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Sunday, December 30, 2012

2013 Feminist Reads Challenge Sign Up

If you haven't read the 2013 Feminist Reads Challenge description, here, please do so first. This post includes helpful links and information about the challenge.

Been there, done that? Please sign the Mr. Linky below, linking to your blog post announcing your intent to participate in the challenge! 

Don't forget to include the challenge button in your post, which can be found below! 

If the Mr. Linky isn't working, please leave your name and the link to your post in the comments and I'll add it to the Mr. Linky later. Like so:

Sara @ The Hiding Spot

If you are participating, but not a blogger, please note this detail and leave whatever name you'd like to be listed under. Thank you!

Happy reading and thank you for participating! 

"By hook or by crook, I hope that you will possess yourselves of money enough to travel and to idle, to contemplate the future or the past of the world, to dream over books and loiter at street corners and let the line of thought dip deep into the stream." -- Virginia Woolf

The 2013 Feminist Reads Challenge

Personally, I love reading about girls and women that are capable of kicking butt and taking names. I'm not just talking about the girls out there who are physically able to do this, but about the girls who have the tenacity and courage to rise and reach and grow, no matter the life they've been born into, forced into, or ended up in by some unfortunate turn of events.

Every year I read many fantastic books from a variety of genres that feature women and girls that embody this spirit and determination. In an attempt to support and spread the word about books like these, I decided to host a reading challenge here at The Hiding Spot that focuses entirely on books and characters like this! I present you with:

The 2013 Feminist Reads Challenge

Now I realize some of you may only have a vague understanding of what a feminist and feminism is. Others may have a negative connotation of the word feminist or think that only women can be feminists. Let me attempt to break it down for you.

A feminist is defined as:
  • (n): a person who supports feminism
  • (adj): of, relating to, or supporting feminism
Pretty vague and unhelpful, right? I agree. Let's look a little further.

Feminism is defined as:
  • A movement for granting women political, social, and economic equality with men.
All true, but also fairly boring. I think Rebecca West summed it up pretty well we she said:
"I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat."
Here's how I define feminism and feminists:
  • Feminism is supporting and helping to create strong girls and women.Women who have the ability to take care of themselves, who believe in themselves, and who have the freedom to pursue their dreams and share their beliefs, values, and opinions.
  • Feminists encourage and support strength, independence, individuality, and passion in women of all ages.
  • Feminists fight for people. Yes, they obviously fight for women, but I think it can also be said that they fight for what is right. For equality for all. For every person to have a voice, an education, a fighting chance.
Therefore, any book that features, by your standards, a strong female character or supports feminist ideals is eligible for this challenge! Examples include: The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Dairy of Anne Frank, Matilda, The Handmaid's Tale

How to Participate:

Well, despite that super long explanation, I don't want to make this complicated. So the rules and whatnot are pretty simple.
  1. Create a blog post (or, if you're not a blogger something to announce and keep track of your challenge progress).
  2. On this post, give a quick explanation of the challenge, mention The Hiding Spot and include the challenge button, and link back to this post. If you're feeling awesome, encourage others to participate via twitter, facebook, word-of-mouth, etc. 
  3. Pick a challenge level! I think it will be surprisingly easy to meet these level goals, as there are so many novels with great, feminist heroines.
    1. Easy: 5 books
    2. Medium: 5-10 books
    3. Hard: 10+ books
  4. Leave room to list the books you've read for the challenge. If you're the type of person that likes to plan and have an idea of what you'd like to read, you can list the titles and cross them off as you read. Below, you'll find a few helpful links with title suggestions.
  5. Then, go to the 2013 Feminist Reads Challenge Sign Up page and fill out the Mr. Linky, linking back to your post (the specific post URL, so not just your blog URL).
Easy, right? 

Below a couple helpful links to lists of novels that you might want to consider for the challenge.The Goodreads lists are open, so feel free to add titles, but keep in mind the 2013 list is for books that are being released in 2013. I felt this might be helpful for those of you already doing 2013 release or debut challenges.
If participants think it'd be worthwhile, I'd also like to do some sort of post once a month in which participants would be able to link a review of a book read for the challenge. This will allow participants to see what others are reading, discover some new blogs, and, hopefully, stay motivated. I'll also do my best to promote these reviews via my own blog, Goodreads, and twitter.
I've also considered adding a bit of incentive to these posts by giving away a title that would be eligible for the challenge... I would provide these titles myself, but if there are authors, publishers, or bloggers out there who would like to donate a book, I'd be more than happy to include them!

You can find the April update post here. Be sure to link your reviews for a chance to win Kristin Cashore's Fire!

