Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top Ten Books I Think Would Make Great Book Club Picks

I have never been in  a book club so I will be kind of winging this.. These will be stand-alone novels, 200-400 pages, conversation starters, with somewhat wide appeal.

  1. The Lovely Bones: A devastating murder and what happens after to those involved. The murderers life, the victims take on an afterlife, and the after effects on her family and friends.
  2. The Bermudez Triangle: A fun and touching tale dealing with first love and GLBT issues.
  3. The Jungle: A classic that exposes the dirty underside of living and working as an immigrant in turn of the century Chicago.
  4. Awaken: When was the last time you looked someone in the eyes and felt comfortable? When was the last time you met someone new and hugged them because you hit it off so well? This digital age connects us in so many ways, but does it disconnect us in the most important ways?
  5. Smack: Two teenagers in love run away and get caught up in a dark drug filled world.
  6. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things: A story of never fitting in from the perspective of a narrator who is refreshingly blunt and witty.
  7. A Monster Calls: This novel goes through topics of strength in grief, the power of stories, the complicated nature of humans, and the importance of truth in our lives.  
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower: This book has so much in so few pages... It's a story of growing up, of embracing life and of facing truth.
  9. Ella Minnow Pea: On a more fun note this is a story about the love of words. Would you be able to communicate effectively if letters of the alphabet were banned?
  10. Speak: girl is ostracized at school after calling the police at a party, but the real problem haunting her is the secret she's keeping, the reason she called the cops in the first place.   

Have you guys read these? What do you think? Do you agree with my choices? Would you join my bookclub?

    Thursday, January 26, 2012

    Review: Ditched by Robin Mellom

    Published: January 10th 2012, Disney-Hyperion
    Pages: 288
    Part of a Series: Stand Alone
    Setting: Small town America
    Read For a Challenge: 2012 Debut Author's Challenge
    Recommended By: Allison at Reading Everywhere
    Teaser: "You must be a scumbag too, Ian. You took me to prom and I ended up in a ditch!"
    In a sentence or so: Justina is retracing a prom night gone awry by following the map on her dress: it's literally stained with bad memories.
    *Rating: 9.5/10
    GoodReads Description:
    High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.
    Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.
    Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.
    Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.
    And then ditched her.
    Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together — stain by stain on her thrift-store dress — exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag's moving car...

    1. Type of story: YA Contemporary/Romance (Free 1 point)
    2.Consistency: Flawless, so much so I didn't even think about it until writing this review. No chinks in the story, nothing that pulled me out. (1 point)
    3. Flesh:This book wasn't trying to break any stereotypes. These are all characters we've loved before, friendly stoners, full of themselves popular people, great boy-next-door best-friend, etc. Then there is Justina, who narrates her way through the night sprinkling in bits of her reputation as "The girl at that party" a former make-out queen. All imaginable together and fun. (1 point)
    4. Flow: Perfect for making me want more. I had to keep reading to find out how the story would all end. This story ebbs and flows, rushing to tell you some juicy bit then pausing as the main character analyzes and hesitates with the next truth of her prom night.  (1 point)
    5. Character Growth: Justina starts off with a very assumptive nature and grows by connecting the truth of the night's events. (1 point)
    6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey: An oldie but goody: when you assume what do you make? (1 point)
    7. Witty Dialogue: The dialogue was more straightforward. Each character's speech matching their archetype. There were a couple moments, though. (1/2 point)
    8. Love: Oh Yeah.... Chicka, chick-aahhhh.Prom night could turn Justina's Boy-next-door BFF into her own professional boyfriend. But everything goes awry and she has to figure out how her plans failed so badly. (1 point)
    9. Evoke Realistic Images: This book has a few black and white photos to assist, but they really just back the narrator as she recalls her night by recalling how she got each stain on her dress. This tie to her dress made the recounting very visual and easily imaginable. (1 point)
    10. Writing/Story telling: Sometimes corny and totally predictable, but oh so sweet and irresistible. This story is like a Cinnabon, only better (healthier) for you. The writing is simple, minimalist, conversational, and un-distracting. (1 point)

