Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 88

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.
If I Lie by Corrine Jackson

A powerful debut novel about the gray space between truth and perception.

Quinn’s done the unthinkable: she kissed a guy who is not Carey, her boyfriend. And she got caught. Being branded a cheater would be bad enough, but Quinn is deemed a traitor, and shunned by all of her friends. Because Carey’s not just any guy—he’s serving in Afghanistan and revered by everyone in their small, military town.

Quinn could clear her name, but that would mean revealing secrets that she’s vowed to keep—secrets that aren’t hers to share. And when Carey goes MIA, Quinn must decide how far she’ll go to protect her boyfriend…and her promise. (from GoodReads)

Someone's Facebook status today was saying that cheating on men and women in the military is really bad so I thought this was relevant! I'd like to see how the author discusses this topic and I want to know the secret! If I Lie will be released August 28, 2012.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 34

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top Ten Books Written in the Past 10 Years that I Hope Are Still Being Read in 30 Years

1. Harry Potter by J.K Rowling
I think this is a pretty obvious choice and I really do think people will be reading these forever.

2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Same with this trilogy.

3. The Mortal Instruments Series by Cassandra Clare
Now that there will be a movie I think these books will become even more popular (if that's possible).

4. Looking For Alaska by John Green
I think this is such a literary book! I could definitely see schools using this as summer reading.

5. Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Another book that could be categorized as "literature." It explore a very interesting and taboo topic, perfect for discussion.

6. A Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R.R. Martin
Now that I'm on the fifth book and watching the tv show, I'm getting more invested in this series. Martin has really created an extremely detailed and intricate fantasy world.

7. The Gemma Doyle Trilogy by Libba Bray
I think these books are amazing and I don't think they get as much love as they should. Read these, people!

8. Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Only because I think future people will need a good laugh.

9. Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
A great example of how to successfully merge contemporary and historical fiction.

10. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
I loved this book when I read it and I couldn't put it down!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fever by Lauren DeStefano

Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.
Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever. (from GoodReads)

Fever and I have an interesting relationship. I didn't like it at first, then I liked it. I also think it wasn't as good as Wither, but I'm excited to see what happens next in Sever.

As I just said, I did not like the beginning of Fever at all. The creepy carnival and the character of Madame could have been really interesting, but I just couldn't get into it. I also felt like I was missing out on details - at one point I actually flipped back to see if I skipped a page or something. With the beginning portion of Fever, I felt like things weren't explained. For example, a new character Jared is introduced out of nowhere without any information. So that really dampened my initial impression of the book.

But when Rhine and Gabriel eventually leave the carnival, things start getting better. I don't want to spoil what happens but it's interesting seeing where they go and how the world has changed from the one we currently live in. I do wish Gabriel would have a little more character development. It's like he's just tagging along with Rhine for the heck of it.

Even though the ending half was better, there was one specific thing I didn't like: there were a lot of hallucinations and altered consciousness. There is a solid ten pages of Rhine detailing these to the reader and I thought it was a little much. It didn't really do anything for the story and actually got a little boring.

Even though Fever was nowhere as good as Wither (I also think the cover can be an indication of this - I liked Wither's ten times better), I'm still looking forward to Sever because Fever leaves off on a giant cliffhanger! Who would have guessed? I am curious to see how everything ends because in this world, girls' life expectancy is 20 years and Rhine is 17. I'm wondering if there will be a happy ending? We shall see.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from library.

2012/Simon & Schuster/341 pages.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 87

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.
Sacred by Elana K. Arnold

Growing up on Catalina Island, off the California coast, Scarlett Wenderoth has led a fairly isolated life. After her brother dies, her isolation deepens as she withdraws into herself, shutting out her friends and boyfriend. Her parents, shattered by their own sorrow, fail to notice Scarlett's pain and sudden alarming thinness. Scarlett finds pleasure only on her horse, escaping to the heart of the island on long, solitary rides. One day, as she races around a bend, Scarlett is startled by a boy who raises his hand in warning and says one word: "Stop."

