Friday, December 31, 2010

Goodbye 2010...

I don't know how the rest of you feel, but I am wondering where the year went. I feel like I was sitting on my couch watching the ball drop last week... only it was one year ago today. I now have a little girl in her second year of Montessori school, a little boy who is walking and terrorizing his sister (as all good brothers should), and a list even longer of books I want to read! I know you can all relate to the last one.

The year to come is going to bring many great things for us all... I just know it! There are so many great books coming out this year and events happening that I can't wait to experience, but before we get too busy into next year I thought I would summarize this year.

My top 15 reads of 2010 (in no particular order):

1. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
2. Looking for Alaska by John Green
3. Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
4. White Cat by Holly Black
5. Impossible by Nancy Werlin
6. Trust in Advertising by Victoria Michaels
7. Crank by Ellen Hopkins
8. The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan
9. The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
10. Sister's Red by Jackson Pearce
11. Write Beside Them by Penny Kittle
12. The Dead Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
13. Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
14. Smells Like A Dog by Suzanne Selfors
15. The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride

Debut Novels read in 2010:

The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard
Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer
The Tension of Opposites by Kristina McBride
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Sea by Heidi R. Kling
Tell Me A Secret by Holly Cupala
I Now Pronounce You Someone Else by McCahan
Firelight by Sophie Jordan
Halo by Alexandra Adornetto
Shades of Atlantis by Carol Oates

Lenore at Presenting Lenore did a post recently called 18 books I wish I would have read in 2010.... and I thought it was such a great idea. I mean I know I have a list of books I wish I would have read... don't you?

Wish by Alexandra Bullen
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers
Matched by Ally Condie
Infinite Days by Rebecca Maizel
Life, Liberty and Pursuit by Susan Kaye Quinn
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Change of Heart by Shari Mauer
Annexed by Sharon Dogar
Fallen by Lauren Kate
The Haunted by Jessica Verday
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
13 to Life by Sharon Delaney
The Duff by Kody Keplinger
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Angel Star by Jennifer Murgia
Wicked Girls: A Novel of the Salem Witch Trials by Stephanie Hemphill

Books I can't wait to read in 2011:
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Desires of the Dead by Kimberly Derting
Anya's War by Andrea Alban
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Entwined by Heather Dixon
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthall
Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Plus sooooo many more!

I hope that you all have a blessed new year and that we all enjoy every minute of it. I can't wait to see what great things are coming our way :) Happy New Year!

Glitter Graphics

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dreaming Anastasia by Joy Preble

Dreaming Anastasia
Joy Preble

Genre: YA Paranormal Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 310 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky

What really happened to Anastasia Romanov?
Anastasia Romanov thought she would never feel more alone than when the gunfire started and her family began to fall around her. Surely the bullets would come for her next. But they didn't. Instead, two gnarled old hands reached for her. When she wakes up she discovers that she is in the ancient hut of the witch Baba Yaga, and that some things are worse than being dead.
In modern-day Chicago, Anne doesn't know much about Russian history. She is more concerned about getting into a good college—until the dreams start. She is somewhere else. She is someone else. And she is sharing a small room with a very old woman. The vivid dreams startle her, but not until a handsome stranger offers to explain them does she realize her life is going to change forever. She is the only one who can save Anastasia. But, Anastasia is having her own dreams…
When I was younger I had a mild obsession with Anastasia and the Romanov’s. Disney helped my parents out when they released their version of the story (and gave me songs to sing and a floppy eared dog to love). History has always been something that fascinates me and I honestly believe it is because there are often so many gaps in history that I am able to make up my own stories to fill in those gaps with. There are many stories out there about what truly happened to Anastasia when her family was murdered and I don’t know if I truly believe that she died with the family myself.

Joy Preble has given us another great play on what happened to Anastasia with her debut novel. Weaving in the supernatural with history makes the reader question what we really know about the Romanov family like only a few authors have done (Dan Brown made many question their beliefs with The Da Vinci Code, remember?). Baba Yaga still creeps me out and she was so well written in this story that she has a whole new face in my head now... and it might not even be such a bad one now! Preble has done an amazing job with recreating this story and Anne’s links to Anastasia and her involvement in saving her are uncanny. I loved every second of this book and was lucky enough to meet Joy at NCTE this year and scored the sequel Haunted which I am reading now. Don’t you just love it when you don’t have to wait on a sequel?! Keep on the lookout for Haunted in February!

Visit Joy HERE and follow her on twitter (@joypreble) for more info on her and her upcoming novels!

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska

John Green

Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 221 pages

Publisher: Speak

Before. Miles "Pudge" Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave "the Great Perhaps" even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

I first heard about this book while watching a DVD that came with Penny Kittle’s book. She was doing a read aloud with her students and was raving about a book called Looking for Alaska. I looked it up, thought it looked great (even after her pumping it up), and marked it as “to read” in Goodreads. It was one of those books that kept popping up in random conversations (at NCTE with Paul Hankins and Kellee Moye) and when my husband asked what books I wanted for Christmas, I made sure it was at the top of my list.

It did not disappoint.

I can’t get enough of John Green and his writing. His style is raw, emotional and captivating. It felt as if I were right there experiencing everything with Pudge and his friends and his emotions were written so well. I loved reading a male lead written by a male. I don’t think that there are enough good ones of those out there so I am so glad that I have this one to add to my collection. Green has a way of captivating his audience with language that many of us who are writers only dream to have. I truly enjoyed this novel and is originality in organization (“One hundred nine days before”… “Twenty one days after”) added to it in ways that one can only discover when they read this amazing novel for themselves. I also learned a great deal about many people’s last words through Pudge’s obsession with this topic. Now I am conscious of what my words are… they could be my last!

This novel is definitely one that I plan to use examples of writing style with in my classroom… how could I not? Undeniably a great read!

On a side note... I read some of the 1 star reviews and I just have to say that as a middle school teacher, I know that my kids are definitely exposed to and sometimes participate in the issues in this book. To say that it should not be on a shelf because it has things like drugs, sex, alcohol and porn would mean that we have to take many of the classics off of the shelf too. They are FULL of those same things. They just use more poetic terms to guise it from people so that those who don't pay attention or haven't a clue won't know what they are referencing (Shakespeare was a VERY dirty bird!!). Have an open mind when you read things like this and applaud the authors writing the material because this is what our kids are dealing with these days. Sometimes that is hard to swallow for people because they like to say, "well that's not how it was when I was younger," and I completely agree. But times have changed and it is time for open conversation with our teenagers. If we choose to take books off of shelves and ban them from talking about things like this, then we are going to be in a world of trouble.

Visit John at his site HERE and follow him on twitter (@realjohngreen) for more info on his great books!

Perfect You by Elizabeth Scott

Perfect You

Elizabeth Scott

Genre: YA Fiction

Pages: Paperback, 284 pages

Publisher: Simon Pulse (March 25, 2008)

Kate Brown's life has gone downhill fast.
Her father has quit his job to sell vitamins at the mall, and Kate is forced to work with him. Her best friend has become popular, and now she acts like Kate's invisible.

And then there's Will. Gorgeous, unattainable Will, whom Kate acts like she can't stand even though she can't stop thinking about him. When Will starts acting interested, Kate hates herself for wanting him when she's sure she's just his latest conquest.

Kate figures that the only way things will ever stop hurting so much is if she keeps to herself and stops caring about anyone or anything. What she doesn't realize is that while life may not always be perfect, good things can happen -- but only if she lets them....

Perfect You is yet another example of relatable writing from Elizabeth Scott. We have all been embarrassed at least once by our parents and Kate Brown is no different from that. Her dad decides that selling vitamins is the next big thing and Kate attempts to help him in his quest like all good daughters would, right? All the while she is dealing with the loss of her best friend and the new found interest of Will, whom she is convinced doesn’t really like her.

I found Kate to be very relatable and very well written. Elizabeth Scott has a way of bringing her readers in a making her characters so much like them that you forget you are reading Kate’s story and you feel as if you are the character herself. Kate’s emotions, reactions, fears, and thoughts are so real to the reader throughout the novel and you find yourself hating her parents for being so blind and falling in love with Will right beside her.

When I pick up Elizabeth’s books, I know I will not be disappointed and this one is yet another example of why I know that is true. Great read!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 Debut Author Challenge

2011 Debut Author Challenge

I am so excited to let you all know that I have decided to enter The Story Siren’s 2011 challenge! I enjoyed the challenge last year and got to read so many wonderful novels that I wouldn't have had brought to my attention otherwise through it. I also was able to get quite a few debut's at NCTE this year and am pumped to have the collection started!

The Challenge: Read at least 12 debut novels that are middle grade or young adult by December 31, 2011. Titles that are YA debuts by a middle grade author or vice versa count as well! You can join at anytime. The challenge runs from January 1, 2011 to December 31, 2011.

My list of chosen books is below! I will be adding to this as the year goes and can't wait to read them all.

Leave a comment if you’re participating in the challenge too or want to suggest a title! Share a link to your list!

In no particular order…

1. Anya's War by Andrea Alban

2. The Altar of Bones by Philip Carter

3. Across the Universe by Beth Revis

4. Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

5. Wither by Lauren DeStefano (review here)

6. So Shelly by Ty Roth

7. Divergent by Veronica Roth (review here)

8. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys (review here)

9. Entwined by Heather Dixon

10. Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer

11. Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthall

12. Karma by Cathy Ostlere

13. Department 19 by Will Hill

14. Clarity by Kim Harrington

15. We Are Note Eaten By Yaks by C. Alexander London

16. Moonglass by Jessi Kirby (review here)

17. Between by Cyndi Tefft (review here)


18. The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma (review here)

19. Die for Me by Amy Plum (review here)

I'm Still Alive... I Promise :)

Well now that the holidays are dying down I feel like I can come out of hiding! I didn't mean to take a hiatus, but family comes first and they were taking a lot out of me this season... but only in the best way. I hope that you all had a very good holiday! I know I did. Amongst the many wonderful gifts I received this year was a new Kindle! I am so excited :) I had a First Generation so now I am loving the new one!

I love these too...

HERE is the site where you can see more and get one too... they are tons of fun!

We also got the movie Despicable Me from Santa and these great goggles came with it. So now I have my own Minion!!

There were other great presents including this shirt and the BINGO game Santa brought to us that was supposed to go to some poor Spanish kids...

But mostly there was time spent with family, Rummy played around the table, way too much food eaten, and even little surprises in books bought at the bookstore...

I am looking forward to many great things in 2011 and will be sharing some of that soon. Happy reading everyone!


Monday, December 6, 2010


I have two winners to announce!! These two have won a copy of Carol Oates debut Shades of Atlantis. Congrats to




Check your email and you will find a lovely surprise! Congrats again :)

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