Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad's obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany's wedding, and her nonexistant love life?
(Summary from jacket flap)

The Jessica Darling books are super well known. Everyone says that they're fabulous. But I don't quite buy it yet. Sloppy Firsts didn't show me where all the hype is coming from. It's an okay book, sure, but there's nothing ground breaking in there. It's just kind of mediocre.
When I picked up the book, I thought that the thing I would like the most about it would be the true to life characters and plot twists. It was all very true to life but within that, surprisingly boring. Most everyone's life is boring and not fit to be written about. I'll be the first to admit that. If someone wrote a book about me, it would seriously suck. I don't do anything! There's nothing exciting or crazy going on with me. Wake up, eat, school, homework, sleep. That's it. 

And to me, that's kind of all that Jessica did in this book. She did lose her best friend, she did alienate her social circle, she did meet up with the mysterious Marcus Flutie, but it was all hidden under a layer of meh. It could have all been quite interesting but it wasn't. I just didn't get it. 

There were a few redeeming things that I saw, though. I did enjoy the not boring parts of the book. I loved Marcus, I loved how Jessica had a crazy social life at some points, and I enjoyed the letters and lists that she made. Those shining moments somewhat made up for the crappy parts. They added a little spice.

I am going to continue to read the series, I think, because I want to see if any of the other books change my mind about Ms. Jessica Darling. When everyone's so hyped about a group of books, you kind of have to see it through. So I'm going to. 

I just sincerely hope that Marcus doesn't go away. He's the guy who made this book readable. He was AWESOME. 

So don't ruin it for me, but does Marcus stick around? 

I can't quite recommend this series yet, but I might be able to give you guys a diagnosis after I read Second Helpings. All you lovers of the Darling books, cross your fingers for me. I want to like it. :)

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Quite a Week

I tend to think that I'm a pretty boring person. No wacky family, no crazy drama, and no genetic mutations.

But I think I'm going to start posting a little bit about my week/life happenings here. It may be exceedingly dull. Just a warning.

Numero uno:
I went to see a play at our lovely local theater Thursday night. Two Gentlemen of Verona, 50's style. I loooved it.

Numero dos:
My dog ran away that same Thursday night while I was at the play. We've only had him for a month or two, AND, he didn't have a collar/tags on. We also live close to a big river, which in my mind = certain death by drowning. Needless to say, it was a horrible night for me. Insomnia and tears were involved.
He was found the next day. Sort of anticlimactic.

Numero tres:
I have a love affair with my neighborhood. It's the best place in the whole wide world, I swear. After school on Friday, my friend and I walked to the local cafe/coffee house and played bananagrams and drank chai. I felt so artsy.

Numero quatro:
I've been watching this music video on repeat for an hour.

I cry every time.

Numero quinte:
After reading this post I got all excited and went and cut out and painted my own cardboard hearts.
I wrote some little thoughts on them and have been leaving them places. I left an especially lovely one in the dressing room at my favorite mall store. :)

NOTE: I don't take Spanish. I don't know if those numbers are even close to being right. XD
EDIT: See? I got five wrong! Cinco! Oh and, cuatro, not quatro. Silly me.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Winner

At long last, we have a winner for my blog-o-versary contest. It's taken me long enough, hasn't it?

After careful consideration, sleepless nights, and troubled thoughts, a story supreme emerged. 
This was amazingly hard to choose, but the winner is...(insert drumroll)


who wrote the following story: 

Liv was looking out the window when a hand gripped her shoulder. "Joe? I thought we weren't going to meet 'til Monday. The project's almost done and it's not due for a week!"
"I'm sorry," he said. He didn't sound sorry, his words clipped and quick. "You need to come with me. All this time I spent working with you . . . they think you mean something to me."
That hurt. Liv had thought the same thing. "They?"
"Just come with me." The hand on her shoulder tightened and Liv acquiesced. She went, and that's how it all began.

I want to know what happens next!

So congrats Liviania! Email me (livsbookreviews at gmail dot com) with you address and choice of book under $10 from Amazon and I'll get your goodies sent out. :)

Other honorable mentions were:
Mrs. Magoo's deliciously flattering story about my presidency and discovery of twelve new planets.

Brooke's description of my perfect man/date evening. *sighs*

Carol's paragraph that had me plotting to kill her and then alternately being shot at all in 100 words.

But seriously, they were all amazing. It made me sort of selfishly happy to read 21 stories about myself. XD And if you haven't gone back and looked at all the stories, you definitely should because there are some gems in there. Heehee.

Thank you, you guys!

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #27: Best Bad Book?

On Saturday

What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?

I actually have a solid answer to this week's question! Yay! 
My best worst book that I've read is Model by Cheryl Diamond. 
I adored that book so I was super surprised to see that a bunch of other people didn't...
Boo them.
Because Model is probably on my list of favorite books. It was fun to read about the modeling world from someone who was actually a part of it. And she could write!
It was also deliciously scandalous. Not fake book scandal, but real life experiences.
Loved that book.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday #8 - Are U 4 Real? by Sara Kadefors

Kyla is exactly the kind of girl Alex could never talk to in real life. She’s a gorgeous, outspoken L.A. girl who parties to forget about her absent father and depressed mother. He’s a shy ballet dancer from outside San Francisco who’s never been kissed. Luckily, when these sixteen-year-olds meet for the first time it’s not in real life—it’s in a chat room, where they can share their feelings of isolation and frustration away from the conformity-obsessed high school scene. Alex and Kyla quickly forge a friendship that’s far from virtual— maybe they’re even falling in love. But what happens when the soul mate you’ve never met moves from online to in person?
(Summary from Amazon)

Ah! This look sooo good. And the authors from Sweden to boot. 
This kind of reminds me of the book "m or f?" except without the homosexuality aspect...
I will definitely be picking this up as soon as it comes out. 
Plus, the cover's adorable.

Released May 14

Sunday, March 22, 2009

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

It's not hard to notice Terra Cooper. 
She's tall, blond, and has an unbelievably gorgeous body. But what most people in Terra's tiny, stifling Washington town notice is her unmistakably "flawed" face. Terra secretly plans to start a new life by leaving her small town and escaping to an East Coast college, but is pushed off-course by her controlling father. When an unexpected collision introduces Terra to Jacob, a handsome but odd Goth Chinese boy who immediately understands her battle with feeling different, she is forced in yet another direction. With her carefully laid plans disrupted, will Terra be able to find her true path?
(Summary from back of ARC)

North of Beautiful was a really stereotypical and predictable book. All the characters were run of the mill and cookie-cutter-ish even in the flaws and quirks that were supposed to make them unique and interesting. The journey that the main character goes through to discover herself is expected and not as emotionally moving as it was meant to be. The "twist" that gets thrown in at the end, when all the stuff that she messed up on earlier comes back to bite her in the behind, wasn't climactic. Really, North of Beautiful doesn't present anything outstanding or out of the ordinary. 

But I loved it. I can't really figure out why a book with so many flaws made me so happy. My best guess is that Justina Chen Headley really knows how to write. It was the way the book was written and executed that made it so great. It takes a skilled author to be able to make something stereotypical and highly normal into something interesting and enlightening and entirely enjoyable - which is exactly what North of Beautiful was. 

By the end of the book I had come to love my dear cookie-cutter characters. Except for one. Terra's dad disgusted me. He was completely one dimensional and cruel. The little turn around that happened with him at the end of the book left me skeptical. My complaint with him was that we didn't get any background that might have shed some light why he acted the way he did. It would have been nice to a see some insight into who he is and why. But I think, for the most part, he served his purpose in making readers loathe him. 

Besides him, I really did like all of the rest of the characters. They, too, might have been a little shallow and one-sided, but it was all made up for in their relationships and conversations. They interacted beautifully. My favorite person to read about, throughout the book, was Terra's mother. I kind of liked seeing her change and become a better, brighter woman. There was something comforting in the predictability. 

I think the highlight of the book for me was Jacob and Terra's relationship. I don't know if book characters can have chemistry but, if it's possible, they had it. The way all of their interactions were described was fantastic. Makes me wish I had a guy who could send shivers down my spine just by his very presence. :P 

The other aspect of the book that I thoroughly enjoyed was the traveling and sight-seeing that the characters did. I was actually on my spring break trip when I was reading this so I could sort of relate to the feelings of discovering yourself and growing as a person while you're away from home. I adore traveling so reading a story with that incorporated in it was fun. 

Oh! And the geocaching element was awesome to read about because (nerdily) my family and I do it sometimes. Hehe.

So yes, do read this book. It might not be a ground breaking novel but it's a cute, delicious, and thoroughly enjoyable comfort read. 

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Washington D.C. in Pictures

I spent my spring break at the nation's capital. It was a pretty great experience. I saw a lot of historical and meaningful sights (the Washington Monument, the Supreme Court, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Ford's Theater, etc.) and learned a ton about our nation's history and how everything works. It really made me feel more like a full-fledged U.S. citizen.
And I sent postcards! :)

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #26: Worst Book You've Ever Read

On Saturday

What’s the worst ‘best’ book you’ve ever read — the one everyone says is so great, but you can’t figure out why?

I have no idea. At all. 
Most of the books I read, I like. I'm super picky about what I read nowadays because, since I'm not reading as much as I used to, to read a bad book would be a horrible waste of time. 
A while ago though, I tried to read Jellicoe Road and didn't get into it at all. I guess that's my answer. Everyone says that it's amazing and that you just have to stick around until the end where everything falls into place but reading it was so extremely confusing and boring that I couldn't bring myself to finish. 
Maybe I have no will. Maybe I should have stuck with it. But, to me, that was a bad book.


Fabulous Authors:

Other Book Blogs:
A Maze of Books
Addicted to Books
And Another Book Read...
...Another Page is Used (Reading is My Life)
Ashley's Bookshelf
B.A.M. Book Reviews
Bookworm Readers
Book Muncher, The
Book Nymph
Book Obsession, The
Book Reader, The
Book Vault, The
Electrical Book Cafe, The
Em's Bookshelf
Ellie of Words Book Reviews
Frenetic Reader
Hope's Bookshelf
Just Blinded Book Reviews
Just Listen Book Reviews
Katie's Bookshelf
Kaylee's Bookshelf
KD's Library
Kiss My Book
Korianne Speaks
Laina Has Too Much Spare Time
Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
Magic of Ink, The
Melissa's Bookshelf
Midnight Twilight's Book Blog
Mrs. Magoo Reads
Page Flipper, The
Persnickety Snark
Princess Neve Reviews
Reading Is A Drug (And I'm Addicted)
Reading Keeps You Sane
Reader Rabbit
Read, Read, Read
Reviewer X
Rima's Book Journal
Sarah's Random Musings
Story Siren
Teen Troves
Ten Cent Notes
That One Girl Emily
That Teen Can Blog!
WORD For Teens
YA Book Realm
YA Book Reviews
YA Fresh

Email me if you want to be added to this list.

About The Blog

I started this blog one chilly February day when I was bored out of my mind and decided I needed something to do. There's not much better of an explanation than that. Sorry.

The actual anniversary of the beginning of all of this is February 25th, 2008. So I've been at it for over a year which is super surprising to me.

In that time, I've written over 100 reviews, Interviewed over 20 authors, and made tons of friends.

My stats are mediocre in comparison to some of the other book blogs out there, but I'm pretty satisfied. I've had around 30,000 page views since beginning my blog. I have over 100 followers on Blogger, and around 180 Google Reader subscribers. So my blog DOES get read. But for me, stats aren't all that important...I just like what I do.

Lately, I haven't been reading as fast as I used to as my free time is being eaten up by larger and larger loads of homework. That's what happens in high school, as I've discovered.

But have no fear! I'm still reading. To make up for my snail-ish speed, I've written longer and more in depth reviews, which is something I like doing. It helps me sort out my thoughts more.

I'm a participant in the book-ish memes, Booking Through Thursday and Waiting on Wednesday. To add to that, I post Bits 'n Pieces interviews with authors every other Wednesday. I also do some random thought posts every now and then.

One of the things I'm most proud of with my blogging is how my writing has changed and developed in the time that I've been doing this. If you want a good laugh, go and read some of my earliest posts and reviews. I really had no idea what I was doing while now, I'm at least a little bit more "with it". My writing and my reviews are still waaay far from perfect, but it's fun for me to see how it's all changed.

My policy for reviews is as follows; I am honest. I will write about the stuff I don't like just as much as the stuff I do like. I try to be as fair and blunt as possible.

My policy for review requests; Send me an email with some basic info about your book and about yourself. Lately, I haven't been accepting as many review copies, because, due to my slow-reading habit, the pile of books that need to be read is insanely enormous. But if your book looks good to me and there's already been some buzz about it, I will definitely consider it.

Also, if you'd like to be featured in one of my Bits 'n Pieces interviews, email me with the same info as above. I am constantly looking for new authors to feature, so the odds are in your favor that I'll gladly include you. :)

And that, my friends, is basically it.

Get your own free Blogoversary button!

About Me

My name is Liv/Olivia/Livvy...whatever you like. I am fifteen years old and I love literature.

It all started when my parents read to me every night before bed. My parents thought I could read before I actually could because I'd heard "Goodnight, Moon" enough times to be able to recite it by heart and flip the pages at the correct intervals.

I did eventually learn how to read and the first books I conquered were "The Berenstein Bears" and "Henry and Mudge". Over the years, I moved through The Boxcar Children, Nancy Drew, and Harry Potter. Which is how I got to where I am now.

I read mostly contemporary YA fiction but will slip in a few "adult-ish" books here and there also. I'm continuously amazed at how much great literature is out there.

Other tidbits about me-

I'm in love with chai tea. It's fantastic stuff. Just not from Caribou. If you're at Caribou get a white hot chocolate because their chai tastes like water. Ish.

I live in Minnesota. That may not seem too interesting, but I'm in love with my state and my neighborhood. I especially love all of the Minnesotan/Midwestern jokes out there. I think they're hilarious. Because we really do say "ya shoor". Or at least I do.

I don't buy books. I use the library, get copies for review, and get books from bookmooch. I don't have enough money to do it any other way because seriously, have you seen the prices of books nowadays? It's ridiculous.

I am completely in love with American Idol. Especially the men on it. Adam Lambert in particular, even though he's gay. Why do all the hot guys have to be gay?! It's not fair.

My dream house is going to have an enormous trampoline in the backyard. I want to be able to bounce whenever I want. I used to get my fix on my friend's tramp but she got rid of it and I haven't been on one for almost a year. I'm still going through withdrawal.

My favorite movies are kid ones or old ones or ones from other countries. e.g. Wall-E, Ratatouille, Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Let The Right One In, The Outsiders, etcetc.

I've developed a new love for snail-mail.

Want any other questions answered? Ask me in the comments. :)


The three posts after this are for something new I'm trying out. Don't mind the randomness...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Julie Crabtree

Julie Crabtree is the author of the wonderful novel, Discovering Pig Magic. It's a great book for any preteen or early teen girl; I myself enjoyed it a lot. :) You can read my review of the book here and visit Julie's website here. Enjoy the interview!

This or that:
Rain or shine? 
Rain. It rains 100 inches a year here in extreme northern California, so I better! I love to hole up, fire roaring, and write when a storm is outside raging.
iPod or mp3 player? 
Movies or TV? 
Movies! A good movie is like a good book…it gives you that same escape. I think we all love to live, even for an hour or two, in someone else’s life, and movies take us there. That said, TV-wise, I love Heroes, Ghost Hunters, and Pushing Daisies. My daughters and I save those on the DVR and watch them on the weekends.
City or country? 
Country to live, city for vacations.
Mountains or beaches? 
Hmm. Tough one. I grew up in the mountains, but now live by the ocean. Is it cheating to say both? If so, and I am forced, I’ll choose beaches.
Dots or stripes? 
Dots all the way.
Dogs or cats? 
I have both, love both, don’t make me choose! They are, obviously, fundamentally different animals (almost like they’re different species. Wink wink). My dog is my constant companion, while my cats are like cool friends that breeze in to hang out when it suits them.
Cooking or eating out? 
Cooking. Love cooking – it’s a serious hobby. My next book is all about cooking, and it has tons of recipes I have come up with over the years. Besides, restaurants are boring.
Coffee or tea? 
Both. Coffee in the morning, iced tea all afternoon. I will not deny my fondness for caffeine in all its disguises.
Books or magazines? 
Geez, I feel like such a waffler here, but, again, both! Really! I read both books and magazines regularly. Books are in bed before sleep, on weekend mornings, and while waiting for an appointment, while magazines are for the bath tub and traveling.

Book (s) - 
I read A LOT, so picking one is impossible. I was an English major in college so read all the classic stuff, but I was never a huge fan of Shakespeare and all that. Sorry, I probably just sinned admitting that. Anyway, now days I read every genre (except non-fiction, which I find much too serious and real life-y). How ‘bout I pretend the question is what I just read? Okay! I just read the whole Stephanie Myers Twilight series in about two weeks (and saw the movie last week). Adult book-wise, some that jump to mind from the last year or so (not that they are necessarily new; rather, they fell into my hands recently and I enjoyed them in particular) are Life of Pi, several Jodi Picoults, The Lovely Bones, Atonement, A Fine Balance, The Godmother, The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove and Molly Moon (out loud with my daughter). That was a total stream on consciousness list, based on no organizational structure whatsoever. Suffice it to say I am a contemporary fiction junkie!
Book store- 
Willow Bridge Books in Oakhurst, California (near Yosemite)
I love classic scary movies: Poltergeist, The Shining, The Omen, the original Amityville Horror…you get the idea.
Music artist- 
(Group) Il Divo, currently. I change around a lot, depending on my mood.
Pioneerwoman.com is this really funny site by a woman who moved to a huge ranch from the city, and she chronicles the daily pitfalls and joys of this extreme lifestyle. I also have just recently joined Shelfari, and that seems like a really cool site for us bookish types.
Calvin Klein, classic.
Coffee chain- 
Dutch Bros. (it’s a drive-thru chain in Northern California and Oregon). They give my doggie a “cookie” when I buy coffee there, so now when my dog smells coffee, he salivates. Seriously.
Guilty pleasure- 
Really long showers. I feel guilty, but I love deep conditioning my hair, doing a facial mask, and shaving my legs with billows of steam all around me.
A little place near my house called Bistro Gardens. The owner uses fresh, local foods, and it is seriously yummy.
Can’t you tell? (Blue ☺)

Have you ever:
Lived abroad? 
Yes, In Spain.
Gotten a tattoo? 
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book? No – I am too impatient to stand in line that long.
Disliked your job? 
Yes! I waitressed at a busy Italian place in college…that has got to be the hardest job on earth.
Cried during a movie? 
Many times.
Sang karaoke? 
Nope. I have one of those terrible singing voices that can make dogs howl and small children cry, so I refrain.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you? 
Really good terrain shoes, a wide-brimmed hat, a multi-purpose Swiss tool/knife, a flint, and a large sheet of plastic. I think this list would make Jeff Probst proud!
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life? 
See my children grow up, travel to every continent, get my diving certification, write lots of books. I hope space travel becomes possible for the average person in my lifetime. If it does, sign me up for that too.
If you could have one super power what would it be? 
What’s your perfect music playlist? 
Music has a profound influence on my mood, so my playlists have to rise up to meet the need of the moment. When I am gardening, for example, I like to listen to moody, deep music that makes me feel tuned into myself and nature…old Counting Crows, Train, Indigo Girls, The Eagles, Janis Joplin, and The Frey. When I am working out, I like more beat and less depth…Green Day, Macy Gray, and Eminem. I listen to my daughters’ music with them as well; they are into Christina Aguilera, Gwen Stephani, High School Musical soundtracks, Avril Lavigne, Haley Duff, and Allie and AJ.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of? 
One word: Cheese.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
Northern Africa (Egypt in particular).
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced? 
Watching man land on the moon for the first time. Space travel fascinates me, and that moment was the birth of a whole new era in human history. The people who witnessed that event must have felt so hopeful and limitless.
What does your dream library look like? 
Huge, squishy couches made of butter-soft, butterscotch colored leather, oversized plush pillows and chenille throws. A massive fireplace and scented candles all over. A rockin’ stereo system. Books lining the walls floor to ceiling, arranged by genre, accessible with one of those cool sliding ladders.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first? 
It varies. Sometimes I need a certain book, so hunt it down. Other times I go to the children’s section with my kids to get the process of bargaining and haggling over with (they want me to buy them the whole store, I have to make them choose just a couple). If I am alone, I drift into the fiction section and just wander and browse.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be? 
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison. It is impossible to read that book and not be changed by it.
Thank you so much Julie! And I have to say that I want that Dutch Bros coffee chain to come to MN. My dogs would love me for it. :P
Also, if you would like to win a signed copy of Discovering Pig Magic, leave a comment here with your answer to "Mountains or Beaches" by the Wednesday after next.

Just FYI

The winners of my Blog-o-versary contest are being decided very soon. So expect a post on that shortly. Sorry to keep you guys waiting!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

What Happens Here by Tara Altebrando

We were going to see the world together, Lindsay and I. We were going to eat it up, whole. But it didn’t happen that way. It didn’t happen that way at all….
When Chloe’s parents decide to take her to Europe the summer before senior year of high school, she’s ecstatic…she only wishes her best friend, Lindsay, could come too. Living in Las Vegas, they have long imagined the world through the casinos inspired by great cities and have vowed to travel the globe together someday. Unfortunately, Lindsay’s parents won’t agree to send her along.
So Chloe goes to Europe and sends postcards to Lindsay every day. But when she comes home, she must cope with shocking news that rips her family - and Lindsay's - apart. And as she tries to uncover the truth about what happened, Chloe soon begins to feel that Lindsay's brother, Noah, is the one person alive for whom she'd go to the ends of the earth...
(Summary from back of book)

I lied. I found some fantastic stolen internet at my hotel. :) So therefore, I was able to write a little review for you guys.

This book is another one of those books that are semi-known, but not really out there, buzz wise. The first time I heard about it was waaay back when Jordyn's Page Numbered blog still existed. I remember reading a glowing review of it and being mildly interested. That was probably a year ago. And now that I've finally gotten around to reading this book, I am super disappointed that I didn't do so sooner. Because it's completely fantastic.

I always like to save the best for last, so let's start out with the little thing that I wasn't too fond of; the relationships weren't hashed out enough for my tastes. The book just wasn't long enough or wordy enough to encompass and build all of the different relationships that needed to be built. Chloe's little thing with Daniel, her connection with her sister, and even her relationship with Lindsay just weren't deep enough. With Lindsay especially, I didn't get the sense that Chloe even had a reason to be connected to her. The only time we really got to see her was in the first chapter or two and in those chapters she and Chloe are fighting...we didn't get to see their supposed amazing relationship in action. 

But really, other than that, I don't have any complaints. In fact, I was blown away. The writing and the voice of the main character, Chloe, was especially fantastic. She seemed like she was an actual girl with real, believable feelings and reactions. Which was the goal, I guess, but still. I felt like I knew her. And what made it even better, was that she reacted and behaved the exact same way I think I myself would've have acted in her situations which was cool. 

Another thing that I adored about this book was how it was chick lit-ish but it also had a message  which added a sense of purpose and meaning to a novel which, otherwise, would've seemed sort of inappropriately light-hearted. But the fluffy side of it satiated the trashy romantic in me. It covered every base, I think. 

One thing I thought was interesting was how the first half of the book was kind of Cracked Up To Be -esque. It's this big flash back leading up to a mysterious key event that changes everything for the rest of the novel. At periodic points there were little teasers and narrations that revealed more and more of what happened. So in that way, the two books connected with each other. And I liked them both. 

The big thing was that What Happens Here swept me away. I loved loved loved how fast-paced and clear it was. The situations were real and fascinating. The characters were well thought out and concisely portrayed. It's one of those books that sticks in your mind. 

One of my favorites of the year. Read it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Out For The Week

So, this week is my spring break.
I though that the hotel I'm staying at would have free wireless for my lovely laptop but turns out it's $10 a day and there's no way I have enough cash for that.
So, I'm typing from their public little internet kiosk right now and probably won't log on until next Saturday. I'll try to get the newest Bits 'n Pieces interview up then.
See you guys then!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #25: Movie Potential

On Saturday

What book do you think should be made into a movie? And do you have any suggestions for the producers?
Or, What book do you think should NEVER be made into a movie?

Well. I've heard some buzz that The Hunger Games movie rights were recently bought so...I think that could be good. I just hope that it's aimed more at teens and not at middle graders. I want to see a really gruesome arena with a lot of intelligent and thoughtful lines from the characters. It could be really bad or really good. We'll just have to see. 

Also, they're making a movie from The Lovely Bones due out at the end of this year which could also be really good or really bad. The book has this really distinctive vibe and I hope that they're able to capture that. And I don't want them to make that one a kids movie either. The death and the rape and the bad parts of it make it that much better so that stuff needs to stay.

Now for a book I'd like to see made into a movie? Either Uglies by Scott Westerfeld or What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson. With Uglies, they could create this big awesome franchise thing and with What They Always Tell Us, it would be way cool to have a movie focusing on a homosexual teen boy and what he goes through and what his life is like. Especially in today's society. I think it would make for a fantastic movie. It might open some people's eyes.

What movies do you want to see made?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday #7 - The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin

Meet Tamika Sykes—Mik to her friends (if she had any). She’s hearing impaired and way too smart for her West Bronx high school. She copes by reading lips and selling homework answers, and looks forward to the time each day when she can be alone in her room drawing. She’s a tough girl who never gets close to anyone, until she meets Fatima, a teenage refugee who sells newspapers on Mik’s block. Both Mik and Fatima unite in their efforts to befriend Jimmi, a homeless vet who is shunned by the rest of the community.
The events that follow when these three outcasts converge will break open their close-knit community and change the lives of those living in the Orange Houses in explosive and unexpected ways.

(from Amazon)

Looks good, eh? 
With my little WoW posts, I like to find books that nobody's heard about yet...so this is it. And it really looks like it could be great. :)
Also, I'm a huge fan of the cover. Kind of grungy yet simple. Very New York street-ish.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

A book finished. Wow. 
Close those mouths; this is real. 

I started a feature thingy a while ago (as in November/December, I think) in which I decided it would be cool to read through a book and write down my thoughts chapter by chapter as I read it. Turns out, I am waaaay not dedicated enough for that because it was super time consuming and I didn't like that super OCD-ish dissection thing. So. 

Recently I decided it was about time to finish the book I had started so many months ago. I sat down one afternoon and read it all in one splurt. I think that for me, that's the way to do it. I can't do dissection. If you do that and get so wrapped up and the little miniscule things, you can't get the vibe and emotions of the book as well which I think is why I enjoyed the second half of the book A LOT. 

You can clicky on the "Made to Last: The Lovely Bones" tag thing in the sidebar if you want to see what I thought of the first twelve or so chapters.

Now to the review-ish part:

I can definitely see why The Lovely Bones has left such a mark on the literary industry/on people everywhere. It's a book that works on so many levels. Alice Sebold is able to take a story of one family's tragic loss and turn it into a book that, no matter your experience, almost everyone will be able to relate to. She does it with eloquence and simplicity. She does it with almost poetic like prose at some points, and stark, brisk words at others. She knows how to manipulate your feelings, create amazingly deep and insightful characters, and most of all, make you feel along with the book.

It's one of the few stories that I've read that has really moved me and made me question the way I see things and the way I judge people. I think it's a book you have to read to believe. My pathetic words aren't going to do it any justice. And I don't think I want to over analyze it any more than I already have for fear of ruining it for myself.

So yeah, this is my crappy review. 

Please read this book. It's amazing. It will move you. It will make you see things differently. And you'll love it. 

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Wait for it...

Ima edit this post tomorrow.
Just wanted to say that I FINISHED A BOOK. Yes, I finally got around to finishing up the Lovely Bones. I kinda deserted the little feature-y thing I had going with that book and just read the rest of it in a one day spurt. I liked it. 
I will elaborate immensely tomorrow.

And you'll be happy to know that I am on page 71 of a new book (What Happens Here) and am moving along at a nice clip. Yay! 


PS. thanks a bajillion to all the people who entered my little contest these last few days. you guys are my favorite. *hugs* now I get to sit down and read 21 stories about myself tomorrow. heehee.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Last Call...

So I think I officially have seven entries in my Blog-o-versary contest. Which, at least to me, is a little pathetic. I mean, the prizes are actually GOOD.

-Bananagrams (picture above + it comes in a banana-shaped case, hehe)
-$5 Starbucks gift card
-Your choice of book from Amazon (under $10)
-Mix CD

And it's really not that hard to enter. Go here to find out how. And please, please, please do enter. I don't want to feel pathetic... 

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #24: The Best Book You've Never Read

(On Saturday)

We’ve all seen the lists, we’ve all thought, “I should really read that someday,” but for all of us, there are still books on “The List” that we haven’t actually gotten around to reading. Even though we know they’re fabulous. Even though we know that we’ll like them. Or that we’ll learn from them. Or just that they’re supposed to be worthy. We just … haven’t gotten around to them yet.
What’s the best book that YOU haven’t read yet?

This is sooo easy for me because I have this enormous list of books I have yet to read. Top of the list of supposedly amazing books? The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson. I've heard such high praise for both of these books and the only thing that's kept me from reading them is prior reading commitments; books for review, library books that are due, books of authors I'm interviewing, etc. And I actually own both of these books which makes it especially pathetic. 

I swear, I'm trying to get back on the reading wagon...but it's so hard! I have so much to do and so little time. e.g. homework, American Idol, homework, friends, school projects, catching up on the Oscar movies, homework, and on. It's rather horrible. I just need to get dedicated. I'm finishing up The Lovely Bones and I'm reading Willow (I'm sorry it's taken me so long, Khy!) next so hopefully that will get me out of my pitiful slump? Here's to high hopes.

Friday, March 6, 2009


MY LITTLE RED BOOK is an anthology of stories about first periods, collected from women of all ages from around the world. The accounts range from light-hearted (the editor got hers while water skiing in a yellow bathing suit) to heart-stopping (a first period discovered just as one girl was about to be strip-searched by the Nazis). The contributors include well-known women writers (Meg Cabot, Erica Jong, Gloria Steinem, Cecily von Ziegesar), alongside today's teens. And while the authors differ in race, faith, or cultural background, their stories share a common bond: they are all accessible, deeply honest, and highly informative. Whatever a girl experiences or expects, she'll find stories that speak to her thoughts and feelings.

Ultimately, MY LITTLE READ BOOK is more than a collection of stories. It is a call for a change in attitude, for a new way of seeing periods. In a time when the taboo around menstruation seems to be one of the few left standing, it makes a difficult subject easier to talk about, and helps girls feel proud instead of embarrassed or ashamed. By revealing what it feels like to undergo this experience first hand, and giving women the chance to explain their feelings in their own words, it aims to provide support, entertainment, and a starting point for discussion for mothers and daughters everywhere. It is a book every girl should have. Period.

I need this book. I'm ordering a copy off Amazon today. 

Doesn't it look fantastic?!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Top Teen Books

I can't remember where I first saw this, but I thought it would be interesting to see how many I've read. Turned out I didn't do to badly...

Put an “X” next to the books you’ve read
Put a “+” next to the books you LOVE
Put a “#” next to the books you plan on reading
Tally your “X”s at the bottom
Share with your friends!
(I didn't do the books I love thing because that would've been all of them...haha)

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams
2. Kit’s Wilderness / David Almond

3. Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian / Sherman Alexie
4. Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson X
5. Feed / M.T. Anderson

6. Flowers in the Attic / V.C. Andrews X
7. 13 Reasons Why / Jay Asher X
8. Am I Blue? / Marion Dane Bauer (editor)

9. Audrey Wait! / Robin Benway X
10. Weetzie Bat / Francesca Lia Block

11. Tangerine / Edward Bloor

12. Forever / Judy Blume #

13. What I Saw and How I Lied / Judy Blundell #

14. Tyrell / Coe Booth

15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants / Ann Brashares X
16. A Great and Terrible Beauty / Libba Bray X
17. The Princess Diaries / Meg Cabot 
18. The Stranger / Albert Camus

19. Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card

20. Postcards from No Man’s Land / Aidan Chambers

21. Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky
22. And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie
23. Gingerbread / Rachel Cohn #

24. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist / Rachel Cohn and David Levithan X
25. Artemis Fowl (series) / Eoin Colfer
26. The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins X
27. The Midwife’s Apprentice / Karen Cushman X

28. The Truth About Forever / Sarah Dessen X
29. Little Brother / Cory Doctorow

30. A Northern Light / Jennifer Donnelly
31. Tears of a Tiger / Sharon Draper

32. The House of the Scorpion / Nancy Farmer
33. Breathing Underwater / Alex Flinn

34. Stardust / Neil Gaiman

35. Annie on My Mind / Nancy Garden

36. What Happened to Cass McBride / Gail Giles

37. Fat Kid Rules the World / K.L. Going

38. Lord of the Flies / William Golding X

39. Looking for Alaska / John Green X
40. Bronx Masquerade / Nikki Grimes

41. Out of the Dust / Karen Hesse 

42. Hoot / Carl Hiaasen X
43. The Outsiders / S.E. Hinton
44. Crank / Ellen Hopkins #
45. The First Part Last / Angela Johnson

46. Blood and Chocolate / Annette Curtis Klause
47. Arrow’s Flight / Mercedes Lackey

48. Hattie Big Sky / Kirby Larson

49. To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee X

50. Boy Meets Boy / David Levithan #

51. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks / E. Lockhart X
52. The Giver / Lois Lowry X

53. Number the Stars / Lois Lowry
54. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie / David Lubar

55. Inexcusable / Chris Lynch

56. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things / Carolyn Mackler X
57. Dragonsong / Anne McCaffrey

58. White Darkness / Geraldine McCaughrean
59. Sold / Patricia McCormick

60. Jellicoe Road / Melina Marchetta
61. Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr X
62. Twilight / Stephenie Meyer X
63. Dairy Queen / Catherine Murdock X
64. Fallen Angels / Walter Dean Myers

65. Monster / Walter Dean Myers

66. Step From Heaven / An Na

67. Mama Day / Gloria Naylor

68. The Keys to the Kingdom (series) / Garth Nix

69. Sabriel / Garth Nix

70. Airborn / Kenneth Oppel
71. Eragon / Christopher Paolini
72. Hatchet / Gary Paulsen X
73. Life As We Knew It / Susan Beth Pfeffer 
74. The Golden Compass / Phillip Pullman
75. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging / Louise Rennison
76. The Lightning Thief / Rick Riordan X
77. Always Running: La Vida Loca / Luis Rodriguez

78. How I Live Now / Meg Rosoff
79. Harry Potter (series) / J.K. Rowling X
80. Holes / Louis Sachar 
81. Catcher in the Rye / J. D. Salinger #
82. Push / Sapphire

83. Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi 

84. Unwind / Neil Shusterman

85. Coldest Winter Ever / Sister Souljah

86. Stargirl / Jerry Spinelli
87. Chanda’s Secrets / Allan Stratton

88. Tale of One Bad Rat / Brian Talbot

89. Rats Saw God / Rob Thomas

90. Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien

91. Stuck in Neutral / Terry Trueman

92. Gossip Girl / Cecily Von Ziegesar X

93. Uglies / Scott Westerfeld X
94. Every Time a Rainbow Dies / Rita Williams-Garcia

95. Pedro and Me / Judd Winick

96. Hard Love / Ellen Wittlinger

97. American Born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang
98. Elsewhere / Gabrielle Zevin 
99. I am the Messenger / Markus Zusak
100. The Book Thief / Markus Zusak #

Read: 37
To-Read: 13

That's pretty decent I think! And you add on those thirteen, I'll have read an even 50 of the top books. Which is reasonable because I hadn't even heard of a handful of these books.

How do you guys rack up?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Justina Chen Headley

Justina Chen Headley is the author of three YA novels: Nothing But The Truth And A Few White Lies, Girl, Overboard, and her newest book, North of Beautiful. I have a copy of North of Beautiful sitting on my shelves begging to be read, and based on all the fantastic reviews it's been getting I've been very stupid to wait this long to read it. You can visit Justina's website here to get to know more about her and her books. Enjoy the interview!

This or that:
Rain or shine?
iPod or mp3 player?
Movies or TV?
MOVIES! We are a Netflix family.
City or country?
I am abode-ambidextrous. I rejuvenate in the solitude and peacefulness of the country, but the city feeds my creativity.
Mountains or beaches?
Both. I need both in equal quantities.
Dots or stripes?
Dogs or cats?
Cooking or eating out?
Eating out. (Check out my cooking debacles on my blog at www.justinachenheadley.blogspot.com.) I wish I could cook, but to my children’s everlasting sorrow, I cannot. (But I can bake! Unfortunately, one does not feed brain cells via cookies.)
Coffee or tea?
Tea. Dragonwell tea, to be exact.
Books or magazines?
Need you ask? Books, of course!

The Phantom Tollbooth
Book store-
My favorite until it went out of business this year was Chauni Haslet’s All for Kids Books. Now, I love my local Barnes & Noble because of its Community Relations Manager, Brenda Gurung, who is the personification of goodness.
Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Yes, yes, and more yes.
Music artist-
Bono (yup, great voice, incredible mission, ever hip and relevant)
Coffee chain- 
Guilty pleasure- 
pinot noir (specifically, my brother’s vineyard: Patton Valley)
There are too many to count, but I must confess to a serious fondness for sushi.

Have you ever:
Lived abroad? 
Yes! I just moved back from Shanghai, China, and spent a year in Sydney, Australia.
Gotten a tattoo? 
Just henna. I love getting henna tattoos as my ritual to welcome summer.
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book? 
Yes…Harry Potter.
Disliked your job? 
Oh, yes. Pulling off stickers on cosmetics boxes was a definite low.
Cried during a movie? 
And during commercials.
Sang karaoke? 
Yup—badly in Tokyo.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
A stack of fabulous, blank notebooks and sparkly gel pens (sorry, those are a unit deal).
A cooler filled with fruit, veggies, crackers, peanut butter, and vino.
A man who could win Survivor but is too nice to be cutthroat and who was willing to build me shelter and do my bidding.
And a way home.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Keep writing novels that matter.
Guide my children so that they fulfill their potential and are happy with themselves.
Shower my family with love.
Build lifelong friendships.
Continue expanding my world through books and travel and classes.
Live with zest and curiosity, untouched by bitterness and regret.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
The ability to create an impenetrable force field to keep the ones I love safe.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
Anything that fills me with happiness and makes me want to dance.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
Sushi. Hamachi, to be exact.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Right at this moment, all I want is the Big Island.
But I’d love to take my kids on an epic journey to Bhutan. And Greece.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
Right now. I am so blissed out that we are living history with our new president. This is an awesome moment.
What does your dream library look like?
A circular room with floor to ceiling built-in bookshelves which you can reach with a mobile ladder. The entire room is anchored with a lovely fireplace. There are cozy chairs and ottomans, throw blankets, and tables to rest mugs of tea and hot chocolate. The shelves are filled with books—all autographed and first edition, of course—and there is an entire wall dedicated to my friends’ works. There might be a skylight where the sun would warm the room in the day, and the stars would twinkle overhead at night.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
The Teen Section. Where else is there to go?
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
I would love it if Bill and Melinda Gates wrote a book about philanthropy, inspiring everyday people to take up community service. The book would kick off with a foreword by Bono (and each book would include a CD with a song that Bono wrote to activate people to help the world in an unpreachy but compelling way).
Not to be too pushy, but here’s the content I want.
I want an overview of Bill and Melinda’s philosophy of giving: what calls them to action and why. I want chapters about how they make their decisions about where to give—especially since there are so many problems in the world to solve. How they determine the amount to allocate. How they quantify the results and determine whether their gift made a difference. How they integrate their children into their mission to make the world better.
I want a how-to guide for regular people to do the same. (This can either be a companion book by Bill Drayton or three or so chapters in Bill and Melinda’s book of goodness.)
Then (I know, I know, I do tend to think big, but why not when we have a world to change): I want Oprah to partner with the Gates and create a distinct fund for families to make a difference together. This would be kicked off on a special New Year’s Day show with footage of Bill and Melinda showcasing some of their work around the world—in libraries here at home and abroad in Africa. Then Oprah would show the Best of her Angel Network—a montage of real people doing real good. And then…President Obama and the First Lady would end the show with their call to action for Americans to do what we have always done, what is at the core of our country: to reach out generously and help those who need our help.
That book must be written. This global challenge needs to be issued. And the time for it is now.
That was the BEST last answer ever. Seriously. Thank you so much Justina!