Have suggestions or comments? Please leave me a comment below!

I also have to give a big shout-out to one of my favorite bloggers and wonderful IRL friend, Katie, over at Sophistikatied Reviews for making me such a fantastic challenge button on such short notice. I'm blessed with the most talented friends! :)

Top 10 Books Read in 2012 & Year in Review

2012 was a very, very busy year for me. I had a lot going on in my personal life - including changing my college major, some family issues, and working way too many hours - and my blog was sadly neglected. I was lucky to have multiple great books assigned for various classes and was able to find some books for fun and review... as of today I've read 108 books this year! For those of you interested in looking through those titles, a link to the list can be found here on Goodreads.

This year was also a year of bookish changes and accomplishments for me:
  1. I read my first graphic novel, Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole, and fell madly in love with the sub-genre.
  2.  I took my first Literary Theory class, which was sometimes overwhelming and difficult, but so, so wonderful. It definitely has had an impact on how I read.
  3. I finally decided what I want to be! A Youth Services Librarian! In retrospect, this seems like an obvious career choice for me. It took me way to long to figure it out!
  4. I got a job in a public library. I just started this month, but I LOVE it. I'm still new and the shininess hasn't even had a chance to wear off, but oh my goodness it is fantastic! I love everything about it... sorting books, the Dewey Decimal System, helping people find books... LOVE IT. 
So, even though I was pretty absent from the blogging world, I've been working towards combining my blogging/bookish life and real life. It's been a long process, but I finally see some progress! :)

I wasn't able to review many of my favorite 2012 reads, but I'd still like to share a quick list of titles and covers, which I painfully narrowed down to 10. I've linked each title's Goodreads page to the image, so click the image to add to your own reading list! Enjoy!

Emily's Dress and Other Missing Things by Kathryn Burak

Emily Dickinson, a troubled main character, and an off-limits potential love interest? How can you not want to read this book?

Plus, the writing is gorgeous. I didn't want to finish this book! 

Venom by Fiona Paul

 My favorite aspect of this book is all of the Shakespeare references and parallels. Granted, I read this as I was reading multiple Shakespeare works - and maybe some of these similarities were imagined - but I loved it!

I totally understand why Venom was one of Penguin's lead 2012 titles!

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

A historical, steampunk-ish novel with zombies and battling banter between the heroine and a scowling, attractive guy. 

Heck yes. 

Check out my review here

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield

Beautiful writing and a haunting story. I love this MC. I was raised in a small town and constantly dreamt of escape, making her all too easy to relate to.

Check out my review here

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

2011 was a bit rough on my love life, but I lost some of my bitterness in 2012. I like to think Fitzpatrick's debut contributed somewhat.

An amazing novel of family and real love, My Life Next Door shines! 

Check out my review here

Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama

A mermaid book like no other, Monstrous Beauty features gorgeous writing and weaves multiples stories and setting together. Part mystery, part love story and wholly intense, Monstrous Beauty is not to be missed.

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

I can't imagine writing of a favorite/best of list that didn't include a novel by Courtney Summers and this year is no exception.

Summers hasn't disappointed me yet (I know, it's great) and her newest novel featuring ZOMBIES was no exception. Powerful stuff right here ladies and gentleman. Read this book... and all her other books. Now. 

Check out my review here

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

I could not get this books out of my head for weeks after reading it. It still pops up in there unexpectedly, though I read it early in 2012. 

The story of 14 kids trapped in a store (think WalMart) as the world as they know it disappears. Maybe not the newest premise, but definitely my favorite take on it so far!

Check out my review here

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

I waited forever for this newest offering from Cashore. Picking up years after Graceling (and wayyy after Fire), Bitterblue tells the story of a girl learning to rule a broken kingdom, to believe in herself, and to love.

So good. 

Check out my review here

Sumo by Thien Pham 

Read during my graphic novel phase (not that it's ended), Sumo blew me away. Deceptively simple, Sumo tells the story of a washed up football played that travels overseas to to become sumo wrestler and finds himself in the process.

What's interesting about this book is that it reads like a sumo match... the images and ideas seem to circle one another and eventually come together in a climactic clash. 

Feel free to share your favorites or own Best of 2012 post in the comments! And, if you loved any of my favorite titles, want to chat about them, or discovered something new, be sure to let me know! 

Happy New Year everyone!  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

2012 YA Story Scavenger Hunt

Looking for this, hunters? I have today's trivia questions from Fiction Fervor's 2012 YA Story Scavenger Hunt here for you. 2012YASSH challenges you with your knowledge of young adult books published this year, and if you enter, you might win a prize! Check out it here for more info. And be sure to read the rules! 

Without further ado, today's questions come from Article 5 by Kristen Simmons. 

Easy: Whom does Ember manage to escape from at the end of the book to ensure Chase's survival? 
Medium: What does Chase lie to Ember about regarding her mother? 
Hard: How is Chase able to help Ember escape? 

Enter your answers in the form below! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Bad Taste in Boys by Carrie Harris

Someone's been a very bad zombie.
Kate Grable is horrified to find out that the football coach has given the team steroids. Worse yet, the steroids are having an unexpected effect, turning hot gridiron hunks into mindless flesh-eating zombies. No one is safe--not her cute crush Aaron, not her dorky brother, Jonah . . . not even Kate! She's got to find an antidote--before her entire high school ends up eating each other. So Kate, her best girlfriend, Rocky, and Aaron stage a frantic battle to save their town . . . and stay hormonally human. 

Speaking of being bad, I'm absolutely horrible because Bad Taste in Boys has been out for OVER A YEAR and I've just read it. Why, why, why did it take me so long to get my act together? The only good thing about my tardiness is the fact that I can now immediately dive into the sequel, Bad Hair Day, and the short companion story, Bad Yeti!

Kate Grable is a smart, butt-kicking heroine who spends her days focused on getting into an awesome school and making medical history as Kate Grable, M.D., dreaming of catching the eye of her quarterback crush, Aaron, and making hilarious observations about the world around her. Little does she know, a virus is about to sweep through her school, leaving many of her peers with zombie-like tendencies. With all the limbs and body parts people keep losing, she'll be lucky if she doesn't end up literally catching Aaron's eye. 

It seems impossible that a book could make a reader gag and laugh within the space of a paragraph, but Bad Taste in Boys proves it's entirely possible... and surprisingly likely. Kate's life might be a complete and often gory mess during the novel (ya know, zombies and all), but the reader can't help but laugh as Kate describes the ridiculous things happening around her. 

Kate has just the right amounts of confidence and insecurity to make relating to her easy. She's obviously got a lot going for her, but she doesn't see it herself. She's smart and, though she's sure of her abilities, she's not cocky. She doesn't realize she's got beauty in addition to brains, but Carrie Harris doesn't portray this in an annoying, false way. Kate doesn't put herself down about not being conventionally beautiful. I was thankful that I never once thought to myself: I feel like this character is constantly talking about how ugly she is just so I'll think in my head, "no silly, you look great!" Kate might sometimes feel self conscious when she considers her looks, but she doesn't dwell - she's got way more important things to worry about. Like that zombie over there.

When I read that Kate's crush is a popular football player and her best friends are equally popular, I was worried that Bad Taste in Boys would suffer from Horrible Best Friends and This Guy Is Way Too Good For Me Syndrome, but I was wrong! Instead, Kate's friends, though they didn't play a super huge role in the novel, were pretty fantastic, and Aaron was  adorable. Plus, he's a super fantastic guy that doesn't suffer from an overly inflated ego. Big shoutout to supportive secondary characters!

In conclusion, don't be a bad, be good! And by good, I mean read Bad Taste in Boys sooner than later! 

Delacorte Books for Young Readers, July 2011, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780385739689, 201 pages.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Review: The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver

One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.
When Liza's brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.
She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.
To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers' nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests--or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.
From New York Times best-selling author Lauren Oliver comes a bewitching story about the reaches of loyalty, the meaning of love, and the enduring power of hope. 

Though it pains me to admit it, I didn't find a lot to love about Lauren Oliver's The Spindlers. I've read a couple of her YA novels and loved them both (Before I Fall is an absolute favorite!), but I found this middle grade offering sadly lacking.

I love the description of this novel, but, after reading it, I don't find it particularly fitting to the text itself. It isn't the content itself that isn't fitting, but the fact that the summary makes the The Spindlers sound much more exciting than it actually is. First off, the summary mentions literally everything readers will find within the covers of the novel - where's the fun in that!? Secondly, the "evil queen" and her "series of deadly tests" are mentioned and made to sound, in addition to sinister, pretty darn exciting. Alas, this didn't turn out to be true. 

Yes, this novel is clearly intended for a middle grade audience, but I found myself entirely too bored as Liza encountered, and easily defeated, each obstacle that stood between herself and her brother, and I can't help but worry the intended audience will feel the same. I felt like the novel was  good start, but that much more could have been added. It almost felt like it was too tame... I just wanted more.

