Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fill-in the Blanks: My Life in Book Titles of 2011

Last year I found this survey on Misty's blog, Book Rat. I really enjoyed it and you guys seemed to as well, so I decided to share it again. If you decide to do this yourself, be sure to share a link in the comments!

Describe Yourself: The Sugar Queen
How do you feel: What Comes After

Describe where you currently live: Alone Together
If you could go anywhere, where would you go: Inside Out & Back Again
Your favorite form of transportation: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making
Your best friend is: The Breadwinner
You and your friends are: Okay for Now
What's the weather like: Let It Snow (Or rather, what I wish the weather would be like.)
Favorite time of day: Chime (I admit, this doesn't make as much sense if you haven't read the book.)
What is life to you: Brightly Woven
Your fear: A Monster Calls
What is the best advice you have to give: The Book of Awesome

Thought for the Day: Shut Out
How I would like to die: Linger
My soul's present condition: If I Stay

Friday, December 30, 2011

Review of A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls
This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. . . .

This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.

Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.

When my book club selected A Monster Calls, I was unsure of what to expect. All I’d really heard about it was that it was good. Now when I look at the summary of this book, it gives me chills up and down my books. A Monster Calls stirred fear and sadness within me, and has made me want to pick up everything else written by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd.

If you haven’t already, go find a finished copy of A Monster Calls. It’s actually an illustrated book, which means that illustrations are embedded throughout the story. The illustrations add to the already dark tone of the novel and for me, also made me feel like the monster really was a creature of nightmares.

I loved the plot of A Monster Calls. Not only was I unsure of what to expect from that plot, at first I wasn’t sure what direction all of the plot threads were going. They coalesced beautifully.

A Monster Calls was probably one of the most emotionally difficult books I read in 2011, and I mean that in the best way possible. So much has been said about this book that I have a hard time figuring out what I can really add. A Monster Calls is a fast but moving read, and is well worth the time and emotional investment of the reader.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Top Ten Books of 2011

2011 has been a pretty hectic year, and a part of me is glad it's drawing to a close. The year's end has gotten me thinking about what I've read over the past year. Thus far in 2011 I've read 90, when my original goal was 75.

Of those 90, I've picked my ten favorites--the ten that have stuck with me, the ten that you should bump up on your TBR pile. Some people I know have picked favorites from certain genres, but I feel that picking several overall favorites better represents by overall tastes. For example, I don't feel I read enough contemporaries or paranormal romances in one year to pick favorites among those. Listed in no particular order and without further ado, here are my top ten favorites books of 2011. Click on the covers to see my reviews.

10.) The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

I've always had a soft spot for Victorian literature, and this one has an awesome mystery. Plus, it has this quote, which I found hilarious.

My hour for tea is half-past five, and my buttered toast waits for no one.

9.) Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
In addition to being one of the most emotional reads of 2011, this was also one of the most fast-paced. I didn't think Sepetys's writing was perfect, but I was too attached to the characters and their story to care.

8.) Wither by Lauren DeStefano
I was intrigued when I heard that this was supposed to be a re-telling of The Handmaid's Tale, plus I knew I needed this gorgeous cover on my shelves. As it turns out, DeStefano's writing is absolutely gorgeous. Furthermore, I liked the world-building--I had enough information to get me interested, but enough to leave me wanting more. Does it get much better than this?

7.) Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
You've probably already heard me rave about this one at some point, so I'll just repeat two things about it: it kept me up until 3 .m. and the writing is gorgeous.

6.) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

A quirky love story featuring with periodic appearances by some of my favorite characters of 2010. Perkins knows how to create atmosphere, amazing characters, and swoon-worthy romances. How was this not going to end up on my best of 2011 list?

5.) The Giver by Lois Lowry
Guys, this book made me cry during my commute. On my over-crowded bus. How did I wait until 2011 to read this book?

4.) Looking for Alaska by John Green

I feel much better about calling myself a Nerdfighter now that I've read one of John Green's books. Although I figured this one would be good, I was not prepared for the awesomeness of Green's debut novel.

3.) Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer

I didn't expect Wolfsbane to be nearly as good as it was or to read it as fast as I did. Thank goodness the release of Bloodrose is now less than a week away.

2.) The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
This book utterly charmed and had a fabulous world. I look forward to recommending it to young readers I know. Just go pick it up.

1.) The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
Yes, this book has a great story. Yes, the world is good. However, there's one reason this book is making my top ten list: Patrick Rothfuss's prose is stunning. I'm excited to find out how Kvothe's story ends because I know that no matter the plot points, the narration will be beautiful and heart-breaking.

So there we have it. The best of 2011. I hope 2012 is packed with more great characters, beautiful prose, and new favorites!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday: The Stastical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Release date:
January 2, 2012

Who would have guessed that four minutes could change everything?

Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

Twists of fate and quirks of timing play out in this thoughtful novel about family connections, second chances and first loves. Set over a 24-hour-period, Hadley and Oliver's story will make you believe that true love finds you when you're least expecting it.

I'm not sure how I heard of this book, but I was mildly intrigued when I heard the mouthful of a title. When I saw the cover and a full synopsis, my interest piqued. This book sounds utterly adorable. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Review of Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

"Skim" is Kimberly Keiko Cameron, a not-slim, would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school in the early '90s. When her classmate Katie Matthews is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself — possibly because he's (maybe) gay — the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. It's a weird time to fall in love, but that's what happens to Skim when she starts meeting secretly with her neo-hippie English teacher, Ms. Archer. But then Ms. Archer abruptly leaves the school, and Skim has to cope with her confusion and isolation while her best friend, Lisa, tries to pull her into "real" life by setting up a hilarious double-date for the school's semi formal. Suicide, depression, love, homosexuality, crushes, cliques of popular, manipulative peers — the whole gamut of teen life is explored in this poignant glimpse into the heartache of being 16.

Even though the popularity of graphic novels is growing, I think it can be challenging to find really outstanding ones, so when someone in my book club recommended Skim with high praise, I was excited to read it. Skim was one of my fastest reads of 2011 and I enjoyed it while I was reading it. I think the authors handled issues of sexuality and suicide in a way that was well done and relatable, but this wasn’t a particularly memorable read for me.

I think part of my problem with Skim was the artwork. Of course, the drawings were good, and yes, they were infinitely better than anything I could ever create. Seriously, if I created a graphic novel it would be full of awful stick figures. However, none of the artwork really popped at me or struck me as especially creative like, say, the artwork in Anya’s Ghost.

For the most part, I liked the story. The emotions were genuine, and Skim’s character reminded me of real teenagers. The ending, however, felt like a bit wishy washy to me. It was just “meh.”

Overall, Skim is a fast-paced and enjoyable read. As someone who is currently studying to be a children’s and youth services, I will tell you that I would definitely purchase this book for a collection. It’s a graphic novel that deals with LGBT issues, and I don’t know of many other books like that, which is why I imagine that real teens might like this book better than myself. Skim isn’t a bad book, it just didn’t blow my mind the way some graphic novels have.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Second Annual End Of Year Bookish Survey: 2011

Hey guys! I hope those of you who celebrated had a great holiday. I am trying to squeeze a little bit more relaxation and miscellaneous tasks before 2012 and a new semester begins. Before 2012 begins, though, let's review what 2011 looked like for me and my blog. This Survey was originally started by Jamie over at The Perpetual Page Turner. If you haven't already visited her blog, get on that. It rocks!
1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

Oh, this is tough, and I can’t pick just one. I LOVED Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, but other major standouts include The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Looking for Alaska by John Green, and The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?

I would say the most disappointing is The Anti-Prom by Abby McDonald. This book had a really cool premise, but it fell pretty flat by the end. I was also very unhappy with These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf. To me, that book read like a soap opera.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Again, I’ve got multiple books for my answer here. Absolutely The Giver by Lois Lowry. This book is regarded as a children’s classic, and although I went in with high expectations, I was unaware of how heart-wrenching it would be.

I was also really surprised by A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. I didn’t know what to expect going into this one because it has a very cryptic summary. The plot of this short novel came together brilliantly by the end.

Lastly, Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I was expecting another mediocre vampire book, but it’s freaking awesome!

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez. If you haven’t read it, go do that. I also pushed Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins on a lot of people. I even went so far as to purchase a copy for Misty of Book Rat because she wouldn't buy herself a copy.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Hands down the Chemical Garden trilogy (first book being Wither by Lauren DeStefano). Not a contest. At all.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Jessica Martinez, but I’d also like to give honorable mention to Patrick Ness, Gayle Forman, and Kiersten White.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Actually A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. There’s an element of horror in this story (note that I say an element of, I’m not sure if I’d categorize this book as horror) and I don’t really read that genre.

I’ve always liked fantasy, but I hadn’t picked up adult fantasy in quite some time, so in a way The Name of the Wind was also out of my comfort zone. It was absolutely fabulous.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Wolfsbane by Andrea Cremer. I read it in about 48 hours, and for a book of that length, that is very fast for me.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. And it totally lived up.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?

That would be a tie between the covers for Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez and Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken.

11. Most memorable character in 2011?

Either September from The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship of Her Own Making or Joey Pigza from Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

Believe it or not, this is actually a three-way tie between Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez, The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss, and Chime by Franny Billingsley. Honorable mention goes to Wither by Lauren DeStefano.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?

Probably If I Stay by Gayle Forman. It’s not a perfect book, but it made me cry and it made me think.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?

The Giver by Lois Lowry Seriously, what rock had I been living under? I don’t normally use the phrase amazeballs, but this book is deserving of that label.

Also The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Again--amazeballs!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?

There are several from Virtuosity, but I don’t have it memorized, can’t find it on GoodReads, and don’t have my copy of the book (or my quote book) with me. I also wrote down a lot of quotes from Lauren DeStefano’s Wither.

I wrote tons of quotes from John Green’s Looking for Alaska. Again, all I have with me as I write this post is GoodReads, and I can’t find the exact quote I want, but here’s one I loved.

Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. (...) You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you'll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.

And of course, there were some totally awesome quotes in Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind.

My parents danced together, her head on his chest. Both had their eyes closed. They seemed so perfectly content. If you can find someone like that, someone who you can hold and close your eyes to the world with, then you're lucky. Even if it only lasts for a minute or a day.
16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I wasn’t fanatical about the ARC and just obtained a finished copy, so I want to see how it’s changed from ARC to final copy. Plus, I think it’s worth re-reading before the sequel comes out.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I’ll just say the final scene of If I Stay. As soon as I finished, I kept thinking, “You did NOT just go there Gayle Forman! WHAT WAS THAT ENDING ARRGGHH!!!!! I’m confused and I don’t like it!”

Thankfully, I talked it over with Ashley of Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing. We hashed it out in great detail and talked about our world views and beliefs. I felt much better about the ending after our chat. Definitely one of the best bookish discussions I had in 2011!

Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2011 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2011?

I’m going to be straightforward--once school started in August, I didn’t discover tons of new blogs. And yes, I know lately I've been awful about commenting on blogs, and I'm sorry. But I discovered Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing when Ashley and Misty of Book Rat hosted Fairy Tale Fortnight together. Ashley’s blog is one of my new favorites!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2011?

Bahahaha my review of Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. Normally when I need to fangirl in a review, I try to throw in something comprehensible. This is just me spouting ridiculous words about how much I loved this book.

I was pretty proud of my review of Virtuosity as well. I loved this book and felt that my review may have come kind of close to doing it justice.

And, while it’s not the most beautifully written review ever, I did throw a nice Ghostbusters reference into my review of Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Most of you may roll your eyes, but I actually think that would be my post “Black Swan Terrified Me Or Really, You Guys, I Swear This Is Relevant.”

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?

You know, I’ve loved all of the discussion posts that Reading Teen has posted lately. Their posts always get me to think about a certain topic, like Sex In YA, from a different perspective.

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

The Dark Days of Winter tour stop in Minnesota this past March was awesome. Amber of Me, My Shelf and I, Alea of Pop Culture Junkie and I got drinks and snacks beforehand. Plus there were tons of awesome bloggers there, such as Brittany of Looksie Lovitz and Mariya of Mystifying Paranormal Reviews, not to mention many cool authors to be met.

The Wolfsbane release party was also a great time. Even more awesome bloggers than at the Dark Days of Winter stop, finished copies of Wolfsbane, and a WOLFSBANE CAKE. Seriously, you guys. Bookish. CAKE.

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2011?
In general, I feel like I’ve established more contacts in the publishing world, which is great. Plus, I always love it when I realize an author I admire is following me on Twitter and I have those, “Oh, this person thinks I’m cool enough to follow? Who knew!” moments.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My IMM posts tend to get a lot of love. Otherwise my Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read In 2011 post got a lot of comments.

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My post entitled “Black Swan Terrified Me Or Really, You Guys, I Swear This Is Relevant.” I swear, it actually is relevant!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

Hmm, I didn’t really discover any new bookstores. Does the “Hey girl. I like the library too” Tumblr count as a book related site? Because I may or may not have spent a fair chunk of 2011 staring at it.

Otherwise, while I really wouldn’t call it a “discovery,” I met lots of awesome bloggers in person this year for the first time including Mariya of Mystifying Paranormal Reviews, Brittany of Looksie Lovitz

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

At the beginning of 2011, I set a goal to read 75 books this year. The day this post goes up, I have made it to 88 thus far. Heck yes! I’m hoping to hit 90 before the year is up, which I’d say is totally do-able.

