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Friday, December 31, 2010

Review: Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian

Title: Not That Kind of Girl
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Publisher: PUSH
Pub. Date: 9.1.2010
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: High School, Relationships, Identity, Self Image
Pages: 336
Description (from GoodReads):

Natalie Sterling wants to be in control. She wants her friends to be loyal. She wants her classmates to elect her student council president. She wants to find the right guy, not the usual jerk her school has to offer. She wants a good reputation, because she believes that will lead to good things.

But life is messy, and it's very hard to be in control of it. Not when there are freshman girls running around in a pack, trying to get senior guys to sleep with them. Not when your friends have secrets they're no longer comfortable sharing. Not when the boy you once dismissed ends up being the boy you wants to sleep with yourself - but only in secret, with nobody ever finding out.

Slut or saint? Winner or loser? Natalie is getting tired of these forced choices - and is now going to find a way to live life in the sometimes messy, sometimes wonderful in-between.

I'm not really sure why I waited so long to read one of Siobhan Vivian's novels, but, after NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL, I'll be definitely be reading the rest as soon as possible.

Natalie Sterling is a typical teen with very rigid views of what's right and wrong. For the most part, her entire high school career has gone according to plan, but his year things start to fall apart. Before she knows what's happening the line between right and wrong has begun to blur and Natalie finding herself slowly venturing to the other side.

I found Natalie's voice to be realistic and believable. She's one of the most judgmental MC I've come across... Some may find her to be overbearing and condescending, but that's exactly the point. I don't know how many times I've seen my peers act just like Natalie. They know what's right and wrong and they'll be the first to point out when a classmate or coworker is crossing the line, but they'll never admit when they themselves are doing the exact same thing. It's not pretty, but it's real and I appreciate that Vivian acknowledges that through Natalie's character.

NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL also tackles the subject of teen sex and sexual behavior. While it was definitely present in the novel, I didn't think it was over the top, just honest. It wasn't anything more or less than what readers will see out in the real world, which is exactly what I liked about it. Through various characters, Vivian portrays different different viewpoints on the subject... I found it compelling.

I'll be passing NOT THAT KIND OF GIRL along to my all sisters and friends... I think we can all learn a lesson or two from Natalie.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best Books of 2010 (Part III)

This is my final Best Books of 2010 list, but be sure to check out Part I and Part II as well.

CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare Goodreads
This first installment of Clare's new Infernal Devices trilogy was my most anticipated novel of 2010 and I'm happy to report that it didn't disappoint. 

NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh Goodreads
Wow, wow, wow. I wasn't expected to fall so completely in love with the writing and characters in Creagh's debut... and there's a sequel! Win!

This is the first book I've read by King and I hope to read many, many more. Quirky, funny, and filled with emotion, this book is a must read.

WHERE THE TRUTH LIES by Jessica Warman Goodreads
I was glued to this book for two days straight, reading in between classes and work. It features a great mystery and an ending that isn't obvious.

THE BODY AT THE TOWER by Y.S. Lee Goodreads
This is the second Mary Queen novel and I love them both so, so much! Great mystery, characters, and romance.

Did you read any of these great titles in 2010? Comments? Thoughts?

2011 100+ Books Read in a Year Reading Challenge

This year I'll be participating in another 100+ reading challenge! I successfully completed last years' challenge and am hoping I'll be able to read a few more in 2011... 125 books maybe? 

This year's challenge is hosted by Book Chick City. Go here for more information and to sign up for the challenge! The rules are pretty straightforward and the main objective is to read at least 100 books... no problem, right? 

I'll be recording each book I read in 2011 below.

