Monthly Archives:: December 2011

2011 End of Year Book Survey

December 29, 2011 Uncategorized 6

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?
I’d have to say that Anna and the French Kiss was my favorite book this year. It was really the book that turned me on to not only young adult contemporary, but contemporary fiction in general. I’ve always thought of reading as an escape from my life, so I’d read a dystopia, historical, paranormal, etc. Reading about the impossible or the “once upon a time” made me leave my own life and become immersed in another. Because of that, I’d never been interested in reading anything that took place right now. Then it wasn’t an escape, and I’d be reading about someone like my next door neighbors, or my students. Contemporary is an escape, though! I’d like to thank Stephanie Perkins for showing me that.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
Halo, by Alexandra Adornetto disappointed me beyond anything I could have imagined. If you head over to The Broke and The Bookish, you will find all the reasons why I disliked this book so much.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
Delirium surprised me the most! The hype that surrounded this book had me worried I’d be extremely disappointed. I was also pretty leery of reading a dystopian that marked love as a disease. I worried it would be really sad, or really dumb. Or both. Oliver’s writing is amazing, though, and I ended up really loving it! And, when you think about it, love really can be a disease. Breaking up sucks and leaves you depressed for a LONG time, and sometimes being in love makes you do really weird things. It’s pretty awesome, though, once you’ve found it. Just like Oliver’s characters, I think the positives of love outweigh the negatives. :)

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
Haha. I have been singing praises for Anna and the French Kiss for months now. I really can’t be quiet about it. But hey. It did get me started on a whole new genre, which made my TBR list grow exponentially in a matter of weeks.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
Lauren Oliver’s Delirium series… Ally Condie’s Matched Series… Lauren DeStefano’s Wither series… Sophie Jordan’s Firelight series… It was a good year for series! Or, trilogies, rather. I’d love more stand-alones for 2012!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Oliver, Rachel Cohn, David Levithan, Maureen Johnson, John Green. I made so many discoveries this year!!

7.  Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Someday My Prince Will Come, by Jerramy Fine. It was my very first memoir, and while it was cute, I had a hard time supporting some of her decisions. I did decide, though, that memoirs are worth paying attention to, and I have my eye on several more!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
OH MAN. This is really hard. Haha. Learning to Swim, by Sara J. Henry was intense, and I was dying to know what happened! Picture this… you’re on a ferry, it’s crispy cold outside, and in the distance you see a bundle thrown off the back of another ferry at the exact moment you pass it. It could have been trash, right? Or a hoodie that blew off the deck. But no, you just can’t shake the feeling that it is so much worse than that. Without thinking you, not even a very good swimmer, jump into the frigid Lake Champlain and make a beeline for the diminishing ripples in the water where the mysterious bundle hit moments before. As you frantically search the murky waters around you, your eyes meet the eyes of a scared, drowning little boy. You grab him, swim a grueling one-mile swim, hoping to avoid the hypothermia creeping into your very bones, and pull him to the rocky shore. He’s not breathing, so you try to remember the CPR lesson you had a LONG time ago. You succeed. He’s breathing. As his eyes open, he looks at you, lets out a little sigh, rests his sleepy head on your arm, and murmurs, “Merci.”Ahhhh! This is what happened to the main girl, and from here on out the craziness happens, and it was this really intriguing mystery with some suspense. LOVED IT. And I SO did not expect it. I’d never heard about this book, so when I was asked to read it, I was worried. It was pretty amazing, though.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
I was really excited for the end of the Hourglass Door series, by Lisa Mangum. It’s called The Forgotten Locket. Books one and two in the trilogy ended in major cliffhangers, and I was so excited to see how everything was wrapped up.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011? .
Forever, by Maggie Stiefvater, has such awesome vector images. Wither, by Lauren DeStefano, has really great typography. Halo, by Alexandra Adornetto has the most beautiful cover, though, which is sad because of how disappointed in the book I was.

