Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Reading List

A
Anna and the French Kiss - Read This
Anna Dressed In Blood - Read This 

B
Beauty Queens - Mixed
Before I Fall - Read This
Behemoth (Leviathan #2) - Read This

C
Clockwork Prince - Read This
Crossed (Matched #2) - Mixed


E
Eat, Pray, Love - Did Not Finish
The Eternal Ones - Mixed

F
Fire - Skip This (content)
Fire of the Covenant - Read This 
First Day (Ally Condie) - Mixed
Forever (Shiver #3) - Read This
The Forgotten Locket (Hourglass Door #3) - Mixed

G

H
Happyface - Read This
Heist Society - Read This 
The Help - Read This
The Hourglass Door - Mixed
How to Save a Life - Read This
How to Say Goodbye in Robot - Read This 
The Hunger Games (audiobook) - Listen to This 

I
I'll Be There - Read This
If I Stay - Read This
Illusions (Wings #3) - Read This
Incarceron - Skip This 

J
Jellicoe Road - Read This
Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance - Read This 


L
Lockdown - DNF 
Lola and the Boy Next Door - Read This
The Lost Saint (Dark Divine #2) - Read This

M

N

O


Q

R

S
The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) - Read This
Sean Griswold's Head - Read This
Shade - Mixed/Skip This (content)
Ship Breaker - Mixed
Shut Out - Discuss This
The Sky is Everywhere - Read This
Spells (Wings #2) - Read This
Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes - Mixed
Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) - Read This 
Sweethearts - Read This 


U


W
The Way He Lived - Mixed
Where She Went (If I Stay #2) - Read This
Why We Broke Up - Read This
Wicked Lovely - Mixed 
Wings - Read This
Wither - Mixed 
A World Without Heroes (Beyonders #1) - Did Not Finish

X

Y
Yearbook (Ally Condie) - Mixed

Z

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best of 2011 - Best of the Rest

Not everything I read is contemporary or dystopia (or even YA). Here were some of my "out of my genre" favorites of 2011:

6. The Wings series by Aprilynne Pike (fantasy-ish?)
I'm almost embarrassed to admit how much I like these because they are so, so out of my normal genre. But they're fun, fast reads.

5. The Body Finder books by Kimberly Derting (paranormal-ish?)
It's The Sixth Sense meets Twilight. And really good. And really creepy. And cute boys.

4. The Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld (steampunk, historical fictiony)
 Who knew steampunk was so awesome?  Also, kick-butt, girl disguised as a boy main character.


3. The Help by Kathryn Stockett (fiction set in the 1960's)
I know racism is incredibly complex and this isn't a perfect discussion of the issue, but it was a great story with unique characters.

2. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (paranormal)
If you're so over the paranormal/vampires/werewolves trend in YA, this is the book for you. It's almost paranormal satire, and completely hilarious.

1. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor (urban fantasy?)
I thought this book was going to go all Mortal Instruments on me, but it definitely did not. I love a book that I think I have figured out and then am completely wrong about. (for older teens)


And now, for the Read This Razzies, or The Best of the Worst of 2011
5. Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Didn't like the violence, or the message. Also, high fantasy is just not my thing.

4. The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter
Creepster love interest; everyone lies to the main character and she's ok with it.

3. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Weird science; illogical use of polygamy

2. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Privileged lady spends a lot of time whining. Also traveling. I couldn't finish this one, so maybe it's not fair to include it with books I did finish.

1. Fire by Kristen Cashore
I should have quit after Graceling, as the setting and her style are not for me. I thought every character in this story (except for maybe the daughter) was unlikeable. Also, nobody wants to hear about drama with girly bodily function issues. Also violent. And sex everywhere.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Best of 2011 - Dystopias

I started a bunch of dystopias this year, and surprisingly didn't finish quite a few of them. (I'm looking at you, Lockdown and Pure) And there were a few that were just ok for me. One will actually show up in part of tomorrow's post, The Best of The Worst.

Anyway, on to the goods. My top 5 6 YA dystopian reads were:

5. Variant by Robison Wells
Slow first half, but non-stop second half.


4. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
I've never read anything like this. (But it is very, very violent)


3. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner
The second book was the best, but the ending makes for good discussion. (Also very violent)


2. Possession by Elana Johnson
I really enjoyed reading this book, and the ending made me love it.


1.5 Delirium by Lauren Oliver
I was afraid it would be a retread of other dystopian books, but holy moley it was just really good.

 1. Matched by Ally Condie
Even if Crossed left me disappointed, it doesn't take away from how incredibly well-written Matched was.

ETA: D'oh! How could I have forgotten Delirium? It's now in it's rightful spot at 1.5

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Best of 2011 - Contemporary

In my first year of book blogging I realized I have two favorite YA genres, contemporary and dystopian. And since I read so many of both, they get their own "best of" list this year.
If you're looking for a good contemporary read, these were the best ones I read this year.

10. Happyface by Stephen Emond

9. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt


8. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler


7. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson


6. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford


5. The Ruby Oliver series (starting with The Boyfriend List) by e. lockhart



4. Paper Towns by John Green


3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins



2. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr


1. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta


What were some of your favorite contemporary books this year?

Friday, December 2, 2011

On Holiday

I know I haven't been around the blog much lately, so I thought I'd make it official. I'm taking a break for the holiday season. Between baking and shopping and moving and life, it's a little busy around here.

I'll probably be back to do some "Best of 2011" lists, because I've read some great stuff. Just recently I finished Daughter of Smoke and Bone and thoroughly enjoyed it. And I don't even like fantasy.

So, happy holidays to everybody and I'll catch you all in 2012.

Provo/Orem friends, as I'm packing I found a couple books I don't want anymore. Anybody interested in Finding Noel by Richard Paul Evans, or Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Read This: How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life
by Sara Zarr

The Short Story
Mandy is young, pregnant, trying to find someone to adopt her baby, and completely on her own. Jill is young, definitely not pregnant, recovering from her dad's recent passing, and wishes everyone would leave her alone. When Jill's mom decides to adopt Mandy's baby, things start to go a little crazy. Told from Mandy and Jill's point of views, it's a good, hard, emotional, but ultimately hopeful read.
4.5/5

Come for the....
emotion. It was hard for me to pin down what exactly I liked about this one (and I did like it). Jill and Mandy aren't particularly loveable as narrators. In fact, I really, really disliked Mandy in the beginning. I knew I should have felt sympathetic toward her, but I just didn't. And Jill makes herself super difficult to like. Ever since her dad died, Jill has tried her hardest to push everyone away. Sometimes it's with good reason (like the person who suggested to get a dog to fill the void), but often it's just the regular people in her life who want to help.

So the book was a little slow in the beginning, as I got used to the characters. But eventually I started to connect with Jill, and by the very end, Mandy. I liked that Sara Zarr has a way of making you see the good and the bad in people, and helping you learn to like all of them. The book actually has a really hopeful tone, although you should keep your tissues handy.

Stay for the
supporting characters, especially Dylan and Ravi, who were both amazingly good at treating people better than they had to; Sara Zarr's way with words. There's a few lines about grief that I thought were the best, most honest description I had ever read.

Don't Think About This Too Hard

  • If you've ever been pregnant, some of Mandy's pregnancy descriptions will probably stick out to you. Did she have gestational diabetes, or was she on bed rest or something? I couldn't figure out why she had to rest so much and wasn't supposed to have sugar. Also, uh... there's no way you can go without wearing a bra while you're pregnant. Just saying.

The Big Three:
Language: some occasional swearing, including a couple f-words
Sex and Stuff: Some implied but not described
Violence: Mentions of abuse, but not described

Just So You Know
I read an ARC of How to Save a Life as part of Around The World ARC Tours.
It's now available.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Have You Seen The Hunger Games Trailer?

Go and watch (again):


http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/lions_gate/thehungergames/ if the movie isn't working for you.

Here's what I liked:
everything
Effie looked perfect!
Gale doesn't sound Australian!
Peeta is short but not super awkward next to Katniss
Prim!
Scary tributes being scary
Super intense entering the arena scene

But did they honestly show them waxing her legs? I was sure that would not make it into the movie. Because who wants to see that. (but did you also notice her legs were not hairy?)

Are you excited for March? Even my husband, who has been saying the movie will be stupid, said that trailer was not stupid.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Read This: Why We Broke Up

Why We Broke Up
by Daniel Handler

The Short Story
 Min and Ed had a short, sweet, bitter, and everything in between high school romance. Now that they've broken up, Min decides to send Ed a letter and a box containing every trinket she ever saved from their relationship. Each piece tells a different part of their story, and ultimately why it didn't work. A unique read that kept my interest, but did fall a little flat at the end.
4/5

Come for the....
most realistic YA female written by a man. You might recognize Daniel Handler more easily by his alias, Lemony Snicket. And, while I'm not interested his more well-known books, I have to say he does an amazing job with Min. She felt like such a realistic character to me; the way she kept little mementos of her relationship with Ed; her long, stream of consciousness descriptions of him and her and how she felt; the use of the word 'swoon.' I think the only way Min would be different if she were written by a women would be that she would have sworn less, and maybe would have been more concerned about whether or not she had shaved her legs. 

But for all Min's realistic-ness, if you don't believe in her relationship with Ed, the story won't work. Like 500 Days of Summer, you know this isn't going to end well. And as I read I could see how Ed and Min were not well-matched. There are parts where neither one is being honest, or both make incorrect assumptions. But part of the reason I enjoyed the story so much was that there are moments when you see the good in their relationship. Ed and Min have some incredibly adorable times together, and some awful ones. The complexity of their relationship was one of the best parts of the book. Unfortunately the story ends up going the very, very cliched route, but the rest of it is so good that I still recommend it.

Stay for the
illustrations, which weren't all finished in the ARC, but based on what I saw will be amazing; the postcards that come with the book; the fact that it's a stand alone.

Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • A simple google search would have solved one of the issues that comes up in the end. I can't decide if this is just sloppiness in the plotting, or if it's another example of not wanting to know, and the idea being better than knowing the reality.
  • Min gets a little wordy in her monologues. I'm hoping some of that will be trimmed in the finished copy of the book.

The Big Three:
Language: frequent profanity, including the f-word (somewhat regularly)
Sex and Stuff: There's a lot of this, and described more than I cared to read
Violence: not an issue

Just So You Know
I read an ARC of Why We Broke Up as part of Around The World ARC Tours.
Why We Broke Up will be released on December 27, 2011.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Spooktacular Winner!

The winner of Marsipity is:

Lexie @ Book Bug

Congrats, Lexie. An email has been sent, and the winner has 48 hours to contact me. Thanks everyone for entering. Hope you had a happy Halloween!

Monday, October 31, 2011

ABCs of Me Meme

Today's the last day to enter my Spooktacular Giveaway. Go here to enter!

I've seen this floating around on a few of my favorite blogs lately, so I totally stole the idea. Nothing scarier than learning a lot of random stuff about me!

Age: I just turned the big 2-9 last month

Bed Size: Queen. But it honestly wouldn't matter what size the bed was; I always end up snuggled up against Rusty. And he always wakes up and asks me to roll over.

Chore that you hate: The dishes! I haven't seen this on anyone else's but I think it's because they must have dishwashers. If anyone likes doing dishes, stop by anytime.



Dogs:  scare the crap out of me.

Essential start to your day: A stop at the bathroom.

Favorite colors: Red

Gold or Silver: Gold

Height: I used to think I was 5'8" but the last time I measured I was just under that. I still claim it because I'm the shortest in my family.

Instruments you play: the radio. Does that count?

Job Title: Book blogging mom. Does that count, either?

Kids: No goats, but one 2 year old. I had a miscarriage last summer at 15 weeks, which I figure gives me a lifetime pass of never having to answer if I plan to have more. (If people ask questions that aren't their business, I like to give them answers that demonstrate how none of their business their question was.)


Live: Well, I'm not dead, so yes. Also, in Utah.

Mother-in-Law’s name: She has one. It's pretty interesting how I usually don't use it, though. When my sister got married, she avoided having to call her mother-in-law's name because she didn't know what to call her. Now that they have kids, they call her grandma.

Nicknames: Kathy. Some people like to lengthen my name to Katherine, but that's not my full name. Bonus points if you can guess what it is.

Overnight hospital stays: When I had my son, when I got my appendix out, when I was born. The food's always gross, but the nurses are incredibly nice.

Pet Peeves: when people chew their gum with their mouth open. If you ever see me giving someone the stink eye, that's probably the reason.

Quote from a movie: "He don't eat no meat!?" from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Also, the Kid History videos have been especially quotable lately.



Right or Left handed:   Right

Siblings: One older sister, one younger brother.

Time you wake up:  Whenever my son does. Lately it's between 7 and 7:30. Which will be a bit of a pain when it's time to "fall back" on Sunday.

Underwear: Yes for me, yes for Rusty, we're working on it for the 2 year old.

Vegetable you hate: celery. If they took middle school boys' gym socks and turned them into a vegetable, it would be celery.


What makes you run late: I'm just not super prompt. Usually because I leave too late or wait too long to get ready.

X-Rays you’ve had: My teeth, my finger when I thought I broke it, various ultrasounds, and a CT scan when I needed to get my appendix out.

Yummy food that you make: Anything sweet and not good for you. I'm known for a dish I call chocolate goodness, and banana cake with cream cheese frosting.

Zoo animal: I always loved the cows in the petting zoo growing up.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

YA Spooktacular - Party Time! by Ariane Mandell

Welcome to another stop for the second annual YASpooktacular, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books.

This year, there are three stories written by some of your favorite authors that will be posted throughout the week. Each story is a choose your adventure, where you get to decide what path to send the character down.  

Sometimes you live, sometimes you die, and sometimes you fall into a pit of no return.

If this is the first Spooktacular Story #2 post you've seen, go to Reading Teen to start at the beginning.

There are also some TRICKS or TREATS scattered throughout the story, where you can enter to win prizes and get bonus points toward the prize packs. The prize pack for Story #2, Party Time, will be up tomorrow (the 27th) here! On Halloween day, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click here (or the YA Spooktacular banner at the top) to see a full list of the YASpooktacular prize packs!

A little about Ariane Mandell

Ariane Mandell is a grad student who loves urban fantasy and romance. She enjoys mythology, psychology, and playing with her dog. Ariane excels at video games, public speaking, and making macaroni and cheese. Her favorite authors are John Steinbeck and Anne Bishop. She lives in Boston.

You can find Ariane on Twitter and occasionally contributing to the blogosphere when the inspiration strikes.

Blog:
http://tangledupinwords.blogspot.com
Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/suchalongway

click here to go to the beginning of the story


You swallow, peering into the darkness above.  It's completely opaque.  A glance behind you is the same--you're enveloped in darkness.   You can hear the wind outside and square your shoulders - the house always settles on cold nights like this. There's nothing up there but your ipod, and maybe a friend playing a trick on you.  They must have coordinated, between the doorbell, the phone calls, and the stairs.  That explained why no one had shown up yet, too.  You were going to walk up there, and they'd all shout "BOO!"

Sure enough, you hear a familiar groan coming from above.

You adjust your skirts and carefully make your way up the ladder in your breakneck heels.

"Alright guys, you can come out."

Your voice sounds close and muffled in the stillness of the attic, it doesn't carry at all.  In the bluish moonlight filtering through the grimy windows, you cannot see a huddled group of friends waiting to surprise you.  You see boxes, and dust motes, and old furniture.  Your i-pod had fallen out of the dock and is off, dark.

Maybe they're hiding behind something.  You clear your throat.  "Guys?"  Again, the sound is so muffled you almost choke on your own words, like the air has turned to wool and it's creeping down your throat.

You decide to put the music back on as quick as you can and get downstairs, but when you start towards the little table, you nearly trip over something.  There's something at your feet, rolled up in a white sheet.  As you retreat a step, it moves, a limp hand dropping out the top to thud onto the dirty floor

You gasp, nearly tumbling backwards out of the attic as you reach up to touch your throat.  Even gasping is painful.  "Very fun guys," You croak.  "Who's in there?  Stace?  Funny."

The shape in the sheet doesn't move, and no one says anything.  Then, from the far corner, you hear a low crackling sound... almost like a fire, snapping, and logs and twigs shifting in the flames.  It's soft, and constrained, like your  voice, like the sound of your breath.  You peer into the corner and can just make out a shape cut against the window - a hulking figure, slouching forward.  It seems to be facing away, a high collar turned up against its cheek.

Then suddenly, so quickly your eyes must be tricking you, it turns to face you - it's face impossibly pale, bone white and puffy, swollen, like a waterlogged corpse.  It has dark, deep set eyes like two dying, glowing coals, and they're fixed on you.  You don't know whether to laugh or scream - because either it's one of the guys in the strangest, eeriest mask you've ever seen, or...


If you stay with the stranger, go to Reading Angel (http://www.readingangel.com/)

If you run, go to Mundie Moms (http://mundiemoms.blogspot.com/)

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Spooktacular Giveaway Hop! - CLOSED


This year's Spooktacular Giveaway Hop is being hosted by Kathy from I Am a Reader, Not a Writer and Rhianna from The Diary of a Bookworm. There are over 400 blogs participating. You can find the full list here

I'm giving away a copy of the children's Halloween book Marsipity, written by Barbie McConnell and illustrated by (my husband) Rusty Gregory.


To enter:
Fill out the form below
You must be at least 13 years old (under 18 have parent's permission)
Have a US mailing address.
Giveaway runs through October 31.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Anna Dressed in Blood Review

Anna Dressed in Blood
by Kendare Blake

The Short Story
Cas comes from a long line of ghost hunters, and takes it seriously since his own dad was taken out on the job. He travels the world with his witchy mom, listening to local ghost stories and making them go away. When he hears about Anna dressed in blood, he decides she will be one of the last ghosts to help prepare him to find his father's killer. Except that's not at all what happens. A good, but violent, Halloween story. 4/5

Come for the....
disclaimer. I saw this book praised (with a but) on Kiersten White's blog, and I feel the need to start out similarly. I liked Anna Dressed in Blood. But it's not what I normally read, and the content has some very violent, gruesome (and sweary) parts. If descriptive gore and the f-word make you uncomfortable, this is probably not for you. I don't like those things, but I still liked Anna. (But, again, parts were gory enough that I skipped paragraphs here and there. I don't need all that spelled out for me.)

On to the good stuff. Anna was actually really funny in parts. The tag line is "Just your average boy-meets-girl, girl-kills-people story." Even Anna, the serial killer ghost, is funny. And the writing is just good. The descriptions of Anna's dress dripping blood made my stomach turn. Passages are detailed enough to make you feel like you're in the story, but not to slow the pacing down. And then there's a great cast of characters. They're such a rag tag bunch, but I liked their quirkiness. Again, they're described just enough that you trust them. For the most part.

Stay for the
cat; the goofy names; the sense of mystery, and knowing that you're missing something somewhere (but you probably won't figure out what); the sequel, which comes out sometime in 2012.

Don't Think About This Too Hard
  • For the most part, the plot stays in pretty familiar horror story territory. People go into the scary building when they shouldn't; the cat has special powers; people are killed in very violent ways. It may be a little formulaic, but that didn't really bother me.
  • This is the most violent book I've ever read. Just had to reiterate that. 

The Big Three:
Language: frequent profanity, including the f-word (frequently)
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: gory, gory violence; lots of blood; people missing limbs; also some implied child abuse

Just So You Know
I read an ARC of Anna Dressed in Blood as part of Around The World ARC Tours.

Monday, October 17, 2011

When Lots of Authors Came to Provo

I feel so lucky to have such a great library close to my house, especially when they bring lots of fun authors to come speak and sign books. Last week the Provo Library hosted Becca Fitzpatrick (Hush, Hush books), Michelle Hodgkin (The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer), Elana Johnson (Possession), and Moira Young (Blood Red Road).




They answered a bunch of questions, and I should have taken notes, but didn't. So here's what I remember:
  • They all borrow names from people they know in real life, or movies that they liked (Becca Fitzpatrick & Michelle Hodgkin both took names from movies)
  • The characters aren't really based on themselves, although Becca Fitzpatrick did want to give a character the curly hair she struggled with in her teen years. (you guys, she has such pretty hair)
  • Some of them use outlines for writing and some don't. Elana Johnson suggested trying out both styles to see what works best for you.
  • Everyone but Moira Young listens to music either while they write, or to inspire their writing. Moira said she wears earplugs when she writes, then told this story about where she does all her writing. (if you can't understand it, she goes to a beauty shop and sits in a little room to do her writing. It was really funny, but I don't know that the video captures that) 

    video

      After the lecture and some book signings, Michelle, Elana and Moira stayed after and met with us book bloggers. And let me tell you, they are the nicest ladies. And so funny. I'm always impressed with the fact that authors are just regular people. It was funny (to me) how they were all worried about how they looked in the pictures. Not in a vain way - in the normal, am I making a face in this picture, kind of way. But they all looked fabulous. Especially you, Michelle! (who may or may not have screened the pictures I took of her and told me which to keep)


      I can't wait to read the rest of their books. Possession was definitely one of my favorite reads of 2011. And I've heard such great things about Blood Red Road.

      Wednesday, October 12, 2011

      Read This: Variant

      Variant
      by Robison Wells

      The Short Story 
      Benson has spent his whole life bouncing from one foster family to the next, until he wins a scholarship to Maxfield Academy. Maxfield is a prestigious, old boarding school. And kind of a prison. A crazy, crazy prison. Once Benson figures out Maxfield is not what he thought it was, he wants out. But escape might be a lot more complicated than anyone thought. Slow start but great finish. 4/5

      Come for the...
      little bit of everything. I wasn't crazy about Variant initially. I felt like it took various aspects of other books and mixed them all together; using the phrase The Society, having cameras everywhere, and an enclosure that was almost begging the people inside to try to escape. And I like those kinds of books. But the beginning of Variant was kind of uneventful and too familiar for me. Benson spends some time being annoyed. Some people are nice to him. Some people try to beat him up. The school is supposedly mysteriously evil, but doesn't do much mysterious or evil.

      I got to a part where I thought "this is like West Side Story, with the Sharks & the Jets & the cops, and dancing!" when the book really picked up for me. And once things start up in Variant, they really go full speed. I raced through the last third of the book, and my general response was "What?" "What?" and "What?" some more. I had no idea what was going on, and even when I thought I did, I was still mostly wrong. I think. I love a book that keeps me guessing, and the last third of Variant definitely did that. If you find that the beginning of the book isn't working for you, I think the end will make up for it.

      Stay for the
      classes, the crazy names, the sequel (that you will want very badly)

      Don't think about this too hard
      • Other than getting beat up a few times, Benson doesn't ever really get into trouble. And I never felt like he was in much danger of getting in trouble, either. I'm not sure why, but I didn't feel like the school was as menacing as I was supposed to.
      • The first paint ball game was interesting, but I thought it came up too frequently. Maybe it will be important later?

      The Big Three
      Language: a couple of mild profanities
      Sex and Stuff: not an issue
      Violence: a lot of fighting (with and without weapons); some of it was very violent and a little disturbing

      Just So You Know
      I read a free e-galley from HarperTeen via NetGalley. Variant is now available.

      Monday, October 10, 2011

      The Death Cure Predictions

      The Death Cure by James Dashner comes out tomorrow! My husband and I have enjoyed reading the series, so I thought it'd be fun to try to predict how it all ends. Play along and post your predictions in the comments.

      **Major spoilers for The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials**

      WICKED is.... 
      bad. I've kind of thought that from the beginning.

      Theresa is.... 
      also bad. She did sort of beat the crap out of Thomas, so....

      Shipping?
      These aren't really kissy books, so I don't know that anyone will end up together. Brenda did seem to have a thing for Thomas, but I still think she's in on the whole WICKED plot. Otherwise she was sort of inexplicably, strongly forward-y, into him.

      What's really going on?
      I don't know. I don't think Thomas is dying from the flare, or going crazy. I have a sort of "Truman Show" theory that Thomas is the only one they're watching and everyone else is in on it (especially Brenda). Rusty thinks they're going to try to use the guy & girl gladers as breeders. (yuck)

      What's the building on the cover?
      My guess is WICKED headquarters, in a cold, snowy place. I don't think the whole world is scorched. I still think the whole Scorch Trials was as set up as the maze.

      Who will die?
      Various nameless gladers that I'm not attached to, Theresa, the rat man, maybe Minho.

      What crazy creation will they fight at the end of the book?
      Evil Thomas trains? Maybe abominable snowmen.

      Anything else you want to add?
      Answer the questions or put any other predictions in the comments. If you've read an ARC of The Death Cure, please don't post spoilers as "predictions."

      Saturday, October 8, 2011

      Scary Stories


      Since the weather got all cold and Fall/Winter-like out here, I've been in a Halloween type mood. So I decided I'll feature some Halloweeeny books for October. I already posted about Lola and the Boy Next Door, which we all know is actually about amazing costumes. So it works.

      Up next I've got Variant, which features a creepy, evil school. And then Anna Dressed in Blood, a ghost story so far out of my reading comfort zone that I'm also enjoying. But I need at least one more!

      So that's where I turn to you, amazing blog readers. What are some of your favorite Halloween-y books? They can be actual scary books, kids books, books with vampires/zombies/werewolves that aren't really about Halloween (Harry Potter, Twilight, you get the idea)

      Wednesday, October 5, 2011

      Read This: Lola and the Boy Next Door

      Lola and the Boy Next Door
      by Stephanie Perkins

      The Short Story 
      All Lola wants are three things: to dress as Marie Antoinette for her winter formal, for her dads to accept her 22 year old rocker boyfriend, and never to see her former next door neighbors, the Bell twins, again. But things get complicated when Calliope and Cricket move back. Lola's mix of feelings for Cricket challenge everything she thinks she wants. A cute story, but with a character that wasn't quite as developed or likeable as Anna from Anna and the French Kiss.   4.5/5

      Come for the...
      love interest. Does this make me a bad person? Undoubtedly, my favorite thing about this book is Cricket. When I couldn't really relate to Lola, or was mad at her for some of her choices, I loved the parts with Cricket. He's nice. Also slightly awkward, which just makes him more endearing to me. I get tired of YA boys acting like 35 year olds, or being jerky bad boys. I think the majority of teen boys (really, boys of any age) are generally nice, slightly awkward, occasionally pervy, and interested in other things in addition to girls. And, while Cricket is a little unrealistically nice and talented, he's one of the most real boys in YA. I think he'll battle it out with Jonah Griggs as the best book boy of 2011. And probably win.

      But there's more to the story than just the boy. I love the supporting characters, like Lola's parents. I've never read a book with two dads before, but I appreciated that Perkins doesn't beat you over the head or make an agenda out of it. Lola's parents are involved and care about her, but aren't perfect. Her birth mom is flaky, but not worthless. Her friends Lindsey, Anna & St. Clair are supportive but call her on things when she's wrong. And San Francisco is a character in and of itself. Having just visited there this summer, I had a lot of fun reading about all the little quirks.

      Stay for the
      costuming & sewing; figure skating; Isla & the Happily-Ever-After, which I'm sure will feature lots of familiar faces.

      Don't think about this too hard
      • I would have liked to see more character growth for Lola in this one. There is some, but for the most part, she doesn't really exist outside of her relationships with Max and Cricket. I don't mean to compare it with Anna, but Anna grew/learned so much in that book that it almost didn't matter if it worked out with St. Clair or not. Not so much with Lola.

      The Big Three
      Language: fairly regular profanity, with a couple f-words
      Sex and Stuff: some kissing, some more-than-kissing (but not described)
      Violence: not an issue

      Tuesday, October 4, 2011

      Top Ten Tuesday: Book Endings That Left Me With My Mouth Hanging Open

      I love this week's Top Ten Tuesday topic. Because who doesn't love (to hate) a wild, unexpected ending. These are in no particular order.

      1. Variant by Robison Wells, which comes out today. I actually tweeted him to see if my galley had all the chapters (it had a lot fewer pages than the hardcover was supposed to). Nope, I had all 29.

      2. City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare. I don't even like this series, but I read this one. And I won't read the rest of them, but I'll have to look on wikipedia to see what happens, because what kind of ending was that?

      3. Possession by Elana Johnson. I know there's going to be a companion book, but that ending was so wild & perfect I hope she doesn't change it.

      4. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. *major spoilers* I knew it would be Dumbledor's book to go, but totally didn't expect who/how.

      5. Fablehaven 4 by Brandon Mull. This is a cute middle grade series. The second-to-last book has a huge cliffhanger, which usually doesn't happen with middle grade books.

      6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver. That ending had everything, except for a sense of resolution. Pandemonium can't come out soon enough.

      7. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare. I actually liked this a lot more than the TMI books. I know I'm not the only one who's curious what was going on at the end.

      8. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Basically, I didn't expect anything that happened in this one.

      9. The Scorch Trials by James Dasher. I knew to expect the unexpected, after The Maze Runner. But somehow I spent the last several pages saying "what?" over & over again.

      10. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. I figured some things out before Katniss, but that last line gets me every. single. time.

      Friday, September 30, 2011

      TGIF, or My Thoughts on Banning Books

      This week's TGIF question is:  

      Banned Books: How do you feel about the censorship of the freedom to read? Do you think the education system needs to be more strict on what children are exposed to in books?

      Just so you know, this will be a long post. I bolded the big ideas.


      Earlier this week I posted on twitter that banning books didn't bother me because parents can expose their children to whatever material they want to. They don't need to be limited by what's taught in school or available at the library. And a couple of people brought up the point that not every family can afford to buy books that aren't available publicly. And it really bothers me to think that young people might be kept from books or ideas that could inspire them, just because they didn't have the money. I'm still not sure what to make of that, but.... 

      I've had mixed experiences with banned books when I was in school. Most I've had absolutely no problem with, but there was one book that really made me uncomfortable. And honestly, I don't remember it being the content so much as the way the material was presented and discussed in class. But I will always remember that feeling of dreading going to my English class, slouching my chair so I wouldn't be called on to read, and being very happy when that unit was over.

      Of course, you don't need a book that's been banned to cause that kind of response in a student. With everything that young people face, it's impossible for teachers to predict how each person in their class will respond to material. I think that's why both sides in the banning debate will agree that parents should be allowed to veto books they don't think will work for their child. But a lot of people on the anti-banning side argue that one parent shouldn't have that ability to limit books for all students.

      But I don't really agree with that. Because there are already individuals making those decisions for all students/patrons.  There's only so much money for public schools and libraries. There's no possible way that every book can be available publicly to every person. Someone has to decide how to use a school or library's limited resources. And it seems like the vast majority of people don't know who those people are. I go to my public library at least weekly, and I have no clue who (or how) they decide which books to acquire.

      My library doesn't carry any books by Megan McCafferty (of Bumped and the Jessica Darling series fame). The John Green books are housed with the adult fiction, not the young adult. Is that because of content? I don't know. Who decided that? Again, no clue. If someone thought the library was carrying an inappropriate book, who would they talk to? I think you already know that I don't know the answer to that.

      While I probably wouldn't ever try to remove a book from a school or library, I'm totally fine with other people wanting to do that. Schools and libraries are funded publicly (i.e. by taxes), so I'm ok with people who contribute financially wanting to have a say in how that money is spent. What if someone genuinely thought the limited funds should not go towards media they thought was offensive? They should just go with it, in the name of free speech? Free speech is so important in this country, but so is representation with taxation.

      In the end, I have many thoughts and few answers. But I'm now curious how my library decides what books to buy. Maybe I'll have to ask around the next time I'm there.

      Wednesday, September 28, 2011

      Shut Out Review

      Shut Out
      by Kody Keplinger

      The Short Story
      At Lissa's high school the soccer and football teams have an ongoing feud and no one can remember what started it. But when Lissa gets sick of coming in second to her football-playing boyfriend, she decides to end the rivalry for good. She and the other players' girlfriends go on strike - essential putting an end to whatever level of affection had been involved in their relationships. But things don't turn out at all like Lissa expected, as things become more about power than peace. Shut Out is an ambitious retelling but not free from assumptions and stereotypes. It's an excellent discussion book. 3.5/5

      Come for the....
      I first heard about Lysistrata before my senior year of high school, and thought it was sort of hilarious that wives would use withholding sex as a way to get their husbands to end a war. But looking back on it now, I realize I completely missed all the assumptions a play like that makes about men and women. I think the best parts of Shut Out were when the striking girls got together to talk about societal assumptions about girls and relationships. The idea that there is a socially acceptable range of experience that girls should have, and that it falls somewhere between "more than none" and "less than a lot" felt realistic and honest. I also appreciated that everyone wanted to be "normal" in their relationships, but that no one knew what normal was because most people don't talk about sex or affection honestly.

      There is so much in the book that would make for great discussion topics with teens. I liked the idea of the girls having an opportunity to be honest with each other. I don't think that comes up much in real life. I did wish there had been more about why the girls did or didn't do what they did in their relationships, especially considering that some of them weren't happy about it. I also would have liked the book to be a bit more balanced in terms of how physical the girls were - it seemed more than I thought was realistic - but that's just another good point for discussion.

      Don't Think About This Too Hard (No, actually think about this)
      • I felt like the ending fit the retelling of Lysistrata, but didn't address all of the issues brought up in the book. The girls did a good job of talking to each other about their feelings or ideas on sex, but it didn't look like they were going to share that with their boyfriends.
      • The strike felt really manipulative to me. Using affection as a means of getting people to do what you want is immature. I know that the book tried to tackle that idea, but it felt like too little, too late for me. And I think there's a lot that could have been done with the idea of girls using affection as a means of power in relationships.
      • The girls also point out stereotypes about girls and sex, but never challenge any of the assumptions or stereotypes about boys. I know you can't tackle everything in one book, but that would have been really interesting if it had been brought up.

      The Big Three:
      Language: frequent profanity, including the f-word
      Sex and Stuff: this book is actually cleaner than I was expecting; discussion of sex and stuff, a couple of descriptive kissing scene
      Violence: a kid has a rock thrown at him, a couple of mentions of hazing, but nothing descriptive

      Just So You Know
      I read an ARC of Shut Out as part of Around The World ARC Tours.

      Monday, September 26, 2011

      Some Utah Bookish Things

      A couple weeks ago was the Utah Book Blogger Social. Suey from It's All About Books and Emily from Emily's Reading Room put the party together, and it was a lot of fun! There was a pot luck with some delicious things, a book exchange, and time to chat. Also, there were a bunch of Crossed ARCs up for grabs. (If you're a Utah blogger, you should totally come to these things!) The group was smaller, so I got the chance to talk to everyone a little. There really are some great bloggers around here!

      And now you can put some faces with some great blogs:

       In green, with her back to the camera is Suey, then Jenny from Alternate Readality, Julia from Writing Jewels, Becky from One Literature Nut, Penelope from The Reading Fever, and Emily (and kiddo).
       Natasha from Maw Books, Lorren from The Story Girl, and Mr. Lorren. If my husband were home now he would remind me of Lorren's husband's name. They kept track of the BYU game for us. Scott. (good thing he's wearing a name tag)











      Hey look, it's a better picture of Suey, Jenny, and Julia. There were a few more people there, but somehow I only managed to take three pictures.





      Then this past Saturday, I went to the Forever Young Adult-created Provo book club. You guys, if you live in Utah County and want to join a book club, you should totally come! And if you don't live in UT check that link & see if there's a book club near you.

      Saturday was only the second meeting, it's a small group, and it's not one of those "I don't want to go because I won't know anybody" type of deals. Lorren (from the social), Karen from Book Light Graveyard, me, and a really nice lady named Jamie made up the whole group.

      So here's what you need to know:
      FYA Provo book club
      Next meeting: Saturday, Oct. 22 at 2 PM
      At: The Cocoa Bean in Provo (by Burger Supreme)
      The book of the month: The Book Thief

      And we all know you either like The Book Thief or haven't read it yet. (I haven't read it yet, but I'm picking it up this week. Please tell me I'm not the only one)

      Friday, September 23, 2011

      Follow Friday


      This week's super fun Follow Friday question is:

      Q. Do you have a favorite series that you read over and over again? Tell us a bit about it and why you keep on revisiting it?

      I've been known to reread a book immediately after I finished it if I really liked it. Like Jellicoe Road, or Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, or Matched, or Anna and the French Kiss. Usually because I read them in a day or two, and want to go back and enjoy them for a little longer.

      But the series that I could read over and over again, (and I actually own it!) is Hunger Games. I could pick up any of those books, open to a random page, read and enjoy. Especially Catching Fire. It's got suspense, political drama, crazy fashion, Finnick, and kissing. What more could you want? Whenever I'm in a reading slump that's the book I pick up.

      What's your go-to book? Happy Friday!

      Wednesday, September 21, 2011

      Read This: Goliath

      Goliath
      by Scott Westerfeld

      The Short Story 
      World War I will hopefully be over soon for everyone aboard the Leviathan. But what will that mean for Deryn, who is a girl pretending to be a boy? Or Alek, the secret heir to the Austrian throne? And what lengths will they go to if it means stopping the war? New characters, new countries, new weapons, and a lot of adventures make Goliath an enjoyable ending to the Leviathan series. 4/5

      Come for the...
      mixing of fiction with real life. I recently read an interview where Scott Westerfeld talked about all the research he did for this series, including looking up little details about how widely available zippers were back in the early 1900's. You probably won't notice any of that detail as you read Goliath, but I really enjoyed the things that did stick out to me. One scene in particular had a news/film/camera man talking to Deryn about shooting the crew as they got off the ship. Her response is "You want to shoot them?" It seriously made me laugh much longer than it should have. The entire series has such interesting (and non-existent) technology and biology that it's a nice juxtaposition not having (very existent) TV and film. I really enjoyed the world Scott Westerfeld created.

      But even more than the world-building, I loved the characters. After three books with them, I felt like I understood the different people and their motivations. Volger continued to be one of my favorites, even though he wasn't in the book much. I liked the inclusion of real people from history, like Nikola Tesla, William Randolph Hearst, and the girl reporter (whose name escapes me right now. Rogers, maybe?) I wouldn't have minded a little less of the new people in favor of more time with the old characters, but they added a sense of mystery and danger to the story.

      Stay for the
      flying; the beasties; the slang words; The Perils of Pauline; the illustrations; and the afterword, that spells out history from fiction.

      Don't think about this too hard
      • I can't really say why without spoiling, but I was disappointed with the way Dr. Barlow's character was handled. I expected a lot more from her.
      • Occasionally the series (and especially this book) reminded me of Disney's Mulan. I know neither one invented the trope of a girl dressing as a boy for one reason or another, but I think the comparison is more unavoidable than it could have been.
      • The book started out a little slow for me. I think it took maybe 50-75 pages to really get into it.

      The Big Three
      Language: not an issue
      Sex and Stuff: not an issue
      Violence: this is set during World War I, so lots of fighting, bombings, attack animals, and some death (one scene and illustration were a little graphic)

      Just So You Know
      I read a free e-galley from Simon & Schuster via Galley Grab. Goliath is now available.

      Monday, September 19, 2011

      The 100 Top YA Books?

      I've seen this list circulating a bit and thought I'd play along. This is someone's list of their Top 100 YA books. Apparently it originated in Sweden. (Thanks to Penelope at The Reading Fever for tracking down the origin).

      I've bolded the ones I've read. If I didn't read all of the series it's because it wasn't for me.

      1. Alex Finn – Beastly
      2. Alice Sebold – The Lovely Bones
      3. Ally Carter – Callagher Girls (1, 2, 3, 4)
      4. Ally Condie – Matched (1, 2)
      5. Alyson Noel – The Immortals  (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
      6. Anastasia Hopcus – Shadow Hills
      7. Angie Sage – Septimus Heap (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
      8. Ann Brashares – The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (1, 2, 3, 4) - I saw the movie
      9. Anna Godbersen – Luxe (1, 2, 3, 4)
      10. Anthony Horowitz – Alex Rider (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
      11. Aprilynne Pike – Wings (1, 2, 3)
      12. Becca Fitzpatrick – Hush, Hush (1, 2)
      13. Brandon Mull – Fablehaven (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      14. Brian Selznick – The Invention of Hugo Cabret
      15. Cassandra Clare – The Mortal Instruments (1, 2, 3, 4)
      16. Carrie Jones – Need (1, 2, 3)
      17. Carrie Ryan – The Forest of Hands and Teeth (1, 2, 3, 4)
      18. Christopher Paolini  - Inheritance (1, 2, 3, 4)
      19. Cinda Williams Chima – The Heir Chronicles (1, 2, 3)
      20. Colleen Houck – Tigers Saga (1, 2)
      21. Cornelia Funke – Inkheart (1, 2, 3) - I saw the movie
      22. Ellen Hopkins – Impulse
      23. Eoin Colfer – Artemis Fowl (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
      24. Faraaz Kazi – Truly, Madly, Deeply
      25. Frank Beddor – The Looking Glass Wars (1, 2, 3)
      26. Gabrielle Zevin – Elsewhere
      27. Gail Carson Levine – Fairest
      28. Holly Black – Tithe (1, 2, 3)
      29. J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
      30. James Dashner – The Maze Runner (1, 2)
      31. James Patterson – Maximum Ride (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
      32. Jay Asher – Thirteen Reasons Why
      33. Jeanne DuPrau – Books of Ember (1, 2, 3, 4) - I saw the movie
      34. Jeff Kinney – Diary of a Wimpy Kid (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) - I saw the first movie
      35. John Boyne – The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
      36. John Green – An Abundance of Katherines
      37. John Green – Looking for Alaska
      38. John Green – Paper Towns
      39. Jonathan Stroud – Bartimaeus (1, 2, 3, 4)
      40. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl – Caster Chronicles (1, 2)
      41. Kelley Armstrong – Darkest Powers (1, 2, 3)
      42. Kristin Cashore – The Seven Kingdoms (1, 2) - I'd like this time back in my life
      43. Lauren Kate – Fallen (1, 2, 3)
      44. Lemony Snicket -  Series of Unfortunate Events (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13) - I saw the movie
      45. Libba Bray – Gemma Doyle (1, 2, 3)
      46. Lisa McMann – Dream Catcher (1, 2, 3)
      47. Louise Rennison – Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
      48. M.T. Anderson – Feed
      49. Maggie Stiefvater – The Wolves of Mercy Falls (1, 2, 3)
      50. Margaret Peterson Haddix – Shadow Children (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)
      51. Maria V. Snyder – Study (1, 2, 3)
      52. Markus Zusak  - The Book Thief
      53. Markus Zusak – I am the Messenger
      54. Mark Haddon – The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
      55. Mary Ting – Crossroads
      56. Maureen Johnson – Little Blue Envelope (1, 2)
      57. Meg Cabot – All-American Girl (1, 2)
      58. Meg Cabot – The Mediator (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
      59. Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10) - I saw the movies
      60. Meg Rosoff – How I live now
      61. Megan McCafferty – Jessica Darling (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      62. Megan Whalen Turner – The Queen’s Thief (1, 2, 3, 4)
      63. Melina Marchetta – On the Jellicoe Road
      64. Melissa de la Cruz – Blue Bloods (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      65. Melissa Marr – Wicked Lovely (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      66. Michael Grant – Gone  (1, 2, 3, 4)
      67. Nancy Farmer – The House of the Scorpion
      68. Neal Shusterman – Unwind
      69. Neil Gaiman – Coraline - I saw the movie
      70. Neil Gaiman – Stardust - I saw the movie
      71. Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book
      72. P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast – House of Night (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 )
      73. Philip Pullman – His Dark Materials (1, 2, 3)
      74. Rachel Caine – The Morganville Vampires (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10)
      75. Rachel Cohn & David Levithan – Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist
      76. Richelle Mead – Vampire Academy (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
      77. Rick Riordan – Percy Jackson and the Olympians (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      78. Rom LcO’Feer – Somewhere carnal over 40 winks
      79. S.L. Naeole – Grace (1, 2, 3, 4)
      80. Sabrina Bryan & Julia DeVillers – Princess of Gossip
      81. Sarah Dessen – Along for the Ride
      82. Sarah Dessen – Lock and Key
      83. Sarah Dessen – The Truth about Forever
      84. Sara Shepard – Pretty Little Liars (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)
      85. Scott Westerfeld  - Leviathan (1, 2, 3)
      86. Scott Westerfeld  - Uglies (1, 2, 3)
      87. Shannon Hale – Books of a Thousand Days
      88. Shannon Hale – Princess Academy
      89. Shannon Hale – The Books of Bayern (1, 2, 3, 4)
      90. Sherman Alexie & Ellen Forney – The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
      91. Simone Elkeles – Perfect Chemistry (1, 2, 3)
      92. Stephanie Meyer – The Host
      93. Stephanie Meyer – Twilight Saga (1, 2, 3, 4)
      94. Sue Monk Kidd – The Secret Life of Bees
      95. Susan Beth Pfeffer – Last Survivors (1, 2, 3)
      96. Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games (1, 2, 3)
      97. Suzanne Collins – Underland Chronicles (1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
      98. Terry Pratchett – Tiffany Aching (1, 2, 3, 4)
      99. Tonya Hurley – Ghost Girl (1, 2, 3)
      100. Wendelin Van Draanen – Flipped

      Only 24. Guess I've got some more reading to do! How many have you read? Are there other books you think belong on the list?