  1. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  2. Broken Soup by Jenny Valentine
  3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  4. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
  5. Through Her Eyes by Jennifer Archer
  6. Kiss It by Erin Downing
  7. Choker by Elizabeth Woods
  8. Wishful Thinking by Alexandra Bullen
  9. The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
  10. Warped by Maurissa Guibord
  11. Mad Love by Suzanne Selfors
  12. The Liar Society and Lisa and Laura Roecker
  13. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
  14. Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
  15. Clarity by Kim Harrington
  16. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
  17. Stay by Deb Caletti
  18. Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
  19. Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
  20. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  21. Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
  22. White Cat by Holly Black
  23. Red Glove by Holly Black
  24. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  25. Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
  26. Girl, Stolen by April Henry
  27. Miles from Ordinary by Carol Lynch Williams
  28. Hourglass by Myra McEntire
  29. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby
  30. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
  31. Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
  32. Die for Me by Amy Plum
  33. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
  34. Sean Griswold's Head by Lindsey Leavitt

Survey: The Best of 2010 in Books

The Perpetual Page Turner created a great survey to wrap up 2010... Check out my answers below!

Best Book of 2010 I can't pick one... I'm tied between ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson.
Most Disappointing Book of 2010 FAITHFUL by Janet Fox. I adored this cover, but it just didn't wow me. Still good, but I wanted to love it.
Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF. I almost didn't read this one because I was afraid Bianca would be whiny and constantly down on herself, but this novel was so well done. Loved it!
Book you recommended to people most in 2010 Definitely ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which may have been frustrating since I read it super early before arcs went out. I don't regret it though, ANNA is so worth it.
Best series you discovered in 2010 Y.S. Lee's Mary Quinn novels, A SPY IN THE HOUSE and A BODY AT THE TOWER. I'm usually not a huge historical fiction fan, but I devoured these two. I can't say one bad thing about them!
Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010 Y.S. Lee, Cath Crowley, Stephanie Perkins, Lauren Oliver, Jandy Nelson, Kristina McBride, Mindi Scott, Kody Keplinger
Most hilarious read of 2010 WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green & David Levithan. John Green always makes me laugh...
Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010? NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh. Just... wow.
Book you most anticipated in 2010? CLOCKWORK ANGEL by Cassandra Clare. I love Clare's writing and characters so much... I'm always waiting for the next one.
Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? A BLUE SO DARK by Holly Schindler. Gorgeous colors and image... plus this cover is literally soft to the touch. I just want to pet it.

Most memorable character in 2010? Bianca from Kody Keplinger's THE DUFF, followed closely by Anna from Steph Perkins' ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS.
Most beautifully written book in 2010? Gah! I can't choose between A LITTLE WANTING SONG by Cath Crowley and THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson. 
Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? STALKER GIRL by Rosemary Graham. 
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read? THE SUMMER I TURNED PRETTY by Jenny Han. I think I expected it to be something different than it was... which was emotional, romantic, and just plain good.
New favorite book blog you discovered in 2010? Sophistikatied Reviews! Soon after I discovered that Katie was a fellow Michigander, which was very exciting as I didn't know any other MI bloggers. Katie writes great reviews and also has an awesome cover re-creation feature. 

Favorite review that you wrote in 2010? Ooooh. I think my favorite would be my review of Rosemary Graham's STALKER GIRL, here. I felt so much after I finished reading that I felt compelled to write.
Best discussion you had on your blog? I'm not sure it counts as a discussion, but I had some great comments on my Top Ten Reasons to Read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, here.
Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? I'd have to say the myriad of posts regarding the potential banning of Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK.

Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? The YA Literature Conference in Chicago! I had a ridiculous amount of fun, picked up tons of books, and sat in on some awesome panels. 
Best moment of book blogging in 2010? Erica from The Book Cellar and I talking nonstop about ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS and it's amazing-ness on Twitter while driving everyone else insane with envy and annoyance. I like to think we started a craze.
Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.) Anderson's Bookstore in Naperville, IL. Awesome events, great staff, fun times. They're my heroes.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Best Books of 2010 (Part II)

I highly suggest you buy, read, and love these books. 
Be sure to check out Part I here and stay tuned for Part III.

Part II

A LITTLE WANTING SONG by Cath Crowley Goodreads Review
Gorgeous... so unbelievably beautiful. I want to curl up and live in Crowley's novels. Whenever I'm sad or just craving comfort, I crack open this novel and sink into the words and lyrics. <3 

STALKER GIRL by Rosemary Graham Goodreads Review
I never thought I'd identify or sympathize with a stalker, but both ended up happening as I read Graham's novel of a girl who takes things too far after a painful breakup. I read this on a whim and never expected to be so deeply affected by it.

THE MOCKINGBIRDS by Daisy Whitney Goodreads 
Simply put, this debut is important. Whitney skillfully tackles the subject of rape and its psychological effects while simultaneously weaving in romance and a secret society. 

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins Goodreads Review
I don't know if it's the fact that I was the first blogger to read ANNA or if it's just that I love it with a crazy amount of passion, but each and every time I see on Twitter or Goodreads that someone is reading this book, I want to jump  for joy.  I read it in 3 hours flat, from 1am to 3am, because I simply could not put it down. After, I carried it around with me for a solid week just so I could crack it open and reread my favorite parts. It's almost like Perkin's wrote the love story I've been waiting to read, but I didn't even know I was waiting for it.

FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers Goodreads Review
I'm pretty sure that if I ever don't love a novel by Summers, it will be a sign of the world's end. Or the zombie apocalypse. FfA is, without a doubt, my favorite of her novels to date. I love Summers' mean girls, but there was something about Eddie, with her lack of mean, that I identified with on a deeper level. A demonstration of my love for this novel: I named my cat after Eddie's best friend, Milo. 

Be sure to check back for Part III!

Have you read any of these titles? Did they make your Best of 2010 list or did they fall short?

2011 YA Historical Fiction Challenge

I really don't read very much Historical Fiction, but one of my 2011 blog resolutions is to diversify the type of books I read and review, so, hopefully, the YA Historical Fiction Challenge, hosted by Sabrina over at YA Bliss, will help me accomplish this. Below is a brief description of the challenge, a link so you can head over and sign up, and a list of titles I hope to read for this challenge!

Historical fiction: tells a story that is set in the past. That setting is usually real and drawn from history, and often contains actual historical persons, but the principal characters tend to be fictional. Writers of stories in this genre, while penning fiction, attempt to capture the spirit, manners, and social conditions of the persons or time(s) presented in the story, with due attention paid to period detail and fidelity. (Wikipedia)

For more information and to sign up for the challenge, go HERE.

I'm only attempting Level 1 of the challenge, which is to read 5 Historical Fiction novels. Maybe I'll fall madly in love with the genre and bump it up throughout the year.

My Reading List

  1. The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
  2. The Vespertine by Saundra Mitchell
  3. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  4. Deadly by Julie Chibbaro
  5. The Season by Sarah MacLean

2011 Wish I'd Read That Challenge

I'm pretty pumped about the 2011 Wish I'd Read That Challenge hosted by Misha over at My Love Affair With Books! Below you'll find information on the challenge, a link to sign up, and a list of titles I'm planning on reading to fulfill the challenge!

This challenge is for all those books you wish you'd read. I think I have  a list of more than 200 books I want to read and it increases everyday! I am sure I am not alone , in this case...
These don't have to be books you currently own, you can buy them, borrow them or beg for them. This is a great challenge for getting those TBR piles reduced. So go have a look at what you might read and challenge yourself.

Go HERE to sign up for this challenge!

There are 4 different levels for this challenge and I'm going to attempt the Obsessed level and read 20 books off my TBR pile. These are all going to be books that I actually own because, honestly, I feel silly when someone looks at my bookshelf and asks me if I liked a certain book... and I haven't read it. :/

My Reading List
  1. Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian
  2. The Stolen One by Suzanne Crowley
  3. The Everafter by Amy Huntley
  4. The Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King
  5. Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
  6. Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
  7. Girlfriend Material by Melissa Kantor
  8. The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
  9. Once a Witch by Carolyn McCullough
  10. Firespell by Chloe Neill
  11. Levithan by Scott Westerfeld
  12. North of Beautiful by Christina Chen Headley
  13. Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
  14. The China Garden by Liz Berry
  15. Strange Angels by Lilith Saintcrow
  16. Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
  17. Stealing Death by Janet Lee Carey
  18. Looking for Alaska by John Green
  19. Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd
  20. The Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Waiting on Wednesday

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine!

Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade
Description (from GoodReads):
After being sent back from the light, Alona Dare - former homecoming queen, current Queen of the Dead - finds herself doing something she never expected: working. Instead of spending days perfecting her tan by the pool (her typical summer routine when she was, you know, alive), Alona must now cater to the needs of other lost spirits. By her side for all of this - ugh - “helping of others” is Will Killian: social outcast, seer of the dead, and someone Alona cares about more than she’d like.

Before Alona can make a final ruling on Will’s “friend” or “more” status, though, she discovers trouble at home. Her mom is tossing out Alona’s most valuable possessions, and her dad is expecting a new daughter with his wicked wife. Is it possible her family is already moving on? Hello! She’s only been dead for two months! Thankfully, Alona knows just the guy who can put a stop to this mess.

Unfortunately for Alona, Will has other stuff on his mind, and Mina, a young (and beautiful) seer, is at the top of the list. She’s the first ghost-talker Will’s ever met—aside from his father—and she may hold answers to Will’s troubled past. But can she be trusted? Alona immediately puts a check mark in the “clearly not” column. But Will is - ahem - willing to find out, even if it means leaving a hurt and angry Alona to her own devices, which is never a good idea.

Packed with romance, lovable characters, and a killer cliffhanger, Queen of the Dead is the out-of-this-world sequel to The Ghost and the Goth.

Is it June yet?? I read THE GHOST AND THE GOTH a week ago and I already miss Alona and Will... and this description is not helping! 

I'm totally rooting for Alona and Will to be more than just friends and I'm wondering how Alona's going to react to this new, pretty seer vying for Will's attention. 

I feel like I'm going to get my hands on this book, devour it, then sit around dreaming of book three... I mean, a killer cliffhanger? Good grief!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

In 2010 I may have aimed a little high on the Debut Author Challenge. My list consisted of 56 novels: I read 36... but didn't read 22. So pretty good, but I'd like to do better this year. Below you'll find information about the challenge, hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren, a link to find further information and sign up, and the list of 2011 debuts I'm set on reading this upcoming year!

  • The objective of the DAC is to read at least twelve novels from Young Adult or Middle Grade Authors. While twelve is the minimum there is no maximum limit! I encourage readers who can read more than twelve to do so!
  • Anyone can join. You don't have to be a blogger, and you don't have to live in the United States. 
  • You do not have to have an blog written in English to participate. 
  • You can join at anytime. Deadline to join is November 20, 2011. The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011. 

For more information and to sign up for the challege, go here.

My Reading List
  1. Warped by Maurissa Guibord
  2. Across the Universe by Beth Revis
  3. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
  4. XVI by Julia Karr
  5. Timeless by Alexandra Monir
  6. The False Princess by Eilis O'Neal
  7. Choker by Elizabeth Woods
  8. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
  9. Angelfire by Courtney Alison Moulton
  10. Rival by Sara Bennett-Wealer
  11. Exposed by Kimberly Marcus
  12. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
  13. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
  14. The Demon Trapper's Daughter by Jana Oliver
  15. Wither by Lauren DeStefano
  16. Entwined by Heather Dixon
  17. Clarity by Kim Harrington
  18. Like Mandarin by Kristen Hubbard
  19. Born at Midnight by C.C. Hunter
  20. Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
  21. Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker
  22. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
  23. Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
  24. The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder
  25. Momento Nora by Angie Smibert
  26. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
  27. Saving June by Hannah Harrington
  28. Hourglass by Myra McEntire
  29. Die for Me by Amy Plum
  30. Divergent by Veronica Roth
  31. After Midnight by Lynn Viehl
  32. The Revenent by Sonia Gensler
  33. Wildefire by Karsten Knight
  34. Luminous by Dawn Metcalf
  35. Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris
  36. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab
  37. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
  38. Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe
  39. A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
  40. Queen of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  41. Possess by Gretchen McNeil
  42. With a Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo
  43. Girl Wonder by Alexa Martin
  44. Bumped by Megan McCafferty
  45. How I Stole Johnny Depp's Alien Girlfriend by Gary Ghislain
  46. Hereafter by Tara Hudson
  47. The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
  48. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
I have to note that there are so many more amazing looking 2011 debuts that I would love to add to this list and will probably end up reading... 2011 is going to be a GREAT year.