The boy—intense, beautiful—is Will Cohen, a newcomer to the island. For reasons he can't or won't explain, he's drawn to Scarlett and feels compelled to keep her safe. To keep her from wasting away. His meddling irritates Scarlett, though she can't deny her attraction to him. As their relationship blossoms into love, Scarlett's body slowly awakens at Will's touch. But just when her grief begins to ebb, she makes a startling discovery about Will, a discovery he's been grappling with himself. A discovery that threatens to force them apart. And if it does, Scarlett fears she will unravel all over again. (from GoodReads)

I love stories that take place on islands and I'm curious about Will's secret. Look for Sacred in stores on November 13, 2012

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 33

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top Ten Blogs/Sites That Aren't About Books

1. Facebook - I seriously think Facebook is an amazing invention! I love being able to keep in contact with old friends and it's a great way to procrastinate.

2. A**hole Disney - This tumblr makes fun of Disney but in a loving and charming way.

3. Pleated Jeans - The best of Tumblr.

4. Tastefully Offensive - Another Tumblr with a ton of funny content.

5. Cassandra Clare's Tumblr - I guess this is bookish but I don't care.

6. Reasoning with Vampires - Making fun of Twilight!! And another book one but I don't care. It's more about grammar than the actual books.

7. Politifact - Rates how truthful politician's statements are.

8. PostSecret

9. Passive Agressive Notes - People photograph funny notes they find.

10. Uhpinions - Full of funny reviews left on Amazon and Yelp.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

I'm pushing aside the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana and my old school,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and flame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed The New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

So the synopsis is extremely vague, especially to those who haven't read the first book. But that's good because it avoids any spoilers! Heading into Pandemonium I had no idea what was going to happen. Luckily, the novel circumvented the "middle book syndrome" and was extremely exciting and riveting.

What I really liked about Pandemonium was the time jumps. Each chapter jumps back and forth between "then" and "now" so it's almost like two different stories at once. Each time period has it's own revelations and excitement, making them both interesting to read.

Of course, there is another love interest, who I was able to pick out the first time we meet him. This romance was a little different, because it's one of the first times where the guy is the shy, unsure one. Obviously that's because they believe love to be a disease, but it was still cute and different to see the guy all nervous.

In addition to that, some of the twists I was able to guess beforehand, so they weren't quite as astonishing as they could have been. Even so, there were still some surprises that I was not expecting at all, so it balanced out for me.

I'm trying to be vague here as well, but I really enjoyed the direction that Lauren Oliver took the story. It was different than I was expecting but in a good way. Also, some similarities between this series and the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld are starting to emerge, such as living in the wilderness, an operation that changes your brain chemistry, a divide between those who've had the operation and those who haven't, and the existence of a resistance. But I love the Uglies series so I don't mind too much.

Pandemonium left off on a giant cliffhanger, so naturally I'm looking forward to the conclusion of this trilogy, Requiem (which is an awesome title).

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/Harper Teen/375 pages.

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks

When Rain's once best friend Wendy is discovered dead in Central Park, she is shocked and upset. Though not liked by everyone at their prep school, Wendy was still full of life and fun to be around. But now the newspapers are accusing Wendy of only being a party girl, whose actions caused her demise. Rain decides she wants to clear Wendy's name and set the record straight - and the best way she can think of doing that is by exposing her murderer.

I really enjoyed The Girl in the Park. It was short and an extremely quick read, especially for a mystery. However, the book read just like an episode of Law and Order (which I liked very much). I was instantly drawn into the murder and having a great narrator like Rain made the novel that much better. Even though the book is short, the author hits a lot of points and we get backstory on Wendy as well as an array of suspects. Rain realistically looks for clues and questions suspects like Nancy Drew, but it doesn't seem corny or campy. The whole time I was unsure of the culprit but the ending is very satisfying. All the clues added up and I was pleased with how everything was resolved. For such a short book, I thought that the author wrote an exciting mystery that everyone can enjoy.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: received from Flamingnet Book Reviews

2012/Schwartz & Wade Books/217 pages.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin

After centuries of bitter strife and fatal treachery, the seven powers dividing the land have decimated one another into an uneasy truce. But it's not long before the survivors, outlaws, renegades, and carrion eaters of the Seven Kingdoms gather. Now, as the human crows assemble over a banquet of ashes, daring new plots and dangerous new alliances are formed while surprising faces—some familiar, others only just appearing—emerge from an ominous twilight of past struggles and chaos to take up the challenges of the terrible times ahead. Nobles and commoners, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and sages, are coming together to stake their fortunes...and their lives. For at a feast for crows, many are the guests—but only a few are the survivors.(from GoodReads)

I'm almost done this series!! Well, at least until the next two books are released. I'm only excited because it's taking me so long to read this and I'm getting behind on other books. For my GoodReads challenge I'm 7 books behind! We can't have that.

Anyway this will probably be a short review because I don't really have anything to add. My feelings are pretty much the same as the third book. I liked it and still think this series can be shorter. Oh well.

What I think is pretty cool is that the fourth and fifth book actually take place at the same time, but each has different characters' perspectives. So you can read them at the same time, except the end of A Dance With Dragons eventually moves into new territory.

I laughed at the end author's note, in which George R.R. Martin says the fifth book will be released a year after the fourth one (in 2005). Yeah that happened.

Otherwise, I am looking forward to continuing on and catching up on the tv series. Better get started!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from my brother

2005/Bantam Spectra/1061 pages

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Guest Blog: Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Ok, I know I've been bombarding everyone with guest blogs, but there have been a lot of 2012 debut releases recently! Today we have Lynda Mullaly Hunt, whose new MG book One for the Murphys, was released on May 10. Lynda will be discussing writing!

Aspiring Authors: Take an Aspirin and Call me in the Morning
First of all, aspiring authors. Let me tell you this. It’s no coincidence that the word, "aspiring" begins with the word, "aspirin." This journey merits plenty of it.
Most writers I know (including myself) have insecurities. What made the difference for me in going from writer to author was the ability to ignore those insecurities. Notice I didn’t say I cast them off; you can’t get rid of them completely. Nope. When the insecurity monster sat on my shoulder, whispering, “You’re never going to do this, you know.” I’d tell it to take a long walk of off a short pier. Got my revenge by writing more and better.
So, my advice? Work on craft.  Be open to less-than-stellar feedback; although hard to hear, some will be on target. However, also be confident in your own voice—you know what’s right and what isn’t. Believe in your book. Ignore “the odds.”
Work and rework your book. Foster your connections in the industry. Rework your book again. Build a support network for yourself.  Don’t give in to fear. Not in your dealings with industry professionals. And, more importantly, not on the page.
The first time I ever entered a “first pages” activity at an SCBWI event, I submitted some silly PB manuscript. It was read out loud and then there was the dreaded pause. Long enough that I celebrated a couple of birthdays. Until the most prominent editor said, “This is the cheesiest thing I’ve ever heard. Horrible. Some terrible throwback to the 70’s or something.”
Okay. So not what I’d hoped for, exactly. But, I did not despair. I sat back and thought about it, ultimately deciding to write novels. And you know what? I had to write a lousy one before I was able to write a good one. I gave myself the time to learn, and I didn’t submit until I knew the work was ready. Looking back on those “cheesy” stories, I was really just avoiding going deep, afraid to put emotion on the page.
Lastly, I know this is a tough one, folks, but try not to focus on wanting to be published. I think that when we focus on the contract and not on the work, we diminish our chances of that kind of success. Honestly, I never thought I’d get published. No, I really didn’t. Oddly enough, I think that’s why I ended up with a contract. Because I focused so much on the work. Writing to my strengths and revising to my weaknesses.
Believe me. I if can do this, so can you. I do ask you, though, to never take the power that faith in yourself has lightly. It’s just as important as talent or perseverance. I’ve been there—believe me. I know that sometimes it feels like wading through glue, but I’d like to help you on your journey. So take that aspirin I talked about, and call me in the morning.
Thank you so much for visiting, Lynda! Don't forget to check out her new book and her Twitter!