    Reread Worthy: Definitely, anytime I'm in need of losing myself in something sweet. This book isn't life changing, but it is perfect at being what it is: dessert. And who doesn't need something  nice, easy, and fun to bring us out of the dark every once in a while.
    Recommendation: For fans of the movie She's All That, Never Been Kissed, or Grease; or the book You Are So Undead To Me, Princess Diaries, or Something, Maybe.
    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Top Ten Freebie

    Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish
    White Oleander

    For this Freebie I have decided to research a question that I always ask in the back of my mind: What books inspired the authors I love? So.. Here are ten authors and a book of theirs I love each paired with a book they loved.*

    1. Maureen Johnson (13 Little Blue Envelopes- Ginny is led on a journey through her deceased aunt's letters): Berlin Stories: Set in the 1930s an incredibly descriptive mix of history and fantasy.
    2. John Green (Looking for Alaska- A life changed by a mysterious girl named Alaska): The Catcher In The Rye: A complicated 16 year old leaves his prep school to discover underground New York.
    3. Libba Bray (A Great and Terrible Beauty- Historical fantasy about secret pasts and magical escapes with a dark side): Tithe: An independent modern teenager, Kaye, becomes caught between battling faerie kingdoms.
    4. Scott Westerfeld (Uglies- A world where the government makes pretty at sixteen with surgery, but is that the whole story?): Charlotte's Web: Charlotte the spider makes her friend Wilbur the most famous pig in town to save him from a usual darker farm pig destiny.
    5. Sarah Dessen (This Lullaby- A life shattering tale of first love): Mrs. Darcy and the Blue Eyed Stranger: 14 bittersweet short stories.
    6. Christopher Moore (Lamb- A take on those years missing from Jesus' tale in the Bible): Choke: Victor goes to fancy restaurants and pretends to choke making his "saviors" feel responsible for his life and getting them to send him monthly checks for bills.
    7. Stephanie Perkins (Anna and the French Kiss- A romantic tale of an American student in Paris; so real, so touching, so irresistible): Cat's Cradle: John researches what was going on in America when Hiroshima was bombed and ends up following this spiral of a historical journey.
    8. Judy Blume (Forever- The truth of what happens in most tales of first love no matter our intentions): Betsy-Tacy: Stories about friends so close people often referred to them as though they were one person.
    9. Stephenie Meyers (Twilight- Love it, or hate it an epic love tale and a new take on vampires): Wuthering Heights: A classic story of all consuming passion.
    10. Janet Fitch (White Oleander- A tale of Astrid's journey through foster care and never really escaping her all encompassing mother): Tropic of Cancer: Part autobiography, part fiction story of an expatriate in Paris.

    *Out of these author favorites I have only read two, eight more to add to the monstrous TBR. Can you guess which two I've read? Have you read any of these? Have you ever wondered what your favorite authors read and have more to add to my list? (Some of these were very easy to find, Christopher Moore suggesting who to read while waiting in between his own releases, And some difficult, like Scott Westerfeld saying he thought favorites were silly questions and only giving in on a childhood remembrance.)

    Thursday, January 19, 2012

    The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

    The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1) 

    Published: September 29th 2011, Putnam Juvenile
    Pages: 372 pages
    Part of a Series: Shades of London #1
    Read For a Challenge: The TBR Double Dare
    Teaser: "Babbling and babbling like a babbling thing.. Madness. Wouldn't shut up. She's fine really, probably some period thing. I go completely mental too. Period fever. It's the worst.
    In a sentence or so: A monster seems to come from the past to kill and Rory is the only one who sees him. She is only a school student she can't save anyone, right?
    *Rating: 9.5/10
    GoodReads Description:
    The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it's the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper events of more than a century ago.
    Soon "Rippermania" takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was walking with her at the time, didn't notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

