Saturday, January 31, 2009

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

What's the worst thing you've ever done?
When "Perfect" Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter's High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher's pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?
Parker doesn't want to talk about it. She'd just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there's a nice guy falling in love with her and he's making her feel things again when she'd really rather not be feeling anything at all.
Nobody would have guessed she'd turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.
Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.
(Summary from back of book)

I was kind of debating whether to write a review for this book or not. I mean, I'm relatively late reading it and there are already a gajillion reviews out there validating CUTB's awesomeness. So consider this short little post my affirmation and agreement with those reviews. 

I picked this up this morning because I was kind of expecting it to be a quick read and I wanted to see if I could get one more book in before the month of January was behind me. Boy was it quick. From the first paragraph, I was hooked. For me, it was Parker's voice that swept me along. She sounded so real. The writing had that awesome gritty teenager feel. Which is definitely a good thing. I don't know if the book would've been as good if it had been told any other way. I just can't picture reading this story from some other character's point of view or even in second person. It just wouldn't work. 

The weird thing is that in this novel everything fit perfectly. It seems like it's an enormous coincidence that it turned out as great as it did. Everything just FIT. The characters, the writing style, the flashbacks, the build up, the events, the conclusion, everything. Even the failed and depressed romances had their place. 

I'm the type of person who wants to read about wonderfully successful love. I'm a sucker for cheesy unrealistic endings. CUTB's ending is so far from that that I'm uber surprised I came out satisfied. 

And with all of the insanely dramatic build up, I wasn't let down. Throughout the whole book, you get these teasers and flashbacks of the event that changed everything in Parker's life, but it's not until the very end that you finally get it all shoved in your face. Based on that event, I was able to connect with Parker so much more because I finally got to see why she was the way she was. She was already a really complex character but learning the truth added a whole different angle. I loved it.

Cracked Up To Be deserves all of the praise it's been getting, and more. For a debut author to write a book like this her first time around, is astounding. Courtney Summers knows how to expertly knit a story together and she knows what kind of characters will complement that story best. It's an art form that she's already mastered. 

This is definitely going on my favorites list.
If you haven't already read CUTB, please do. You won't be able to put it down.  

Happy Meme

There was no solid Booking Through Thursday prompt to post about today so I'm going to do a little happy meme instead. :P

Korianne tagged me for this.
- Link to the person who tagged you
- List 6 things that make you happy
-Post the rules, tag 6 others and let them know you did
-Then tell the person who tagged you your entry is finished!

1. Chai tea. I'm not a huge coffee person. I'll drink it, yeah, but with lots of sugar. The better option would be the calory filled cup of chai. Mmm.

2. Charlotte Sometimes' CD. Found it thanks to I Heart Daily and now I'm listening to it obsessively

3. Taking pictures. I'm definitely not very good but it's fun to do. I'm taking one self portrait a day this year. :)

4. Changing seasons. Which is good since I live in the state with the craziest seasons. I like each of 'em and they all happen to the fullest here.

5. Books.

6. Finding the perfect shampoo. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

V.C. Andrews Challenge #1 - Flowers In The Attic

Most families in books, at least books of any worth, are delightfully flawed and dysfunctional. You come to love them because of their ability to come together and rise above hard times. 
That situation is about as far from the Flowers In The Attic family that you can get. All of them, Corrine, Chris, Cathy, Carrie, Cory, and the father whose name probably starts with a C are perfect. There is literally nothing wrong with them. Physically at least. 
Chris has a large hillock of maleness resting on his hardened thighs.
Cathy has a voluptuous figure and bouncing breasts.
When I read the descriptions of these people I swear I gagged. 
And to add to that, they're all freaks. Complete freaks. No one in the book is sane or competent or even remotely likeable. 

So the story begins.
We are introduced to our family when they are all together, perfect, and happy. And then suddenly the dad dies in a freak accident. Oh deary me! Poor mother doesn't know how to be independent! So let's write off to our long lost parents who are very wealthy and will surely help us.
The thing is, those parents wrote mommy out of their will because her marriage was sinful and forbidden...for reasons I won't tell you. 
But still, Corrine hitches a train to go out to the land of the mansions and strike a deal with her mom. Her father is "close to dying" so if Corrine acts fast, she can get him to forgive her and write her back into his will again. Because it would be oh SO hard to go and learn how to work and make a living for yourself. No. For her it's all or nothing. Riches or poverty. 
But the catch is that the dying grandfather doesn't know about the four children his daughter had through her rotten marriage and if he did find out about them he'd surely never forgive her! Whatever shall we do know?
Oh I KNOW. Let's lock the kids in the attic until the old coot dies. 
So into the attic the Dollanganger kiddies go. They stay there for YEARS. There might possible have been some sexual activities going on. Or maybe some poisonings/whippings. Or maybe even some blood drinking. You never know what's going to happen when you lock up four siblings in a room unsupervised. And those lovely breasts and hard male parts just add to the fun. 

Doesn't this book sound HORRIBLE?! It was. It really was.
But for some twisted perverted reason, I liked it. Maybe not "liked" but kinda got sucked into it. It's so bad that you can't help but read. I apologize for my behavior. 

This is going to be one interesting year. 

10 more sensuous V.C. Andrews books to go.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Martin Wilson

Martin Wilson is the author of the marvelous novel, What They Always Tell Us, a review of which can be found here. I thoroughly enjoyed it. You can visit Martin's site here to learn more about him and his book. I love his answers to the questions so...enjoy! :)

This or that:
Rain or shine?
iPod or mp3 player?
Movies or TV?
You know, usually I’d say movies. But lately it seems like I watch more TV b/c so much good stuff is on (Lost, Mad Men, Friday Night Lights, True Blood—a few of my current faves), and a lot of it is way more compelling than what’s playing at the Cineplex these days.
City or country?
City to live, country to visit.
Mountains or beaches?
Dots or stripes?
Dogs or cats?
I like both, but lean toward dogs
Cooking or eating out?
Eating out! I can’t cook.
Coffee or tea?
Coffee. But I love tea when I am sick or have a sore throat.
Books or magazines?
Books, of course!

Hard to pick just one. But if I must, it would be Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. I’ve read this book five or six times, and each time I read it I find even more things to love about it. It may be on of the most perfect novels I’ve ever read. Honorable mentions: The Folded Leaf and So Long, See You Tomorrow, both by William Maxwell; the stories of Alice Munro; The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder.
Book store-
The Strand, New York City
Again, it’s hard to pick just one. I am a fanatic about Alien and Aliens, though otherwise I’m not a crazed sci-fi fan. I also love Picnic at Hanging Rock, a moody and haunting Australian film about a group of school girls who vanish under mysterious circumstances. And I am a sucker for teen movies, my two favorites being Heathers and Clueless.
Music artist-
I’m not a very hip person when it comes to music. Right now I’m into Keane, Coldplay, and the Killers. Yawn, right? But hey, I like catchy pop. I am always happy when listening to Madonna and Electric Light Orchestra. And I am still obsessed with the score to The Hours by Philip Glass.
Right now, I am obsessed with all things political, so Daily Kos,, Huffington Post, to name a few. I also love the site Hilarious stuff there.
Hmm, not a big fashion plate here, so I’ll leave this blank. If I had a ton of money to blow, though, probably Brooks Brothers.
Coffee chain-
sadly, yes, Starbucks
Guilty pleasure-
Eating candy. I try not to, but I have gone on some candy-eating binges lately. Mainly because I discovered this store called Economy Candy in the Lower East Side, and it has gobs of candies that I used to gorge on when I was a kid—Bottlecaps, Razzles, Sugar Babies. If I buy candy I will devour it pretty quickly.
Z Tejas in Austin, Texas

Have you ever:
Lived abroad?
Yes, I lived in London for 6 weeks one summer.
Gotten a tattoo?
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book?
Yes, for one of the Lord of the Rings movies. I was dragged by friends but had a blast.
Disliked your job?
Cried during a movie?
Yes, plenty of times. Most recently I cried watching this amazing German film called The Live of Others. I also cried while watching Atonement.
Sang karaoke?
Yes. Actually, just about two weeks ago! But before that I hadn’t done it in ages.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
War and Peace by Tolstoy, because I’d have tons of time to finally read this!
Moleskin notebook and a pen (okay, I cheated, that’s two things)
My iPod
Pictures of my family
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life?
Mainly travel far and wide. I want to go to Australia, Africa, Italy, Greece, Spain, Scandinavia, among other places. Also, ideally I’d like to write a novel every two years. I’d love to run a marathon but I’m not sure my body (nor my brain) could handle it.
If you could have one super power what would it be?
To become invisible. Or to be like Samantha on Bewitched and wiggle my nose and make anything I want to happen happen.
What’s your perfect music playlist?
Instrumental stuff mixed with Madonna, ELO, Keane, Coldplay, and other pop music. I’m loving the new Genius function on iTunes, which creates playlists based on your favorite songs.
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of?
French fries.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?
As I mentioned above, probably to Australia or Greece.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced?
I’d like to go back to New York City in the 1970s so I could buy an apartment in a neighborhood that used to be scary but is now insanely expensive. Otherwise, for less selfish reasons, I’d be curious to see ancient Greece when it was at its pinnacle, or maybe the Revolutionary days of the United States.
What does your dream library look like?
I dream of having an apartment lined with bookshelves in every room. I am a rabid book collector, and right now I have too many for my own good. My shelves are two rows deep, so I can’t even see a lot of my favorite books. So my dream library would spread across many rooms, always leaving room to add more to my collection.
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first?
I usually go to the new paperbacks or the new hardcover fiction.
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be?
Mine! Just kidding. But seriously, these are tough questions! Just one book? I really can’t answer that. I would hate to live in a world where we could only read ONE book.
Thanks so much Martin! And now you all must go and read What They Always Tell Us. MUST.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The To-Read Pile(s)

This has never been a very big blog. I don't have very many page views or very many followers or commenters in comparison to a bunch of the other YA review blogs out there. I'm totally fine with that, but the thing that amazes me, is how big my pile of books to read has gotten. I rarely receive review copies so most of these are from swapping books with other bloggers or from bookmooch, but STILL. It's going to take me the rest of 2009 to get through that stack at the rate I've been reading. Grrr. Which is exactly why I need to pick up the reading pace. If I'm not on very much for the next week or two it's because I'm going to start a rigorous reading schedule. :P Not really, but I AM going to try to crack open the books more. The first semester of the school year is over so I don't have too much to worry about right now...
So you know, if you've been wondering; where is that review you promised me in October, Liv? It's probably in one of those pictures above. There are also some other books I need to get from the library that I've promised reviews for, but I think it would be smartest to prioritize and read the books I actually own first. :)
And if you DO see that I'm posting excessive Twitter updates in the next week, feel free to reprimand me and order to get offline and read. You'd be amazing if you did that.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #19: Inspired

On Saturday

Since “Inspiration” is (or should) the theme this week … what is your reading inspired by?

What is my reading inspired by? Um...everything. I don't know! This year, I'm reading a lot of books that are well known and which have received a plethora of good reviews thus far as well as some lesser known YA novels. Sometimes I read books off of suggestions from my teachers or for school assignments. So I find books to read from school/friends/reviews/other bloggers.

My reading itself is inspired by my curiosity. I learned to read when I was pretty young and I always enjoyed getting lost in my Dr. Seuss. Since then, I've progressed towards bigger and better novels until I'm where I am now. I love being able to learn something new from what I read, whether that be a new perspective, new pop culture references, or new little factoids. I also enjoy getting lost in books. It's fun to be branded as a bookworm, I think. I embrace it. I've been told I'm "smarter than I look" (think about that for a while) so I'm totally fine with being a little nerdy, glasses and all, so I can make myself look a little more intelligent. So I guess my reading itself is inspired by learning and being able to delve into a new world. And also maybe redeeming myself, smarts-wise. You know, showing that I'm not that dumb blonde. :P

Friday, January 23, 2009

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - chapters 13 through 15

Chapter thirteen:
-Clarissa makes me sick. I'm hating that girl right now. She's a complete fake.
-ALSO. Mrs. Salmon is horrible too. Argh. This book needs to get happy soon. 
-We have sad but genuine husbands who are beaten up and tormented, we have cheating wives, we have backstabbing classmates. Come ON Alice Sebold, insert some cheerfulness please!
-Although I guess Buckley's situation right now is good. He's got a nice school life. 
-Every time I read about Mr. Salmon my heart hurts. Maybe it's because he reminds me of my dad and just about every other father out there. I really can't get over his character. He's a poignant guy.
-Oh the piggy back ride! *sighs* I'd type up the whole page about it but that'd be excessive. Go read p. 160-161 please, guys.
-Mr. Salmon's doing good. Getting back in with his children. Although he's right, Abigail should be making an effort too. Especially for Lindsey's sake.
-Is LINDSEY going to sneak into MR. HARVEY'S HOUSE?! Didn't see that one coming...if it's actually coming.
-Busted Mrs. Salmon. Thank god for Grandma Lynn. 
-Abigail really needs to get herself together so I can stop hating her. I understand that she's kind of lost herself and finds herself when she's with Len. But still. I just want to see her actually mourn for her daughter and go back to her family.
-Rayrayray. Mmm. My poor boy.

Chapter fourteen:
-Mr. Harvey is a creeeper. He's got some serious issues. He wants to kill everyone he sees. Badbadbad.
-So Lindsey IS breaking in. Yikes. I hope it isn't all for nothing.
-This would make a perfect movie scene. The spinning, hallucinating, mystery, and suspense.
-Reading all those stories about the different women and girls he had raped and or killed was chilling. Ages six to forty-nine. That's a LOT of unsolved cases. I thought the police were able to catch people like this for the most part?
-That was extremely close. Geez. But at least she got some sort of evidence! At least I think she did...
-I really wish we got to hear more about what heaven's like. They have a cafeteria? Hmm.

"And as Flora twirled, other girls and women came through the field in all directions. Our heartache poured into one another like water from cup to cup. Each time I told my story, I lost a bit, the smallest drop of pain. It was that day that I knew I wanted to tell the story of my family. Because horror on Earth is real and it is every day. It is like a flower or like the sun; it cannot be contained."

-Susie gets to meet all of the other women and girls that Harvey killed. To find solace in a group of people like that is...I don't know. It's just really heart-warming yet heart-breaking.

Chapter fifteen:
-Alice Sebold is a little manipulator. Up until now I've been feeling all malicious and hateful towards Mr. Harvey and then the author has to throw in this little part that demonstrates how horrible his parents were and how he had a pathetic childhood. Nothing can excuse killing of course, but every time I read something like this, just an itty bitty piece of my hate floats away. Not very much though.
-Geez. His mother was HORRIBLE.
-Mr. Harvey's going to leave town. No! Grrr...
-Don't the officers sense something off about Harvey? Urgh. I guess he's just a really good liar.
-Oh Mrs. Salmon. 

"Len was about to say something; I could see my mother notice his lips just as they parted. She shut her eyes and commanded the world to shut up - screaming the words inside her skull. She opened her eyes and looked at him. He was silent, his mouth set."

-The problem with this book is that there's no set good side and bad side. I really empathize with Mrs. Salmon because of all the things she's had to endure in her life. In that respect, she a really decent woman. And then she goes off and has sex with Len. It's hard to hate her because of all she's gone through but I really want to. And I want to hate Len too because he's a part of it. But I can't. I'm caught in the middle. I feel sooo emotionally manipulated...