I may have signed up for challenges hosted by other blogs, but of late I’ve decided that while I have nothing against them, they aren’t really my thing. More on that when I discuss my reading goals for 2012, though.

Looking Ahead...

1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

I was really hoping to get to Across the Universe by Beth Revis in 2011 (as in, as soon as I got the book in the mail) but it kept getting pushed aside. I’d like to try and read it sooner rather than later.

While it wasn't necessarily my number one priority in 2011, I'm bumping The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness up on my TBR pile, which is the first book in the Chaos Walking trilogy. It gets rave reviews on the blogosphere, and now all of my friends in graduate school are telling me how awesome it is. Clearly it's time for me to hurry up and read this series, especially since I met Patrick Ness in 2010 and got the whole series signed!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

Well, I am pretty excited for a lot of books in 2012 and plan to do a Book Chat video (started by Misty) about some of those titles. But the one title I’ll name here is (drumroll please)...

Fever by Lauren DeStefano. WANT!

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

In 2012, I will read 100 books. This is going to be difficult because I’ll still be in school until August and I’ll need to find a job. But hey, it could happen.

I’ve also been thinking about changing the look of my blog, maybe even switching to Wordpress? I’ll probably make a few small changes before I do anything that serious, though, if I even do it.

Lastly, I’ve been thinking of starting a Tumblr, just for posting random things that may not have a place on this blog. We’ll see if that actually happens or not.

And that, kids, is my bookish 2011 in summation. Now, who's ready for 2012?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

To those of you who celebrate, Merry Christmas! I hope your day is filled with family, good food, and gifts. If you celebrate a different seasonal holiday, I hope you've enjoyed it as well :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Review of The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (The Giver, #1)
Jonas's world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear or pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the Community. When Jonas turns twelve, he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Starting graduate school has been a big step towards achieving my goal of becoming a children’s librarian, so I’ve been trying to catch up on my children’s classics. Thankfully at the beginning of 2011 I’d decided that I had to read The Giver by Lois Lowry this year. I picked up my copy during Banned Books Week and immediately lost track of my socks because The Giver knocked them right off. The horror, world, and characters of The Giver blew me away to the point where I was in tears while riding my over-crowded bus to work.

The world in The Giver is all about control. Your family, your career, your entire life are picked out for you. When I started the book I was look, “Hmm. This is decidedly creepy.” Once I got to Jonas’s interactions with The Giver, I couldn’t stop reading. Part of what makes The Giver so exceptional is that the plot and the world-building, not just one or the other, will give you goosebumps and blow your mind.

The Giver was a really difficult book for me to read. Lowry deals with the themes of choice, life, and death head on. The twists and turns that she inserted to do so shocked me, brought tears to my eyes, and kept me glued to the page.

Considering how much I love dystopian novels, I can’t believe I waited so long to read The Giver. Lowry’s novel surpassed all of my expectations. I’m glad I picked it up at last and am eager to push it on young readers.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Review of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and used to have an ordinary life, until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September is met at her kitchen window by a Green Wind (taking the form of a gentleman in a green jacket), who invites her on an adventure, implying that her help is needed in Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. Only September can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods, and if she doesn’t . . . then the Marquess will make life impossible for the inhabitants of Fairyland. September is already making new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday.

With exquisite illustrations by acclaimed artist Ana Juan, Fairyland lives up to the sensation it created when the author first posted it online. For readers of all ages who love the charm of Alice in Wonderland and the soul of The Golden Compass, here is a reading experience unto itself: unforgettable, and so very beautiful.

As soon as I heard the title of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making, I knew right away that it would be going on my to-buy list. Plus, this awesome book trailer came along.

So, I pre-ordered a copy of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland and it hung around my shelves for a few months. I wound up sharing the book trailer with some of my friends at school, and we decided to read Valente’s novel as a selection for our book club. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making charmed and awed me, and is slated to join the canon of children’s literature.

At first, I struggled to get into The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, because it initially felt too much like Valente was trying to write the next Alice In Wonderland. However, once I got further in, I discovered where Valente’s true strength as an author lies: in world building. I loved reading about all of the places and creatures that Valente created.

September is a great main character. She’s adventurous and confident, but I never felt that either of these traits were so strong that they were unbelievable. Plus, September’s story is enjoyable. It’s well-paced and Valente ties the threads of her plot and world together nicely at the end.

At the end of the day, The Girl Who Circumnavigated In A Ship Of Her Own Making surpassed my expectations. I would happily pass this book onto any reader I know. I highly suggest curling up with this book and a mug of hot tea as soon as you can get your hands on a copy.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Review of The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . .

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.

I love Stardust and Coraline. I like to read a book before I listen to an audiobook of it. Being assigned the audiobook of The Graveyard Book for a class was a perfect excuse to read my copy of it. My reaction to The Graveyard Book was similar to my reaction towards other titles by Neil Gaiman: I fell in love.

One really awesome thing about The Graveyard Book is that it’s a fantasy novel setting in a realistic, contemporary setting, with some awesome historical elements to it. Nobody Owens is our main character and a regular boy, aside from the fact that he’s been raised by ghosts. Some of these ghosts died centuries ago, making for a quirky cast of characters. Bod is very easy to connect with because he has the type of questions that one would expect a child his age to ask. I also thought that the entire plot of the novel was excellent.

Of course, what drew me in as per usual was Gaiman’s beautiful prose. His writing in this book was a perfect mixture of magic, British, and creepy. It helped me envision a graveyard that was both quaint and scary, and kept the chills running down my spine the entire time.

Gaiman has quickly risen to be one of my favorite authors, and I think everyone should try his work at least once. I loved so many things about The Graveyard Book that I can’t even list them all in one review. Lovers of children’s lit, readers of creepy stories, people who enjoy quality literature, I implore you. If you haven’t read The Graveyard Book, get your hands on a copy and curl up on a dark night with a hot drink. You’ll be glad you did.

Disclosure: I purchased a copy of this book.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Giveaway: The Big Crunch

I haven't been around this blog as much as I'd like lately. I blame school, but I'll accept responsibility for the lack of posts. Last winter, before the madness of graduate school began, I got the opportunity to meet author Pete Hautman in person and pick up a copy of The Big Crunch. Since it is the season of giving back, I wanted to thank those of you who are still following this blog by giving away one signed copy of The Big Crunch.

A funny, clear-eyed view of the realities of teenage love from National Book Award winner Pete Hautman.

June and Wes do not "meet cute." They do not fall in love at first sight. They do not swoon with scorching desire. They do not believe that they are instant soul mates destined to be together forever.

This is not that kind of love story.

Instead, they just hang around in each other's orbits...until eventually they collide. And even after that happens, they're still not sure where it will go. Especially when June starts to pity-date one of Wes's friends, and Wes makes some choices that he immediately regrets.

From National Book Award winner Pete Hautman, this is a love story for people not particularly biased toward romance. But it is romantic, in the same way that truth can be romantic and uncertainty can be the biggest certainty of all.

Still interested? Check out the rules, and fill out the form below.
*One winner will receive a signed copy of The Big Crunch by Pete Hautman.
*Open internationally.
*The giveaway will end on Friday, December 23rd at 11:59 p.m.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Winter Break TBR Pile

Hi everyone! I hope you are all having a great December. My semester is about to end, so this month has been insanely hectic, although things are starting to wind down now. I've already started thinking about what I'd like to get read over my winter break, so I thought I'd share with you guys. I hope you enjoy the vlog and, as always, TBR videos were started by Misty of Book Rat.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Review of Contagion by Joanne Dahme

Rose Dugan is a young and beautiful woman living in Philadelphia in the late 19th century passionate about keeping Philadelphia’s water reservoir clean and healthy. But when Rose starts receiving threatening letters, warning her to convince her husband to shut down his plans for a water filtration system or else, things take a turn for the worse. A conspicuous murder and butting heads cause Rose to search for the culprit, the truth, and a way to keep the people of Philadelphia safe from contagion in more ways than one.

Sometimes it seems as though within the historical fiction genre, the same few stories are repeated over and over again. When I heard about the premise for Contagion, I was immediately intrigued because it sounded so different. Although Contagion was a fast-paced and entertaining read, Dahme’s characterization left something to be desired.

I really enjoyed the plot of Contagion. It’s the only YA book I can immediately think of which deals with the subject of a plague or water contamination. The one issue I had with the plot was that I didn’t know much about the subject going in, which made it harder for me to appreciate this story. I think this novel could have benefited from an author’s note which provided more information on the non-fictitious parts of the story.

What kept me from really enjoying Contagion was the characters, several of which felt flat. I think Dahme managed to create a complete cast of characters. However, Rose, Sean, and Patrick all felt a bit one-dimensional to me.

Contagion falls under the liked-it-but-didn’t-love-it category for me. I’m glad I decided to pick this one up, but it wasn’t the perfect read for me. I’d be willing to try more of Dahme’s work in the future to see if her character development improves, though, so perhaps I’ll keep an eye out.

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Thank you!


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