    1. Type of story: YA Horror/Paranormal Fantasy *set in England* (Free 1 point)
    2.Consistency: Teacherly - sprinkling, hinting, foreshadowing, and occasionally repeating the important bits. This distracted from the flow  a little bu was barely noticeable. (1/2 point)
    3. Flesh: I love every character in this book. "The Ripper" is a curious character. Rory has a wonderfully quirky family and background, she is brave and just all around quality friend material. Jo is the most admirable character I have met in a long time. I could go on and on, even characters that only existed for a couple pages were fascinating such as the ripperologist and the girl who sets up security camera systems. (1 point)
    4. Flow: Like water in a stream I glided through this story; it was only slow enough to be memorable. (1 point)
    5. Character Growth: Rory embraces this new life, a new side of herself, and becomes so brave. Very coming-of-age - she's making herself. (1 point)
    6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey: This story is Rory growing into what she's going to be and the mystery with "The Ripper" providing the platform. She went looking for a path in England, so even though it wasn't how she expected, she got what she wanted. (1 point)
    7. Witty Dialogue: This is natural to Ms. Johnson's writing. So much that it need not be discussed. (1 point)
    8. Love: First love shows its potential here for Rory, but the true passion in this story is bonding with friends that are the never-ending type. (1 point)
    9. Evoke Realistic Images: I know Maureen spends a lot of time in England from her blog and that she is a dedicated researcher. This book shows the fruit of those labors in the best light. (1 point)
    10. Writing/Story telling: Maureen you are the history teacher I always wanted. She give me a story with well rounded characters and intrigue me with truth so I must know more. Also her books slip in admirable traits in characters so I want to emulate them. (1 point)

    Reread Worthy: Every chance I guess.
    Recommendation: History buffs, serial killer story enthusiasts, those who want (just a little) vicarious horror in their lives, and fans of: Maureen Johnson's previous work (This is still in the same style though the genre has changed.), Scott Westerfield, Libba Bray, or John Green.
    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.

    Tuesday, January 17, 2012

    Top Ten Books I'd Recommend To Someone Who Doesn't Read X

    Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created and hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

     Atlas Shrugged
    1. Atlas Shrugged: A social commentary hidden within a suspense novel. For those who avoid social commentary.
    2. The Black Book: Diary of a Teenage Stud, Vol. I: Girls, Girls, Girls: Short, sweet and very funny, fun, enjoyable. Recommended to those that don't read male protagonists.
    3.  100 Selected Poems e.e. Cummings: So much story in so few words. E.E. Cummings is easy to follow and relate to and I recommend this to any readers weary of poetry.
    4. The Jungle: Dirty true story of being a turn of the century immigrant in Chicago. This i for anyone who thinks of classics as boring, stuffy, or uptight.
    5. A Great and Terrible Beauty: Historical fiction that entwines a Victorian world and a magical one. For any out there who have never gotten completely caught up in a fantasy novel.
    6. Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading: Charlie tells a hilarious story that, in a reverse-psychological type of way, shows the importance of literature and the unavoidable impact of stories in our lives. I recommend it to all reluctant readers mature enough to catch the message.
    7. Anna and the French Kiss: An irresistible romance in Paris. Recommended for women, or others with interest in Parisian boys, sites and/or food, who don't read YA.
    8. Looking For Alaska: Life changing story about the impact of a whirlwind mystery contained in a girl called Alaska. Top of the list for those who dismiss YA because it isn't serious literature.
    9. Generation Dead: A different look at the undead as part of contributing society. My gift to everyone who doesn't read about zombies.
    10. Uglies: Social commentary wrapped up in a beautiful, engaging Sci-Fi. Highly recommended to those who keep their reading grounded in this world.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Top Ten Authors I Wish Would Write Another Book

    Top Ten Tuesday
    Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish

    Goddess in the Kitchen: 201 Heavenly Recipes, Spirited Stories & Saucy Secrets

    1. Goddess in the Kitchen: 201 Heavenly Recipes, Spirited Stories & Saucy Secrets: This is the only book I could think of when I could think of NEEDing more. This is my kitchen secret weapon. It isn't a wish from more from the Author but rather more like this. This book makes everyone think I should be a professional chef and it is also full of enchanting stories to accompany the recipes making reading through it so much fun. 
    2. Shel Silverstein: This author died when I was in elementary school and I remember this being the first time I was affected by death. I wish he was still around making children love poetry.

    And that is all I have for this week's list so I cheated. These are 7 Authors I need to read more of so I can be anxious for more releases:
    1. Maureen Johnson: She is a wonderful author but I keep reading new authors so i still have many of her novels I need to get to.
    2. Scott Westerfeld: The Uglies was an amazing series. An extraordinary world was built. All of Scott's books get similar praise but I haven't gotten to them, I should. 
    3. Ray Bradbury: This man wrote Fahrenheit 451, which is, in my opinion, the ultimate book lovers book. BUT I have only read a couple of his short stories after, when I should have devoured everything.
    4. Charles Dickens: I loved A Christmas Carol in school. I thought it would be boring because I knew the story so well but the writing, the personalization, I thought Dickens was a genius after that and that I would reread his book every Christmas. I didn't, or any of his other books either.
    5. George Orwell: I loved Animal Farm AND Down and Out in Paris and London, a non-fiction book. I even found his non-fiction engaging, which is rare for me. I didn't read any of his other stories.
    6. Stephanie Perkins: This needs no explanation for why I should read Perkins, and there is no excuse for why I haven't yet.
    7. Megan McCafferty: Same as Perkins 

    And lastly, because I'm pretty sure I'll see this book's author a lot today, I must read:
    1. To Kill a Mockingbird: I'm going to get it done! Soon!
    What do you think guys? Link your lists and let me know what other extraordinary authors I'm missing out on.

    Tuesday, January 3, 2012

    Most awaited reads 2012*

    1. The Fault In Our Stars: I love John's writing and I love the vlogbrothers youtube videos, and John has mentioned how much he put into this book working on it for almost ten years.
    2. The Book Thief: Every review I've read indicates this is a must for book lovers so I am excited to move it from the wishlist to the read list this year.
    3. The Name of the Star: I am reading this already. I just love Maureen and need to read everything by her. I have been getting so bogged down with new books and authors I didn't read any of my favorite authors last year.
    4. A Monster Calls: I have been hearing about how wonderful this is so much lately then I saw the illistrations and had to have it.
    5. The Thirteenth Tale: Has been sitting on my shelf patiently for a couple years while I read less worthy books, it is time to get it read.
    6. The Host: I was encouraged to read this by commentors on another post, another that has been on my shelves for too long.
    7. Jane Austen's Lady Susan: An introduction into Jane Austen's work. I have been putting off reading this celebrated author for too long.
    8. The Scorpio Races: An introduction into Maggie Stiefvater. I keep reading her blog but still haven't read her books...
    9. Slaughterhouse-Five: An introduction into Kurt Vonnegut. I have always found his quotes amusing but never read a full novel.
    10. Lola and the Boy Next Door: I loved Anna and the French Kiss, that's the whole reason.

    *TBTB Top Ten Tuesday

    Sunday, January 1, 2012

    The 2012 Challenge List

    Debut Author Challenge -- I have decided to take suggestions from favorite bloggers on what to read this year, so I only have one to list so far.
             1. Ditched by Robin Mellom suggested by Reading Everywhere

    TBR Double Dare -- Other than Debut Challenge books I won't be purchasing any new books until April.

    Well that's all for now, I don't want to commit to too many challenges so I am able to be flexible and, hopefully, enjoy all 52 books I read (big hopes).

    Time for Challenges

    Happy New Year Everyone!

    I am drinking, and tired because I worked today so I will keep this brief.

    Accomplishments of 2011:
    1. Get into a healthy shape - I have done every well eating healthily since getting a job. I exercised, but very off and on, not very helpful.
    2.Read two books every month - I did read 25 books this year! BUT I did not read enough books from my collection. I made it to 12 Debut authors, but I did not enjoy many of the picks...
    3. Make my degree worth something and augment my education as much as possible to make this easier. I used my degree to find a job and bond more with my love over projects.
    4.Start earning my way. Working at Intel now. Great Place To Work (They're in the program.).

    Goals for 2012:
    1. Set a health plan and stick to the mini-goals in order to get to where I want from my body health. Make it public so it's harder to make excuses.
    2. Read 52 books! (24 audio) A huge jump, but I think 1 book a week is just the right amount for me; enough not to go crazy about what I'm missing out on but not too many so they all blur together or fade into oblivion. I will be participating in the YA authors debut again because I love it (Thank you StorySiren!), but because I had so much bad luck this year I am going to let bloggers choose for me this year. Also I will do the TBR double dare, meaning only reading books I own (except debuts) until April.(links on next post).
    3. Review all those books!

    That's it! GOOD LUCK in 2012 with your goals,we can do this!

    Mini-Review: Wildefire by Karsten Knight

    ***Full disclosure I am quite tipsy so.. if anything doesn't make sense... Happy New Year's Eve!***

    I was so excited by this book, which may be why I was so offended by how bad it was. I love mythology but I mostly know about Greek and Roman so I was looking forward to learning about different lores. The problem? This books sucks! There is hardly anything about the mythology, actually there's hardly anything about anything!

    This book gets a 1/2 point grade on my scale. There was romance, though intriguing, as utterly unrealistic as the rest of the story. No other points.

    There is a lot of gratuitous violence, no build up to it, and all the characters brush it off every time. The Gods in the story could care less about their mythical destinies because the masquerade ball is soon. Also the story indicates Ash is a size six but also extremely insecure about being over-weight and hippy..she even gets teased about it .... WHAT?!?!? And lastly the dialogue was trying so hard to be witty it was annoying in it's over-snark.

    The only part of this book I liked was the comic relief of Serena, a blind girl, distracting everyone by saying "Look, a moose." (Nothing was there.) But after that the quirkiness of this character was not well utilized. This entire book was a pile of wasted potential.

    OK... scathing rant over....  Anybody else read this? Did I somehow miss the hidden treasures? OR maybe you have something more enjoyable to suggest? please? (As always BIG Luvs to commenters. You make my day!)

    Review: Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to NOT Reading by Tommy Greenwald

    Published: July 5th 2011, Roaring Brook Press
    Pages: 224 pages
    Part of a Series: Recurring main character
    Read For a Challenge: 2011 Debut Author's Challenge**
    Teaser: "Reading can ruin friendships. The thing I noticed about reading is it can become a habit, a bad habit, like smoking or forgetting to put on deodorant...
    In a sentence or so: The good, the bad, and the ugly of avoiding reading -- The result of getting caught, the impossibility of keeping it up, and the hilarity of the results.
    *Rating: 9.5/10
    GoodReads Description:

    1. Type of story: MG, Humor -- with a male narrator! (Free 1 point)
    2.Consistency: Very well executed. No slips in the timeline or erroneous details. I felt I was really listening to a pre-teen boy describe a year in his life. (1 point)
    3. Flesh: Real Characters: great,caring family and mature best friend who is just what Charlie Joe needs (if only he would take her advice) (1 point)
    4. Flow: A typical middle school environment and a believable middle grade narrator. It feels like a boy telling the story of his past year with the right amount of enthusiasm and detail for him. (1 point)
    5. Character Growth: A little, reluctantly.. (1/2 point)
    6. A Point/ Purpose/ Journey: The inescapable necessity, effect and power of the written word. (1 point)
    7. Witty Dialogue: Opinionated, crafty, great friend, grateful of his friends and family, hilarious, supporting. (1 point)
    8. Love: This is at the beginning age for romance so there isn't any serious couple time. BUT there is friendship and family and even school faculty that is full of genuine caring for and from this boy. (1 point)
    9. Evoke Realistic Images: The setting is very much this modern day. There wasn't time spent on world building, instead this world was used and words were well spent on the characters. (1 point)
    10. Writing/Story telling: Hilarious and age appropriate. The main character seemed real. AND, as I ironically listened to, instead of read, this story I must mention the performance was amazing. The narrator gave just the right inflection to Charlie Joe Jackson. He was believable as this kid, wonderfully unexpected. (1 point)

    Reread Worthy: most definitely! I already started re-listening while writing this review.
    Recommendation: EVERYONE. This is so funny and sweet. Great for anyone who loves books, anyone who has a child who doesn't, and any of those children who are mature enough to get the message about the power of words no matter how much you try to avoid them.
    *Click Rating to see post about my 10 aspects of a great book.
    ***Full disclosure I am tipsy so.. if anything doesn't make sense... Happy New Year's Eve!***