Waiting on Wednesday - 86

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to learn about new books.
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

A wonderful, coming-of-age love story from a fresh new voice in YA fiction.

'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes? (from GoodReads)

I think this sounds so cute, plus I absolutely love the title! Why is this not being released until December 11, 2010?!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Guest Blog: Katherine Longshore

I have the pleasure of having Katherine Longshore on Simply Books. Katherine is the 2012 debut author of Gilt and today she will be discussing one of my favorite subjects, the Tudors!

Thank you, Megan, for having me on your blog!  It is always such a joy to connect with other people who love books, but more so when I find someone as obsessed with Tudor fiction as I am.

Why do we find the Tudors so fascinating in general?  And Henry VIII and his succession of ill-fated wives in particular?  I have my theories, and thanks to Megan, I have a place to share them:

The Tudors are opulent.  Dazzling.  Gorgeous.  All those rich fabrics – velvets and silks and brocades.  The sumptuous colors – crimson and midnight blue, gold and silver and deep purple.  The gowns with long, luxurious trains, sleeves of flowing silk, all decorated with gold braid, pearls and jewels.  Those doublets with cinched-in waists and broad shoulders.  And jewelry.  Coronets and rings, brooches, bracelets, necklaces and diamond collars.

The Tudors are sexy.  Even before Showtime gave us Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Henry Cavill, the historical period grabbed the collective prurient curiosity.  A King with six wives?  Half of whom he left/divorced/beheaded so he could marry the next one?  A royal court in which flirtation won popularity and acclaim and sexual innuendoes were tossed like golden coins to those not clever enough to think of them?  Men in tights!  And codpieces.  Let’s not forget codpieces.  The very quintessence of sexual suggestion.

The Tudors changed the world. They changed religion.  They changed political geography (Virginia, anyone?  Named after Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen).  They changed the very idea of marriage and relationships between men and women.  Whatever else we can say about him, Henry married for love more times than not.  This was virtually unheard of – previously, marriage in the sixteenth century was based entirely on political/economic alliance.  For commoners as well as kings.

The Tudors remind us of ourselves.  They were selfish, ambitious, ill-tempered and cruel.  They were generous, beautiful, diligent and thoughtful.  They loved music, theater, sports and games.  They enjoyed the out-of-doors.  They created heart-breaking poetry.  They spent a great deal of time at war.

But I think what has always fascinated me most about the Tudors is how they are viewed by history.  And I have always wondered, what if that isn’t true?

Historians describe Catherine Howard as a promiscuous, empty-headed flirt.  They use words like harebrained and frivolous, bubbly and silly.  I looked at contemporary accounts and saw a girl who wore a new dress every day, was showered in jewels by her husband, insisted on court parties and plays and (horror of horrors) had relationships before she married the king.  I didn’t see harebrained and silly.  I saw myself as a teenager.  I loved clothes and shoes.  I went to parties.  I fell in love more than once.

I asked myself what if Catherine Howard was a cunning, ambitious, sensual girl?  And then I asked: what if she was the Queen Bee before she became Queen?

And that is how GILT was born.

The opulence and the sexiness and the changing social mores and the similarities to the modern world just made it that much more fun to write.

Thank you so much for visiting, Katherine. I'm really looking forward to reading your new book. Don't forget to follow her on Twitter!

Top Ten Tuesday - 32

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top 10 Authors I'd Love to See on a Reality Show

Ok, so this topic is super hard! I'm just going to do the best I can, granted I don't know the personalities of a lot of authors.

1. John Green - Celebrity Apprentice
I love this show and I think he would be very hilarious and entertaining while on it.

2. Cassandra Clare - The Amazing Race
I know she grew up all around the world, which is perfect for all the exotic locations you have to travel to.

3. Stephen King - Fear Factor
Because he's scared so many people with his novels and movies.

4. Philippa Gregory - Manor House
This was a show where they put people into a 19th century house to see how they lived back then. I know Gregory's time period is a little earlier but I think it would still be cool.

5. J. K. Rowling - Who Wants to be a Millionaire
She seems smart so hopefully she knows a lot of random information.

Annnnnd that's all I got. This really was a hard topic! Do you guys have any thoughts on what authors you'd like to see on a reality show?

Monday, May 14, 2012

Guest Blog: Lynne Kelly

I have the pleasure of hosting Lynne Kelly on Simply Books today! She is the 2012 debut author of Chained, an MG novel released last week. Here she is to tell us about writing and editing.

On Santa frogs, creepy dolls, and questionable turkey recipes

I've come across some interesting things while packing up my house to get ready to move. In looking through conference notes, I saw this quote from Isaac Asimov:

"The reader will remember not the phrase, but the effect it has. If the phrase does not have an effect on the reader, change it or cut it."

I don't know what conference presenter relayed the quote to us, and I couldn't confirm that was the exact quote or find where Asimov said that, but that's what I scribbled down at the workshop, so let's just assume he did say something like that at some time.

'Cause I think it works really well with sorting through ten years' worth of stuff. Plus, deciding what to keep and what to throw out reminded me of editing.

By some miracle of physics, the entire contents of one closet filled up the living room. Not all of those things can be worth keeping.

What is this thing and why do I own it? It's-- a frog, I guess? Wearing a Santa hat for some reason. Maybe it's cute, but it doesn't elicit any warm feelings from me. There's nothing wrong with him, really. I love frogs. I love Santa. But the amphibious hat-wearer needs to go.

Maybe when you're revising a manuscript you'll find some phrases or scenes that are like the Santa frog: nice, but they don't serve any purpose. It might even be a favorite scene you've written. But does it advance the plot? Will it have an effect on the reader? If not, there's no reason for it to take up space. So, toss it out like 1997's tax receipts.
Some things worth saving have an effect on us, but not a pleasant one. Like these gals:

Yeah, I know. Lovely, right? Just the kind of thing a little girl would love to cuddle with before falling asleep at night. They live in a box in my closet. Yes, I do worry they will leap out and murder me in my sleep. But they're antique, and they were my grandmother's. So they will stay.

Some scenes are hard to write. I don't mean the writing part, although that's hard too, but I mean because they're unpleasant. Something bad happens to the characters we love. Maybe someone's broken his heart, or punched her in the face. Or your character has lost her home, or her family, his innocence, or everything he's ever loved. You've read books like that, too; anyone who's read Laurie Halse Anderson or Ellen Hopkins knows about scenes that are hard to get through. We identify with the characters and hate to see bad things happen to them, but that's part of their story. And we remember them. They have an effect on us.

On to my favorite kinds of things to find:

That first paper is one I post on the refrigerator every November. It was a "How To Cook a Turkey" assignment my daughter had in 2nd grade. Is it well-written? Sure, for an 8-year-old, I think it is. Is the recipe accurate? I wouldn't recommend using it unless you want to spend Thanksgiving in the emergency room with all your family members. And the turkey's missing a foot. But after ten years, I still laugh when I read the instruction, "Bake for 30 minutes at 104 degrees." We're keeping the turkey.

The yellow paper looks like something the daughter drew at age 2. I think it's a family portrait. Sure, our legs are attached to our heads, but she could write "Dad." No one has arms, but we have ears and knee caps.

When we look over a drafts of our manuscripts, we always find things that need to be rewritten. Maybe the words aren't exactly right, or the sentences are too wordy. There isn't enough detail, or there's too much. Or you're revising something you wrote last year, and you've grown as a writer since then, so you'd write it differently today. But the feeling is there. The scene has an effect on the reader. It isn't perfect, but it's worth keeping.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm getting a padlock for that box of dolls.

Thank you so much for visiting, Lynne! She included pictures with her post but I was unable to include them :( But please read her book and visit her twitter!

Book vs. Movie: Water for Elephants

I decided to read Water for Elephants when I started seeing commercials for the movie. I knew I'd want to see it, and I have to read the book before I watch the movie. Last night I finally got a chance to compare the two.

My verdict: I really liked the movie! I thought they did a great job of capturing the spirit of the book, while covering pretty much all of the plot. It helps that the book isn't that long so nothing really had to be cut. Overall I thought they did a good job with it. I also want to say that I didn't remember every detail from the book, nor was I heavily invested in the story; so others might have a different opinion than me.

The only negative I can think of was that there could have been a little more chemistry between Reese Witherspoon and Rob Pattinson.

What did you guys think of the movie and how it compared to the book?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 85

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about upcoming books.

Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara

About a high-school senior, who, in the aftermath of a car accident that kills her boyfriend and throws her carefully planned future into complete upheaval, retreats to the deep woods of Maine to live with the artist father she barely knows and meets a boy who threatens to pull her from her safe, hard-won exile. (from GoodReads)

The cover and title make this novel look very literary! I also think the summary sounds interesting. I just read a book about a drunk driving accident so we'll see how this compares! Lovely, Dark and Deep will be released November 13, 2012.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 31

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books.

Top Ten Favorite Quotes from Books

1. “Because what is more like love than the ocean? You can play in it, drown in it. It can be clear and bright enough to hurt your eyes, or covered in fog; hidden behind a curve of road, and then suddenly there in full glory. Its waves come like breaths, in and out, in and out, body stretched to forever in its possibilities and yet its heart lies deep, not fully knowable, inconceivably majestic.” - Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
2. “If you care about something, you have the right to protect it – if you’re lucky enough to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it.” - A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

3. “Ideas don’t hurt people; people without ideas do.” - Going Bovine by Libba Bray

4. “Words are like x-rays, if you use them properly – they’ll go through anything.” - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

5. “Heroes didn’t leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an outstretched hand; they didn’t wear boots and capes. They bled and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else’s. And maybe that one act could lead someone to rescue you right back." - Second Glance by Jodi Picoult

6. “When you love someone, you love the whole person, as they are, and not as you’d like them to be.” - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

7. “Eavesdroppers often hear highly entertaining and instructive things.” - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

8. “One must always be careful of books and what is inside them, for words have the power to change us.” - Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

9. “It is our choices that show us what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

10. “Because she wants to run a dictatorial regime and our underground, unsanctioned tours were thwarting the total controls she wields over the school.” - Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Princesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

What does it mean to do wrong, when no one punishes you? A smart and unflinching look at friendship, the nature of entitlement, and growing up in the heartland.
Paige Sheridan has the perfect life. She's pretty, rich, and popular, and her spot on the homecoming court is practically guaranteed. But when a night of partying ends in an it-could-have-been-so-much worse crash, everything changes. Her best friends start ignoring her, her boyfriend grows cold and distant, and her once-adoring younger sister now views her with contempt. The only bright spot is
her creative writing class, led by a charismatic new teacher who encourages students to be true to themselves. But who is Paige, if not the homecoming princess everyone expects her to be?

In this arresting and witty debut, a girl who was once high-school royalty must face a truth that money and status can't fix, and choose between living the privileged life of a princess, or owning up to her mistakes and giving up everything she once held dear. (from GoodReads)

I was really in need of some good ole contemporary YA after spending almost two months reading the fantasy Song of Ice and Fire series. The Princesses of Iowa was a great pick for this and it's a debut! I really enjoyed this novel, however I do thing the author tried to cram too many things into it.