11. Most memorable character in 2011?
It’s really hard to pick just one. My characters are my friends! There’s Lily, from Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares. She is absolutely hilarious, not to mention smart and bookish. And then there was Jubilee from Let it Snow. She’s also really quirky and completely adorable. Jacinda from Firelight was a dragon! That’s pretty groundbreaking. I’ll never forget Anna, and her life that I seriously wish I had. Carrie, from Carrie Goes Off the Map is also pretty awesome. She got back at her ex-fiance by crashing his wedding and destroying a really expensive floral arrangement with a hose! Loved her for that. Marian from Marian’s Christmas Wish got this amazing fairytale. Man, if only I could pick one of these people and live their life for a day! I read a lot of strong female characters, which I think I TOTALLY needed.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2011?
I have always loved Maggie Stiefvater’s writing, so Forever would be my choice. Although… Syrie James’s writing is also amazing. Nocturne is a close tie, but I think Forever pulls ahead just a bit.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?
This might sound a little weird, but it was a book I read with one of my reading students. It’s called The Kid Who Ran for President. The book is not what had such an impact on me, but the experience I had while reading it. When I started working with this student, she was timid and didn’t like reading much at all. As we read this book together, we had so many awesome conversations. She’s from Mexico, where things are so much different. I learned a lot about the tough life she had led, her family issues, and how at 11, she was almost the mother of her younger siblings. We really bonded, and I grew to love her a lot. She moved on to junior high, and I’m not sure she’ll remember this experience. I hope she does, though, because I watched this book change her life. She became a better reader, and we became great friends. She grew more self-confident, and she smiled so much more. This was one of those times that I re-discovered how important books are, and how I had taken advantage of the fact that I could read with ease.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
Pretty much every book I read this year was published either this year or last year. Or else it wasn’t particularly noteworthy. I did read Dance Through Time, by Lynn Kurland. It’s almost 12 years old, and I loved it! I’m working my way through Pride and Prejudice right now, but it’s taking me some time. I’m really surprised that it has taken me this long to begin it, considering how long it’s been around, and how long it’s been on my TBR list. Loving it so far!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
Ok, so funny story time! I found a quote from Dash and Lily that I absolutely loved. I loved it so much that I posted it to Facebook as my status. Here it is:

“You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint—ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy—all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know—this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately.”

The girls were all like, “Oh my gosh, I love this! Where is it from?” And the boys were like, “Not true. This is so wrong. I don’t want a snobby, stuck up, selfish princess. I am not looking for a girl who wants me to worship the ground she walks on.” The girls saw the symbolism, and the boys just didn’t get it at all, hence the reason they are boys. I loved this so much because it is SO true! So many of the guys I know want exactly what this quote says. It was nice to see that we girls are not blinded by some illusion of perfection. Guys are too.

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
Let it Snow, by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle. It’s such a sweet Christmas read, and those are hard to come by. I know I will want to read it again next December.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Oooo… Tricky. Haha. At the end of Nightshade (Book #2 in the Poison Diaries series), by Maryrose Wood, I just wanted to die of frustration and eagerness to find out what happened next. One of the worst cliffhangers ever. Same with Delirium. I wanted to die at the end of that also. The problem with Nightshade, though, was that I know nobody who has read it! So I couldn’t vent to anyone, or I would have spoiled it entirely. So I had to suffer in silence. I ended up venting to the publicist for the series, and she felt exactly the same way. It felt good to get it out. lol.

Book Blogging Life in 2011

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011?
I am limiting myself to only one favorite, or I know I would go on and on and on with this answer. I have met so many new bloggers and found awesome new blogs to follow since I started this blog a month and a half ago. I love Magan and Estelle’s blog, Rather be Reading. I just recently discovered it, but I absolutely love it! Magan and I actually discussed on Twitter how we’re pretty much the same ages and have the same taste in books, which equals perfection. So we either agree with whatever the other posted, or we put the book on our to-read list. They are definitely at the top of my list of blogs to visit everyday. Estelle and I kept reading the same books all December, so it has been really fun hearing her thoughts on the books I’ve been reading too! It’s like a buddy read, but BETTER.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2011?
Halo, by Alexandra Adornetto. This sounds so sad, but because I disliked it so much, my review was really fueled by that passion. I said exactly what I wanted to say in the exact way I wanted to say it. I also had a lot of people who agreed with me, which made me feel better about having a hard time loving it. I also really enjoyed my review of Nocturne, by Syrie James because I had a bit of a Q&A session with her, so I incorporated her answers to my questions within the review. It made for an awesome post!

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
My blog is such a little baby, that I haven’t really had any discussions on here yet. This is a goal for 2012. I did recently discuss Bookish Bad Habits, which was fun. I got quite a few responses on here and on Twitter. Earlier in the year, over at The Broke and The Bookish, I posted something on my job as a reading teacher, and how so many people are unable to read these days because of language problems, technology, etc. It spurred a really cool conversation about illiteracy, and how to prevent it. It loved it, and had no idea it would get so much attention!

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?
Over at The Perpetual Page-Turner, Jamie posted a letter to her young blogging self. She posted it around the same time I began this blog, and I enjoyed reading the advice she had for me. It helped me set some of my fears and concerns aside, and just enjoy blogging.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Well… it wasn’t an event really… but I got the very first ARC of Forbidden, by Syrie and Ryan James. I loved that I was one of the very first people to read Forbidden for the purpose of enjoyment (rather than editing, etc.) My review is right here.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?
When I started my own blog here! I was so excited! My blog is not even a month old yet (as I write this), and I have already met so many amazing people! AND… Shortly after I started this blog, I read Carrie Goes Off the Map by Philippa Ashley. I’m quoted on her website!! (See it? I’m the first comment under the picture of Carrie Goes Off the Map!) I was SO EXCITED!! I took a screen shot of it. lol.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
My Top Ten Books on My To-Read List for Winter. I got 25 comments! That was pretty exciting for me. :)

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Probably my review of Marian’s Christmas Wish. I really loved that book, and wish that more people had expressed interest in it!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Hmmm… I’d have to say my discovery of NetGalley has proven to be extremely amazing. I’ve gotten to read and review so many books that aren’t out yet… plus, they are free! Oh, Kindle. That was also an amazing bookish discovery. I love mine, especially since I can read with gloves now! Kindle + NetGalley = best things ever.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I’m still working on the Goodreads College Students Fall/Winter 2011 challenge. It ends in February, and I’m loving it so much! Here’s my list of challenge reads. I’m going to do more challenges in the future. I did, however, reach my goal of 35+ books for the year on the Goodreads 2011 reading challenge, which surpassed last year’s goal.

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?
The Watchtower, by Lee Carroll. I read the first book, Black Swan Rising, last year, and I loved it. I was SO wanting a sequel. When I found out they were releasing one, I pre-ordered it immediately. I thought for sure I would have had time to read it by now! I bought it in August!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
PANDEMONIUM!!!! Seriously, I hardly had to think about that one. Oh, but Isla… Oh, this question just got trickier.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?
Well, I want to surpass my number of books read in 2011, for sure! I want to read 50 or 60 in 2012. I also want to really get this blog going. I’m SO excited for the reviews that will be going up in January and February. I want to reach over 100 followers, and start hosting giveaways and events. I love book blogging, and can’t wait to love it even more!


Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

December 27, 2011 Top Ten Tuesday 5

TTT

This was a majorly amazing year of reading for me! My goal may seem small to many of you, but I read more books this year than I have in years past (if you don’t count textbooks!). I read a lot of really great books this year, and picking 10 might be tricky for me! These are actually listed in the order I read them this year.

Nocturne, by Syrie James
LOVED this book. It’s all about a man and a woman who find themselves trapped in his remote home during a majorly huge snowstorm. He’s a vampire, and she’s freaking out. And then… the romance happens. Loved it, and Syrie’s writing is gorgeous.
Read my review and author interview here. (Over at The Broke and the Bookish)

Firelight, by Sophie Jordan
I really liked the new paranormal subject matter of this book: Dragons. A dragon falls in love with a dragon slayer, and all hell breaks loose. Now that Vanish, book #2, is out you don’t even have to fret about the cliffhanger at the end!
Read my review here. (Over at The Broke and the Bookish)

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver
Do I even need to explain myself here? Love is marked as a deadly disease, but who on Earth can avoid falling in love? Especially if you’re told not to… Pandemonium can’t come soon enough!

Illusions, by Aprilynne Pike
Oh, I do love fairies… This is book 3 of the 4-part series, but I actually loved it the most (so far)! It was magical, romantic, adventurous, and I got through it in 24 hours!That’s a sign of a good book for me. I never have enough time to read that much!
Read my review here. (Over at The Broke and the Bookish)

(Wow… I just realized I love books with one word in the title…)

The Forgotten Locket, by Lisa Mangum
This was the end of a trilogy that I pretty much love. It’s not very well known in the blogosphere, but I adore it. Basically, the Hourglass Door is a door that Da Vinci designed to travel through time. It can also take you to “the river” which is where you can actually see time and change it. Dante, the main guy… was Da Vinci’s apprentice, and came through the door 500 years later in the present day (as punishment for being framed as a traitor to his country, Italy) and falls in love. But the wrong people get a hold of this door, and come forward to cause major problems that Dante and his love interest, Abby, need to fix. All three books talk about this door, and their quest to save time before the world is destroyed. It’s very exciting. Lisa Mangum’s writing style is beautiful. I found myself re-reading passages because they were incredibly captivating. She described everything in such intricate detail and left me feeling like I was actually there.

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins
Definitely my favorite read of the year, and one of my favorite books ever. This book got me hooked on contemporary romance, and now I just can’t get enough of it! Stephanie Perkins is my hero.

Learning to Swim, by Sara J. Henry
This book totally surprised me. I ended up really loving it. It was suspenseful, mysterious, exciting, and heartwarming. This woman is on a ferry headed home, when she sees a bundle thrown off the back of a passing ferry. For some reason, she is convinced the bundle is a child, and dives into the freezing water to save him. He’s only 6 years old, and he only speaks French. The story follows this woman as she takes the boy in, tries to find out who he is, grows really attached to him, and has some run-ins with the scary peeps who tried to kill him. It’s very exciting, and I could not put it down.
Read my review here. (At The Broke and the Bookish)

Lola and the Boy Next Door, by Stephanie Perkins
Again, Stephanie is my hero. Loved this book so much for the same reasons I loved Anna.

Carrie Goes Off The Map, by Philippa Ashley
This book was lovely for several uncommon reasons: 1. The characters are my age! I’m so used to reading about tweens, teenagers, and middle-aged adults. I rarely read about characters who are mid-to-late twenties. It was refreshing. 2. This is an amazing book to help you feel better after a nasty break-up. I wish I’d had this book a few years ago when I went through one of those. 3. Traveling!!!!! I love books where people travel, and what’s better than driving through England in a camper van named Dolly? Carrie’s road trip happens as a result of needing time to get over her cheating fiance. She brings along a guy she barely knows, but who also needs some time away. I’m sure you guessed that sparks fly!
Read my review here.

Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances, by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle
I love the three intertwined Christmas romances in this book. Maureen and John write amazingly perfect and hysterical stories. Lauren’s disappointed me, but not enough to make me love this book any less. It’s pure magic.
Read my review here.


Merry Christmas to You!

December 25, 2011 Uncategorized 2


I Elf’d myself!

Merry Christmas, guys! Or, Christmas Eve, I guess. Thanks so much to all of my readers, fellow blogger friends, and author friends! My blog is still a baby, at barely a month old, but I have already met so many amazing people! The book blogging community truly is one of the best networks out there. Thanks so much to all of you for welcoming me and being so supportive!

This is my absolute favorite time of year. I love the snow, the lights, the yummy treats baking in the oven, the music, the special holiday movies, and the BOOKS! I love reading a good Christmas book. I hope you’ve enjoyed my month of Christmas reads. Sadly, I did not have as much time to read as I had hoped. My kidney stone took out 10 days of the month. I can’t possibly read under those conditions! BUT, I was blessed to be well in time for Christmas. Tomorrow will be a busy day filled with family, food, and the spirit of giving, so I’m posting my merry Christmas today! I’ll post later about the bookish presents I receive, but I wanted to stop in and see what you’re up to! What do you hope Santa brings? What are you giving to your loved ones? If you’re here, and it’s now Christmas Day, what did you get? To set the mood, here’s a bunch of fun bookish Christmas trees that I absolutely love. Enjoy the day, everyone, and best wishes for the coming year. :)


The Perfect Christmas, by Debbie Macomber (Book Review)

December 21, 2011 Book Review 7 ★★★

The Perfect Christmas, by Debbie Macomber (Book Review)The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber
Published by Mira on September 29, 2009
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 232
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
3 Stars
WHAT WOULD MAKE YOUR CHRISTMAS PERFECT?

For Cassie Beaumont, it's meeting her perfect match. Cassie, at thirty-three, wants a husband and kids, and so far, nothing's worked. Not blind dates, not the Internet and certainly not leaving love to chance.

What's left? A professional matchmaker. He's Simon Dodson, and he's very choosy about the clients he takes on. Cassie finds Simon a difficult, acerbic know-it-all, and she's astonished when he accepts her as a client.

Claiming he has her perfect mate in mind, Simon assigns her three tasks to complete before she meets him. Three tasks that are all about Christmas: being a charity bell ringer, dressing up as Santa's elf at a children's party and preparing a traditional turkey dinner for her neighbors (whom she happens to dislike). Despite a number of comical mishaps, Cassie does it all --- and she's finally ready to meet her match.

But just like the perfect Christmas gift, he turns out to be a wonderful surprise!

First off, yay!!! Two reviews in two days! So proud. :) I really do love this time of year, and I love ingesting as much sweet stuff as possible, both by way of mouth (unfortunately) and by way of entertainment! I watch Christmas movies all month, make Christmas cookies and fudge, design Christmassy jewelry, and listen to the Carpenters wish their darlings a merry Christmas. Finally, I’m guilty of hunting down the cutest Christmas romances all year and saving them for after Thanksgiving, as you’ve seen me do all December here at the blog. I read as many as possible. This kind of book follows the same formula that all other Christmas romances follow. The people are sweeter than candy canes, merrier than the elves, and jollier than Saint Nick himself. And of course… there’s the one woman going through her quarter-life crisis, hoping for a boyfriend for Christmas, followed by a bun in the oven and a white-picket fence. I’m typically not a sappy person, but for some reason I enjoy this during the holidays!

Doesn’t that synopsis just make you smile? I knew that, ultimately, the entire book would be pure, predictable, fluff. But it was extremely sweet, and I did really enjoy it! I got pretty tired of listening to Cassie complain for the first 30 or so pages, but it got so much better once she was done introducing her predicament and venting about it. I adored Simon’s character. He was the scrooge of the book, who did not believe in love even though his profession was to help others find it. I love the banter he and Cassie share back and forth. As Cassie goes through the process of completing her three tasks, she experiences some funny things and also some heartwarming things. You grow to like her, and her totally awesome brother (I’d date him!). It does have a very sweet ending, and everyone is overflowing with happiness and the spirit of Christmas.

It was a cute, fast, fluffy read but I love that at Christmastime! Now, it’s not a piece of genius literature, nor does it have a very original plot. It’s very predictable, and I knew from the very beginning what was going to happen. If you’re looking for a challenge, or looking to be captivated, this is probably not the book for you. If you’re looking for a quick dose of cute Christmas sappiness, then perhaps you’d take from this book the same things I did.


Let it Snow, by J. Green, M. Johnson, & L. Myracle (Book Review)

December 20, 2011 Book Review, Young Adult 8 ★★★★

Let it Snow, by J. Green, M. Johnson, & L. Myracle (Book Review)Let it Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson
Published by Speak on October 2, 2008
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
4 Stars
Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today’s bestselling teen authors—John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle—the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

I love Christmas romances that aren’t sad. Why do all Christmas books have to be sad? The back of the book always says, “After Mindy’s mother died, her dog got hit by a car, her husband divorced her, and her kid ran away from home… she meets a man at the ER who was severely burned and can’t see. Love blooms, and a Christmas miracle happens.” Haven’t you read that before? Ugh. Christmas is happy! Not sad! The back of this book sounds happy. :) So I decided it was worth a shot, even though I don’t like the idea of short stories. I like to read a book that is one big story. Not three little ones. Needless to say, this book was a gamble. JACKPOT!! Halleluiah! I LOVED IT! Gush, gush, gush. Ok, on to the review. (Clearly I don’t read enough books that cause happiness to gush out of me. I’m not crazy, I promise.) Oh, and wanna know what else is fun? These three stories are all intermingled. I didn’t realize this until I started in on story #2. They all take place on and around Christmas Eve in Gracetown, NC during the biggest blizzard in the last 50 years. Each story discusses different characters, who end up all being connected. I loved all of them, and want to go find everyone at The Waffle House in Gracetown now.

The first story is called The Jubilee Express, by Maureen Johnson. I’d never read anything by her, and pretty much adore her now. Not many authors make me love them in roughly 100 pages, but I’m about to go buy more of her books! Anyway, there’s a girl named Jubilee (she was named after a building in a very expensive Santa village! Hahah!) who finds herself on a train to Florida because her parents decided to be crazy this year. A big snowstorm causes the train to stop in a small town, where she finds some interesting people (and some sweet ones) in the Waffle House. Her Christmas plans end up needing a slight alteration, but I doubt anyone would feel that she suffered as a result! I loved this story. Jubilee is hilarious. The thoughts running through her head had me laughing out loud. I loved the main guy in this story too. He is so sweet and sensitive. I’m not giving away more of the plot, because you just need to read it. That is all.

The second story is called A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle, by John Green. Oh my. It’s hilarious. The main guy, Tobin, has two friends named JP (my favorite character, because he is amazing) and the Duke (Angie). While watching Bond movies, they get a call on Christmas Eve to hightail it to the Waffle House to see 14 stranded cheerleaders from the same train Jubliee was on, hanging out and being cheerleadery. Their journey to this Waffle House (in the middle of a blizzard) is priceless. It includes a lost wheel, some scary twins, a Twister mat sled, and a dangerous beer keg. I died of laughter. And of course, it turns out to be an adorable story. I want to meet JP. The things he says are hilarious, plus he was wearing Tobin’s dad’s baby blue ski suit for the entire story because he thought it would make him look like a hardcore skier, just back from the slopes. Gotta impress those cheerleaders! Oh, good stuff, Mr. John Green.

The last story is called The Patron Saint of Pigs, by Lauren Myracle. This was a very “meh” read for me. Luckily it was the last story, because I don’t think I would have continued with the book if it had been the first.  It’s all about this girl named Addie, who I didn’t care for much, who cheated on her boyfriend a week before Christmas, dumped him, and now wants him back. She spends a lot of time whining about her situation, even though it’s her fault. And she spends a lot of time being mad at him for not responding to her latest apology e-mail with open arms. She CHEATED on him. Why does she expect a happy ending to this? The story also involves a little old lady who thinks she’s an angel, and a quest to acquire a little teacup pig that is to be her friend’s Christmas present. It was just weird, and a pretty weak way to end the book. The first two stories were brilliant, and long-lasting loves for me. This story really fell flat, and pales in comparison. The ending was also pretty cliche and unrealistic. I can look past this story, though, and rate this book 5 stars for the other two. If we factor in my rating for this one, the book would probably get a 3.5.

I definitely see myself re-reading the first two stories a lot. They are so sweet and Christmasy, not to mention a quick dose of the Holiday spirit. I was delighted to find them. Did anyone here love the third story? I’m pretty lenient when it comes to Christmas reads, but I held this one to pretty high standards after the first two. What do you think?


Bookish Bad Habits

December 15, 2011 About Me, Discussion 15

So, since I’ve been “professionally” reviewing books now for over a year and a half, I’ve come to notice quite a few bookish habits that aren’t necessarily good ones. Haha! As I spent more and more time compiling this list, the more things I noticed! Perhaps in 2012 I can turn some of these habits around. Consider this post a list of my 2012 Bookish New Year’s Resolutions.

– I’m a cover snob.
– All the books in a series must be in the same format. I do not have room for the hardback of Crossed by Ally Condie, but since Matched is hardback I can’t buy the Kindle version of Crossed. This is a curse.
– I spend too much time looking at how far along I am in a book, and how much I have left to read. I should just enjoy the ride and quit worrying about whether or not the book is too long or too short.
I can’t take a break from a book until I’m at a chapter break. That sucks if I’m exhausted and in the middle of a REALLY long chapter. I end up not even remembering some things because of this.
– I don’t give myself enough time to reflect on a book before I start a new one.
– Sometimes I wait months to write a review, which makes it REALLY hard. I need to start writing it the next day.
– I accept too many books to review at a time, and spend weeks reading books that are planned out. Sometimes I like to be spontaneous in my reading choices and grab a book off the shelf because it’s what I want at that very moment.
– Sometimes I judge a book too quickly, and it taints my opinion of the book before I’ve given it a chance.
– If I don’t like a book, I still make myself finish it. I need to learn that it’s ok to abandon a book for good. Reading is not a job, and I can quit anytime I want to without penalty.
– Sometimes I read too fast and don’t take the time to savor a book. This happens with books I have been anticipating for a LONG time.
– I buy more books, even though I have stacks of unread ones. I need to read what I have first!
– I stay up way too late, and end up reading the ending of a book when I’m so tired that I barely remember it.
– I have a hard time being objective if a book discusses or is centered around something I totally disagree with.
– If I get tired of a book, I set it aside and start something new. I always plan to return to the other one, but I rarely do. I’ve got 3-4 books I’m partway through that are just waiting to be finished, but now I can’t remember them!
– If I don’t read a book pretty soon after buying it, it gets mixed in with my other unreads and gets forgotten. I really should make up a list and read in that order. But again, that takes my spontaneity away from me.
– OH. If I really want to read a book, but don’t know what, I’ll go to my shelves and look for something. As I try to decide, sometimes I get so overwhelmed by the MANY choices I have, that I give up and watch a movie instead.

So what about you? Do you share some of these bad habits with me? If so, do you consider them bad ones, or should I be grateful I “suffer” with them? What are some of your bookish bad habits, and goals for 2012? Please leave a link to your blog post, and I’ll come visit you! Or comment here and join the discussion!


Top Ten Childhood Faves

December 6, 2011 Top Ten Tuesday 10

TTT

This topic is a little tricky for me! When I was a younger, I pretty much hated reading. I went to a school that made reading really, really suck. They’d give us a reading schedule and packets and packets of in-depth questions to answer as we went. And then they tested us, and made us write essays. I could not just read for enjoyment. I had to memorize the questions and then look for the answers as I read. It was awful. I loved reading as a very young girl, but once I got into grades 4-6ish, I quit unless I was required to read for a grade. It was not until my early college years that I re-discovered my love of reading. And you’re going to laugh when you find out how! I was in a color theory class, and we were assigned to bring in products that utilized color, making them more appealing to the average passerby. A guy brought in Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer. He said his wife was obsessed with this new book series about vampires. Then he went on to talk about how the cover is a very effective use of color and symbolism. When I ran across that cover again, I decided to try it. A new reader was born!

Anyway, a lot of my childhood faves are picture books, mixed in with a few middle-grade/young adult that I either enjoyed in school, or stumbled across in my school’s library while looking for books to do reports on or to supplement research papers. It’s kind of funny that I ended up as a book reviewer, because now I essentially read and analyze books… and write an “essay” on it. It’s my choice, though, so I guess that makes it ok! So, here we go!

Henry the Duck series, by Robert Quackenbush
This series features 4-6 books about a duck named Henry who is always getting himself into trouble. He floods his house, or takes on too many babysitting jobs. It’s pretty hilarious, and the pictures are adorable. I recently bought used copies of all of them so I would have my own set when I have children of my own. My mom would kill me if I took the copies I read. She’s saving them for her grandkids!

Sherlock Chick series, by Robert Quackenbush
This series was written by the same guy as Henry the Duck. These books are all about a little chick who dresses like Sherlock Holmes and solves random mysteries, like what’s making the sound in the barn… or where the gargantuan Easter egg went. Again, very cute. I bought these as well.

The Borrowers, by Mary Norton
I read this in school, and really enjoyed reading about a small family that lives in a really big home, all the while hiding from the owners and stealing their food and odds and ends around the house. I always envisioned having my own tiny family living in my house. I looked for them often, and I’m pretty sure I found evidence that the were there!

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
Any book that allows children to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is my kind of book. I love that museum, and can totally see why it would be a fun place to live.

Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen
I saw this book as being so incredibly adventurous. I’d never heard of a plane crash survivor living on his own on a deserted island before, and thought it was so cool! The idea is no longer groundbreaking, as plenty other novelists and tv show/movie producers have worn it out. I loved reading about the adventures, and how this boy was able to survive for so long.

Full House Stephanie series and Full House Michelle series by a whole bunch of different people
I loved Full House as a child, so when my mom gave me some of these books in desperate hope to re-kindle my love of reading, I obliged. I rembeber feeling so accomplished after finishing one of them! Haha.

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
This book scared the crap out of me, and I found it really hard to understand. However, the mystery and creepiness of the story really drew me in. This is the book that made me decide I love mysteries.

Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene
After discovering I loved mysteries, Nancy Drew was the next logical step. I loved this series.

