Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reading Challenges

I am way late to the game (unfortunate, since a lot of the books I've read this year would have satisfied some of these), but I'm finally declaring all the Reading Challenges I'm taking this year!  I've already mentioned The Completely Contemp Challenge from Chick Loves Lit - and now the rest!

2012 Support Your Local Library Challenge
Hosted by The Eclectic Bookshelf
I've chosen a Level 2: 24 Library Books

Contemporary Challenge
Hosted by Katie's Book Blog and Reading Angel
Read a chosen number of books in 2012 that have pub dates between January 1 and December 30, 2012

I've chosen to do a Level 2: 10+ Books
I'm sure it'll change, but the tentative list so far:
1. My Life Next Door - Huntley Fitzpatrick
2. In Honor - Jessi Kirby
3. Bittersweet - Sarah Ockler
4. Isla & the Happily Ever After - Stephanie Perkins
5. Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley
6. The Disenchanments - Nina LaCour
7. Flirting in Italian - Lauren Henderson
8. The List - Siobhan Vivian
9. Being Friends With Boys - Terra Elan McVoy
10. Take a Bow - Elizabeth Eulberg

Debut Author Challenge
Hosted by The Story Siren
Read & review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012 – January 31, 2013.

Also sure it will change, but so far I'm aiming for:
1. Incarnate - Jodi Meadows
2. Under the Never Sky - Veronica Rossi
3. Article 5 - Kristen Simmons
4. Of Poseidon - Anna Banks
5. The Catastrophic History of You and Me - Jess Rotheberg
6. What's Left of Me - Kat Zhang
7. Reunited - Hilary Weisman Graham
8. Shooting Stars - Allison Rushby
9. ???
10. ???
11. ???
12. ???

Sophomore Reading Challenge
Hosted by Chick Loves Lit
Read 10 Sophomore YA/MG Novels in 2012 - all novels must be the second published YA/MG novel, with pub dates in 2012.

Again, probably changing, but I think I've got:
1. Insurgent - Veronica Roth (realllyyy have to read Divergent. It's just sitting on my dresser!)
2. Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver (same with this...reallllyyyy have to read Delirium)
3. Mara Dyer #2 - Michelle Hodkin
4. The Disenchantments - Nina LaCour
5. In Honor - Jessi Kirby
6. Second Chance Summar - Morgan Matson
7. The Fine Art of Truth or Dare - Melissa Jensen
8. ???
9. ???
10. ???

Have any suggestions for me to read for any of the challenges?
Leave it in the comments!

*I'll have buttons in my sidebar and a Page/Tab set up for all the challenges to better track later this week.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Butter by Erin Lange

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Breaking the Spine, 
meant to spotlight an upcoming release we are eagerly awaiting!

Butter by Erin Jade Lange
Bloomsbury, 272 Pages
Expected US Release: October 2, 2012

A boy everyone calls “Butter” is about to make Scottsdale High history. He’s going to eat himself to death live on the Internet – and everyone will watch.

He announces his deadly plan to an army of peers and expects pity, insults or even indifference. Instead, he finds morbid encouragement. When that encouragement tips the scales into popularity, Butter has a reason to live. But if he doesn’t go through with his plan, he’ll lose everything.
------------------Goodreads summary

Doesn't this sound fantastic? I love the idea of bringing in modern technology and mixing it with all the high school issues of popularity and drama.  Just the description is so evocative. This could turn out to be a really original, moving book.

What are you waiting for? Leave your link in the comments and I'll check it out!

Teaser Tuesday (1)

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I'm in the middle of a few books right now, but these are the two my main focus is on:

"Ed looks at me like he wishes I'd disappear and if I had the choice I'd grant that wish; I'd turn into smoke and blow away. I want to sit on the other side of the table from him so he doesn't think I'm interested, but there's no room on the other side so I sit as far away from him as i can and try to have an out-of-body experience." 
Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley

“It's Will," she said. "He's being absolutely ridiculous in the dining room."
Charlotte looked puzzled. "How is this different from him being totally ridiculous in the library or the weapons room or any of the other places he's usually ridiculous?” 
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

(Apparently I'm into CC initialed authors this week!)

What are you reading right now? Leave me your Teaser Tuesday link (or Top Ten Tuesday) and I'll swing by!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

In My Mailbox (6)

In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, meant for bloggers to showcase the books they've acquired in the past week via library, purchase, review, etc.

Normally I only try to do this every other week, but I uh...went a little crazy and am hoping to knock out some of these library books before next Sunday.

Where Things Come Back - John Corey Whaley
Graffiti Moon - Cath Crowley. If you follow me on Twitter,
you know how long I have been waiting to get my hands on this. Hooray! (It was also my first WoW pick!)

Purchased from 
Friends of the Library Bookstores
I will never understand why people don't utilize library-affiliated bookstores more often. The books are in great condition, cheap, and all the money goes to support the library. Win-win! 
(Total cost of all these books: $3.50!)
Be More Chill - Ned Vizzini (hardcover)
Perfect You - Elizabeth Scott
Lovesick - Jake Coburn
The Truth About Forever - Sarah Dessen
elsewhere - Gabrielle Zevin (hardcover)

A ton of holds came in at the same time and the date limit came up so I had to get them before finishing all the others I have. Why do I do this to myself?
Juliet Immortal - Stacey Jay
The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers - Lynn Weingarten
Irises - Francisco X. Stork
There is No Dog - Meg Rosoff
Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare

And if anyone is keeping track, you might be thinking I accidentally included a book here that was already shown last week.  Not so, my friends:

I never know which hold will come in first so oftentimes I double up and put the same book on hold at the County Library and the Public Library. Normally it works out that one comes in well ahead of the other and I just cancel the second, but these came in close to each other. Which actually works out for me, because I decided to re-read Clockwork Angel first and I don't think I'll make it all the way through CP before the first copy is due. But sorry San Diego county, I'm hoarding CPs!

What's in your Mailbox? Leave your links and I'll swing by!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (or, WHY?!)

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Dutton (an imprint of Penguin Teen), 313 Pages
Released: January 10, 2012

Challenges: Completely Contemp Challenge

Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs... for now. 

Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault.

Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.
------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
(I can't tell you how hard it was for me to not just paste the ENTIRE GODDAMN NOVEL here)

"I love you present tense."

I'm starting this review not even 20 minutes after I finished reading the book, and that's probably a big mistake because my eyes are still that sort of blurry and my face is still wet and my nose is still in that awkward snotty-drying-up phase that makes me all sorts of sexy, but I'm feeling all the feels and want to type now. I'll probably do a Save Draft and come back later to make this coherent and worthy of being read by the public, for now, this'll have to do.

There were a lot of ways I wanted to start this review:
1) I wanted to say how I'd heard so many things about it already and knew it was a complete sobfest that alters your world, and that was weighing heavily at me as I began. And I even tweeted this:
And it was like 15 pages in I was laughing and falling in love with Gus already and all I could do was whimper after every laugh because I could feel that all these giggles were at the brink of something else, too.

2) I wanted to start with a series of "Why" questions, such as: WHY JOHN GREEN, WHY?! and WHY, Gus, WHY?! and Why did this end?! and Why did I do this to myself?! and Why can I not stop wanting everything from this book?!

3) With that quote that every reader immediately picked out of the first 40 pages as an Absolute Truth:
“‎Sometimes you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book.  And then there are books which you can't tell other people about, books so special and rare and yours that advertising your affection feels like a betrayal.”

4) or tell you how I actually did not want to read this book because I feared how much it would make me feel. I was so scared that it would reach into some of the most hidden corners of my mind and turn me inside out and make me cry and scream and yell and love so hard it would ache (which it did, but I'll get to all that later.)  In fact, the only reason I did finally read it is because I wanted to participate in Tracey's YA Book Club (thanks Jon for posting about it!) and their pick was TFIOS.

Truthfully, I, too, believe in that quote from #3, and I know I'm going to do it a disservice by talking about it. I didn't even want to call this a "review" so much as a "discussion" (perhaps even a "coveting") because sometimes there are words that are grouped and placed together in such a beautiful, special sequence that they can make a novel that speaks directly to the deepest recesses of your soul and you know that nothing will ever possibly come close to expressing how it makes you feel.  This book is an Emotion in itself.

You should really read the book. I don't want to say much more just have to experience it.  And I will pitch it like this:

The Fault In Our Stars will fill your heart with love, and make you feel so privileged to get to know Hazel and Augustus, and make you laugh as you see their relationship build and what it means to their lives as Cancer Kids. And this book will make you bawl, it will tear your heart out and make you question humanity and mortality and oblivion and infinities and what it really is to be a grenade in neither the Jersey Shore nor Bruno Mars* way.  You will close the book often while reading it because it positively overwhelms you to the point you have to consciously tell yourself to breath; and then you will open the book back up just as quickly because it feels wrong to not keep going with Hazel. You will feel lucky, as though your own lifeline has expanded, to befriend Hazel and Augustus; you will be grateful to have witnessed their time together; and you will weep as you understand just how sincerely that they do not have "if"s, only "when"s.

And it is perfect.

Rating The Fault in Our Stars feels insufficient because it's so much more than stars, but because I am nothing if not consistent:
5 Stars / 5
(and thousands and thousands of constellations more)

PS. A note on the actual writing of it, John Green is a freakin' master. How he writes through the characters as though he is speaking directly to the reader is brilliant. I felt like Gus was apologizing to me for hiding it, I felt like Hazel was texting me why she couldn't hold his hand, I felt like I was listening to Van Houton spew asswad things to me. A MASTER, I tell you.

PPS. While I'm happy for John Green that this has been optioned as a movie, I am so unhappy with that. I cannot imagine this as a film because part of experiencing this story wholly was reading the descriptions and just following along with it. I feel like having the visual clues and environments will...detract from it all. But you know, I'll see it of course, and hopefully it's done in a different way that I'll also love.

*in the interest of full disclosure, I do not watch Jersey Shore, and I absolutely abhor Bruno Mars. So yeah, I'm making A LOT of fun of them. :)

What did you think of the book? Love it? Didn't like it?  What was the first line you cried at?

TGIF (6) and Follow Friday (5)

Happy Friday all! Just in time for the Follow Friday Hop, I've added the Linky Follower to my sidebar :)  I know GFC going away has been a bit troublesome and I'm slowly getting my blog situated for people to be able to follow me via other avenues - far from done, but getting there! As always, please let me know if you encounter any problems.

TGIF is hosted by Ginger at Greads! This week's discussion is about 
Required Reading
Which book from your school days do you remember reading & enjoying? Is there a book published now that you'd like to see in today's curriculum for kids?

I actually don't remember many required readings...I read so much that the books blurred between what was required and what I read for fun. However, these are the ones I remember discussing in class and loving:

Bridge to Terabithia - Katherine Paterson (EVIL to make kids read this!)
The Outsiders - SE Hinton (STILL a favourite)
The Picture of Dorian Gray - Oscar Wilde
Franny and Zooey - JD Salinger
The Taming of the Shrew - Shakespeare

And I'd love for curriculum to add in these:
Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (so much adventure!)
the perks of being a wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
It's Kind of a Funny Story - Ned Vizzini
The Hunger Games trilogy - Suzanne Collins

(ok, I know some/most of these push the limits of being appropriate, but I really do think these have some important elements that would benefit from classroom discussion.)

What Required Reading did you like? What would you like to see added to children's book lists? 
Leave me your link and I'll come check it out!

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View, meant to spotlight two blogs and allows bloggers to link up and meet other fabulous bookish friends and share the Following love!

This week's spotlight blogs are: ezine of a random girl & Oh! For the Love of Books

And the question of the week is:
Activity!!! Take a picture or describe where you love to read the most…

Truthfully, I will read just about anywhere, at any time, no matter what. I don't really have favourites because as long as I can hold a book, I'm good. (Except in a car, I get car sick.)  But there are 4 places I seek out to read usually:

1) My bed (sorry for the crappy phone pic!) - it's comfy and big enough where I can roll and shift around to get comfortable. Plus, I have 4 pillows and a pillow pet!
2) The beach - this was taken in Encinitas, which is one of my favourite places. If I could just lay in the sand reading all day, I'd be a happy girl.
3) My couch (again, crappy phone pic, sorry!) - I always sit in one spot (like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory!) because it's the best location to me. A good distance from the TV, the bottom pops out into a recliner, it's soft and squishy and I can add pillows if I want to angle towards anything. Perfection!
4) And not pictured, I read at coffee shops a lot. Mostly my local Coffee Bean since all the baristas know me and don't mind if I plop into one of their comfy chairs without buying anything.

Where do you like to read? Leave me your link and I'll hop by!
And of course I'd love to return a follow if you are kind enough to follow me :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols

Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by Breaking the Spine,
spotlights upcoming releases we are eagerly awaiting!

Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols
MTV Books, 288 Pages
US Release Date: July 10, 2012

A sexy and poignant romantic tale of a young daredevil pilot caught between two brothers.

High school senior Leah Jones loves nothing more than flying. While she’s in the air, it’s easy to forget life with her absentee mother at the low-rent end of a South Carolina beach town. When her flight instructor, Mr. Hall, hires her to fly for his banner advertising business, she sees it as her ticket out of the trailer park. And when he dies suddenly, she’s afraid her flying career is gone forever.

But Mr. Hall’s teenage sons, golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson, are determined to keep the banner planes flying. Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business--until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers--and the consequences could be deadly.

---------------------Goodreads summary

First of all, that cover is breathtaking, right?! I love the concept of it and how vividly it paints the plot of the book.

Though I've yet to read any Jennifer Echols (I know, I know! I'm working on changing that!), this one sounds absolutely amazing. It's such an original storyline - daredevil pilots?!  I've not read anything about that.  And the prospect of being caught between two brothers sounds gripping and like it's just going to rip my heart to shreds in the best way possible.

What book are you waiting for? Leave me your link in the comments and I'll come check it out!

Review: Gone by Lisa McMann

Gone (Dream Catcher #3) by Lisa McMann
Simon Pulse, 214 Pages
Released: February 9, 2010
Challenge: Library Challenge

Life should be great for Janie—she has graduated from high school and is spending her summer with Cabel, the guy she’s totally in love with. But deep down she’s panicking about how she’s going to survive her future: Getting sucked into other people’s dreams is really starting to take its toll. Things get even more complicated when she meets her father for the very first time—and he’s in a coma. As Janie uncovers his secret past, she begins to realize that the choice she thought she had has more dire consequences than she ever imagined
-----------------Amazon Summary
Notable Quote
Because with the right person, sometimes kissing feels like healing.

I don't know about you, but when I pick up the last book in a series, my heart usually sinks. I put it off for awhile, I make excuses, I try to read as slowly as possible so it won't end. When series end, my heart dies a little.


The thing about Gone is that I powered through it like crazy. I didn't read it as soon as I got it, but the moment I picked it up, I put it down an hour later, thinking about the last line and how the series ended.  And I didn't feel that normal pang of loss, or get sucked into that Reader's Depression - partially because I never really connected with Janie or with the novel(s).  They were interesting and I loved the concept of getting caught in dreams, but Janie is so unlike me that it was never something I got.

It could be because of the style of writing, too. Such short, choppy bursts. Sometimes connected, other times not.  And this isn't a bad thing at all - in fact, I loved the style of this series. I think it fit the mood perfectly.

But anyhow. I liked this book, much better than I did Fade (see my review of Book #2 here!). One of the questions I'd had lingering throughout the series was Janie's family, and I'm glad this last book centered on it and how she would deal with her ability in relation to her mom (and now, her dad).

Nothing about the book surprised me, really, and I fully understood the opposing lives Janie was trying to choose between almost from the get-go. Probably the most emotion I felt was regarding her choice with Cabel, because...I didn't like what she initially decided on. I just felt like he was getting shafted, you know?

But still, it's an interesting read and an incredibly satisfying, if not fairly predictable, end to a fantastically original series.

3.5 Stars / 5

In lieu of a Top Ten Tuesday, how about some fun book-related questions!

Usually there would be a Top Ten Tuesday here, but the topic this week was too...difficult. The topic was Books You'd Save From Your House In A Natural Disaster. Does anyone remember when Southern California was basically burning to the ground in 2007 in those wildfires? I live in one of those communities that the Witch Creek Fire absolutely ravaged. I am lucky because my house did not burn; but we were evacuated and under threat of it. I went through that disaster where you have to grab what you feel is important and know that you may come back to nothing. And I wasn't even home during the entire ordeal, I was going to school in Orange County at the time and was woken up to a frantic phone call at 7am telling me I had 5 minutes to tell my mom what I needed saved.  Probably the worst phone call I've taken to date.

Books are a lifeline to me, but when it comes down to it, most of them are replaceable. You save the yearbooks and photos and important documents and the only thing I could think of to tell my mom was to save what we call the "Dad Binder," which is a binder we keep all the letters/cards my dad sent to the family when he was away on the ship during his Navy Sea Duty.  When I hung up with my mom, a million other things I wanted saved rushed to my head - but in the end, you can reconcile the loss of a lot of things. They're just things.

So instead, I happened to be going through my Reader and saw these questions posted by Andrea at The Overstuffed Bookcase and thought it would be fun to answer them!

1. Have you always been a huge reader or is it something that happened recently?
Always. My family is really big on reading and I grew up around books and literature. My mom is also a librarian (well...was a librarian, she works in library cataloging for a university now) so I've literally grown up in them. When I was 7, I worked behind the library desk checking out books to people - I even got a volunteer award :)

2. Can you pinpoint one book that solidified your love for reading?
I can't, really. One of my earliest memories is my mom reading Roald Dahl books to my brother and I for bedtime (The Twits are the best!), so those always remain at the forefront of my book love.

3. Do you prefer series or stand alone books?
Truthfully, I prefer stand alone books. I love most of the series I have read, but it's a bit stressful for me. I have issues with waiting for next installments, and somehow reading the last book in a series just kills me so much more than getting to the end of a stand-alone book. I tend not to read series until all of the books have been released.

4. Do you write in your books and/or dog-ear the pages or do you like to keep your books looking brand new?
WOAH. As the daughter of a librarian, the idea of ever writing or dog-earing pages gives me the heebie-jeebies. I use bookmarks and post-its if I ever want to note anything.

5. What fictional world would you love to live in?
While I'm tempted to say any Victorian-era novel (it's my absolute favourite era), I'd have to go with the Recency Period - specifically, the Pride & Prejudice world. What I would give to be at that ball with Darcy and Bingley and all the Bennetts! 
6. What book are you most looking forward to reading this year?
Graffiti Moon has seriously been on my Want list FOREVER. I went on a hunt all around San Diego for it on its release date but no stores had it :( I finally had to order it online and am now waiting SO impatiently for its arrival. I'm also seriously looking forward to City of Lost Souls (Book 5 of Mortal Instruments!) and The Diviners by Libba Bray.

7. Do you have to read to the end of a chapter or can you set the book down at any point?
I can set it down at any point. I've never really paid attention to Chapter breaks.

8. Describe what you are using as a bookmark in your current read.
I'm in the middle of a few books right now. Most of the bookmarks I use are the printed Due Date tickets from the library I got them from or the store receipts. Clockwork Prince is the only one that's got a real bookmark, which was mailed to me from the San Diego Zoo haha. I was a member there for a long time, so I still get all the little mail things.

9. What book would you absolutely never want to be made into a movie or TV show?
Oh Heavens. I never really want to see Lola and the Boy Next Door made into a movie. Because it's such a fun little experience reading it, and I think it would get horrifically torn apart being turned into some cheesy Disney movie or tween-flick.

10. Do books easily make you cry or do you hardly ever shed a tear while reading?
I'm a huge crier. I just finished The Fault In Our Stars (review on Friday!) and I was a blubbering mess from, like, page 80 and on.

11. What book have you recommended the most?
Hmm...I've convinced a lot of people to read The Hunger Games (I own 2 copies but haven't seen them in years since I keep lending it out!). I tend to recommend the Percy Jackson series too (actually, all of Rick Riordan's YA/MG novels) because I think they're so much fun and filled with such great adventure - plus, you learn mythology!

Thanks for the fun questions, Andrea!
And if you did do the Top Ten Tuesday, I'd still love to read it (or any other post!)! Leave your link in the comment section and I'll come check it out!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox (5)

Hosted by The Story Siren, In My Mailbox was created so bloggers can share the books they've acquired in the past week (via purchase, library, for review, etc.) - I participate every two weeks :)

I was able to keep my buying at a minimum and only picked up:
The Scorpio Races - Maggie Stiefvater (read my review here!)
The copy I read was an eBook, so I'm excited to have the physical copy as a part of my collection!

Unfortunately, I think I made up for my buying cap by overdoing it at the library - especially since I'm still working on the last stack I got!
Rules of Attraction - Simone Elkeles
Hush, Hush - Becca Fitzpatrick
Halo - Alexandra Adornetto
Clockwork Prince - Cassandra Clare (Finally!) 

Forget You - Jennifer Echols
Be More Chill - Ned Vizzini
Paper Covers Rock - Jenny Hubbard
Sweethearts - Sara Zarr
The Probability of Miracles - Wendy Wunder

I'm excited to get started on it all!

What did you get this week? Leave me your link and I'll make sure to check it out!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Love-A-Thon Mini Challenge: Those That Started Me Blogging

The prompt for this Love-A-Thon post is: Make up a mini post in the form of a thank you letter in which you say thanks to the blogs that inspired you to start your own book blog! It can be as heartfelt or as goofy as you want to make it!

So, here's the story about what inspired me to start blogging: I don't remember.

Gripping, right?!

Truthfully, I can pinpoint the blog that set in motion me wanting to join this community; but I can't pinpoint exactly how I got to that blog!  I've been active in blogging communities for years now and read personal blogs and all that, and I'm certain one led to another that linked to another and so on.  I think it also coincided with Twitter, in that I followed John Green (@realjohngreen) because I adored his books. From there I started following Penguin Teen (@PenguinTeen), who probably retweeted a blogger at some point, and I followed the link and then we can cut-to me in mid-December signing up another Blogger blog as Ashley Loves Books!

I can also tell you the book that specifically led me to blogging: Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I picked up the book on a whim in the library (saw the cover, thought it was gorgeous!) in late October and fell so in love that I just absolutely had to find out all I could about it. I went to the website, I went to Beth Revis' Twitter, I googled A Million Suns to find out its release date.  And that search led to several reviews on book blogger sites, and I probably followed every single one of those blogs.

But like I said, there was definitely one blog that inspired me. I love her writing, I loved her book choices and how she was so fair and would be honest about if she wasn't too crazy about a book but it would still appeal.  Her blog was fab, and she linked to some great other bloggers and memes, and it all went from there. 

This whole thing will sound stalker-y since she has no idea because I don't really comment too often or interact with her (it's kind of one of those like...'place her on a pedestal, why would she pay attention to me' situations -- I know, I know, I should get over that because she's probably one of the sweetest, but it's hard! I'm so new at this! It's like I'm a fangirl) but I do want to thank her in a very short letter:

Dear Anna of Anna Reads,

I absolutely adore your blog. Each entry is short, sweet and so much fun with just the right amount of details to pique your interest but never give too much away.  You're hilarious with your stick figures, have impeccable taste (high school + boys really are the best books) and have never led me astray with suggestions. Thank you for doing what you do, because it's wonderful.

A fangirl who hopes she's not scaring you,

I also want to mention The Broke and the Bookish, because Anna did a Top Ten Tuesday (I think it was the Halloween one?) and I loved the idea so much that I went to the site to find other people's lists. It's such a brilliant meme and each list is so unique and interesting that it begs for some great writing, great bloggers and great suggestions. I definitely utilize that meme to find books and other bloggers the most!

And that is the story of my inspiration to start a book blog :)

TGIF (5) and Follow Friday (4)

Happy Friday, all!  As a heads up, I'm participating in the awesome Katelyn's Love-A-Thon tomorrow, so be prepared for some lovey-dovey, praisey, I adore you posts, and make sure you follow me on Twitter, too!  Which is also a warning that there will be lots of tweets and probably more than the average number of posts!

TGIF is hosted by the amazing Ginger at GReads!  Today's topic is:
Book Blogger Pride.
What do you take pride in when it comes to blogging?

Because I'm a new-ish blog (finishing up my 7th week!), I'm still tweaking this blog to be something I can be really, truly proud of - not that I'm not already!  I'm still trying to figure out my blogging voice, get a rhythm going, and I'm definitely starting to hit the scheduling snags and those horrible reading slumps that make you questions how to handle them when you run a book blog! (Tips would be welcome!)

That said though, I am proud of two things:
1) That this blog exists at all. I've been a personal blogger for 6+ years, but running a specific niche blog is so much more difficult! It's a lot of dedication and anticipation and scheduling. Being a book blogger is also tough work: reading is time-consuming, especially when most of us have jobs and school and other commitments.  Plus, acquiring books can be pretty difficult! I've got a crazy strict schedule on my library books as well as caps on book purchases since I'm [unfortunately] not made of money, and things get really complicated.  Every book blogger knows how much behind-the-scenes work goes into producing such a small corner of the web, and I'm pretty proud that I'm making it work.

2) That I'm entering this amazing community. I started my blog because I wanted to reach out to others who shared my taste and discuss books we loved/hated/can't make up our minds about.  But it's turned into this brilliant, beautiful lifeline. Book bloggers have to be some of the most generous, open-minded and friendly people I've ever had the pleasure to e-meet. In a world where virtual relationships are notoriously warned against and vilified, I've loved discovering that humanity is innately good.

What are you proud of? Leave me your link and I'll swing by!

Follow Friday is hosted by Alison Can Read and Parajunkee's View, meant to spotlight two blogs and allows bloggers to link up and meet other fabulous bookish friends and share the Following love!

This week's spotlight blogs are: Le Grande Codex and BeefcakeandBabes!

And the question of the week is:
I like unique names for characters and am looking forward to coming up with some when I start writing. What's the most unique character name you've come across?

What a fun question!  I loved the name Scout from To Kill A Mockingbird, it was such a fun, adventurous name.  I think Katniss is pretty unique and nothing I'd heard before (and now that the movie is coming out, I wonder if we'll get a flux of babies named Katniss, Prim and Gale!).  I also loved the name Elodie from Before I Fall, it's so pretty and nothing completely out there, but still original enough to remember.  I also adored the witch from The Golden Compass, her entire name was so fitting: Serafina Pekkala.

Apparently I remember/like girls names mostly, ha! I love the name Etienne, I've known a few in my life and was thrilled to read about him in Lola and Anna (Etienne St. Clair - is that not one of the most flowingly sexy names ever?).  Sticking with The Golden Compass/His Dark Materials series, I also loved the name (+title) Lord Asriel, I thought it conveyed such a wonderful characterisation for his entire role. I also liked Lee Scoresby, because it just felt like a pilot/adventurer name!

What names did you find to be unique? Leave your link in the comments and I'll come visit - and if you follow, make sure you let me know and I'll swing by to happily return the follow!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Review: The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler

The Future of Us by Jay Asher & Carolyn Mackler
Razorbill, 356 Pages
Released: November 21, 2011

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's family gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present.
---------------------Goodreads summary

Notable Quote
"He broke your heart! How can you call it love when he hurt you so badly?"
Kellan pops another fry into her mouth. "It was love because it was worth it."

I loved the nostalgia factor to the book. 1996 was probably one of the first years fully in my memory, where I was old enough (I was 9 that year) to understand and process and have interests and be aware of my life - and this brought me back to a pretty good place.  The music wasn't what I listed to (long live 90s R&B jamz!) but it still elicits some strong memories, and I loved all the other references.

Unfortunately, that was pretty much the only thing I really liked. The story is ok, revolving around a typical scenario of best friends and the awkwardness of one wanting more.  But it was underdeveloped and very unexciting. There weren't any scenes I was particularly attached to, nothing that made me gasp or cry or really feel anything.

The premise of seeing the future via Facebook is interesting, and it's a fine literary device - but it felt like they could have done so much more with this.  Having access to everyone's future? Seeing the details of your life?  Seeing the changes you make in your life? Emma touched on it when she purposefully altered things, but not much else was done. It felt like Josh and Emma were supposed to play two very different views on seeing Facebook, but nothing ever came of it. Their feelings and actions just weren't strong enough.

I also found Emma to be incredibly selfish and bothersome and frankly, stubbornly cynical. Everything was about her future, her life, her likes, her husband(s), her unhappiness. She never had a positive view on anything!  I just wanted to slap her through the pages and tell her to find a silver lining or look on the bright side!

A disappointing foray, but still an ok story in itself. The derision Emma and Josh have towards Facebook is amusing and tacked on the +.5 rating.

2.5 stars / 5
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