bit of her success, even though I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with me on that. I also love the movie, and saw it many times at the cinema. I first read the books about a year and a half ago, when I'd just started at Borders. Back then, no-one really knew what it was over here, and we had about four copies in store. I never imagined it would take off the way it did, but it’s been very interesting watching it all happen. And, yes, I'll admit, I'm one of those obsessed Twilight fans! (And can clearly ramble on about this for ages, so, moving on...)

S: Hehe, it’s no problem. We all have things to say about Twilight, and I, too, like how it, like Harry Potter, gets kids and teens to read more. Now for something different. What's a book that made you cry?

J: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak left me in floods of tears. Literally, I'm not kidding. It's the most emotional and heartbreaking story I've ever read, and hardly a day goes by when I don't think about it.

S: I agree with you on that one. What a powerful, powerful book. Wow. So, share with us: favorite authors?

J: My favourite authors are: Stephenie Meyer, Richard Matheson, Markus Zusak, Sarah Dessen, Cassandra Clare and Louise Rennison.

S: Speaking of Cassandra Clare... are you a Simon fan or a Jace fan? :)

J: Jace! Definitely. Simon's cool, but... nah. Jace has that whole bad boy thing going on, and I love his quick quips and sarcasm. Plus, he's good with a weapon. I'm currently hoping and praying that he and Clary aren't... y'know.. I don't want to say too much because it's a spoiler for the other books. Lets just say I'm keeping my fingers crossed until March 24th!

S: I’m a Jace fan too! We just love our bad boys. [For those of you who haven’t read the first 2 books in the Mortal Instruments series yet, GO DO IT!] Alright, favorite color?

J: My favourite colour is red. I don't really have a reason why, it just stands out to me!

S: What are some things you just LOVE to receive for presents?

J: I love receiving money or gift cards for presents, because then I can buy some books or music/DVDs. Failing that, I always like the rare Buffy memorabilia my Mum and Dad hunt out for me!

S: And finally, 2 things about yourself that can spark conversation.

J: I can recite the names of all 144 Buffy episodes in complete order, and I'm a staff member on www.bellaandedward.com. Are those two interesting things? Probably not, but hey!

-

Nope, definitely interesting, Jenny! Thank you SO much for chatting with me—it was a lot of fun. I hope you all hop on over to Jenny’s blog and send her some love, engulf her in questions about the 144 episodes of Buffy, discuss Twilight with her, and whatnot. Stay turned for more Featured Friday Bloggers! :)

Love for February Giveaway Winner!!

Thanks for all the people who entered my first ever contest. I was overwhelmed by the number of entries and interesting comments and choices that I received, and will DEFINITELY be doing more contests (perhaps more like these, winner's choice) soon, because they are lots of fun.

So without further ado, the winner of the Love for February YA Book Release Contest, picked using random.org, is...

DELTAY!!!!!!!!!


Congrats!! Email me (or I'll email you later this morning, when I'm more lucid, heh) confirming your choice of book and the name and address to which I should send your prize.


Hope you all check back later today for the very first Friday Featured Blogger on my site! Trust me, you won't want to miss it. :)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Review: Now You See Her by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Tags: YA, acting, kidnapping, psychological disorders

Hope Shay—real name Bernadette Romano—is a talented fifteen-year-old actor whose desire to perform is ambiguously mixed up with her mother’s hardcore stage mother actions. We meet Hope when she’s at a strict prep-like school called Miss Taylor’s for supposedly faking her own kidnapping. Hope has got it good: the lead role in her prestigious arts school’s production of Romeo and Juliet, a blossoming acting career, the right clothes. So why would someone like her do what she did?

In her journal, Hope writes about always being prettier/skinnier/more talented than everyone else, and thus being the object of everyone’s envy. At Starwood, she has no friends except for her “boyfriend” Logan Rose, the good-looking senior with a score of commercials and TV roles—even a part in a movie!—to his name. Hope believes that they are madly in love, and Logan even talks of them running off to New York or LA together.

Then Logan hatches The Idea, which involves them faking Hope’s kidnapping, demanding a $20,000 ransom from her parents, and Logan dramatically rescuing her, thereby putting him in such good graces with her parents that they will allow the two teenagers to go wherever they’d like, school be damned. Strangely, however, as opening night and the initiation of The Idea nears, Logan seems to draw away from Hope, hanging out with another girl instead. Borderline desperate, Hope is convinced that the only way she can prove her love for him is to carry out with the faked abduction.

However, things do not go as planned, as Hope goes from being famous for her acting ability to being famous for being the harbinger of the hoaxed abduction…and learns a few startling things about herself and her life as a result.

NOW YOU SEE HER is sort of strange, but strangely satisfying. Hope comes off as a slightly whiny, narcissistic teenager, but through her journal entries and her revelations--not to mention the shocking ending--we come to empathize with her. I have not read Jacquelyn Mitchard's other books, although The Deep End of the Ocean is on my TBR bookshelf, and maybe I was a little too old to appreciate Now You See Her for what it's completely worth: a heartbreaking tale of one girl's attempt to find her identity in the highly competitive world of acting she's in. This book is a telling of an adventure such as only a drama queen can tell it…and it is really good.

Similar Authors
Jodi Picoult
Liz Gallagher (The Opposite of Invisible)

Rating: 3.5/5

Thursday Thought Bauble (1): Digital vs. Print

Thursday Thought Bauble is a (pretty much) weekly appearance on my blog where I bring up a topic/ask a question, voice my opinions about it, and ask you to hear your thoughts on the matter.

Today's Thought Bauble: Digital vs. Print Library?

With all the talk of Google Library and Microsoft doing basically the same thing, the world is anticipating the shift in libraries from print to digital. However (and I think that many of you will agree with me here), I fervently wish it WON'T be so. There is just too much you miss by having a digital library, not to mention all the cricks in your neck and the eyestrain and the ruined eyesight you get by sitting for hours reading a computer screen. I mean, you get cricks in your neck through either way of reading, but I'd rather my cricks be from craning my head sideways to read the titles on a shelf full of desirable books...

Rather than go on and on about the library atmosphere and the connections you make with fellow readers and librarians, I want to hear what you think. Preferences between digital or print? What do you foresee for our future?

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch--and me, Ruby Oliver by E. Lockhart

Ruby is back at Tate Prep, and it’s her thirty-seventh week in the state of Noboyfriend. Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what’s more:

Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby’s already-sucky reputation is heading downhill.

Not only that, she’s also: running a bake sale, learning the secrets of heavymetal therapy, encountering some seriously smelly feet, defending the rights of pygmy goats, and bodyguarding Noel from unwanted advances.

In this companion novel to
The Boyfriend List and The Boy Book, Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true love—if such a thing exists.

I'm a big fan of the Ruby Oliver books, enjoyed The Boyfriend List but felt so much more...connected with The Boy Book, which is highly unusual, that the sequel is better than the first novel. So I have high hopes for this one. Can't wait to read more about Roo!

The Treasure Map of Boys is being released in hardcover by Delacorte Books for Young Readers on July 28, 2009.


Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia by Cindy Pon

I can't really find much of a description for this, except that it's a YA Asian fantasy, which are 3 good reasons that I want to read this book. I'm curious to see how Cindy approaches fantasy from an Asian angle, especially as I've been very disappointed with books written about Asians by Asian-American authors before. But hey! It's fantasy. This might be interesting!

(Psst, by the way, if you know where I could get my hands on a copy to review before the release date it'd be greatly appreciated......)

[Edit] Cindy has directed me to www.cindypon.com for a summary and excerpt of Silver Phoenix, and it sounds as good as the cover makes it look! (hehe.) Thanks so much, Cindy!

Silver Phoenix is being released in hardcover by Greenwillow Books (a division of HarperCollins) on April 28, 2009.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Review: Sunshine by Robin McKinley

Tags: adult, vampires

Rae Seddon, nicknamed Sunshine for her love of daylight, is just your average young woman, with maybe a slightly greater-than-normal interest in the Others: paranormal creatures such as vampires, Weres, and demons. She's a master baker (her cinnamon rolls are to die for) at her stepdad Charlie's coffeehouse, and has a good relationship with her boyfriend Mel. Sunshine's life was going on fine, until the night she decides to drive out to the lake to be alone with her thoughts for a bit, and finds herself smack dab in the middle of an epic ongoing fight between two vampires, Con and Bo.

Once you're in the hands of vampires you're pretty much dead, which is why Sunshine is absolutely terrified of herself when she not only escapes, but manages to save Con from Bo's gang as well. Now she and Con are inexplicably and dangerously linked, and Sunshine is only beginning to realize her magic heritage and the extent of her powers--powers that are wanted by SOF, the "police force" that deals with the Others. Sunshine and Con must form the strangest alliance ever--between humans and vampires--in order to defeat Bo and save each other from sure destruction.

SUNSHINE is quite different from previous Robin McKinley's books I've read and loved. First of all, this IS an adult book, and so some of the themes and content may be uncomfortable for younger readers (although, knowing McKinley readers, most are pretty mature already). Sunshine is also an unusual narrator; I think of her as almost the Jessica Darling of the vampire genre, with her snarky, diary-like commentary, which I enjoyed most of the time except when it got dragged out a bit in the middle and you just wanted to get to what happens next, to the action!

I'm not sure how Twilight fans will respond to this one because vampires are not glorified in SUNSHINE, although Con is attractive in his looming, expressionless way. However, if you are looking for a paranormal book with an extremely strong female protagonist's voice, be sure to check this one out.

Similar Authors
Megan McCafferty (Sloppy Firsts, etc.)
Annette Curtis Klause (The Silver Kiss)

Rating: 4.5/5

Review: The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz

I apologize for the lack of interesting and inspiring things on my blog recently. It's just that Sunshine is getting more and more difficult to get through, and I'm determined to finish it before I allow myself to move on to other books, since I've been reading it for almost 2 weeks now, and that's an eternity in reading time. I should be done soon, I hope!

Meanwhile, stay tuned for Friday, when I announce the winners of my first ever contest giveaway (there is still time to enter!) and introduce our very first Friday Featured Blogger! You'll want to read all about her; she's totally cool, despite what she thinks about her answers to my questions. :)

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz

Tags: adult, Austen retelling

Laurie Horowitz’s brilliant debut novel began as an exercise, as Horowitz, a Jane Austen enthusiast, thought she needed more practice writing the dialogue of mean people. The result is a witty social commentary on the old rich, interwoven with a love story that will make readers sigh.

Technically, THE FAMILY FORTUNE is a retelling of Jane Austen’s PERSUASION. However, it’s interesting to see how Horowitz places the story in modern times. Practical Jane Fortune is 38 years old and perpetually single. She lives in the Fortunes’ old family home with her father, Teddy, and older sister Miranda, neither of whom know the meaning of the word “budget.” Jane spends most of her time either reading books or working for her family’s philanthropic organization, which publishes the literary magazine the Euphemia Review and, every year, grants a promising new writer a place to stay to write his or her novel.

When their family is forced to move due to their financial crisis, Jane stays with her sister Winnie’s family for a while. Unfortunately—or luckily, whatever you call it—this means she crosses paths again with Max Wellman, the first recipient of the Fortune Foundation’s literary grant. Max was her first love, but their relationship was stopped by Jane’s disapproving family, who didn’t want her to be with a struggling artiste. Fifteen years later, Max is successful writer with a womanizing reputation, and Jane is still the same as ever. Go figure.

Circumstances seem to make it impossible for Max to fall in love with the still-besotted Jane again. Meanwhile, Jane struggles to make an identity for herself, separate from the one her ridiculous family gives her. Maybe it’s only after she learns to love herself that Jane can be open to making her own decisions about her life, and her love.

THE FAMILY FORTUNE is a wonderfully told story of the absurdities of high society and the growth of a sensible woman. The romance part of the story left me a bit disappointed (I wanted more--LOTS more--between Jane and Max), but I appreciated this remarkably successful Austenian-type novel.

Similar Authors
Jane Austen
Karen Joy Fowler (The Jane Austen Book Club)

Rating: 4/5

Monday, February 9, 2009

Review: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Tags: classic, French, swashbuckling, revenge

Don’t be daunted by the bricklike appearance of this book. The writing is extremely engaging and the pages will fly by so fast you’ll wish it never ends.

Edmond Dantes loves his father; has a beautiful, perfect, and loving fiancĂ©e; and is poised to become captain of a whole ship at the tender age of nineteen. Then, in a couple of hours, he loses everything, the victim of slander by some jealous and ambitious “friends.”

Locked away in an underground dungeon on an island prison for 14 years, Edmond learns of a massive treasure buried on the island of Monte Cristo. When he finally manages to escape, Edmond is a changed man—for better or for worse—and vows to use the island’s treasure to exact complete revenge on the men who ruined his life.

THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO reads easily and contains a myriad of characters you will get to know as well as the back of your hand. What could possibly take 1200 pages to work out? you might think. But don't judge before you start reading: this novel is worth every one of its pages. I am flabbergasted that any author could produce a social world as complicated, satirical, and calculated as Edmond Dantes'. It is exciting and difficult to put down once you start. Get the Penguin edition translated by Robin Buss for the best read. I highly recommend that everyone read this book!

Similar Authors
Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment)
This is not a very helpful list because I think just about ANYONE will greatly enjoy this book.

Rating: 5/5

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Review: Good Girls by Laura Ruby, and.....

Bah. Four hours of traipsing about West Philly in a pair of wannabe Converses has rendered my feet useless. Good thing my yearbook meeting tonight was cancelled and I can just stay in and *ahem* write my short story due tomorrow in bed! Oh, and wander the YA blog world, of course. I love it here. :)

Good Girls by Laura Ruby


Tags: YA, sex, rumors, humiliation

GOOD GIRLS is a gem of a good read. Super-smart Audrey does something completely out of character for her before school starts: she hooks up with Luke, the well-liked, athletic playboy. Party after party, they hook up, yet hardly ever speak in school. Audrey feels more for Luke than she’s felt for any other boy, but as she watches Luke talk to other girls, she can’t help but draw back from a possible romance between the two of them.

Then someone takes a picture of Audrey hooking up with Luke, and the picture is passed around to everyone. Even Audrey’s teachers and parents see it. Audrey goes from having a fairly decent reputation to being labeled as a slut. The consequences of the photo are far-reaching: Luke isn’t talking to her and her parents don’t know how to act around her.

However, some of what happens in the picture’s aftermath surprises Audrey. She befriends several girls she had always considered as slutty before, and she learns that she does have the ability to be strong while people snicker behind her back.

GOOD GIRLS is snidely hilarious and a surprisingly feel-good read. It’s raw and explicit; I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone not in high school yet. However, Audrey is a great, strong protagonist with a wonderful voice. Not everyone has been in Audrey’s particular situation, but I’m sure that everyone knows how it feels to be hurt, and then to rise above it. This book has earned a permanent place on my bookshelf and in my heart.

Similar Authors
Laura Wiess (Such a Pretty Girl)
Sara Zarr (Story of a Girl)
Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty)
Laurie Halse Anderson (Speak)

Rating: 5/5

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So you remember how in my post about my contest I said there was a way you can earn 3 extra entries? (See the original post here if you're a little fuzzy on the details.) It's simple. All you have to do is comment on this post with a book that you rated or would rate 5/5, 100%, or otherwise the best rating that you can possibly give. That's all, and you'll automatically gain 3 more entries in my February book release contest giveaway! (Okay, I'll admit. It's also a way I can get more good-book recommendations, hehe. I'm nothing if not utilitarian.)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Coupla Interviews with Me...

So I've been interviewed by several people who have sent me some interesting (and hard! damn!) questions. No one likes a procrastinator (although deep down most people are one, hehe) so I'm gonna get these up now. Lenore and Susan, I'll be doing your Alphabet Tag Meme soon!
From Bookworm:

1) If you could be any animal, what would you choose?

Boy, start out with the hard one, why don't you. :) Umm, I think I would like to be a sea turtle. They live more than a century (on average), and I like the idea of being able to carry your home on your back. God only knows I cannot reduce my b
eloved possessions into one backpack for me to carry! Plus I read this awesome short story by Roald Dahl in The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar about a girl who gets to ride on a sea turtle's shell. Whoa. Wish I could do that.
2) If you had to eat one food for the rest of the year, what would you eat?

*sigh* I'm a food-aholic, how can you deprive me like so??! Well, we students at Swarthmore have been known to survive for weeks at a time on pasta bar alone, but I'd choose my mom's Asian curry chicken over rice. It's a dish with chicken, potatoes, carrots, yams, smothered in 
curry sauce with a dash of melted chocolate to give it a bit of sweetness. My favorite meal ever
.
3) Where is your ideal place to visit?

I've always been partial to Australia. I'm not that great with languages, so it'd be easy for me to communicate and yet be able to experience a different world. Plus, there are lots of wonderful Australian authors whom I would love to meet: Scott Westerfeld (partial--sometimes he lives in New York), Jaclyn Moriarty, Melina Marchetta. YA book lover heaven.
4) What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be *gulp* a writer. There. I said it. Buuut I try not to dwell too much on things like that because I know it's a competitive world. I guess that my other dream job is to be the president/top honcho at a university or school system, where I can use my knowledge and experience to transform the failing American educational system.

5) If you could meet any author, who would you pick and why?

Um. John Green, author of Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, and Paper Towns. If you don't love him automatically from reading his books, then his blog at his site will win you over. The only problem is I get INCREDIBLY shy around guys I like and want to befriend, so I'd probably act like a giant idiot around him.


From Stephanie:

1. Why did you start your blog and how long did you have it?

I'm a noob. Started my blog in mid-January mostly as a place to collect all the hundreds of reviews I've written over the past two years (and have posted in places such as YA Books Central, LibraryThing, and PaperbackSwap). It didn't take me long to fall in love with all of the wonderful and talented people I'm meeting. Now I do it to connect with people with interests similar to mine. :)

2. Favorite book? Favorite author? Why?

My favorite books are Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. In P&P, Jane Austen has literally crafted the perfect man, and I strive to have Anne's positive and hopeful outlook on life. Favorite author is hands-down Megan McCafferty, of the Jessica Darling books fame (Sloppy Firsts, etc.). She effortlessly weaves Jessica into a flawed but appealing girl whom I can really connect with.

3. What's the book you're reading next and how did you choose it?

Hmm... I think I might read Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins next. After reading and LOVING The Hunger Games I really wanted to see what else she's written, to see if they're just as good.

4. Who's your favorite fictional couple and why?

Gahhh oh dear. Decisions, decisions. Okay, I really like Anne and Gilbert Blythe from the Anne of Green Gables series. Mostly because, in the words of my hilarious friend, I "love how she's such a b***h to him" and yet he's persistent, consistent, and chivalrous. Oh, and plus extremely extremely cute/handsome/gorgeous/insert-appearance-adjective-here.
5. What are some random facts about you that no one knows?

I really miss playing the piano. Back at home I'm always on the piano playing Broadway tunes. They're my fave to play, because I can get other people to sing along.

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Want to be interviewed? Leave a comment on this entry saying "Interview me!" with your email address. I'll email you 5 questions which you may or may not answer and post on your blog.

In My Mailbox (1)

In My Mailbox is hosted by the innovative Kristi at The Story Siren as part of YA Connection. Check out her site to see what others got in their mailboxes this week!

I had a rather happy week, PBS-wise, I think. :)

From PaperbackSwap:

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

I don't think I even have to give a synopsis of this classic modern tale, do I?












Becoming Chloe by Catherine Ryan Hyde

A gay teen runaway teams up with the childlike Chloe to embark on a road trip of self-discovery and beauty. See my review here











Secrets of My Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita

Teen superstar Kaitlin Burke longs for a normal life, away from the cutthroat gossip of Hollywood. She goes undercover at a normal high school, only to find more trouble than she could have anticipated. See my review here.









Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster

An anonymous benefactor sends orphan Judy off to college, with the stipulation that she must write him letters about her life. Almost a classic piece of literature. Should be interesting.




Gregor the Overlander (Underland Chronicles Series #1) by Suzanne Collins

When eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister are pulled into a strange underground world, they trigger an epic battle involving men, bats, rats, cockroaches, and spiders while on a quest foretold by ancient prophecy.

After reading--and loving--The Hunger Games, I decided to acquire this book and read it while impatiently waiting for Catching Fire to come out. Yay!






From the library:

Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

Zombies at the local high school? What?? I've heard many good things about this book, so I'm excited to read it.












What did YOU get this week? :)

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