Though I did find some of the inhabitants of Below rather interesting, I was unfavorably distracted by the rat that serves as Liza guide on her quest to rescue Patrick. This rat tries very hard to be human-like, as this is what she regards as attractive, but Liza is constantly thinking of how horrible the creature looks. In the end, the rat embraces her natural form and sheds her makeup and clothes, prompting Liza to remark on how great she looks. I assume this character's purpose is to send the message that being natural and true to yourself is beautiful, but I wasn't a fan of how the message was executed. Liza's frequent negative remarks were off-putting and sometimes felt like she was being a bit of mean.

The Spindlers wasn't my favorite middle grade novel, but it definitely won't stop me from reading more YA and MG offerings from Lauren Oliver. I had some definite issues with this particular book, but Oliver is a strong writer and it's entirely possible this one just wasn't for me.

HarperCollins, September 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780061978081, 256 pages.

Review: The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen

THE FALSE PRINCE is the thrilling first book in a brand-new trilogy filled with danger and deceit and hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king's long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner's motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword's point -- he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage's rivals have their own agendas as well.
As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner's sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together.
An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats. 

It took me a little while to get into The False Prince, but once I did, I was hooked! I purchased the novel via Audible and listened to the first half, then read the second half, which, for me, was much more enjoyable.

Though I found the first half of the novel interesting enough, I absolutely despised the voice actor's portrayal of the main character, Sage. Though Sage is definitely a cocky character, the reader made him, in my opinion, too much of an ass. I really couldn't stand him and almost gave up on the novel entirely just so I wouldn't have to listen to Sage's annoying and condescending tone anymore. Still, I liked the story itself, so I decided to give it one last chance and read the second half of the novel - and I am so glad! As I said, Sage is definitely sure of himself and, at times, full of himself, but I read him as much less annoying and I ended up speeding through the remainder of the novel.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel is that Sage is a very unreliable narrator. The reader can never be sure that Sage isn't lying to the other characters... or even the reader! One moment I thought I knew what was motivating Sage's actions and the next he'd do something completely unexpected, leaving me to retrace his steps and muddle through side comments and small details to figure out where I'd missed something important. 

At the novel's close, many secrets were uncovered, but there is still some much that I hope will be explored in the next novels. The False Prince focused primarily on Sage and the two other boys competing for the role of prince and almost the entire novel is set in Connor's palace, leaving me hopeful readers will get a closer look at the kingdom and its peoples and customs in subsequent novels. 

Scholastic, April 2012, Hardcover, ISBN: 9780545284134, 342  pages.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

COVER REVEAL: Flicker & Burn by T.M. Goeglein (Cold Fury #2)

To top off the super special 12/12/12, I present you with a two-for-one cover reveal…

Cold Fury, by T.M. Goeglein, has been redesigned, as well as the second installment in the Cold Fury trilogy…Flicker & BurnCold Fury will be released in paperback June 2013… and Flicker & Burn comes roaring onto the scene in August 2013! 

Loved Cold Fury? Here's a look at what to expect from the action-packed sequel: 

The thrill ride that began in Cold Fury kicks into high gear in Flicker & Burn, as the threats to Sara Jane Rispoli come at her from all directions. She continues the desperate search for her missing family, but this time she’s on the run from creepy beings with red, pulsing eyes and ghostly white skin chasing her through the streets of Chicago in black ice cream trucks – they can only be described as Ice Cream Creatures. They're skeletal and ferocious, hell-bent on catching or killing her, but also a weird link to her family, a clue to where they might be and who has them. 

While Sara Jane battles these new pursuers, she learns painful lessons about the phenomenon that possesses her, cold fury. At the same time, she’s uncovering buried secrets about the misdeeds of her family – old murders and blood vendettas – that might be connected to the disappearance of her mom, dad, and brother. The mysteries, violence, and constant state of chasing or being chased could be the undoing of her relationship with handsome Max Kissberg. Despite the love growing between them, Sara Jane can’t tell him the truth about her life, and fears for his safety. 

Not only do the Ice Cream Creatures display the grisly amputated finger of her mom to prove their viciousness, and not only does Lucky, the Outfit Boss of Bosses, whistle in Sara Jane for a sit-down with deadly consequences, but her gorgeous cousin, Heather Richards, enters the scene, as well. All that matters to Sara Jane is saving her family and keeping everyone she loves alive and safe. But the forces she encounters, both external and the ones crackling inside of her, fight her every step of the way. 

Now’s your chance…win an ARC of Flicker & Burn as soon as it’s available! Just fill out the handy Rafflecopter form below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway