Monday, January 31, 2011

Review: Trapped by Michael Northrop

Trapped by Michael Northrop is another solid and slightly spooky from this offbeat storyteller.

Synopsis: The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That for those in its path, it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but of staying alive....
Scotty and his friends Pete and Jason are among the last seven kids at their high school waiting to get picked up that day, and they soon realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn't seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when distractingly hot Krista and Julie are sleeping just down the hall. But then the power goes out, then the heat. The pipes freeze, and the roof shudders. As the days add up, the snow piles higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, the mounting pressure forces a devastating decision....

There is a lot of good about this book, most notably for me, is the voice of Scotty Weems, the main character. He is definitely a guy and his friends are definitely guys. This book could have been told by my brother when he was in high school, the phrases were uttered in much the same tone and sense of young male contempt. Scotty is just a regular high school guy. He is not necessarily a jock or really popular, he is just going about the business of high school best as he can. He is still best friends with his two childhood guy friends, Pete and Jason, and they get along in school. But on this particular day, everything is different because Scotty, Jason, Pete and four other students have been locked inside the school, without a ride, as a powerful snow storm hits.

School is often portrayed as a safe haven, a place where, even if it's not fun to be there, at least you know you have some warmth and food coming your way. In Trapped, that image plays out in a macabre fashion because the old school building the students are trapped into becomes anything but safe. Sure, it is a lark at first to be locked up with classmates, thinking at least tomorrow you will get home and things will go back to normal, but when that does not happen, the teens start to realize that the snow has a different plan in mind.

And in fact, that is another strength of the book. The snow seems to take on a life force of its own, becoming its own character, giving hope, then taking that away swiftly. Bringing death and destruction and cold. But its done in a rather spooky fashion that befits the idea of Trapped which is I guess survival.

This is a swift read that builds tension throughout the story. You will know certain things right up front because Scotty tells you some of what to expect so some tension is lost but the mystery is in how things unfold and what the snow has in store for the teens.

Trapped does a great job of creating an ominous atmosphere to watch the world struggle. The school becomes dark, eerie, without power. It grows increasingly colder and reminded me of a morgue or an icebox, the kids being the meat that is locked in. Fortunately, there are moments of levity that keep this story from turning into a Donner Party tragedy.

I hate to categorize a book as a "guy" or "girl" read but Michael Northrop does a great job with an authentic male voice. Given he is male himself, I'd hope it would work out, but it's easy to be let down I think. What I liked about this male narrative in particular was that it did not rely on all immature jokes or typical teen guy humor I guess (which I think of more with Carter Finally Gets It or Swim the Fly). Scotty and his friends do make some typical guy jokes but when it comes down to it, this isn't a funny book so they can't really naturally behave that way. They do have to use their wits and in fact, they do step up to the plate. It's not always the brightest ideas but they make do.

Northrop does a great job of exploring what teens may be worrying about, as in this quote:

It might not sound like much, but I hadn't been online for like two solid days, and it was starting to freak me out.

The last time was Tuesday morning, before school, and that was just to answer some e-mails, respond to some comments, and play a few games: just the morning maintenance stuff. By now, I'd have a ton of emails and comments and posts. Everyone would be checking in, seeing if I was OK, and stuff like that. Plus, my energy counter would be completely topped off in Mafia Wars--if I didn't use it, it wouldn't refill, which was just a huge waste--and my ship would be fixed by now in Scurvvy Piratez.

This, with the exception of Mafia Wars and Piratez, is so stuff I'd be worrying about too during this entrapment. Yes, it's rather shallow but it's true. I'd be dreading tackling my inbox again.

After reading several different posts about this book, I don't think I could end my review without mentioning the ending which is very abrupt. After days of buildup with the snow, I truly was expecting a bit more closure than what happened. But at the same time, I had a a thrilling enough ride with the majority of the book that the ending did not spoil the entire story for me.

Trapped reminded me of both the thrills and the chills of snow. Michael Northrop's twisted writing ideas make for great teen stories and stories that any teen will be able to read and enjoy.

Other reviews:
Ticket To Anywhere reviews Trapped
Stacked reviews Trapped
The Compulsive Reader reviews Trapped

ARC reviewed from Amazon Vine.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

ALA Annual in New Orleans

This week I received the absolutely fantastic news that I received the YALSA/Baker & Taylor grant to attend ALA Annual. I was stunned and excited beyond belief. In my library system, basically only the "big wigs" (Director, associate director, some managers) get to attend the national conference. But when I applied for this grant, I asked my supervisor if I would be able to attend, and, despite it being smack dab in the middle of summer which is really hard for a teen librarian doing summer program, he was okay with me attending.

I have also put in a proposal to do a tabletalk presentation with Kelly of Stacked so fingers crossed that we get accepted because that would make my first ALA conference even more phenomenal.

So, as a newbie conference-goer, does anyone have any tips to share? I want to get the most out of the conference, which sounds lame, but mostly I'm just worried this could be my first and only ALA conference so I do want to experience as much as possible. And if anyone knows New Orleans and has any recommendations for some touristy things (which I hope I get the chance to do) I would gladly accept that advice too.

Basically, I am beyond excited. And if you are attending ALA, lets make plans to meet! I want to connect with as many of my online friends as possible.

As a side-note, if you will be attending the Colorado Teen Lit Conference in April, I will be there too and I'll be presenting about the awesomeness that is contemporary YA fiction. So, all in all, it's been a great start to 2011 professionally for me.

What are your do's and dont's of attending ALA Annual?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Review: Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Choker by Elizabeth Woods is going to be a fairly popular psychological thriller for teens. While it ended up disappointing this reader, it is nonetheless a fast-paced and quick read that will easily engage readers.

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria.

Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in.

But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger? (Goodreads)

Cara seems to be an average teenage outcast, getting mocked even when something terrible and unexpected happens. When she accidentally starts choking during lunch at the school, instead of people being happy that she is okay, she gets the terrible moniker "Choker" and is made fun of more than ever. She has no friends in school, her parents are barely at home and when they are home, they are consumed by their careers. Life cannot get any worse for Cara. When Cara's childhood best friend, Zoe, shows up unexpectedly, running away from home, Cara is ecstatic. Cara remembers how happy she was as a child with Zoe by her side. Zoe is loyal and ready to be Cara's friend once again. Life could not get any better, even if Cara does have to hide Zoe in her bedroom, away from her parents.

Then a classmate at school dies, someone who Cara despised and who teased Cara mercilessly. She cannot claim to be all that sad but with Zoe in her life, well Cara can ignore even the worst people at school. But something is not right with the student's death. Something is not right in their small town. Cara has a feeling Zoe's sudden arrival is connected to the death of her classmate. 