Best Books of 2010 (Part I)

This year was interesting. I've always named Epic Fantasy as my favorite genre, but this was the year of Contemporary YA. The Paranormal and Fantasy novels that made this list were all fantastic, but it was really the Contemporary novels that took the show this year.
I tried to pick 10... and failed. So, instead of one huge post, I'm going to have three Best of 2010 posts with 5 books in each post. 
Each and every book on this list had something special that set it apart from the rest of the 90+ books I read over this year. Here are the first five, in no particular order: 

Part I

BLEEDING VIOLET by Dia Reeves Goodreads Review
Turns out that the first book I read in 2010 ended up being one of my favorites... Dia Reeves' debut is so fantastically messed up that I simply could. not. look. away. I'm looking forward to reading her new offering, SLICE OF CHERRY, in 2011!

THE TENSION OF OPPOSITES by Kristina McBride Goodreads Review
McBride's debut completely blew me away... I picked it up expecting dark and dreary, but that definitely wasn't what I found. The one word I always come back to when it comes to this novel is balance. McBride took a serious subject and added lighter elements, like romance, in a way that didn't detract from the novel's impact.

THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE by Jandy Nelson Goodreads Review
What to even say about Nelson's debut? Even though it's totally nerdy and I probably shouldn't even admit it to anyone, when I finished reading this novel I literally clapped. In my room. By myself. Gorgeous writing, characters, story... I'm very curious to see what Nelson writes next.

FREEFALL by Mindi Scott Goodreads Review
I don't read many male narrated novels, but I made a conscious decision to read more after finishing FREEFALL. Narrated by the supremely f-ed up Seth, this novel that tackles teen drinking, it's consequences, and the difficulty of starting anew after loss. Plus, it'll easily appeal to guys and girls: WIN.

THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger Goodreads Review
Never before has enemies-with-benefits looked so good. Keplinger honestly and deftly confronts teen sex and the effects of a negative self image, making her an author to watch...  This debut will shock some, but it will touch many more. A must read for all my girlfriends and sisters - and you too!

Stay tuned for Part II and III over the next couple days!

What were your favorite books of 2010? Feel free to share in the comments or link to your own Best of 2010 post!

Review: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Title: The Lonely Hearts Club
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg
Publisher: Point/Scholastic
Pub. Date: 12.29.2009
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: High School, Love, Friendship, Music, Self Esteem
Pages: 285
Description (from GoodReads):
Love is all you need...or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut.
Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows - no more. It's a personal choice...and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born; The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways...which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like...

I picked up Elizabeth Eulberg's THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB just when I needed it most. I was going through a difficult breakup and was pretty disillusioned, much like our main character Penny. She's completely given up on the opposite sex and is determined to start anew - without a boy to complicate things.

Penny swears off boys, and highly encourages that her friends do so too, but this book isn't really about a woman, or girl, scorned. It's about being true to who you are, about doing things for you, and about realizing who your true friends are and being faithful to those relationships.

It's easy to lose your identity when you're in a relationship, to blow off your friends because you'd rather spend all your time with him, to slowly make someone else's interests your own. THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB celebrates individuality, strong girls, and healthy relationships with a quirky main character leading the way. Penny doesn't sit around and mope after her heart is broken, she's proactive. She looks around her and she sees how destructive her peers are to themselves, all in the name of boys. Eventually, Penny comes to realize that it isn't necessarily boys that are the issue... and, even though, deep down, many girls are aware of the truths Penny and her friends learn, it's comforting to see the characters achieving this realization and making the same journey many of us will take ourselves.

I enjoyed Penny's character, but was thankful for the secondary characters as well. I think most girls will identify with our main character, but, if not, they'll definitely find something in common with one of her friends. Not only does this  allow for a deeper connection between the characters and the reader, it allows Eulberg to demonstrate how the lessons The Lonely Hearts Club members learn apply to every girl.

And we can't expect our heroine to swear off boys forever, can we? Her blossoming romance is adorable and I found myself rooting for the boy in question!

I believe every mother, daughter, and sister should take the time to read this book. I haven't sworn off boys forever, but I'll be entering my next relationship with the lessons from THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB in the back of my mind.