Thursday, January 22, 2009


September 8th it is.
I can NOT wait. 
Just thought I'd share the cover with you guys. :) Thanks to Lenore.
I'm not sure if I like the color/picture/title treatment yet, but we'll see if it grows on me.
I do like the title itself though...
Aah! I really can't wait. I need to see what happens to my dear Peeta.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday #4 - Alis by Naomi Rich

At fourteen, Alis has never been outside her strict religious community. But when her parents arrange for her to marry a forty-year-old man, she flees desperately to the dangerous, unfamiliar city. She learns quickly that the only way to survive there is to become a thief—or worse. Facing an impossible choice between a forced marriage or life on the streets, Alis seizes control of her own fate. But the path she chooses sets off a disastrous chain of events that leave her accused of murder. Steadfastly loyal, Alis must decide: will she betray a loved one or sacrifice herself?

Hmm...I haven't read historical fiction in a while and this looks like an interesting plot. Strong female character plus forced marriage plus adventure on the streets equals a good book, I think. As I haven't really heard anything about Alis yet, I'm not going to get my hopes too high, but I'm crossing my fingers that this book won't prove my little hunch wrong. I think it'll be quite good. 

Oh. Just did a little google search and found out that this book has been released in the UK for quite a while. Well. I think it still qualifies for a Waiting on Wednesday post. I'm not in the UK, am I? :P

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Today is a day for the books...

I hope you all watched the inauguration. Or at least caught the highlights online after you got home from school. Because today is history. Whether you're a democrat or a republican, you have to realize that the stuff that happened today is bigger than parties. Today was about coming together as a nation. To have our first black president moving into a house built on the backs of slaves is amazing. It shows how much our nation has moved forward. 
While watching the swearing-in and speech on the big screen at school, I started crying. I feel so lucky to be able to live through a moment in history such as this. It's truly monumental. What other changes and advancements am I going to be able to experience? 
And when you saw those wide shots of the whole national mall packed with over a million people, you couldn't help but be awed, right? Gosh. I really wish I could've been there to experience the electricity and hope that must've been running through the crowd. 
The best part is that I think he's going to do a great job. 
So in honor of this day, go Obama yourself. :)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson

James: Popular, smart, and athletic, James seems to have it all. But the only thing James really wants is his college acceptance letter, so he can get far away from Alabama after high school. He's tired of the same old parties; the tennis team; his so-called girlfriend, Alice; his ex, Clare - and especially his quiet younger brother Alex. In a town where secrets are hard to keep, everyone knows what Alex did at the annual back-to-school party. The only question is why.
Alex: With his friends no longer talking to him and his brother constantly in motion, Alex is prepared to get through junior year on his own. And he would if his ten-year-old neighbor, Henry, didn't keep showing up, looking for company. Even James seems intrigued by Henry, and by the strange cars that come and go from his house across the street. But what Alex cares about most is running, and when he's encouraged to try out for cross-country, he's surprised to find more than just a supportive teammate in his brother's friend Nathen.
(Summary from jacket flap)

Why has no one read this book?! I read one review of it a while back, but for the most part, What They Always Tell Us hasn't gotten then buzz it deserves. I hate it when I read an amazing book and then discover that no one's picked up a copy. So this fan girly post is my humble way to spread the word; What They Always Tell us is AMAZING.

The main thing that I was worried about going into the book was how Alex's homosexuality was going to be portrayed. I didn't want it to be forced or fake. Thankfully, I really didn't have anything to worry about; Alex's character was pulled off beautifully. My favorite thing about him was how his sexuality wasn't what he was all about. It was an important part of who he was, undoubtedly, but he had other things going on in his life; friends, his brother, running, Henry. It showed that, fundamentally, everyone's alike and should be treated as such. Alex and Nathen's relationship was a major point in the book, of course, but Martin Wilson made it seem natural and easy, which was just what I wanted.

I also really enjoyed the portions of the book that centered around James. I almost forgot about him at times, as I was getting wrapped up in Alex's story, but then James' emotions and attitudes grabbed my attention back. He's the guy who's got it all and who you're supposed to hate. And at the beginning I sort of did. He didn't seem to show any care for what was going on with his life or his brother, in particular. But then throughout the book, James started to grow on me. As he discovered who he was, I started to connect with him more and appreciate him more. He proved himself to be a really thoughtful and normal guy who just doesn't know how to deal with all of the craziness going around him.

The other thing that really made me love What They Always Tell Us, besides Alex and James, was its gritty real-ness. It was just real. The characters, the plot, the issues, the relationships; they were all real. And not in a boring way. Wilson took the real (like how much I've used that word?) life struggles of teens everywhere and made them interesting and striking. And he did it with almost nonchalance; like he was just putting the facts of the story out there for you to take and interpret however you wanted. I love that. My favorite books are the kind that are thoughtful and provocative and which don't shove their morals and conclusions in your face. I really enjoy being able to make of a story what I want. 

The beauty of What They Always Tell Us was that it was simple, real, and all-encompassing. It dealt with a plethora of issues, including suicide, homosexuality, popularity, bullying, and adultery. It's the book that gives you everything with an even and unbiased voice while still drawing you in. And I loved it. Completely loved it. Please go read it now.

***and for those of you doing the V.C. Andrews challenge, Flowers In The Attic was mentioned in this book - and I happen to be reading that next...weeeiiirrddd.
"He's wearing shades and reading a creepy novel about a grandmother who locks her grandchildren in an attic." Yeah.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #18: Sing! Sing a song.

On Saturday

If you’re anything like me, there are songs that you love because of their lyrics; writers you admire because their songs have depth, meaning, or just a sheer playfulness that has nothing to do with the tunes.
So, today’s question?
What songs … either specific songs, or songs in general by a specific group or writer … have words that you love?
And … do the tunes that go with the fantastic lyrics live up to them?

I'm a music FREAK. I love it. I may not listen to grungy indie bands or undiscovered lyricists, but I love what I do listen to and I'm constantly adding to my little iTunes library.

Favorite artists with good lyrics = Newton Faulkner, Ingrid Michaelson, The Hush Sound, Regina Spektor, Ben Kweller, John Mayer, KT Tunstall, Rachael Yamagata, MoZella, Joss Stone, MIKA, Sara Bareilles, Landon Pigg, Meiko, A Fine Frenzy, Ben Folds, The Weepies, Hellogoodbye, aaaand ADELE. 

Specific songs?
You and I - Ingrid Michaelson
Don't you worry there my honey
We might not have any money
But we've got our love to pay the bills

Maybe I think you're cute and funny
Maybe I wanna do want bunnies do with you if you know what I mean

Oh lets get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Lets get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Lets get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Well you might be a bit confused
And you might be a little bit bruised
But baby how we spoon like no one else
So I will help you read those books
If you will soothe my worried looks
And we will put the lonesome on the shelf

Lets get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Lets get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Lets get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

Lets get rich and buy our parents homes in the south of France
Lets get rich and give everybody nice sweaters and teach them how to dance
Lets get rich and build a house on a mountain making everybody look like ants
From way up there, you and I, you and I

To The Light - Newton Faulkner
I'm taking a break because I'm losing it again
And I wanna relate without you thinking I'm insane.
Oh, it's the same another train. Just sitting around with record in my brain.

You could have everything you wanted
But you would still be wanting more.
Cos the sun is always in your eyes.
You search for stillness on a rock. Thats spinning round and round and you're surprised.

Take a break from all i know
Just sit back and let it flow.
Then I find I've broken through.
To the light again.

Everytime I find I'm thinking about the things I wanna.
That is the time I have nothing to sing.
And everytime I find i'm thinking about things that don't matter.
That is the time I see everything.

I want to know lord why it's got to be so hard.
I want to know lord why it's got to be so hard.
I feel like a muppet with a drunken puppeteer but I'll survive.
I will survive.

Take a break from all I know
Just sit back and let it flow.
Then I find I've broken through.
To the light again.
To the light again.

Take a break from all I know.
Just sit back and let it flow.
Then I find I've broken through.
To the light again.

And some others (The Heart of Life - John Mayer, Letter Read - Rachael Yamagata, Love Is Something - MoZella, etc.) Mostly soft rock-ish stuff. Relaxing music. :)
Now that I've thought about this, I'm kinda in the mood to make a mix CD...anyone want one? :P

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Bits 'n Pieces - Robin Wasserman

Robin Wasserman is the marvelous author of the YA novel, Skinned and it's sequel Crashed, to be released in September! I have yet to read Skinned, and based on all of the reviews it's received, I'm seriously missing out. I need to read it! You can learn more about Robin and her books at her site. I hope you guys like the interview. :)

This or that:
Rain or shine?
 Shine (unless I’m cranky, then rain)
iPod or mp3 player? 
Movies or TV? 
City or country? 
City if it’s Paris, otherwise, country
Mountains or beaches? 
Mountains (weirdly, until about five years ago, my answer to this question was always “Beaches – what kind of nutcase picks mountains?”
Dots or stripes? 
Dogs or cats? 
I’ve always considered myself a dog person…but recently, I’ve begun to accept the fact that [small voice] I might actually prefer cats.
Cooking or eating out? 
Eating out
Coffee or tea? 
Hot chocolate
Books or magazines? 

The Hotel New Hampshire, by John Irving
Book store- 
The Barnes & Noble in the town where I grew up (many hours logged with friends in the teen section – when we were very much no longer teens -- reading sweet valley high and Christopher Pike and hoping no one would spot us)
Princess Bride
Music artist- 
I honestly don’t have one. I get bored listening to more than three songs in a row by the same people. I did used to be obsessed with Billy Joel.
Television Without Pity (before Bravo bought it and completely screwed it up)
Tim Gunn
Coffee chain- 
I hate them all (easy, when you hate coffee)
Guilty pleasure- 
One Tree Hill
This tiny Italian place in the west village, whose name I won’t say here because I don’t want anyone else going there but me

Have you ever:
Lived abroad? 
For one month. And it was the best thing ever. I regret never doing it for longer.
Gotten a tattoo? 
Stayed up for the midnight release of a movie or book? 
Does it count that I once slept on the street in front of the Rent theater to get front row seats?
[Um, YES that counts. I wish I had gotten to see Rent live. I had to settle for the movie. :P]
Disliked your job? 
Yes. And yes again.
Cried during a movie? 
Yes. (Most embarrassing movie to have cried during? Rudy. Runner-up, that horrendous Hilary Swank movie, PS I Love You – especially embarrassing b/c I was on an airplane.)
Sang karaoke? 
Yes, unfortunately.

If you were on a desert island, what 5 things would you bring with you?
 1) a boat. 2) suntan lotion. 3) a personal chef. 4) a snorkel mask. 5) I should probably say a notebook, but the more honest answer is a big stack of books.
What’s on the list of things you have to do during your life? 
Write a TV show.
If you could have one super power what would it be? 
What’s your perfect music playlist? 
Oh jeez, I hate this question. My perfect playlist would be one created for me by someone else, so I didn’t have to think about it. But I suppose it would be equal parts Broadway soundtracks, 80s nostalgia tracks, and the occasional indie band from this decade (Decemberists, the Format, New Pornographers, etc)
What’s the one food you could eat day after day and not get sick of? 
Cheese. Mmm, cheese.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? 
Paris. Unless it’s summer – then Cinque Terre.
What moment in history do you wish you could’ve experienced? 
Fin-de-Siecle Vienna.
What does your dream library look like? 
A lot like this, actually:
And this:
When you walk into a bookstore, where do you head first? 
The YA and children’s departments. (I realize this probably sounds like I’m looking for my own books and, okay, that’s true. But this has been my first stop for years and years, since long before I got published. There’s something very reassuring about all the familiar titles, like a piece of home in a foreign city.)
If everyone had to read one book, what would you have it be? 
This is a sort of depressing note to end with, but maybe Survival in Auschwitz (Primo Levi) or Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonnegut)

Thank you sooo much Robin. :) I am really looking forward to reading Skinned. Especially after seeing the cover for Crashed
Doesn't that look amazing?! Ah. I swear I'm reading Skinned by the end of this month. That's my goal for January. :) Haha.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Discovering Pig Magic by Julie Crabtree

Mattie, Ariel, and Nicki are fast friends facing the pitfalls of life at thirteen. Mattie's kitschy pig collection and agoraphobic mother might completely derail her social life. Ariel's attempts to follow in Rachael Ray's culinary footsteps have landed her in hot water. And Nicki is carrying a secret that threatens to cut her off from her best friends.
After discovering a mysterious book of spells and performing a ritual, the girls leave their troubles far behind. Or so they think. Several disasters later, Mattie and her friends fear that their ritual is working against them. Can they break the spell before their problems spiral out of control?
(Summary from back of book)

I never really read any MG books. I don't think I ever read very many even when I was a "Middle Grader". They just always seemed sort of simplistic and below me. Not to sound hoity-toity or anything, but I do think there is some validity in that assumption. MG books ARE simple. The authors don't normally risk throwing in complex plot developments or themes for fear that they might lose their hold on their audience. Preteens have notoriously short attention spans so reading a book tailored to their needs when you yourself don't have those needs is rather trying. I'm used to reading really complex books. Or at least the books that are my favorites and which really capture my attention are detailed and thoughtful. 

There was something about the simplicity in this book that I liked, though. The plot was rather stereotypical and I was able to predict all the turns the book took, but I sort of liked it. It was weirdly comforting. Like an old friend that you've shared all your secrets with; not to sound cliched or cheesy. This book took me back to my middle school and preteen days, with their friendship dramas and awkward adolescent moments. It was like one big ol' flashback for me.
That's not to say that this book was perfect. It wasn't. The characters were very stereotypical and some of the moments that were meant to be climactic weren't. The characters were what really brought the story down for me. The three main girls had the most overused family issues and run of the mill appearances. I wish there had been some more thought and energy put into the character creation and development. I also wish that Ms. Crabtree had tried to make the climaxes for climax-like. I read what I think was meant to be the main turning point of the book and thought to myself, "That's it?" To add to that, the writing was pretty plain. It didn't add much to the story. I would've enjoyed a few more flourishing adjectives and sprightly verbs. 

But despite all that, I wouldn't tell you to disregard this book. It's a good comfort read. You won't get anything enormous out of it, but hey, when you were in your preteens, did you want to be hit over the head with deep philosophical novels? I think not. Read Discovering Pig Magic for yourself first and then gift it to a younger sister or cousin. They'll love you for it, I promise.

*This book is published by an awesome non-profit Minnesota publisher. :) All the more reason to buy, eh?

I'm sorry for all the horrible memes...

...but I really can't control myself.
Taken from Steph and John Green. Again, sorry.

Type in "[your name] needs" in the Google search.
"Liv needs a man!" Well I suppose that is rather true.
"Liv needs a stylist or even an honest relative with good taste." Why thank you.

Type in "[your name] looks like" in Google search.
"Liv looks like a little rock 'n roller." Is that because I need a stylist?
"Liv's upper lip looks like a slug." :(

Type in "[your name] says" in Google search.
"Liv says blogging about blogging is verboten."
"Liv says she never felt the pressure to be wild." Alrighty then.

Type in "[your name] wants" in Google search.
"Liv wants to give marriage another go." Oh yes. Because you know that previous one I had? It didn't work out very well. Messy divorce and only partial custody of the children. Very bad situation.

Type in "[your name] does" in Google search.
"The Liv is a simple, affordable, and reliable electric bicycle." Why yes. Yes I am.
"I think Liv does it better!" Aw. 

Type in "[your name] hates" in Google search.
"Liv hates boys. Boys always tease her, call her fatso." ...

Type in "[your name] asks" in Google search.
"Liv asks about the apartment hunt and is very disappointed to discover that it's over." DARN.

Type in "[your name] likes " in Google search.
"Liv likes cheese sticks." I do! They're nummy.

Type in "[your name] eats " in Google search. 
"Liv eats babies."
"Liv eats people." CAROL! What have you done to me?!

Type in "[your name] wears " in Google search.
"Ever wondered what an elf wears under her dress? Lord of the Rings star Liv Tyler has revealed that they are naked." Oh fun! 

Type in "[your name] was arrested for" in Google Search.
"Olivia was arrested for chaining herself to the door of the Bush Cheney Administrative Headquarters." (Liv didn't turn up any good stuff...)

Type in "[your name] loves" in Google Search.
"Lady Liv loves saving the planet." It is a very noble cause, I must agree.

Take part in this meme if you must.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #17: Best

On Saturday

It’s a week or two later than you’d expect, and it may be almost a trite question, but … what were your favorite books from 2008?

Already posted 'em here. So to avoid boring repetition, instead I'll post some pictures for you guys. In the spirit of winter, you know...Haha. Sorry.

Pond skating!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Made To Last...The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold - chapters 10 through 12

Welcome back to "Made to Last," the lost feature here on the blog. I swear I'm actually going to keep up on this from now on. I must finish this book.

Chapter ten:
-I never thought of Lindsey as a brain. Hmm...
-She might just be my favorite character. She does seem smart and like she can take care of herself.
-Because of that, she and Samuel had better last. I really like them together. Young love, *sighs*
-Ooh. Will Ruth and Lindsey perhaps be friends? Maybe?
-Ruth's gay. Hmm. I feel bad for her as this book takes place in the 70's - a time in the US's not so tolerant past. Not saying that we're great now, but still. 
-And she thinks she has to "hide". That's horrible. 

"If you stop asking why you were killed instead of someone else, stop investigating the vacuum left by your loss, stop wondering what everyone left on Earth is feeling," she said, "you can be free. Simply put, you have to give up on Earth."

-Do you think you would be able to do that? Give up on Earth? For me that would be nearly impossible. The very idea is hard to fathom.
-"How To Commit The Perfect Murder"? What kind of school has that kind of challenge? Sick.
-Poor Lindsey.

"In the walls of  my sex there was horror and blood, in the walls of hers there were windows."

-It's strange how a simple act can have such meaning for some people and such hollowness for others. 

Chapter Eleven:
-I always hate hearing about those murder/disappearance cases that never get resolved. To live almost a year without concretely knowing the fate of your daughter would be hell. Complete hell. 
-Mr.Harvey really covered his tracks well.
-Living in a simple house your whole life does make you dream of a house with staircases and balconies, window seats and attics. I should know.
-Was the rape and murder really worth the trouble that Mr. Harvey's putting himself through? I mean, he has clocks set for when to open and close his blinds. Police cars still drive past his house.
-He keeps tokens from his girls. Sick sick sick.
-I love Susie's father. He's real. But he IS going over the edge a little. Then again, I don't blame him...
-As I've been reading this book, I'm continually amazed by the flow and the words. Alice Sebold is nothing short of an amazing author. She really knows how to write. Everything just falls eloquently into place. I'm kind of in awe of this whole book so far.
-Mr. Salmon kind of brings to light the altar that we set our parents on. They seem almost untouchable. He proves that despite his familial responsibilities, he's just an ordinary man who experiences ordinary pain and suffering.
-A kind of pain and suffering that's making him insane.

Chapter Twelve:
-The surgeon's thoughts are really interesting. When you hear about terrible things happening to people like you, it puts everything in perspective and shows you that you're just like everyone else; just as able to be hurt.
-The thing that makes this story real to me is that it's so normal. The characters are regular people put into revealing situations. It's kind of hard to read.

"When the dead are done with the living," Franny said to me, "the living can go on to other things."
"What about the dead?" I asked. "Where do we go?"
She wouldn't answer me.

-That's too big a concept for me to even try to wrap my brain around.
-Len's wife died of suicide and Abigail's husband "died" of grief. What a perfect match. Shoot me now.
-I hope I'll be a better mother than Abigail. She's so empty and robotic. Until she met Len of course. Urgh.
-That Hal's my kind of guy. Smart and observant and centered. Thank god for him.

But I felt them before I saw them, small warm sparks along my arms. Then there they were, fireflies lighting up and expanding in howls and swirls as they abandoned human flesh.
"Like snowflakes," Franny said, "none of them the same and yet each one, from where we stand, exactly like the one before."

(They're describing souls leaving their bodies.)

-Mmm. I can just imagine it. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Waiting on Wednesday #3 - Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian

Emily is ready for a change. She's been in the same town with the same friends for a long time...and none of them really understand her art. But when she goes to Philadelphia for a summer art institute, she suddenly finds like-minded people. One in particular, Fiona, intrigues and challenges her. But there are some things Emily is going to have to find out for herself -- like what the balance is between life and art, and which is more important when push comes to shove.
Check out that lousy snyopsis from Amazon.

Um. It's Siobhan Vivian. I don't think anything else needs to be said. 
She's pretty much made of awesome and as this book just received a starred review from Kirkus, I think I might pee my pants waiting for March 1st. That release date could not come soon enough for me. 
And the cover? Beautiful. :)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


This one looked sort of fun. Why not, right? 
Tagged by the wonderful Kaylee.

1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
2. Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair, so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
3. If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
4. Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…

The book that’s been on your shelves the longest: 
A treasury of old Beatrix Potter stories. It's this big blue hardcover that looks like one of those classic storybooks in movies that moms always crack open to read to their kids from when they're getting ready to go to bed. It's even got some ritzy gold leaf on the edges of the pages.Ah memories... <3 class="Apple-style-span" style="font-weight: bold;">A book that reminds you of something specific in your life (a person, a place, a time, etc.): 
Olivia the Pig books remind me of Christmases back when I was a wee little child. :) I got a different one each year from my aunt and I loved getting them so much. I have four of the big hardcover ones...I think I'm actually missing one now so I'll have to go search for it at B&N.

A book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used bookstore, prize, etc.):
I've got review copies, tattered bookmooch books, books from when I was little, and a plethora of signed books which I guess is all pretty interesting. My most recent interesting find was a signed copy of Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson at my local B&N. Loved finding that.

The most recent addition to your shelves: 
I received Shelter Me by Alex Mcaulay for review a week or two ago. I don't usually get a ton of books for review and I don't buy very many so my book shelf grows really slowly...I like it that way though. No pressure. :)

A book that’s been with you to the most places: 
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It's got tons of dog ears, the cover is creased and cracked, and the pages are brown-ish (it's from bookmooch). I've carried it around with me everywhere for the past month and I haven't posted new chapter observation things for a while! It's so bad. I promise I'll get one up within a few days. :P I'm a complete slacker. It's a really good book though.

A bonus book that you want to talk about but doesn’t fit into the other questions:
I don't know! My bookshelf isn't really that interesting! I always see pictures from other bloggers who have these uncontrollable bookshelves and are constantly getting books to review and I don't understand it! I guess I'm sort of boring. I don't have a huge flow of books coming my way, my bookshelf is organized and contained, and my whole book fetish is rather laid back in comparison to other people. I can only stay that way because of my super fantastic local library. I make around two trips there every week. Love it.

And I tag...whoever wants to do it! 

Sunday, January 4, 2009

The Year of Living Biblically by A.J. Jacobs

Raised in a secular family but increasingly interested in the relevance of faith in our modern world, A.J. Jacobs decides to dive in headfirst and attempt to obey the Bible as literally as possible for one full year. He vows to ollow the Ten Commandments. To be fruitful and multiply. To love his neighbor. But also to obey the hundreds of less publicized rules: to avoid wearing clothes made of mixed fibers; to play a ten-string harp; to stone adulterers.
The resulting spiritual journey is at once funny and profound, reverent and irreverent, personal and universal.
(Summary from back of book)

Ooh. Adult book. Scary, I know. Going to a private school, I have to take religion class and I decided to read this book for a project we were required to do because it seemed sort of light-hearted and like it would still have some interesting insights. I ended up really enjoying reading it which is why I thought it would be worth it to write a little review. 
One of the big issues in today's world is religious tolerance. There are hundreds of different religions out there and the only way for peace to be able to become a reality is if people learn to respect and coexist with people from different walks of life. I really liked that in TYOLB, Jacobs didn't take a side. He made his decisions on religion by himself and wasn't influenced by other people. He's also a pretty decent writer. His sarcasm and wit really made the slow-moving parts take on new life. 
While reading I was forced to look at the Bible through new eyes. It's the most well known book in history and there are so many hidden parts of it that few people know about. To see Jacobs not only tell about, but obey those parts was really interesting and completely ridiculous. What's interesting to me is how different sects of religion have their own completely unique ideas on how the Bible should be interpreted. No one group practices complete literalism, everyone picks and chooses what parts they want to follow. It's also interesting that under the broad tree of one religion so many different extremes can exist. 
What really made this book work for me was how there was no bias. A.J. Jacobs was a Jew but he traveled to Christian mega-churches, talked with the Amish, handled snakes, and spoke with some secular New Yorkers. It's like getting a crash course in various religions. 
I would highly recommend this book for anyone. It's definitely an enlightening and fun read. And you can say you read a nonfiction adult book. Whew.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Booking Through Thursday/Saturday #16: Wintery Books & New Year's Resolutions

On Saturday
(Two weeks worth because I'm a slacker and didn't even realize I'd missed a week)

So … any Reading Resolutions? Say, specific books you plan to read? A plan to read more ____? Anything at all?
Name me at least ONE thing you’re looking forward to reading this year!
I'm going to try my very best to read two books a week. Probably not going to happen, but we'll see, right?! A girl can dream...
I'm also going to try to complete the V.C. Andrews Challenge (look at sidebar -->). I've never done a challenge before so it'll definitely be interesting to see how much of a slacker I really am. :)

What I want to know today is … what are the most “wintery” books you can think of? The ones that almost embody Winter?
Wintery books? I don't even know. 
Let it Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson is pretty wintry, I'd guess, although I still have to read it. Icing On The Lake by Catherine Clark is pretty wintery; it's set in Minneapolis (where I live) which is definitely a wintery place. 
Really, all of Minnesota is pretty cold and snowy. Now that I think about it, there aren't a ton of books set in winter which should change because I really need to read more warm and fuzzy snowy books right about now...