This book is being billed as a type of thriller for teens and I can believe that. Unfortunately, I found the book to be rather cartoonish in its portrayal of the characters, from Cara and Zoe, to Cara's careless parents who, though absorbed in their own world, know something is wrong and barely do anything to help Cara. Given what is learned about Cara's past, one would think the parents would be playing a more pivotal role in Cara's life. There are some very obvious signs that things are going wrong for Cara.

Unfortunately, I discovered the major plot twist in this book before reading it so I read it without being surprised, nonetheless, I think the author sets up the signs very clearly so many readers are going to figure this story out early.

While I will stand by my notion that these characters are embellished to the point of caricatures, I do believe that the author tackles the subject of teenage bullying fairly well. There are many, many teens who are going to relate to Cara's ostracizing by her classmates. I have to give kudos to teen authors for being sensitive to teens who are going through various bullying experiences and Elizabeth Woods holds that up. Of course, in Cara's case there are other forces at work which should ideally build the tension in the book but since I knew the twist, it felt very anticlimactic for my reading experience. Let me stress, for MY reading experience. This feeling will not be what ever reader feels.

Choker did not really win me over but that being said, I would add it to a teen collection because it tackles some issues not all contemporary fiction has ventured into: mental illness and the psychological thriller. Elizabeth Woods handles these issues with varying degrees of success but where she succeeds is showing how important friendship is to teens, even if its not always the healthiest of friendships. Also, this book is short enough that reluctant readers are going to fall easily into it.

Other reviews:
Bookalicious reviews Choker
Good Books and Good Wine reviews Choker
Presenting Lenore reviews Choker 

ARC provided by Around the World Tours.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Interview with me!

Despite the terrible heading, I am in fact not interviewing myself. It's much better than that. I've been interviewed by the very lovely Whitney of Youth Services Corner. She has a fantastic website so definitely check it out, and be sure to check out my interview. (Yes, I am totally tooting my own horn here, I admit it.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

I've had this book sitting on my TBR pile for a long time. I'm kind of ashamed to tell you just how long. Despite the accolades from some bloggers I trust and respect, I just didn't get to it. And of course, it was recently awarded a Printz Honor so then the guilt tripled. Well, finally, finally I read it. Lucy Christopher's Stolen is a book that will stick with you, make you uncomfortable, and question the power of relationships.

Synopsis: Gemma, 16, is on layover at Bangkok Airport, en route with her parents to a vacation in Vietnam. She steps away for just a second, to get a cup of coffee. Ty—rugged, tan, too old, oddly familiar—pays for Gemma's drink. And drugs it. They talk. Their hands touch. And before Gemma knows what's happening, Ty takes her. Steals her away. The unknowing object of a long obsession, Gemma has been kidnapped by her stalker and brought to the desolate Australian Outback. STOLEN is her gripping story of survival, of how she has to come to terms with her living nightmare—or die trying to fight it. (B&

Gemma is drugged and stolen out of the Bangkok airport. When she wakes up, her entire world is different, is displaced, and gone forever. Gemma has been taken out of her life in London and is kidnapped to a remote and desolate part of Australia, removed from cities, towns, even the most rural of village. She has no idea why she has been taken, if she will live, or what the future could hold for her.

Stolen is a book like few I have read. The characterization is phenomenal because it is impossible to remain hating Ty, the kidnapper. Seriously, impossible. It is obvious he is in the wrong and it is obvious that there may be some kind of mental issues (in my opinion) impairing his judgment but he has his reasons for what he has done. He genuinely believes he is giving Gemma a better life. That is where the crux of the story lies for me, in how he is consumed in his belief that he is doing the right thing and how it plays out for Gemma.

What I imagine was the Australian title of this book, Stolen: A Letter to My Captor is perhaps more apt than the US title. It also gives you a hint of what stage Gemma is in while the story unfolds. I do not think I'm doing an adequate job of describing this book or why it is special. It is scary because in reality, you should not want to sympathize with a kidnapper. The reasons for a kidnapping are rarely ever positive so one would think this would mean Gemma is in imminent danger. But more than anything she is just confused because Ty shows her a way of life she never thought possible. And she softens towards him, even as she tells herself not to. She knows what he did is wrong, she does know this, but when you are the only two people in a very desolate corner of the world, it is hard not to form some type of bond, even if you feel wrong in doing so.

One of the most amazing elements of this book is the setting. The harsh climate of Australia is perhaps the best setting for Stolen. Gemma is truly on her own, at the ends of the earth in some respects, and this dry, rock hard climate that provides no vulnerabilities. It is a harsh reality and it shows on every page.

Gemma and Ty become entwined in ways one would never expect as they rely on each other. Ty's back story unfolds with a sense of the macabre. Just how close to Gemma has he always been? It is another level of uncomfortable in this story because while in the present you can see him being both the kidnapper but yet Gemma's ally in this unfamiliar land, in the past, he is rather just the creepy guy who followed her around and spied on her. It is hard to balance the two personalities he presents.

Stolen did not blow me away but it was a book that made me contemplate how deep, fragile, and changeable relationships can be. One minute a person is the enemy, the next, the only savior you can rely on. It is a very interesting conundrum.

Other reviews:
Persnickety Snark reviews Stolen
Galleysmith reviews Stolen
Steph Su Reads reviews Stolen

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Life Behind the Reference Desk with Angie of Fat Girl Reading

I'm very pleased to bring you a new Life Behind the Reference Desk interview! Today you get to meet the very smart and passionate teen librarian, Angie, from Fat Girl, Reading. I was able to attend Angie's YALSA Symposium preconference, Body Positivity and Fat Acceptance, this past November and I came away with several new books to read and a new way to look at how body image is dealt with in YA books. I'm very pleased to bring Angie to my blog and I hope you enjoy her interview. Visit her blog or follow her on Twitter (@MissKubelik) for more library and book talk.

1. What makes you passionate about your job?

I hate to be obvious, but it really is the teens.  Obviously, the best part of being a librarian is getting to work with patrons, period, but with teens it's something else.  There aren't a lot of places, I think, where teens can be as respected and valued as they are at a public library that really welcomes them.  And you can see the difference that makes in their life - they way they start to have confidence in themselves, the way they become comfortable in your spaces, they way they light up and open up ... this is uniquely rewarding and, for me, it always makes me want to do more.

2. What types of programs and outreach do you do at your library?

I am the Head of Youth Services, meaning I am lucky enough to do outreach and programs for all ages.  My library does lots of programs.  Our most popular program is Music & Movement, a music and dance program for ages 0-5.  We offer the program 4 times a week and it always has high attendance.  It's a really a community event, which is so great.

    TEEN-wise we offer two regular monthly programs, our teen advisory group and our anime club.  We also try to have a special event no less than every other month.  The special events include things like our Anti-Valentine's Day party, our teen writer's group, our book club, and lock-ins.  We also offer use of a room after school where they can play video games (they love the Game Cube, believe it or not.  And DDR, of course) and just hang out.  That's boosted numbers at ALL our programs, because everyone feels welcomed.

3. What is a typical work day/week like for you?

I hate to be cliched but: there's no such thing as typical, particularly because I am a manager.  So, some days I am involved in management level meetings, doing things like working on budgets and policies.  Other days I am doing juvenile programming, dancing with babies and hosting a homeschool book club.  Some days I get to do it all!  School and summer are also totally different, so there's that element as well.  We don't have "scheduled" desk hours in my department, it just depends on how busy we get. School days I surrender off-desk productivity for managing the floor from 3:30-5:00.  It's a whole other kind of productivity!

4. How did you get involved with YALSA?

When I went to my first ALA Annual meeting in New Orleans in 2006, I realized all the programs I wanted to attend were sponsored by YALSA.  I already knew I wanted to work with teens at that point, but attending the YALSA programs and then speaking with cool people at the YALSA booth just really brought it home to me that this was a professional organization who had the same goals as me.  As soon as I became a professional librarian, I joined and became active.  Everyone was always welcoming and getting involved was easy and one of my best professional decisions.  YALSA has opened lots of doors for me!

5. Do you have any advice for librarians interested in starting a blog?

Don't worry about trying to be like everyone else.  You can't be. One of my favorite quotes (I'm not sure of the actual attribution) is "Be yourself, everyone else is already taken."  This is extra true about blogs.  So, write YOUR blog and do YOUR thing.  Also, let go of the fear about "will anyone read this?"  You write what you have to write, promote it when you can, and let go of "what about page views???!" Sometimes I still feel nervous because  I don't post as much as "everyone else" or worry that my posts are longer and more rambling than "everyone else" ... but that's everyone else.  I need to write what I need to write for me.

6. What were some mistakes you made early on as a blogger that helped you re-evaluate the way you blog?

As above, the everyone else!  I learned to focus on being true to myself, my opinions, and my writing. I learned not to worry about "What if someone gets mad?  What if someone doesn't like this?  What if people think I'm a bitch?  What if people disagree?"  It definitely helped that my first post was critical of John Green and the first comment ever on my blog was from John Green! Because he is an intelligent, thoughtful, kind guy, it was an awesome, respectful comment and it made me think: "OK.  I am going to do this."

7. What has been your path to librarianship? Have you always wanted to be a librarian?

I've never worked anywhere but in a library or a library school, when I was a graduate assistant in library school!  It was my after school job in high school and I have always loved the library.  I failed out of college (the failing part is important) in my 20s and went back to my small hometown to work in the library there.  The three years I spent there were the among the best of my life and I knew I had found my calling!  I returned to school, finished my undergrad degree and went to library school.  There was no other path for me and I can't imagine doing anything else.  When I tell this story, I do always emphasize the failure.  Why? Because without that failure I would never have figured out what I was really meant to do.  Failure changed my life for the better, something I always try to remember!

8. What is one website you find useful as a librarian?

Twitter!  I know, not a big shock or a great new find you've never heard of.  But I've made the best professional connections with other librarians, connected with authors in an immediate way, had my blogs spread out quickly, found new blogs to read, known I was not alone in my outrage or squee - it's just a fabulous, fast, not terribly time consuming, constantly updated way to feel part of a larger conversation about our profession.  (I'm @misskubelik, feel free to follow!)

9. If you were in library school all over again, what is one topic or class you would take that you may not have taken your first time around and why?

I graduated from the University of Southern Mississippi and I feel like I got a great education there.  I already knew what kind of librarian I wanted to be, so sometimes I felt like some classes weren't applicable to me.  Then I started management and realized the class assignment of writing a collection development policy was not an esoteric, useless assignment, it was real world skills!  I encourage library students to think of their education in these terms.  I might have done a practicum in another area besides public services but, come on, who am I kidding?  I could never be anything but a public librarian.

10.  And of course, because we all want to know, what are you reading?

I am currently feeling ridiculously overwhelmed by all the bounty I picked up at Midwinter and reading 100 things at once, a handful at the top of the pile being Beauty Queens by Libba Bray, Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade, Divergent by Veronica Roth, and Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton.  They're all awesome so far.  I also just finished the amazing Bitter End by Jennifer Brown and have to give a shout-out to two of the best books of 2011 (mark my words) Nightspell by Leah Cypess and, bestill my heart, The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King was a book that, when I first heard about it, mentally I responded by thinking, "Great. Another pretentious teenage story that no teens will want to read." But I am really happy to say that this is not the case at all! Or at least, not much. I fell in love with this book, the characters, and the vocabulary. This is a smart book for teens who are looking for something a bit out of the ordinary but with topics they will can still relate to their lives. Unhappy with your parents? Best friend got you down? Have a crappy minimum wage job that you kind of secretly like? Check, check and check. Also, in case you live under a library rock, unlike myself, this book was award a Printz Honor and for once, I find myself on board with the committee.

Synopsis: Vera's spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she's kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.
So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to? (B&

So, there are many things I love about this book but they mostly revolve around Vera Dietz, a high school student on the verge of graduation. Her only goal was to make it through high school being ignored, not getting involved in the drama that high school is prone to. Unfortunately, that plan did not work all that well. Mostly because Vera's lifelong friend, Charlie Kahn, turned into a bit of a stooge (to put it very mildly) and ruined that plan, and oh yeah, he died. So now Vera is left reflecting on Charlie's about face from somewhat odd best friend to total jerk, along with dealing with her father's issues, her own issues (which are aplenty) and just getting through high school without being bothered by Jenny Flick.

There is even a bit of a paranormal thread in this story because Charlie, dead though he may be, narrates sections of this story, giving readers his own insights. And this totally worked for me, despite my pretty much anti-paranormal everything rock I currently live under. Charlie turns into a total asshat. Seriously, there were threads of hope in his early friendship but that doesn't save him from the destruction of his parents and making some seriously bad choices. And he takes it out on Vera and all I could do was pity him. But, when he narrates, his ghostly presence adds something to the story, not for the sake of adding a touch of paranormal. He is not even seeking absolution, more, I feel like he needs to tell readers why he did what he did. And considering his point of view is not at all remotely the oddest in the book, well it just works. I mean, there is a talking pagoda in this book, I kid you not, and again, it works. I think because from page one, this book is slightly quirky without being off putting to readers who are just looking for a more normal story. Vera is normal but she finds herself in these situations that are anything but. It is an intriguing contrast.

And the vocabulary!! I loved how intelligent this book made me feel because not only did I recognize the words, but when I didn't, I felt compelled to look them up because the author obviously chose her words with care and I wanted to reward that by knowing what she was talking about. I've always been a fan of vocabulary so this was a very pleasant surprise in the book. I felt like I was finding surprising "Easter eggs" in the book, a la DVDs. On the other hand, the flow charts didn't quite work for me but that's because I've never been a big flow chart fan.

This book is not going to be for every teen. I think its going to take a more dedicated reader to truly appreciate some of Vera's quirks and situations. On the other hand, the author does a good job of portraying an average teenager facing pretty common teenage issues: falling in love, drinking, jobs, grades, parental issues, baggage, and the ability to judge one's classmates.

There is just something different about this book that really appealed to me. Vera faces a major conflict throughout the story and she deals with it in some very bad ways before deciding something for the better. And something else I really liked was the fact that Vera was pretty comfortable in her own skin. I'm not sure how true this is to the teenage experience because I don't meet too many teens who are as content with themselves. She is laid back, not looking to move up the social hierarchy, and just ready to move forward with life. She faces money issues and does something about it. She has parents who are far, far from perfect and yeah, she deals with it.

So, as you can tell, I did in fact enjoy this book quite a bit. It's different but it doesn't make itself too pretentious to be outside the teen experience. I'd actually like to pair it with Holly Nicole Hoxter's The Snowball Effect. Try it. Give Vera, Charlie in all his pitiful glory (yet strangely likable early on), Ken Dietz, and the Pagoda a chance. It may make you be old fashioned and crack open your little used dictionary, like myself. Somehow, looking up the words on did not feel authentic enough in the Vera Dietz world.

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers review Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Jenn's Bookshelves reviews Please Ignore Vera Dietz
The Compulsive Reader reviews Please Ignore Vera Dietz
Reviewer X reviews Please Ignore Vera Dietz

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review: Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe

Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe is a book I was very excited to read because it is written by a rather famous YA blogger, Steph Bowe's Hey! Teenager of the Year. I'm very excited to see all these new writers being published and I think there is a lot of promise in this book, it just tended to drag for me.

Synopsis: The first time we met, Jewel Valentine saved my life.

Isn’t it enough having your very own terminal disease, without your mother dying? Or your father dating your Art teacher?

No wonder Sacha Thomas ends up in the lake that Saturday evening…

But the real question is: how does he end up in love with Jewel Valentine?

With the help of quirky teenage prodigies Little Al and True Grisham, Sacha and Jewel have a crazy adventure, with a little lobster emancipation along the way.

But Sacha’s running out of time, and Jewel has secrets of her own.

Girl Saves Boy is a hugely talented debut novel, funny and sad, silly and wise. It’s a story of life, death, love… and garden gnomes.

Sacha and Jewel both have dealt with a lot of tragedy in their lives. Deaths, suicides, cancer, yeah its pretty much a sad smorgasbord of bad things for only eighteen years of life. And well, things are going to get worse for Sacha because he is facing his own mortality once again. And that is when Jewel saves him, at least literally. I always got the idea that she was supposed to have saved him figuratively also but it never really clicked for me in that way.

My biggest issue with this book was the fact that it was so much exposition. Little points of dialogue followed by two pages of thoughts and inner monologue. It really, really started to frustrate me because nothing was happening. The characters seemed very stagnant. It wasn't until the last third or so of the book that the action picked up. I am not a reader who needs the proverbial action scene or long winded journey for stories to be successful, but I do need a catalyst in the book to lead the rest of the story forward. Jewel saving Sacha was supposed to be that catalyst but it didn't work really for me because there was just ruminations afterward. Sacha and Jewel were stuck thinking about the consequences of that act rather than actually acting upon it.

Another issue is I found Jewel bland. Even with her own baggage, she just did not move beyond the page for me. Her relationship with her mother really could have been an interesting catalyst for change but it remained, like much in this book, still and unchanging. I really wished Sacha had been the main lead of the story because I would have loved to have explored his relationship with his father more. I loved, loved his reaction to his mother's death and how he still thought about it and how it controlled his life to an extent. This is something that worked really well for as a reader. It felt so honest.

I was also much more interested in the secondary characters: Little Al, his family, and True, Sacha's best friend. They tended to steal the scenes they were in, at least for me. Little Al in particular was just full of life, even when he was at his saddest.

I read plenty of sad and depressing YA books so it wasn't the topic of death, it was just the characters in this book for me. They did not come alive enough for me to truly experience their emotions and reactions, to both past and present events. This turned out to be just an okay read for me, and that happens. There were a few scenes that were memorable (including the garden gnomes toward the end, mostly cause it was an action, a step forward for Sacha) but on the whole, I just didn't respond to this book the way I expected. 

Other reviews:
Shut up! I'm reading reviews Girl Saves Boy
Read this book reviews Girl Saves Boy
Good Golly Miss Holly reviews Girl Saves Boy

Book reviewed from Around the World Tours.

Monday, January 17, 2011

L.K. Madigan and her struggle

Last week, YA author L.K. Madigan posted very, very sad news in her Livejournal. She was recently diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer. L.K. Madigan is the author of two YA stories (neither of which I have read sadly) Flash Burnout (on my TBR pile) and The Mermaid's Mirror.

You can read her entire poignant entry and well, if you're like me, it's probably going to make you tear up a bit.

Cancer is such a difficult, difficult disease so I hope you will join me in donating to The American Cancer Society in Madigan's name. I cannot think of one person in my life who hasn't been touched by cancer in some way, through someone they know and love or from themselves, so please consider giving.

The class of 2009 YA debutantes are doing a special giveaway in honor of L.K. Madigan so I urge you to go and enter and spread the word about her books.

I'm also giving away an E-copy of L.K. Madigan's most recent release, The Mermaid's Mirror. Either Kindle or Nook or if I can find a different format for you, I will be happy to purchase that for you. To enter, please just leave a comment on this entry. As long as I can send you an ecopy of a book, you are eligible. Contest ends next Monday, so a shorty.

And please, please head on over to L.K. Madigan's journal and leave some words of encouragement, hope, and faith. Lets hope for a cure for cancer in the very near future.

Check out these other posts about author L.K. Madigan and ways you can support her:
Green Bean Teen Queen
Fat Girl Reading

Friday, January 14, 2011

TV Talk

So, if you follow me on Twitter, you may realize that aside from reading, one of my favorite hobbies is TV. Oh yes, I totally admitted it. I love TV. I watch way too much of it and I know this, but I cannot help myself! There are quite a few quality shows on TV right now. And, since I do not have a review to post (lazy reader this week) I thought I'd post a few of the shows that are holding my attention this TV viewing season.

Still a big fan of How I Met Your Mother. This season has been actually pretty good also which has helped. The last episode killed me and I cannot wait to see the direction they take one of my favorite TV characters (Marshall). It isn't always at its highest, like it was in say seasons 1-3, but it still gives me laughs and good feelings. I love this group of friends.

Modern Family, how I love thee. Phil Dunphy, you are just the kind of guy I want to marry. Crocktipus! I'd so see that with you. I love this entire cast and every episode makes me laugh. I highly recommend catching up on this show if you haven't had the chance to see it yet. The first season is on DVD and its well worth taking the time to track down and watch. You'll see the highs and lows, the moon landings, and everything in between.

Totally wasn't expecting to love Cougar Town the way I do. I still don't really like the first half of season one. It's just not very funny and I was ready to quit the show. But then... something magical happened and this group truly became the Cul de Sac crew and it made all the difference. It's hilarious and seriously underrated on TV. I love Grayson, I especially love Andy (I tend to fall for the dorky guys on TV) and yep, still love Ellie. Really, give it a chance. Plus, the show always does something funny with the title which I enjoy waiting for each episode. And... now would be the perfect time to catch up since the show will be going on a hiatus from February-April. If you end up watching, let me know what you think.

People, if you are not watching The Vampire Diaries, something needs to change. This show is awesome! The men are hot as hell, the women kick some butt and it avoids a lot of stupid vampire cliches. It's a really great show and they do some top notch work on storylines and characters. When it debuted last season I was prepared to hate it but instead, I fell hard for Damon, Stefan, and Elena. And heck, even Elena doesn't annoy me which I can't say happens too often with female characters. Usually on dramas, female characters annoy me to bits (Kate, on Lost being a prime example).

 Community has mostly impressed me in its second season. It's definitely by far one of the smarter comedies on TV and I adore Jeff Winger. So yeah, still watching. There are some great episodes, including this season's recent espionage episode. LOVED it.

 Some other shows I watch:

Mike & Molly: This show is just so-so to me but I keep watching anyway. It can be cute at times but mostly I've found it to be rather trite. But, I like Sookie St. James Melissa McCarthy so I keep watching.

The Big Bang Theory: This show is actually not as funny as it used to be for me. It's like, once it hit its popularity levels, it just got kind of dumb at times. I still watch but I tend to marathon episodes more than watching them live.

America's Next Top Model: Damn you show, I cannot quit you!

Gossip Girl: Kind of. I have only seen like two episodes of this season.

So, can you see why I am TV obsessed? And there are so many other shows I want to watch including The Good Wife, Sons of Anarchy, and Misfits. There's just not enough time in the day.

Do you have excessive but awesome levels of TV viewing? Have a favorite show I need to see? Let me know!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Review: Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris

Prom certainly seems to be a popular topic in YA lit lately for me. Maybe it always has been and I didn't realize it. This is the second prom related book I've read lately. Will Work for Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris is a cute story with its ups and downs for me.

Synopsis: Quigley Johnson has, reluctantly, given up the rest of her last year of high school to take part in her best friend Ann's Betterment Plan, which will turn them into the best-dressed, most sought-after, most admired girls at their senior formal. Because - hey - who doesn't want the perfect prom, complete with a dream dress and a devastatingly handsome date? 
But the prom costs money - lots of money - and even though the girls could easily have Ann's mom design their dresses (she's only Victoria Parisi, one of the most famous designers in the world), Ann insists that they pay their own way.  And that's how Quigley gets stuck making artistic topping masterpieces on frozen pizzas canvases, before becoming a live model for Ms. Parisi's fashion design class, where she meets Zander.
He's cute, and cool, and funny, with a killer design sensibility (even if he can't sketch).  But is he too good to be true? And what about David, the hot, talented artist at school, who's also kind of a jerk, but won't leave Quigley alone? And Ann - she started the Betterment Plan to improve Quigley and herself, but it seems like it's ripping their friendship to shreds. (B&

Quigley and her friend Anne are determined to go to prom and they are earning money for dresses, working on their health courtesy of Anne's Betterment Plan. It is all kind of crazy but Quigley just goes along with it because she will do anything for Anne. One of their jobs, modeling for Anne's fashion famous mother, leads to Quigley meeting Zander, a sweet guy whose designs are perfect for her. They quickly become friends, and Quigley hopes for something more, even if there is this other guy in the picture, the guy Anne is telling her she should like and take to prom. Should a girl listen to her best friend or for once listen to her own heart?

Ok, the cover of this book is sweet enough but it reminds me of the chick lit books of the early 2000s, which isn't exactly a recommendation. I think a lot of teens are over cartoon covers too. And Quigley, well she definitely is not like the girl on the cover so its also kind of misleading. Quigley is her own girl in a lot of ways but she is also a girl teens are going to relate to pretty well. She does not get perfect grades, far from it in fact, struggling for C's. She does let Anne lead her around quite a bit and is content to do so. She has dreams for college but is pretty realistic in thinking that it will not happen due to several factors.

Unfortunately, the book pulls out several plot points that were definitely not realistic and bordered, for me, as saccharine or too over the top. I can handle some fictionalization obviously but the way some of the events occurred in this book, well I just was not totally on board.

On the other hand, I did feel like Ferris did a great job depicting the somewhat uneven friendship between Quigley and Anne. I think everyone has experienced a friendship like the one portrayed in this story, where it is obvious that Anne takes some advantage of Quigley, yet is also the shoulder she needs to lean on. This is what teen friendship is! Doing selfish things, sometimes hurting each other, but also being there for each other, laughing, talking about boys, and knowing that other person has your back. I enjoyed this aspect of the book most of all.

There is also a few great comedic scenes that add levity to the book, particularly revolving around Quigley's struggles with boys. Also, there is a scene involving a pickle that had me smiling immensely.

So, all in all, somewhat a mixed bag but in the end, I feel I got more enjoyment out of this book than disappointments. It's a perfect easy breezy read and sometimes, that is just what I need.

ARC courtesy of Around the World Tours

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Romance Round-Up: January

Here is what I have read and reviewed, romance wise, in the past month:

Whisper Falls by Toni Blake
Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SO GOOD!)
Prelude to a Scandal by Delilah Marvelle

Not too many, December wasn't a busy reading month for me. But I highly recommend Call Me Irresistible. One of SEP's better books recently, with great reappearances from Dallie, Francesca, and more.

Have you read any excellent romance books lately? Please share in the comments!

Monday, January 10, 2011

ALA Awards

The American Library Association announced its list of Youth Media Awards today. Twitter was all a-twitter about the coverage, and good thing since I was not in San Diego to see the awards in person. You can read the list in its entirety on the site, but I just wanted to mention a few awards that I am more interested in. Seriously, the ALA has a ton of awards and I wish some of them were more well known.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (winner): Haven't read this one at all, not really interested in reading it and the Printz isn't going to make that interest any stronger. But it seems like a more teen appropriate book for once.

Honor Books:
Please Ignore Viera Dietz by AS King: Reading it right now, mixed feelings.
Nothing by Janne Teller: Haven't read, want to. Need to wait for my library to get a new copy since my library's copy is missing.
Stolen by Lucy Christopher: REALLY need to read this one. I feel like such a slacker. May be good reading for my upcoming 3.5 day weekend.
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick: Hadn't even heard anything about this book, honestly. I did just check it out though so hopefully will read soon.

William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens
The Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston (Winner): haven't read, cover is a big turn off for me but that's cause surgery style images turn my stomach. However, I do want to read it.

Honor books:
Hush by Eishes Chayil: It's on my to-read list!
Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey: I have it, don't think I'll get around to reading it anytime soon.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride: no interest for me.
Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber: have it, want to read it, must get on that, lol.

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick (ages 11-13): love Sonnenblick, still need to read this one.
Five Flavors of Dumb by John Antony (ages 13-18): read it and enjoyed it. Finally an award book I read. (have you read my review?)

I never make opinion posts about the awards, possible nominees because most of the titles I think worthy never get chosen anyway. It's fun to see who wins but at the end of the day, the ALA awards don't impress me that much. What did impress me however was seeing the book loving community come together on Twitter and talk about these awards. That is the real passion of the industry, of what makes books, stories, and libraries so wonderful.

I feel like I'm always a bit letdown after the awards are announced and while it has happened again this year, it didn't feel quite so immense of a letdown which is a relief. I do not strive to be part of a committee but I can totally tell these groups work hard to determine the best of the best. As with anything, reading is always subjective and yeah, while I would have loved to see some of my personal favorites chosen, I also realize they do not have the literary merit necessarily that some of these titles do, at least in the eyes of the committee. Fortunately, there are other awards and other ways for some of the more commercial books to succeed.

ALA Media Awards wrap-up posts:
The Ya Ya Yas react to the awards
The MotherReader reacts to the awards
GreenBeanTeenQueen posts about the awards

Have you read any of the winners or Honor books? What do you think about the titles chosen?

Review: Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly is one of those books I heard buzz about in 2010 when it was released but was eclipsed by other book releases. However, with its recent Cybils nomination, this is a book I had to get my hands on. It proved to be an immensely engaging and genuine story, one of my favorite kinds to read.

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on “a touch of Asperger’s.”Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.
It’s obvious that Drea can’t hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she’s found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

Drea has been essentially friendless all her life. She has also moved around most of her life and it has hardly been a stable existence. That being said, Drea and her mom have a pretty good relationship and Drea knows how to make any place her home with the help of the lunchbox she carries with her everywhere. Drea loves music, mixing sound, and learning more and more about sound. She is incredibly knowledgable and it shows on every page. And, oh yeah, she may have a touch of Aspergers, but that is not at all the sum of her character. 

Moving to Bellingham, Washington, and living with her grandmother is a shock. But perhaps even more shocking is that Drea is making friends. She isn't quite sure how to behave around the wild and impetuous Naomi but she finds her zest for life irresistible. New guy Justin causes feelings other than friendship but if Drea is awkward at friendship, well her interactions with guys are even more limited. But she cannot stop what she feels and it is honest and tactile in a way only she experiences emotions. Unfortunately, there are problems under the surface that are about to show Drea that being "normal," the existence she is striving for, is far, far from perfect.

Drea is the perfect voice to tell this story because she sees the world with a clarity and honesty that most people do not, or perhaps, are unwilling to. Drea tells it like it is and it's not because of her Aspergers, it is because she despises lies, half-truths, and the things people hide behind to mask their true feelings. I identified easily with her feelings of isolation and loneliness, about her social faux pas. Again, this is not an Aspergers thing this is a high school thing totally. Though many teens can make it look easy, many teens do have to plan what they are going to say in the hopes of not being teased or humiliated. High school is a place filled with social landmines just waiting to explode and Drea does a fabulous job of showing why this happens.
This also plays out perfectly in Drea's evolving friendship with Justin, who makes her squirmy inside in the best way possible. 

That being said, the relationship that held my attention more than anything was the friendship between Drea and Naomi. It is obvious that Naomi has some very serious problems but Drea really has no idea how to help her. No teen would frankly. She is just happy to have a friend and wants to see her friend happy, even as increasingly destructive behaviors occur. I like how these two characters were juxtaposed in the story. Drea, the girl every doctor said had various problems, and Naomi, a "normal" girl who has obvious problems in her life that are being ignored by those around her, except Drea. This is the strongest part of the story for me, seeing their friendship change.

Drugs and sex are part of this story, so it is for older teen readers, or at least more mature readers. But it is a good fit for a lot of teens because Drea's issues are very universal. Harmonic Feedback had me enthralled, crying, and in pain for these characters. It's not a hopeless story though and I'll let you explore just why I feel that way. You won't be letdown reading Harmonic Feedback.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

In My Mailbox (01)

Sarah Mail!

The first IMM of 2011 brings me a few books to post about.

For review:
Will Work For Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris (Around the World Tours)
Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe (Around the World Tours)
Drought by Pam Bachorz (Amazon Vine)
Death Cloud by Andrew Lane
Awakened by PC and Kristin Cast (I've only read the first book in this series so this may be a giveaway soon.)

In My Mailbox is a feature created by The Story Siren with some inspiration from the lovely Pop Culture Junkie.

What did you get this week?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Contemps: Are You Participating??

Are you participating in the second round of the Contemps Challenge?? It's another great way to win free books and potentially $100.00 to a bookstore of your choice! And it's so very, very easy.

You can read all the rules here but in summary:

1. Write a review for one of the Contemps books (and you can include reviews from 2010!) and post it somewhere (blog, Goodreads, Librarything, etc) then go to the website and post your link. Easy peasy! (Currently only open to US residents only however)

If you read/review 18 of the 20 books that's when you have the potential to win the grand prize! Here is the list of books: (linked items go to my reviews)

Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Girl, Stolen by April Henry
Freefall by Mindi Scott
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
Trapped by Michael Northrop
Rival by Sarah Bennett Wealer
Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Family by Micol Ostow
Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith
Saving June by Hannah Harrington
Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
Pearl by Jo Knowles
Small Town Sinners by Mellisa Walker
Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy
Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Review: Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors

Mad Love is the first book I've ever read by Suzanne Selfors. She has written a few others, Coffeehouse Angel being the title I most recognize. I haven't read it and not sure if I would search it out. This book is really a bit odd for me as a reader. It has touches of the otherworldly but it is supposedly grounded in real life. Neither element really worked for me because they were both weak rather than one element enhancing a stronger plot point.

Synopsis: When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast.
That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real. (B&

I love mythology so that is one of the main points that attracted me to this story, particularly the story of Eros and Psyche which I have always enjoyed reading. Selfors gives it a new spin by making Cupid a sixteen year old boy who needs to tell his story. And the person he chooses is Alice, a teenage girl with not a lot of good going on in her life, at least that is what she first believes. Unfortunately, Alice's mother is suffering from a form of bipolar disorder and is currently hospitalized. Her mother is one of the most popular romance writers around and unfortunately she has not had a book out in three years. Bills are due, there is no book, and suddenly out of no where, Errol descends on Alice, commanding her to write his story. Alice thinks she is going crazy, and unfortunately, with what is going on with her mother, this is not a good feeling at all.

After reading a really well done book about a teen dealing with a parent with mental illness (A Blue So Dark by Holly Schindler), I will admit I just was let down by this book. While I certainly felt bad for Alice's situation, and of course, I sympathized with her and her struggle with her mom, I just could not delve into her emotions the way I could in A Blue So Dark. I I realize comparing books is not always de rigueur in book reviews, I just couldn't stop comparing them in my head as I was reading, and this book just was not up to par.

I found the otherworldly element of the story, Alice's interactions with Errol, to be fairly weak, and while I think the bipolar aspect was better addressed, it still just skimmed the surface of the story. It suffered by having the Cupid storyline in there.

There was a cast of secondary characters which I feel like readers are supposed to like and more than likely, most readers will, but I found them over the top cutesy in a way that repelled me as a reader. Maybe I'm just too cynical but I found what they added to the story to be less than realistic.

The strongest portions of this story is when Alice reflects on her mother's illness and how she fears for her own future, while also just wanting to help her mother, to have her mother back in her life. That is where I was able to truly dig into Alice's character and her mother. That is where Alice shined because yes, while depressing, it felt like the most genuine portion of the story.

The story, while not working perfectly for me, will appeal to fans of mythology, and I know a lot of teens do enjoy mythology. It has a romance too but it's definitely not one of the main focal points of the story. Suzanne Selfors did not totally sell this story to me but I think it has a few good parts that show the potential for discussion on the topic of mental illness.

ARC provided by Amazon Vine.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Books read in 2011

1. Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors (1/3/11)
2. Will Work For Prom Dress by Aimee Ferris (1/6/11)
3. Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly (1/7/11)
4. How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries (1/8/11)
5. Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe (1/13/11)
6. Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King (1/14/11)
7. Stolen by Lucy Christopher (1/15/11)
8. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling (1/17/11)**
9. Animal Magnetism by Jill Shalvis (1/20/11)
10. Choker by Elizabeth Woods (1/21/11)
11. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick (1/22/11)
12. Under His Hand by Anne Calhoun (1/22/11)
13. Starstruck by Cyn Balog (1/23/11)
14. Nothing by Janne Teller (1/23/11)
15. Not That Kind of Girl by Susan Donovan (1/24/11)
16. Any Man of Mine by Rachel Gibson (1/28/11)
17. Trapped by Michael Northrop (1/28/11)
18. Notorious Pleasures by Elizabeth Hoyt (1/30/11)
19. Not Another Bad Date by Rachel Gibson (1/30/11)**
20. Falling in Love with English Boys by Melissa Jensen (2/5/11)
21. The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton (2/5/11)
22. The Girl Who Became a Beatle by Greg Taylor (2/9/11)
23. The Guys Next Door by Lori Foster, Susan Donovan and Victoria Dahl (2/10/11)
24. Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt (2/11/11)
25. A Lot Like Love by Julie James (2/14/11)
26. Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (2/17/11)
27. Beautiful by Amy Lynn Reed (2/17/11)
28. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young (2/19/11)
29. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal (2/19/11)
30. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han (2/20/11)
31. Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab (2/20/11)
32. Split by Swati Avasthi (2/25/11)
33. A Light at Winter's End by Julia London (2/27/11)
34. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt (2/27/11)
35. So Much Closer by Susane Colasantie (3/3/11)
36. Jemima's Secret by Lynne Graham (3/4/11)
37. Miles From Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams (3/5/11)
38. Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell (3/5/11)
39. Badd by Tim Tharp (3/6/11)
40. Black Ties and Lullabies by Jane Graves (3/8/11)
41. Bayou Dreams by Lynn Lorenz (3/11/11)
42. My One and Only by Kristan Higgins (3/11/11)
43. Abandon by Meg Cabot (3/12/11)
44. The Chase by Erin McCarthy (3/13/11)
45. Secrets by Lauren Kunze and Rina Onur (3/15/11)
46. Hourglass by Myra McEntire (3/19/11)
47. I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by Erin McCahan (3/20/11)
48. Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard (3/20/11)
49. Pleasure Me by Monica Burns (3/25/11)
50. Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh (3/25/11)
51. Stay by Deb Caletti (3/26/11)
52. Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh (3/26/11)**
53. Already Home by Susan Mallery (3/26/11)
54. Visions of Heat by Nalini Singh (3/27/11)**
55. Caressed by Ice by Nalini Singh (3/31/11)**
56. Girls' Guide to Flirting with Danger by Kimberly Lang (4/1/11)
57. Claimed by Evangeline Anderson (4/1/11)
58. The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin (4/2/11)
59. Ripply by Mandy Hubbard (4/3/11)
60. Mine to Possess by Nalini Singh (4/5/11)**
61. Exposed by Kimberly Marcus (4/6/11)
62. Clarity by Kim Harrington (4/8/11)
63. The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen (4/9/11)
64. The Summer of May by Cecelia Galante (4/9/11)
65. Backstage Pass by Olivia Cunning (4/9/11)
66. Archangel's Consort by Nalini Singh (4/10/11)
67. Scrawl by Mark Shulman (4/11/11)
68. Flora's Defiance by Lynne Graham (4/12/11)
69. Divergent by Veronica Roth (4/15/11)
70. Reckless Conduct by Susan Napier (4/17/11)**
71. Where Dreams Begin by Lisa Kleypas (4/22/11)**
72. Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean about Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding by Jessie Sholl (4/23/11)
73. Bitter End by Jennifer Brown (4/24/11)
74. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell (4/30/11)
75. Sixteenth Summer by Michelle Dalton (4/30/11)
76. Crush Control by Jennifer Jabaley (4/30/11)
77. Not a Marrying Man by Miranda Lee (5/1/11)
78. Love Story by Jennifer Echols (5/8/11)
79. Livvie Owen Lived Here by Sarah Dooley (5/8/11)
80. Believe in Me by Laura Moore (5/10/11)
81. With or Without You by Brian Farrey (5/17/11)
82. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (5/29/11)
83. My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody (5/30/11)
84. Inside by Brenda Novak (5/29/11)
85. Unlocked by Courtney Milan (5/31/11)
86. Bunheads by Sophie Flack (6/1/11)
87. Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer (6/3/11)
88. Cut by Patricia McCormick (6/3/11)
89. Twice the Chance by Darlene Gardner (6/4/11)
90. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson (6/5/11)
91. Supernaturally by Kiersten White (6/9/11)
92. Wildefire by Karsten Knight (6/16/11)
93. The Summer of Firsts and Lasts by Terra Elan McVoy (6/21/11)
94. A & L Do Summer by Jan Blazanin (6/22/11)
95. Unlocked by Ryan G. Van Cleave (6/28/11)
96. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (6/28/11)
97. Bad Girl at Night by Lacey Alexander (7/2/11)
98. The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner (7/3/11)
99. Blood Red Road by Moira Young (7/4/11)
100. Small Town Sinners by Melissa Walker (7/12/11)
101. Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman (7/14/11)
102. Dark Mirror by MJ Putney (7/15/11)
103. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling, read by Jim Dale (audiobook) (7/17/11)**
104. Fateful by Claudia Gray (7/21/11)
105. Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) by Sarah Mlynowski (7/22/11)
106. Good Girls Don't by Victoria Dahl (7/24/11)
107. Double by Jenny Valentine (7/24/11)
108. Scandalous Desires by Elizabeth Hoyt (7/27/11)
109. Withering Tights by Louise Rennison (7/28/11)
110. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Baillet (audiobook) (8/1/11)
111. Slow Ride by Erin McCarthy (8/5/11)
112. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally (8/6/11)
113. Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan (8/6/11)
114. Past Perfect by Leila Sales (8/7/11)
115. Bad Boys Do by Victoria Dahl (8/8/11)
115. Ripe for Pleasure by Isobel Carr (8/10/11)
116. Fighting Fair by Anne Calhoun (8/11/11)
117. Dark Souls by Paula Morris (8/12/11)
118. The Man She Loves to Hate by Kelly Hunter (8/14/11)
119. Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (8/15/11)
120. A Whirlwind Marriage by Helen Brooks (8/16/11)
121. Popular by Alissa Grosso (8/18/11)
122. Real Men Will by Victoria Dahl (8/20/11)
123. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik (8/20/11)
124. Archangel's Blade by Nalini Singh (8/21/11)
125. The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler (8/22/11)
126. The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker (8/27/11)
127. A Long, Long Sleep by Anna Sheehan (8/28/11)
128. Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne (9/1/11)
129. Sass & Serendipity by Jennifer Ziegler (9/5/11)
130. The Serpent's Kiss by Thea Harrison (9/5/11)
131. Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne (9/8/11)
132. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (9/17/11)
133. Dance Upon the Air by Nora Roberts (9/18/11)**
134. Love & Leftovers by Sarah Tregay (9/18/11)
135. Kiss Crush Collide by Christina Meredith (9/22/11)
136. Heaven and Earth by Nora Roberts (9/23/11)**
137. Face the Fire by Nora Roberts (9/24/11)**
138. In Bed with the Boss by Susan Napier (9/24/11)**
139. Amplified by Tara Kelly (9/24/11)
140. Angels of Darkness by Nalini Singh, Ilona Andrews, Sharon Shinn and Meljean Brook (9/27/11)
141. I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler (9/27/11)
142. The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder (10/1/11)
143. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (10/4/11)
144. Simple as it Seems by Sarah Weeks (10/9/11) (Audio)
145. Chain Reaction by Simone Elkeles (10/10/11)
146. Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick (10/16/11) (Audio)
147. Sign Language by Amy Ackley (10/16/11)
148. The Next Always by Nora Roberts (10/20/11)
149. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver (10/23/11)
150. Bigger than a Bread Box by Laurel Snyder (10/23/11)
151. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (10/29/11)
152. Heart of Steel by Meljean Brook (10/30/11)
153. Dancergirl by Carol M. Tanzman (10/31/11)
154. Heart Strings and Diamond Rings by Jane Graves (11/4/11)
155. Pie by Sarah Weeks (11/5/11)
156. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (11/8/11)
157. Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins (11/10/11)
158. Fever by Lauren DeStefano (11/12/11)
159. Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur (11/13/11) (Audio)
160. Water Balloon by Audrey Vernick (11/15/11)
161. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling (11/18/11)
162. The List by Siobhan Vivian (11/19/11)
163. Lie by Caroline Bock (11/20/11)
164. Girls Don't Fly by Kristen Chandler (11/21/11)
165. Radiate by Marley Gibson (11/25/11)
166. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood (11/27/11) (Audio)
167. Saving June by Hannah Harrington (11/28/11)
168. The French Maid by Sabrina Jeffries (11/29/11)
169. Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard (12/2/11)
170. Wolves, Boys and Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler (12/4/11)
171. Seven Years to Sin by Sylvia Day (12/4/11)
172. Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas (12/5/11)
173. Audition by Stasia Kehoe Ward (12/7/11)
174. Head Over Heels by Jill Shalvis (12/9/11)
175. The Disenchantments by Nina Lacour (12/11/11)
176. OyMG by Amy Fellner Dominy (12/12/11)
177. I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan (12/13/11)
178. Welcome Caller, this is Chloe by Shelley Coriell (12/15/11)
179. Okay For Now by Gary D. Schmidt (12/18/11)
180. Breakaway by Deirdre Martin (12/18/11)
181. Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler (12/20/11)
182. The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic by Allan Wolf (12/23/11)
183. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood (12/26/11) (Audio)
184. The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin (12/27/11)
185. A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young (12/29/11)
186. First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci (12/31/11)

**denotes a re-read

Saturday, January 1, 2011

2010: A Reading Wrap-Up

Well, it's really hard for me to believe but 2010 is finally come and gone. I unfortunately did not make my reading goal for the year, which was to read 200 books. I made it darn close though with 180 books read. It's a pretty noble end for the year, not quite there but kind of there. And it's several more than my 2009 list, where I only read 163 titles. Here is what I ended up reading in December 2010:

167. The Snow Ball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter (12/4/10)
168. Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick (12/5/10)
169. XVI by Julia Karr (12/10/10)
170. Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (12/11/10)
171. Good to Great by Jim Collins (12/12/10)
172. The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald (12/12/10)
173. Wither by Lauren Destefano (12/16/10)
174. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers (12/18/10)
175. Room by Emma Donoghue (12/19/10)
176. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John (12/20/10)
177. Prelude to Scandal by Delilah Marvelle (12/20/10)
178. Where She Went by Gayle Forman (12/23/10)
179. Icebreaker by Deirdre Martin (12/29/10)
180. Lady Be Good by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (12/31/10)**

Favorite book read: Call Me Irresistible by Susan Elizabeth Phillips (SO GOOD!). Also, Fall For Anything is still on my mind and cannot be discounted this month.
Most disappointing: Her and Me and You by Lauren Strasnick. Not at all what I was expecting and it did not work for me at all.
(** denotes a re-read.)

As for blogging, my blog posts were up considerably from 2009 when I started my blog, which only had 95 posts. 252 entries in 2010 which is not too shabby I think. I know some people have so many more but I work hard at what I do end up posting so I'd like to think these are mostly at least 252 entries of quality.

I've also started a new feature which I'm pretty proud of, Life Behind the Reference Desk. I've learned so much from other librarians courtesy of these interviews, so you can definitely look forward to more posts in 2011.

I've also met so many amazing people courtesy of my blog so for that, I say a big thank you to all of you who comment and interact with me on twitter and my blog. This wouldn't be nearly so much fun without a wide variety of opinions and interests in the YA world.

So, for 2011, my goal again is to read 200 books. I've made it close this year but I'm going to work my reading butt off in 2011 and really strive to reach that goal. I may even try to (gasp!) cut some TV out of my life. 

So, how was your 2010 reading year? Was it successful, and filled with great titles?


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