Catherine and the Pirate, by Karen Hawkins (And all of the other books in this series.)
I loved this book so much! I found it in my school’s library (yes, my school library had romance novels!?!?!). It’s a very tame middle-grade romance on the high seas. It was the very first pirate romance I ever read, and I’ve been addicted ever since. This book is one of an entire line of young adult romance, and all of them are now out of print. Luckily I bought all of them before they were discontinued!

I think I’m going to have to stop with 9! I’m so sad that I missed out on so many years of reading as a child, but I got to read a lot of fun middle-grade books with some of my reading students. It all evens out in the end, and it’s never too late to catch up! :) What were some of your childhood favorites? What did I miss?


Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (Book Review)

December 5, 2011 Adult Fiction, Book Review 2 ★★★★★

Marian’s Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly (Book Review)Marian's Christmas Wish by Carla Kelly
Published by Cedar Fort on October 9, 2011
Genres: Historical Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 298
Format: ARC
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
Miss Marian Wynswich is a rather unconventional young lady. She plays chess, reads Greek, and is as educated as any young man. And she's certain falling in love is a ridiculous endeavor and vows never to do such a thing. But everything changes when she receives a Christmas visit from someone unexpected a young and handsome English lord.

The summary on the back of the book does not give you much info, so here’s just a little more. I’m not going to give away too many details, just because the story is so much fun to just discover on your own. So here are the bare essentials: Marian’s spunky, outspoken, and not accomplished in the ways that many young women are during her time period. She doesn’t sing or play the piano. She didn’t go through all the classes and training that one goes through to learn how to be a lady. No, she’d rather make ointments and work with medicines to heal all of her stray animal friends (and a few people, too). She doesn’t have curly hair and brown eyes. She doesn’t care, though! She can beat you at chess, and read Greek and Latin better than anyone. She speaks her mind whenever she feels so inclined, and that gets her into trouble sometimes. She’s also read every book in her father’s library. A bookish girl after my own heart. Speaking of her father, he passed away and left his family in a very dire situation. When Marian’s brother comes home with a rich, but unattractive and undesirable suitor for her older sister, Ariadne, Marian is determined to figure out a way to stop this awful courtship. She believes that people should only marry for love, and that it has to be a LOT of love or it’s not even worth it. As she and her brother play tricks on this man alongside the very handsome Gilbert Collinworth, Earl of Ingraham, she begins to question her decision to never marry. Perhaps love is better than she thinks!

This book was endearing, and oh so sweet! It’s the kind of sweet you hope to read during December, but not so over the top that you want to throw you Christmas cookies in the trash because you’ve reached your maximum sugar intake for the season. I loved Marian. She’s exactly the kind of personality-type I was/wished to be at the ripe old age of 16, so I identified a lot with her as I read her story. She doesn’t follow the normal trend, and manages to stand out in her own special way. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, is very mature, and won’t take crap from anyone. She’s so much more amazing at sticking up for herself and speaking her mind to authority figures than I was, though, and I envy that a little. She’s resilient, a tad emotional, and enjoys acting her age sometimes (when she’s not having to force herself to be a grown up). And Gilbert is amazing. Just like Marian, he was not created from the same mold most males of his time were. He’s a funny troublemaker who likes to stir the pot. He becomes quite an ally to Marian, making her be quiet when she wishes to speak her mind. Their banter back and forth is so much fun to read, not to mention his moments of being so tender and caring… oh, and those twinkling eyes. I kinda fell in love with that Gilbert Collinworth.

Marian’s brother, Alistair, is a really awesome brother. I wish I had one just like him. He teases Marian non-stop, but when she needs him to lean on, or to cry on his shoulder, he’s sensitive and very caring. I can just picture those two bantering over chess or at the breakfast table. They have one of those sweet brother/sister relationships that I hope my future son and daughter have one day (long, long into the future!). We don’t get to know the rest of her family extremely well. Her mother is pretty high maintenance and snobby, and Ariadne (seriously, how on Earth do you pronounce her name!?) is pretty spineless and quiet. She clams up and goes with the flow–a great contrast to Marian. Percy (the oldest brother) is firm, but you can tell he doesn’t want to be. He became the man of the house, and with that comes a great responsibility. He’s a softy, though, and ends up making you smile as well. You can tell that the entire family is very loving and cares about everyone deeply. Of course, I object to the arranged marriage, but that’s all part of the the time period. A poor family marrying their daughter off to an old rich man, whom she will never love is something we read a lot about in regency romance novels.

I did not mean to do such a thorough character analysis, but the characters are what make this story so enjoyable! I mean, when you come right down to it, this storyline has been done before. A little suspense and mystery is thrown in (which I loved, by the way), but for the most part it’s been done. The characters are what set this book apart from all the others, plus the fact that it’s during Christmas, so it’s much more magical already! Bottom line, when I think of the story, I think about the people before the plot. That’s a big deal. The descriptions of lovely snowy scenes and intense moments of danger also make this book something special. Oh, and the kissing scene is pretty dang cute too!

While I did see this book on a shelf at a local Christian bookstore, I would not mark this as strictly Christian fiction. The Christmas service at the church is only a few paragraphs, and there’s really no other talk of religion. So, if you’re a bit leery of this book for that reason, don’t worry! You won’t be preached to. I also wouldn’t mark this as young adult fiction. Girls during this time period were forced to grow up early, so even though Marian is only 16, she’s where many of today’s mid-twenties to even late-thirties women are.

So, I can happily add another adorable Christmas romance to my list of keepers! This December is turning out to be a month of great finds so far! Thanks again to netgalley and Cedar Fort Publishing for giving me this complimentary copy, in exchange for my honest review.


Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Cohn & Levithan (Book Review)

December 1, 2011 Book Review, Young Adult 11 ★★★★★

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, by Cohn & Levithan (Book Review)Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan, Rachel Cohn
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on October 26, 2010
Genres: Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 260
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought it!
Amazon Add to Goodreads
5 Stars
“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Happy first day of December! This month, it is all Christmas books for Jana! I love Christmas books, and this one was my first choice. I had heard the Dash & Lily buzz everywhere, and I was waiting until the Christmas season to start it! It was a tough wait, seeing as how I found out about it on Christmas Eve last year! I had to wait a long time! It was worth the wait, though, and I dove into it as soon as I was in bed on Thanksgiving night.

This book is a fun little gem that is the kind of book everyone will end up reading eventually. I loved the uniqueness of the story. I would absolutely love to discover a little red notebook full of dares in my favorite bookstore! The dares were fun and unique, and put both Dash and Lily in weird positions–more so for Dash than Lily. I’ll say two words about it and then leave it at that: fresh Santa. Haha! Loved it. These two were running all over New York City doing tasks, and then leaving the notebook for the other one to find. The anticipation and the mystery behind this cute exchange was incredibly fun and heartwarming to read about! The book alternates back and forth between Dash and Lily, just like the notebook does. According to the authors blurb and the end of the book, Cohn (Lily) and Levithan (Dash) e-mailed the chapters back and forth to each other and then continued writing the story as they got new content. I love that the book was created essentially the same way that the red notebook IN the book was. Pretty brilliant, if you ask me. In doing this, each author gave their own character a distinct voice. I loved the result!

Dash and Lily are very quirky characters. Dash hates Christmas, and lies to both of his divorced parents, saying that he is spending the holiday with the other. That way he can spend it alone. He’s a bookish, hipster nerd whose biggest wish in life is to own his own 22-volume Oxford English Dictionary. Other than being very bookish herself, Lily is the complete opposite. She’s a perky Christmas lover, but is abandoned by her parents who go to Fiji, and her brother who ignores her to spend time with his boyfriend. The exchange with Dash is the only thing that keeps her grounded. She’s pretty unique. The descriptions of her outrageous outfits match the descriptions of her funny nature. Even so, she seems pretty mature for her age. Her rambunctiousness and uniqueness is a nice contrast to Dash’s rather mundane existence. He’s deep, and has funny things to say, but Lily is definitely the part of that duo that grabs attention just by walking down the street. I love that Dash is amused by her. It’s so sweet. I love that the notebook strips them of their hiding places, and brings them out from behind their walls to really get to know each other in a way that they might not have if they had met under different circumstances.

They experience a lot of feelings and emotions together: loss, loneliness, curiosity, happiness, sadness, hope, worry, self-doubt, and they laugh a lot. They think about each other often, and try to imagine what the other one is feeling. They find themselves concerned about the other pretty much all the time. They pose important questions in the notebook, not just, “What’s your favorite color?” Together, they realize that they care about each other a lot more than they thought they did. Sometimes that’s a scary thing to realize, and they both know it. I enjoyed reading about a deep relationship that is so important to each of them, they spend time worrying and doubting themselves. As they wrote more to each other, they reflected on their responses. It was a quick development, but they did it with finesse. I can totally see how they fell for each other so quickly. They learned more about each other in that short time than some people learn in a year. Neither of them was perfect, but that actually ended up making them perfect for each other.

The things they said or thought were often hilarious, but they also had some very deep thoughts that made me think. One quote in particular that I just loved was thought by Lily, “You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint—ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy—all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know—this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately.” LOVE that. It’s so profound, and so true! We girls are not the only ones looking for a fairytale. 

My final thoughts: Dash and Lily is a pretty adorable book about a Christmastime romance between two unsuspecting teens who are a lot more mature than is to be expected. Throughout the red notebook’s journey, these two learn things about themselves and each other. As they learn more, they grow closer. They realize perfection is not necessary, and that girls aren’t the only ones who dream of fairy tales. It was a magical read for me that took place in my favorite city in the USA. I definitely recommend this to those of you who enjoy Christmas romances, but hardly ever read any because they are all SO cheesy and cover every possible emotion all at once. This book is nothing like that, and you’ll love it. :) 

And on that note… It’s time for me to scour the shelves of the local bookstores to see if Mr. Right has caught on to this awesome idea yet.