There was a lot about The Princesses of Iowa that is similar to other YA books: popular girl finding herself, drinking/drunk driving, high school, friendship/family issues. But I thought that The Princesses of Iowa put a spin on all that. First off, the book takes place in Iowa, which is definitely different. The accident that Paige was involved in could have been a lot worse and the book is mainly the aftermath of this event a few months after its occurence.

I was really expecting the drunk driving accident to take center stage, since it seemed to be the main point of the plot, but there was so much going on that it was pushed into the background. I know teens have to deal with a lot of different things but this book honestly did not need to address every single one. There were so many themes and separate plot points that everything felt mashed together. Let's see, there was: drunk driving, friendship/boyfriend/family issues, self-image, two love interests, popularity, parental/peer pressure, disabilities and gay rights/discrimination. All this was tied around writing, because Paige is taking a creative writing class. So she's trying to work around all these issues while using writing as therapy. So there is a lot going on! While I'm glad that the author discussed gay rights/discrimination because that's a very important issue, it felt like it was thrown in there with no relation to the plot. That could have been its own separate thought.

Even though the book was super long and had many things going on, I liked that Paige developed like a true dynamic character. She really did change for the better and it was nice to actually be able to see that. Also some of the supporting characters were really fun to read about, such as Shanti, Ethan, and Mr. Tremont. I did enjoy The Princesses of Iowa, but I think it could have been written a little better. So if any of the million themes interest you, you'd probably like this book.

Release Date: May 8, 2012
Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: from Flamingnet Book Reviews

2012/Candlewick Press/464 pages.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White

Something—some power—is blooming inside Laurel. She can use flowers to do things. Like bringing back lost memories. Or helping her friends ace tests. Or making people fall in love.

Laurel suspects her newfound ability has something to do with an ancient family secret, one that her mother meant to share with Laurel when the time was right. But then time ran out.

Clues and signs and secret messages seem to be all around Laurel at Avondale School, where her mother had also boarded as a student. Can Laurel piece everything together quickly enough to control her power, which is growing more potent every day? Or will she set the stage for the most lovestruck, infamous prom in the history of the school? (from GoodReads)

This has been on my shelf for about two years and I finally got around to reading it! That being said, I thought the novel was cute but definitely more suited towards younger readers.

Forget-Her-Nots had a great premise: the secret language of flowers. Not only do flowers have different meanings, but Laurel has a special ability that she can use those meanings to make actual things occur. For example, rosemary is for memory, but Laurel can make sure you remember all your Spanish vocab when she gives you the herb. So there was a bit of a fantasy aspect that I was not expecting. Even though I knew that flowers represented things, but I didn't realize how extensive it went! I loved learning the different meanings and definitely have more of an interest in flowers after reading this.

In Forget-Her-Nots, Laurel is fourteen and a freshmen in high school. Sometimes the character's age doesn't matter to me because the tone of a novel can make younger characters seem older. But since Forget-Her-Nots was very light and fun, I would have liked this book better when I was 12. I could tell this was MG/early YA, which is why this isn't my favorite book.

Overall, if you're interested in flowers and gardening this might be a good book for you. But you would probably enjoy it more if you're a little younger.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: received from Flamingnet.

2010/Greenwillow Books/384 pages.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday - 84

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to get excited about new books.
The Almost Truth by Eileen Cook

When a teenaged con artist realizes that she looks like an age-enhanced photo of a missing child, she decides to pull the ultimate con--until she begins to suspect she may actually be the missing child. (from GoodReads)

The summary is super short, but I'm already intrigued! YA con artists are always the best (see: The Heist Society) so I'm looking forward to a strong and spunky heroine! The Almost Truth will be released December 4, 2012.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday - 30

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like making lists about books!

Top Ten Books I'd Like to See be Made into a Movie

1. Heist Society by Ally Carter

2. A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray

3. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

4. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth

6. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

7. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - This is actually starting filming in August, but I'm still impatiently waiting for it to be on the big screen!

8. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins - This is a given as well, but I still want to see it!

9. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

10. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan