2008 Roundup

That would be the new Times Square, multi-colored New Years Ball. Woah.

So 2008 has been a great year. A really great year. I've spent a month overseas, started a blog, junior-counseled little kiddos, made new friends, read a lot, and overall, just enjoyed myself. It's been GOOD. 
So in honor of the end of this year here's a list of my top fifteen books of 2008, in no particular order:
1. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher review
2. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen review
3. Far From You by Lisa Schroeder review
4. A Little Friendly Advice by Siobhan Vivian review
5. Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer review
6. The Host by Stephenie Meyer review
7. Looking For Alaska by John Green review
8. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson review
9. Model by Cheryl Diamond review
10.Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr review
11. I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert review
12. Paper Towns by John Green review
13. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins review
14. Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott review
15. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (even though I'm not officialy finished yet)
16. I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin (review down the page)
Sorry, I couldn't pick just 15... :)

Looking back, I've read some seriously great books year; over 100, if I'm not mistaken. Geez, that's a lot. 

For 2009, I probably won't be able to read as much so my goal is to read two books a week, eight a month, 96 total. Oh wait, that IS a lot. Um...well let's just see if I can make it. Cross your fingers. 

Other random resolutions (that probably won't last a week):
1. KNIT! I am so bad at sticking with things but I'm knitting a scarf as a late Christmas present and it's not TOO horrible. I don't think...I even learned how to purl! Off YouTube! So I'd like to knit a leeeetle bit more. It'd be kinda fun.
2. Keep the grades up. Enough said.
3. Read some classics/well-known adult books. Gotta expand those horizons, eh?
4. Keep being active.
5. Enjoy the year!
Do you guys have any good resolutions?

I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin

Pure. Unplanned. Perfect.
Those were Nick's summer plans before Sasha stepped into the picture. With the collateral damage from his parents' divorce stil settling and Dani (his girl of the moment) up for nearly anything, complications are the last thing he needs.
All that changes, though, when Nick runs into Sasha at the beach in July. Suddenly he's neck-deep in a relationship and surprised to find he doesn't mind in the least. But Nick's world shifts again when Sasha breaks up with him. Then weeks later, while Nick's still reeling from the breakup, she turns up at his doorstep and tells him she's pregnant, and with his emotions and hopes crashing in around him, Nick finds himself struggling once more to understand the girl who insists that it's still over.
(Summary from jacket flap)

C.K. Kelly Martin is a genius. A complete genius. I have never ever heard of a book that details teen pregnancy through a guy's point of view. And written by a female author to boot. When you think about that, this book could have been a complete disaster. But it wasn't. Not at all. I Know It's Over succeeded in being emotional, eye-opening, tragic, and new. You take your classic pretty boy, who's actually really deep and interesting on the inside, throw him into some interesting situations that change his world forever, and you've got one heck of a novel. What's really unique about this book is that in any other story, Nick would have been a boring and stereotypical character. He's got the annoying sister, the ugly divorce, and the sweet sport skills. What makes him a really great character is that the story is told through his eyes so you get to see everything that goes on under the skin. Nick is a great guy. He has feelings, he knows how to think, and even as a girl, I GOT him. For me, that's what made the story really work. It took something normal and made it into something completely not normal. The other thing that worked was that Nick and Sasha's relationship was very realistic, feelings-wise and sex-wise. You can tell that C.K. knows what it's like to be a teen. Nothing was ever glossed over, you got the gritty truth thrown at you from every page. I don't really know if there's anything bad I can say about this book. The characters were well developed, real, and believable; every single one of them. The plot moved at the perfect pace; slow enough so you could get all the details you needed, but fast enough to keep you hooked. The writing was AMAZING. There were really no flaws in I Know It's Over. The weird thing for me was that after I finished the book, I wasn't awed or in shock or anything. It's the kind of novel you need to digest for a while to milk the whole meaning out of it. And now that I've had a little time to brew on it, I AM in awe. Of the story, of the author, and of the ending. The ending was the best part by far. And I just really hope that if you haven't read this book yet that you now realize what you're missing. Please please please, go pick up a copy. 

Read my Bits 'n Pieces interview with C.K. Kelly Martin.


I'm going to be on a little trip to the middle of nowhere until around New Years, so sorry I won't be posting! I've got a review scheduled for tomorrow, which I guess would be today as it's 12:20 am, and I was meaning to get a new Lovely Bones post up, but procrastinator that I am, that didn't happen. Enjoy the review, enjoy the end of the year, and I'll see you in 4/5 days! 

Merry Christmas (eve)

Merry Christmas!
To those of you that celebrate. :) I hope you all have had a fantastic holiday season so far. For me personally, I've felt a little less cheerful this year than in other years...maybe because we're not having Chrismas at my house this year so there's no hectic preparation going on, maybe because we got out tree oh, about a week ago, maybe it's because of the financial crisis going on which is definitely a damper on the festive spirit.
Thankfully though, I'm starting to feel it a little more. We made cookies yesterday and I wrapped all my presents. I've been listening to Christmas music nonstop. The temperature has been below zero for almost this entire week. There's heaps of snow on the ground. How could you not be happy with that? 
So in honor of the holiday, I made my perfect Christmas music playlist. :P Yeah, I'm the kind of girl who knows every version of every Christmas song out there...sorry. 
1. Step Into Christmas - Elton John 
2. Snow - Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney [<3]
3. Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow - Michael Buble
4. Carol of the Bells - Natalie Cole 
5. Merry Almost Christmas - Frog and Toad [don't laugh! if you've heard it you know why it's amazing. :)]
6. All I Want For Christmas Is You - Mariah Carey [this song came out in 1994 and it's STILL big]
7. Winter Song - Ingrid Michaelson, Sarah Bareilles
8. Little Saint Nick - The Beach Boys
9. Winter Wonderland - Jason Mraz [not available on iTunes! URGH]
10. Auld Lang Syne - Artist Medley from The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs


What are your favorite Christmas songs? 

ALSO, some other awesome bloggers and authors and I had a secret santa gift exchange this year! A BIG thank you to Lenore who had my name. I am really excited to read Dream Factory and I have to say that I might have...ahem, eaten all the candy already. But with my family's help of course. :) 
But, really Lenore, you are amazing and you made my holiday so much brighter.
And now I feel like my own gift that I sent was crap. :P I hope it reached my special person by today!

I just hope you all have a marvelous holiday; eat lots of food, sing carols, watch Elf, and read books!

Bliss by Lauren Myracle

With it's stately, ivy-covered buildings, Crestview Academy seems impossibly grand to newcomer Bliss, but full of promise too. It's here she hopes to make the sort of friends she never could growing up as the lone kid on a commune. With her crisp new uniform and manners gleaned from the wholesome TV shows her grandmother permits her to watch, Bliss feels ready for her new life at Crestview. Until she hears the voice.
Crestview holds secrets in its stones, ghostly hints of a long-ago death. Sensitive Bliss hears a voice that speaks of terrible things...and blood. Always blood. Her fellow students, with their sunny smiles and talk of makeup and dances, seem untouched by this darkness. Yet, as Bliss will learn, they too have secrets. When the simmering tensions of the present mingle with the dark secrets of the past, it is kindly Bliss who becomes the focus of a deadly struggle for power.
(Summary from jacket flap)

Man, I hate to be a party pooper, but I don't see what's so amazing about Bliss. Everyone's been freaking out about how great it is, and how it's Lauren Myracle's best work yet, and I just don't get it. It's not a terrible book, but it's definitely not mind-blowing. The main bad part was that it was slow. It took me forever to finish it! That's because the beginning was rather boring, as was...a lot of the book, I guess. The whole plot wasn't worked out well. The writing was a little choppy, the events unrealistic. Bliss was a good redeeming character, though. I liked her a lot, probably because the book was told from her perspective. She seemed like a very normal high school freshman. She kind of brought a sense of reality to the book, as did Sarah Lynn; I liked her character as well. I also liked how you got fed little elements of the story as the book went on to sort of keep you guessing. That part did work for me. Also, I had no idea what the Tate/LaBianca murders were, so it was neat to see that woven into the story, although it was also rather creepy. The quotes Lauren picked were good for that. I really just think that Bliss should've been thought out more. Looking back I can see so many open ends and aspects of the book that weren't expressed in very much detail. I wish we could have seen more of Liliana's story and more of the "voice". I might've liked it more if the book was a little more focused on the past. The short part where Aggie (is that her name?) told her story was really cool. We just didn't get much more background than that, which stunk. Also, I would've liked for there to be a little more focus on the racial struggles going on at Crestview. Mitchell and Lawrence were really interesting people and they were involved in that and they didn't get very much spotlight time. :( So I guess there were some good parts of the book. It did have its high points. But for me, it just didn't work. It was a little too far-fetched to be believable. And the ending was crap. I don't know if I have some reading issue because I'm contradicting basically every other review out there, but Bliss just wasn't that great. Sorry.

Read my Bits 'n Pieces interview with Lauren. She's a really interesting author!


So I'm sure you all followed the ALA book awards this year, right? How could you not, as there were some pretty great authors nominated. I'm definitely looking forward to reading What I Saw and How I Lied, but another nominee that sparked my interest was Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. I've read a bunch of her other books and I know for a fact that she's an amazing author. 
So imagine my surprise, and ecstatic delight, when I walked into Barnes and Noble today and found Chains, SIGNED BY THE AUTHOR. Wow. I know that B&N sometimes has some pretty great authors come and do signings, but none of them have ever been ones I've been super into. 
Eek! My day has been made. Thankfully I had some money on me. I've GOT to read the book now. Thank you Barnes and Noble and thank you Laurie Halse Anderson for pretty much rocking my world. :)

Oh, and just a side note, is The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing appropriate for a ten-year-old boy? Theme/subject wise? I haven't read it yet and don't want to corrupt the poor kid as the little age thing says 14 and up. 

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder (review and vlog)

This is my official post for Lisa Schroeder's Far From You release contest! 
For really pathetic bloopers and stupid-ness on my part, go here.

Far From You by Lisa Schroeder
Years have passed, but Alice has yet to piece her life together after losing her mother to cancer. She copes by writing music, exploring her passion for her boyfriend, and lashing out at her father and his new wife whenever possible. But she'll be forced to deal with issues she's spent so long avoiding when she's trapped in a deadly snowstorm that threatens her life and the lives of her stepmother and newborn sister. 
(Summary from back of book)

LOVED this book. Lisa Schroeder is definitely one of my favorite authors. Not only is she extremely nice, she is also a fantastic writer. And she writes verse novels like none I've read before. I never thought I'd be a huge fan of books written in that style, but I have proved myself wrong twice now. I'm a huge fan of both I Heart You, You Haunt Me and Far From You. Both books are unique, eloquent, flowing, and emotional. I think I might have liked Far From You even more than Lisa's first book because it was longer, more developed, and it dealed with a broader range of issues, from divorce to survival. I also liked that while the book had some aspects of faith and Christianity in it, it wasn't preachy, or forceful. It was just a part of who the characters were. It added a nice angle to the story. The other thing that I liked about this book was how complete it was. It probably has half as many words as a prose novel of its same size does and it gets the story across just as clearly if not more so. The thing about verse novels is that they are better with emotion and details and feelings. You get to know the characters better and you feel more of a connection to the plot and what's going on in every aspect of the story. And that's the thing that I loved the most. The connection I felt with the book, the characters, and the author. I wish I could get that close to every book I read but sadly, that only happens with a select handful; Far From You included. 
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder comes out in 2 days, on December 23rd and I highly recommend that you pick up a copy. I'm sure you'll enjoy it. :)

My review of I Heart You, You Haunt Me (written a long time ago :P)

Be sure to comment on this post for extra entries in the contest.
The official contest post over at Lisa's blog is here.
Head on over to Vanessa's for tomorrow's vlog.

Get excited for December 23rd! Enter the contest, watch the vlogs, spread the word, and READ THE BOOK!

New Year Resolutions

I was tagged by Emily to share three of my New Year Resolutions. I have to tell you that I am totally horrible at commitment and none of these things will actually happen, but hey, dream big right?

1. Finish two books a week, eight books a month. Seems pretty doable, I know, but at the rate I've been going lately, that's going to be quite the stretch for me. 96 a year...woah.
2. Finish the academic year out strong. I've got pretty decent grades and I want to keep that going through the end of this semester in January and through the end of the school year. 
3. Make room in my busy life to LIVE A LITTLE. I want to get out there and do more things. Any kind of thing. Just do MORE.  :)

And I tag...
Kelsey at Just Blinded Book Reviews
Kelsey at Reading Keeps You Sane
and Vanessa at What Vanessa Reads

Happy Almost 2009!

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #15: Generosity & Treat

On Saturday
(2 Questions!)
Do you give books as gifts?
In general, yes.
To everyone? Or only to select people?
No, not to everyone. I have some friends who are violently opposed to anything literary or who don't have enough time to read or who just aren't interested in books and I'd rather get them something they'd like than force something unimportant to them on them. :P For my book-ish friends though, I think long and hard about the books I give them so that they'll like them and think I have good taste. haha. 
How do you feel about receiving books as gifts?
Mmmm...if it's a book that I have specifically said I want or is given with a bunch of consideration, I love it. It's nice to see that people know what I like and want to give me something I'll appreciate. For the most part, though, when I receive books they're ones I've already read which isn't so great. So if you're going to buy books for me, be up to date on what I've read and what I want to read! And I think my family and friends know that so they give me giftcards to B&N. Which is just as good. 

What is the best book you ever bought for yourself?
Paper Towns by John Green, signed by him, hands down. It doesn't get much better than that. 
And, why? What made it the best? What made it so special?
Um, JOHN GREEN SIGNED MY BOOK AND PERSONALIZED IT. That's what makes it the best. It's JOHN GREEN. No other explanation is needed, I don't think.

Bits 'n Pieces - Suzanne Supplee

Suzanne Supplee is the marvelous author of the YA novel, Artichoke's Heart. Not only is the cover amazing, but the premise sounds great! :) You can visit Suzanne's site here, to learn more about her and her books. Enjoy the interview!

This or that:
Rain or shine? 
Shine. Definitely, shine.
iPod or mp3 player? 
Pink iPod
Movies or TV? 
I like both, except I hate movie theatre popcorn. I much prefer my salt-less, butter-less brand. Seriously.
City or country? 
Oh how heavenly to have both. I spent lots of time on my grandparents’ farm as a kid, so I love the country and rural people and cows and all that stuff. But, there is just nothing like going to New York and seeing the sights and feeling that energy.
Mountains or beaches? 
Beaches, and I have the skin to prove it. I’m now much better about wearing sunscreen.
Dots or stripes? 
Dots on my kids. Stripes on me.
Dogs or cats? 
I am very allergic to cats, so I have no choice but to be a dog person. Right this very second, Iris, my Jack Russell terrier, is sleeping on the chair next to me. Dogs are great company, especially when you work alone, as I so often do.
Cooking or eating out? 
You know, I admire people who are passionate about cooking, but I just don’t have that strand of DNA. I mean, I do cook, of course, but I don’t really feel the food joy. Going out is nice, but so often it’s not in the cards, especially on a school night. In a perfect world, my husband would really love to cook.
Coffee or tea? 
Diet Coke.
Books or magazines? 
Both! I love a good magazine. It’s like a guilty pleasure, but I can’t imagine not having a huge stack of books next to my bed.

Too many to count. It would take all day to list my favorites.
Book store- 
Now that’s a very political sort of question, especially for an author.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Oh, I sooooo love this one.
Music artist- 
U-2 is my favorite band. Rolling Stones is a very close second. Rod Stewart is my favorite male singer, and I would have to say that Gwen Stefani and Roberta Flack are probably my all-time favorite female singers (now that’s a combo you don’t see every day!)
I’m hooked on Sarah Dessen’s blog.
I don’t know his/her name, but whoever invented sweats really deserves a medal.
Coffee chain- 
One that serves Diet Coke.
Guilty pleasure- 
Diet Coke (I swear, that’s the last time I’ll say it).
There’s this amazing restaurant in Baltimore called The Helmand. It’s my all-time, all-time favorite.
My favorite color has always been yellow.

Have you ever:
Lived abroad? 
I wish, but there’s still hope!
Gotten a tattoo? 
No. I hate needles, and I can’t keep the same hairstyle for more than a few months. A tattoo would spell disaster for me.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book? 
No, but it could happen.
Disliked your job? 
Yes. In college, I worked behind a cosmetic counter, and I really hated touching strangers’ faces, especially noses—you know, like when you’re applying foundation? Ick.
Cried during a movie? 
I cry in movies that aren’t even supposed to make you cry. Last year, I saw U-2 at Imax, and I cried.
Sang karaoke? 
No. I don’t need a microphone to make a fool of myself.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
My husband, children, and dogs (assuming family counts as one thing)
A dictionary
My computer
Diet Coke (sorry)
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Travel more
Learn French
Act in a play again (I haven’t done this since college)
Meet the president
If you could have one super power what would it be?
I would love to read minds, but I’d also want to understand why people think the things they do.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
A mix of country, rock, blues, bluegrass, and jazz.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
Peanut butter
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I’m pretty fixated on Paris right now. It seems like a place I should’ve visited already.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
I’m not sure, but it would probably be music related—the Beatles coming to America or Elvis driving his gold Cadillac through the gates at Graceland.
What does your dream library look like?
I have LOTS of books, so my dream library would have LOTS of shelves!
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
The YA section. I love to write YA novels, but I also love to read them.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
The Bible.
Thank you sooo much Suzanne! And you're not alone on the Diet Coke thing I swear, it seems like every author who's ever done Bits 'n Pieces has mentioned it somewhere. Or is that just me? :P

Girl Week <3

Over at Reviewer X (a completely marvelous blog), this is a very special week. It is the week where about a gazillion female YA authors come together and talk all things "girl".

In Steph's own words:

"Awesome authors are going to stop by to give their two cents on an array of different topics, all of them pertaining to being a girl. (No, it’s not like those horrid videos we watched in 5th grade all over again. Give me some credit, will you?)

They’ll be talking about feminism back in the day, body image, social stigma, health, friendship, fashion, and other topics like such. There will be posts about women’s rights. Etc."

Um, AMAZING, right?! So stop on by, read the fantastic posts, and be proud of being female. :)

Lisa Schroeder's Far From You CONTEST!


Lisa Schroeder, author of I HEART YOU, YOU HAUNT ME, is celebrating the release of her upcoming YA novel, FAR FROM YOU, and hosting a contest with LOTS of great prizes!

For three days leading up to the book’s release date of December 23rd, you can watch VLOGs and hear some excerpts read from the book. The VLOG schedule is as follows:

Sunday, December 21st – Liv’s Book Reviews - http://livsbookreviews.blogspot.com/
Monday, December 22nd – What Vanessa Reads - http://whatvanessareads.wordpress.com/
Tuesday, December 23rd – Lisa Schroeder, author - http://lisa-schroeder.livejournal.com/ AND http://myspace.com/writerlisa

Help spread the word, and you might win a fabulous prize!

Copy and paste THIS entire blog entry into your blog between now and December 21st, then come back to Lisa’s blog at either Livejournal OR Myspace and leave a comment with the link to your blog and you will get TWO entries to win a number of prizes.

Wondering what you might win? Here is the list (there will be multiple winners):

~ An Advanced Review Copy of THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, by Carrie Ryan

~ An Advanced Review Copy of SOMETHING, MAYBE, by Elizabeth Scott

~ Young adult novel GIRL, HERO by Carrie Jones

~ Young adult novel, THE POSSIBILITIES OF SAINTHOOD by Donna Freitas

~ Young adult novel, UGLIES by Scott Westerfield

~ Pair of YA fairy tale retellings by Cameron Dokey (BELLE and BEFORE MIDNIGHT)

~ TWILIGHT movie soundtrack

~ $15.00 Barnes and Noble gift card along with some Harry & David’s chocolate moose munch

~ And of course, a signed copy of FAR FROM YOU

For more chances to win, watch one or all of the VLOGs and leave a comment on that vlogger’s page, and you get another entry. That means if you post the schedule on your blog AND comment on all three VLOGs, you can have FIVE entries for the contest!

A live drawing with winners announced will be done by Lisa Thursday morning, December 24th, in a special holiday VLOG.

[Awesome contest, eh? Look out for my vlog on the 21st so you can get those extra entries. Good luck!]

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - chapters 7 through 9

Yes, I did get another few chapters read! Yay!
Chapter seven:
-grave rubbings seem like they'd actually be really pretty and elegant if they were of old detailed grave stones. Kind of morbid, but pretty nonetheless.
-Buckley seems like a cute and perfect little boy whose life shouldn't have been dirtied by death. I hope his imaginary friend/sister thing ends up alright. 
-I love the parts when Susie tells different stories about her family. It really helps you to see the dynamic they had when she was still alive. Although the Buckley choking story is rather creepy.
-And I'm beginning to think that I don't like her heaven so much. It's kind of like the past is haunting her. That's not what I'd want to live with in my after-life.

Chapter eight:
-"Dreams of women and children." Yech. 
-Mr. Harvey fits the stereotype for murderers and rapists. People who had troubled childhoods and bad rolemodels.
-If he would have grown up with a complete family; if his father hadn't forced his mother out of their life, it would have turned out much differently.
-Have you ever thought about how the littlest actions can have this enormous ripple effect? Like if you look back in time to generations before you realize all the things that might have been done differently and therefore might have resulted in enormous differences today? Life is a series of circumstances.

Chapter nine:
-I'm in LOVE with Grandma Lynn. Completely and totally in love. She's the perfect eccentric, crazy, and amazing grandmother. Her antics might not have been all together welcome at other family gatherings, but now she's just the thing the Salmons need to cheer them up.
-And it works. She does make-overs, drinks, tells stories, and helps them all take a step closer toward acceptance.
-Lindsey better have some fun things in store for her. She's dealt with enough already.
-Aw, Mrs. Utemeyer. That's just too sweet. Here's that ripple effect thing again. I think it's nice that Lindsey and Susie kept her company in place of her daughter. 
-I don't know why they don't clean up Susie's room already. I wouldn't want to be near that room ever.
-Samuel, Samuel, Samuel.
-Clarissa is an airhead. She needs to get a life.
-Ray better have something good coming for him too. I feel sooo bad for him. He seems like the nicest guy.

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #15: Time Is Of The Essence

On Saturday

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?
NO NO NO. Not at all. I don't believe I've finished one book this month and it's already like 2/3 of the way done. I have school, sports, friends, and a bajillion other things that keep me super busy and not able to have time to just sit down, relax, and read. :(

2. If you had (magically) more time to read–what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?
If I had more time I'd probably read some comfort books or just try and get through my ever growing pile of review books. I'd also love to have time to read some delicious trashy magazines. They're a guilty pleasure of mine. Who doesn't want to read about Brangelina's 85th adopted kid? Not me! I love that kind of stuff. I also want to read a few more classics as well. A big variety, I guess.

Waiting on Wednesday #2 - Envy by Anna Godbersen

Jealous whispers.

Old rivalries.

New betrayals.

Two months after Elizabeth Holland's dramatic homecoming, Manhattan eagerly awaits her return to the pinnacle of society. When Elizabeth refuses to rejoin her sister Diana's side, however, those watching New York's favorite family begin to suspect that all is not as it seems behind the stately doors of No. 17 Gramercy Park South.

Farther uptown, Henry and Penelope Schoonmaker are the city's most celebrated couple. But despite the glittering diamond ring on Penelope's finger, the newlyweds share little more than scorn for each other. And while the newspapers call Penelope's social-climbing best friend, Carolina Broad, an heiress, her fortune - and her fame - are anything but secure, especially now that one of society's darlings is slipping tales to the eager press.

In this next thrilling installment of Anna Godbersen's bestselling Luxe series, Manhattan's most envied residents appear to have everything they desire: Wealth. Beauty. Happiness. But sometimes the most practiced smiles hide the most scandalous secrets. . . .

I need to read this book sooo bad. I've read both of the first books in the series, The Luxe and Rumors, and am completely in love with them. Scandal, romance, suspense, juice, all taking place in New York City, drama capitol of the world. I'm really excited to see what Envy has in store because the ending of Rumors left me with my jaw-dropped. Anna Godbersen is going to have to step it up a notch after she um...did something to one of my favorite characters. And let me just say that if you haven't started this series yet, then you are seriously missing out. Please start reading them ASAP. It'll be your Christmas present to me. :P

Envy comes out January 29th, 2009.

PS: And just a little note, I've decided that it's too much pressure to stick to my reading schedule for The Lovely Bones so while I am still reading it, the posts won't be regular. Sorry! 

Sloooowing Down. Ugh

I promise my reviews haven't disappeared. I'm hoping to get caught up with my reading soon but seeing as I've been getting very little sleep the past weeks and even my teachers have noticed, my priority might be in catching some shut-eye. I'll try and get a Lovely Bones post up tomorrow to make up for the missed day on Saturday, and my Waiting on Wednesday will be posted on um...Wednesday. 
Besides some reviews (*crosses fingers*) I've also got an amazingly awesome thing I'm a part of, starting on the 15th, so look out for that too! 
Just bear with me here as I trudge through my reading pile. :)

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #14: 5 For Favorites

On Saturday
1. Do you have a favorite author?
No! I have a few main ones that I like; Sarah Dessen, JK Rowling, Siobhan Vivian, John Green, Scott Westerfeld, Susan Beth Pfeffer, and a ton more that I'm too lazy to name. :P
2. Have you read everything he or she has written?
Yes, in fact, I think I've read almost every book each of the authors listed above have written. Wow. I didn't even realize I was capable of that! 
3. Did you LIKE everything?
Some of Sarah Dessen's first books were a little disappointing and I didn't like Scott Westerfeld's Peeps, but I think I liked everything else. I guess I'm easy to please.
4. How about a least favorite author?
I don't think I'm really against any particular author because it seems bad to me to rule out books based on who wrote them. And I think I've liked most of the things I've read. No author stands out to me as someone I don't like or wouldn't read...
5. An author you wanted to like, but didn’t?
Melina Marchetta. I only tried one of her books, On The Jellicoe Road and couldn't get through it. I know that she has TONS of rabid fans but I don't really see the draw. :( I'm sorry!

Think About It

"...Do you know why books such as this are so important? Because they have quality. And what does the word quality mean? To me it means texture. This book has pores. It has features. This book can go under the microscope. You'd find life under the glass, streaming past in infinite profusion. The more pores, the more truthfully recorded details of life per square inch you can get on a sheet of paper, the more 'literary' you are. That's my definition, anyway. Telling detail. Fresh detail. The good writers touch life often. The mediocre ones run a quick hand over her. The bad ones rape her and leave her for the flies."

-Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

[so true]

PS: Be sure to keep checking back for some super exciting news. I'm really stoked (yes, I did use the word "stoked")!

Bits 'n Pieces - Susan Juby

Susan Juby is the author of a host of YA novels, her most recent being Getting The Girl. Isn't the cover for it adorable? I'm definitely excited to read it soon. You can visit her website here. To learn more about her other books and read some fun posts on her blog. I hope you enjoy the interview!

This or that.
Rain or shine?
Shine. With the promise of rain overnight.
iPod or mp3 player?
Movies or TV?
City or country?
Country. With trips to the city.
Mountains or beaches?
Dots or stripes?
Both. Preferably on the same garment.
Dogs or cats?
Cooking or eating out?
Coffee or tea?
Coffee, especially coffee that's strong enough to power diesel engines.
Books or magazines?

I can't choose just one. Clockers. Catcher in the Rye.
Book store-
The closest one.
Rushmore. Harold and Maude.
Music artist-
Go Fug Yourself.
Azzedine Alaia
Coffee chain
Bean around the World
Guilty pleasure-
Cupcakes. Lots and lots of cupcakes.
Bishops in Vancouver.
My horse, who is kind of a liver chestnut.

Have you ever:
Lived abroad?
No. But I got married in Scotland.
Gotten a tattoo?
Yup. When I was twenty.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book?
No. I have to get up early to write.
Disliked your job?
YES! I've had about eighty jobs and disliked many of them.
Cried during a movie?
Yes, even some that weren't supposed to be sad.
Sang karaoke?
Mercifully for the audience, only a few times.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
Kiehls lip balm
My husband
My dog
Enough food and drinks for all of us.
Books. Thousands of them.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Finish my next book. And the one after that. I've got other things, but I can't tell anyone because I'm superstitious.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
The ability to fly. Or to heal people. That would be good. Although you'd be busy! You'd need an excellent secretary.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
Xavier Rudd: Messages
Tragically Hip: Scared
Radiohead: House of Cards
Neil Young: Old Man
The Shins: New Slang
Smashing Pumpkins: 1979
Elliott Brood: The Bridge
Jeff Buckley: Hallelujah
I'm a little down tempo these days.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
Good Chinese food.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
I think that's asking for trouble. I've read what happens when people time travel. I think we all best stay where we are.
What does your dream library look like?
It looks big. It has those built-in shelves with ladders so you can reach the top. There is a complete set of P.G. Wodehouse books in there. First editions.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
To the mysteries.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
I don't think there's such a thing as one book that works for everyone. But if everyone read my latest, Getting the Girl, that would be good for sales.
Thank you so much, Susan!
The winner of a signed copy of Death By Latte is Mari. Congrats! Look for an email from Linda soon. :)

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - chapters 4 through 6

Chapter four:
-I totally called it. Apparently Mr. Harvey has killed other girls as he is very systematical in his preparation and clean-up. And we do find out what he does with the hole, although I still think it was rather pointless for him to have spent the effort and dug it in the first place.
-Alice Sebold really doesn't flinch away from blatant description does she? Fingers, toes, blood, etc. Yuck.
"I knew gloves meant you were an adult and mittens meant you weren't."
-I still wear mittens. :P Guess I'm a child. They're just so much cozier to me. <3
-Mr. Harvey is never going to get caught, I don't think. No evidence is going to be found besides that elbow. 
-He's a complete nut-case. A sneaky one, though.
-Ooh. Maybe he will be caught after all. Since he talked to Mr. Salmon and let on that he was somehow involved, he's becoming more and more suspicious in Mr. Salmon's eyes...
-When Susie realized she would never be able to interact with her family or experience any pleasures of earthly life, like snow, again, it made me think. To be able to observe but not participate or experience would be really heartbreaking. 

Chapter five:
-The Walking Dead Syndrome is totally legit. When people see the dead person and don't see you. It's a really sad thing.
-I really hope Mr. Harvey messes up somehow and breaks his cover.
-I wish Susie had more of a voice and was more opinionated rather than just relating what she sees. I want to hear more of what she thinks! Although I do understand that the story is supposed to focus mainly on the family...
-Fluffernutter. Ha!
-Who are Sophie and Leah going to turn out to be? Mr. Harvey's wives/kills?
-I want to dress like a snowflake. That would be amazing. :)
-Ah, Samuel Heckler, the adolescent vampire who has a thing for Lindsey. 
-That monopoly analogy almost made me cry. Buckley.
-The family dynamic in this book is perfectly illustrated in a way that pulls at your heartstrings because you get to see what each member is feeling and how they're reacting. The writing doesn't get in the way of the story at all. 
-Cute! A half a heart from a cute thirteen-year-old boy. 
-I'm impressed that Susie is as happy as she is. Her family is gradually, step-by-step, living on without her and she is able to feel happiness and joy and seemingly doesn't harbor any hard feelings.

Chapter six:
-And we meet Ray again. He sounds like such a cutie. A good flirter too. He better not have to deal with any other crap regarding Susie's death.
-So Susie and Ruth talked before she died. Ruth seems like my kind of gal. "the quietest kind of rebel." She has her own world outside of the real one; her drawings and ideas. 
-Although her home life seems a little messed up; her father encouraging her to drink? Wrong.

"I grew to love Ruth on those mornings, feeling that in some way we could never explain on our opposite sides of the Inbetween, we were born to keep each other company. Odd girls who had found each other in the strangest way - in the shiver she had felt when I passed."

-Yeah, that's pretty vivid and beautiful, don't you think?
-Death can bring people together can't it? Ruth and Ray's ritual is really nice. Two outsiders brought together by the death of someone that neither of them knew very well but still felt a connection to. It's hard for both of them to cope with life, death, and everything in between.
-Ray's mother is awesome. If only more women were like her. Unconcerned about what others think of them, proud of who they are, and satisfied with what they've accomplished. 
-Except then she gets all dark and talks about killing...
-Len Fenerman has a story. As does his wife.

The Lovely Bones is really good so far! I'm enjoying it and having fun thinking and analyzing for once. It's been a while since I've read a book like this outside of school.

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - chapters 1 through 3

And so it begins...

"Inside the snow globe on my father's desk, there was a penguin wearina red-and-white striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, 'Don't worry, Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world.'" 

What a way to start out a book, eh? 
In school right now, we're reading Fahrenheit 451 which kind of also deals with the whole "perfect world" theme. Is knowledge power? Or is it better to live a life in blissful ignorance without knowing the bad things that surround you?

Chapter one:
-We get introduced to Susie Salmon, murdered and raped on December 6, 1973. At first sight, she doesn't seem like much of a personality. She's very frank and blunt though which is refreshing. Reading the book through her eyes will be nice, I think. 
-Mr. Harvey is a complete whack-job. Who would dig an enormous hole in the ground and put that much effort into it if it was only going to be used once? To murder one fourteen-year-old girl? Maybe later in the story he'll do more than that?
-I was kind of relieved that the whole rape scene wasn't very graphic. You got the facts and nothing else. After reading Living Dead Girl, I think I can read anything now. That book was much more chilling and horrific than this one will turn out to be. At least from what I can gather so far.
-Although Mr. Harvey seems much like Living Dead Girl's Ray, now that I think about it. With the forcing the girl to tell him she loves him part. That whole needing to feel powerful vibe is present in both stories.
-And I'm uber glad that the killing part wasn't very graphic either. 

Chapter two:
-Heaven...I like it. The idea that you get whatever you desire is cool. You can make your world whatever you want. 
-Although why is Susie's heaven so simplistic? A high school, a sports complex, a duplex with another girl. If I were able to live in a world of my own creation, I would probably make it much more extravagant than hers. Maybe in some exotic country. With pretty scenery and good shopping. Although it does say that wishes have to be reasonable. Darn.
-I like the idea that you interact with people whose heaven's closely resemble yours. Kind of like a family.
-Susie's wish that she wants to watch the living is rather striking. That a girl who has everything she could want, instead of enjoying herself, wants to watch humans live their lives the way she never could is kind of bittersweet. 
-I really hope we get to know more about Franny and Holly. They seem like they could turn out to be really interesting characters.

-Can you imagine your oldest child missing? I really feel for Susie's parents. That would definitely not be a fun thing to live through. And then to have to break it to your other children...yuck.
-What did Mr. Harvey do with Susie's body after he killed her? Did he take it up out of the hole? Because in order for a dog to be able to find her elbow, and for there to have been a lot of blood in the dirt she must have been out in the field. Maybe killed out there? I don't even want to think about it. :(
-Poor Ray Singh. It's horrible to think that he liked Susie, wrote her a letter, and then she was murdered before she even read it. And then he gets accused of doing it, ruining his entire social life, let alone scarring him emotionally.
-It's so brutal to give Susie's family some amount of hope that she's still alive and then shatter that by presenting them with the hat her own mother made, after it had been used to gag her. And then to hear the words "murder case".

-Lindsey's whole encounter with the principal is rather funny and yet sad at the same time. If my sister had been murdered, I wouldn't go back to school for a looong time. And I think I'd have the same attitude as Lindsey. 
-I think she has more of a personality than Susie does. She talks back to Mr. Caden, barfs on cue, and does sit-ups and push-ups to cope with Susie's death. Wow.

-The scene at the end of this chapter really struck me.

"Mrs. Bethel Utemeyer, the oldest resident of my heaven, would brin gout her violin. Holly trod lightly on her horn. They would do a duet. One woman old and silent, one woman not past girl yet. Back and forth, a crazy schizoid solace they'd create.
All the dancers would slowly go inside. The song reverberated until Holly, for a final time, passed the tune over, and Mrs. Utemeyer, quiet, upright, historical, finished with a jig.
The house asleep by then; this way my Evensong."

Beautiful, right? I'd want to live in that heaven.

Chapter three:
-When we hear Ruth's story it illustrates just how many people can be affected by death. Not even people that were connected to the person in their living times. Anyone. We all read about deaths in the newspaper or hear about it from friends or family. An event like that is tragic and it really brings people together in a way. 
-And we all cope with that news in a different way. Clarissa turned to a guy. Ruth smoked pot and drew into herself.
-I can see where the smell of skunk might be found comforting...I guess...

"I felt the moist air lace its way up along my legs and arms, lifting, ever so slightly, the ends of my hair. I thought of spider webs in the morning, how they held small jewels of dew, how, with a light movement of the wrist, I used to destroy them without thinking."

-I kind of think of that passage as an illustration of how fragile, precious, and delicate life is. How maybe Susie is coming to discover new things about her life and the whole idea of existence. 
-When Susie sees her mother in the morning and sees her without any mask on, you can tell she was really changed. Seeing someone you look up to and trust faced with their own worries and fears would be an eye-opener for anyone.
-Susie's dad is the first in her family to really express his grief. He's finally realized that his daughter really isn't coming back and all the holes that she left in his day to day life will never be filled by her presence ever again. 
-In this last chapter, I enjoyed getting to look at the family more closely. It's hard to know what family dynamics would actually be like in a situation like this one so this book has been kind of like a little peek into a normally personal and concealed environment. 

So far I'm really liking the book. It's definitely different than anything else I've read as it doesn't focus so much on what's in heaven but instead focuses on the aftermath. It's really interesting and emotional and I think Alice Sebold has pulled it off nicely so far.

In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg

When their families randomly switch houses for the summer, retro-chic LA fashionista Molly Hill and laid back granola boy Charlie Richards find themselves living in totally unfamiliar rooms for three long hot months. Soon they become gradually entwined in each other's secret, relationships, and dreams. Day by day, they grow closer...even though they have never met face-to-face.
Can perfect strangers be perfect for each other?
Will Molly and Charlie make it through a summer of seductions, missed connections, and the thousand miles between them to find out?
(Summary from back of book)

Cute. That one word sums up this entire book. Not much substance or excitement, but plenty of fluff, romance, and CUTE-NESS! That might not have been such a good thing in certain aspects, but it was exactly what I was looking for and needing when I started reading this book. A kind of light-hearted retreat. And what better serves that purpose than a novel about a slutty, manly boy falling for the quiet, reserved, and perfect girl? We all wish we were that lucky faultless girl, which was actually very easy to imagine. Molly was a very relatable character who had the same doubts and fears and reservations as many of us have and I found it very easy to put myself in her shoes to see where she was coming from. Although she also did assert herself as an individual with her goals and dreams in the fashion industry. Her best friend Celeste, though, annoyed me completely. I felt like she was really out of control and was forgiven for everything she did with no lasting effects or anything like that. When Molly wasn't present she acted like a total...ahem, witch. :( And the other character who didn't really make sense to me was Charlie. Apparently he was this sleazy man slut who'd had more girlfriends than he could count and suddenly, when he met Molly, had a complete turnaround. First of all, Charlie does not come across as a slutty guy. He's a guy I'd want to date! I couldn't believe that the character we became familiar with in the story is the guy who'd had as shady a past as described. I just didn't buy that. He seemed like a genuinely nice guy! So some of the characters didn't seemed as well planned out or developed as they could have been which brought the book down a little bit. But the general tone of the story made up for it. While the plot might have been entirely predictable and the ending picture perfect, I think that's what made it so good...if that makes sense. I loved the whole idea of getting to know someone from living in their room. Just thinking about building a relationship that way is a really novel idea. And Molly and Charlie's Facebook messages were as innocent and adorable as it gets. The only thing I would change, besides the character development, is the length. The book definitely could've benefited from having 50 more pages! That way we could see more of the characters, more of the plot, and more of Molly and Charlie's relationship. But as it was, it was just a fun little book that you could get lost in for a while. So when you pick up In Your Room, don't look for a life changing read. Instead, expect a little pick-me-up and fluff, and it won't disappoint.

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #13: Thankful

On Saturday

Today is Thanksgiving here in the U.S. 
Now, you may have noticed that the global economy isn’t exactly doing well. There’s war. Starvation. All sorts of bad, scary things going on.
So–just for today–how about sharing 7 things that you’re thankful for?
This can be about books, sure–authors you appreciate, books you love, an ode to your public library–but also, how about other things, too? Because in times like these, with bills piling up and disaster seemingly lurking around every corner, it’s more important than ever to stop and take stock of the things we’re grateful for. Family. Friends. Good health (I hope). Coffee and tea. Turkey. Sunshine. Wagging tails. Curling up with a good book.
So, how about it? Spread a little positive thinking and tell the world what there is to be thankful for.

7 things I am thankful for (may not be the most important or in order or anything like that):
1. The fact that I live four blocks away from my school and can walk every day. It's nice to choose for yourself when you wake up and what time to leave the house. And I'm not contributing to global warming either.
2. My old geezer of a dog. He's great. Big, furry, happy, and always smiling.
3. The comforter on my bed. It's white, covered in pretty black flowers and it's nice to have a hint of summer in my room.
4. Books/the library/my blog/literary things. All of that stuff helps to keep me occupied and passionate. I really LOVE books and I'm glad that I've found something to focus on. And something that's beneficial and helps me become a more rounded person; unlike video games or TV.
5. Chai tea. I love coffee, but I don't think I could deal with having that bitter stuff every day and so instead I drink chai which is like the drink of the gods. Vanilla, cinnamon, spices, cream. YUM.
6. My family. <3
7. Music. I hate silence. It bugs me to no end. I always have to have something to listen to. Right now it's "The Hotel Cafe Presents Winter Songs," with Ingrid Michaelson, KT Tunstall, Sara Bareilles, Meiko, Fiona Apple, Colbie Caillat, Lenka, and more. Now that Thanksgiving's come and gone, I have to get into my Christmas mode. :)

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and took some time to think about what you're thankful for! 
And now the countdown to Christmas begins...

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - intro and schedule

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973." 
So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her - her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, The Lovely Bones succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, and even joy.
(synopsis from back of book)

Thank you to the 31 people who voted about what book I should read. It was a tie between Judy Blundell's What I Saw And How I Lied and Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, and since I actually own a copy of The Lovely Bones, I thought it would be best to start with that one. What I Saw And How I Lied is next on the list though because I definitely want to read that one too and it won the National Book Award for young adult literature making it a must-read.
The name I've come up with for this feature is "Made To Last" as I'll be reading books that are renowned for being intelligent, enjoyable, and have made it through the trials and triumphs of the literary world
The way I've decided to have this work is that I'll be reading a chapter a day and posting about every three days on what I've read. If you'd like to join me in reading, that would be AMAZING. Kind of like a fun little internet read-along? Would anyone be interested in that?
If so, here's the schedule that I'm going to try to stick to, posting-wise:
Nov 30: Chapters 1-3
Dec 3: Chapters 4-6
Dec 6: Chapters 7-9
Dec 9: Chapters 10-12
Dec 12: Chapters 13-15
Dec 15: Chapters 16-18
Dec 18: Chapters 19-21
Dec 19: Chapters 21-23 
Look for my first post in a few days! And if you might possibly be reading the book along with me, let me know in the comments. :)