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April Books

Books Read:

1. SO SHELLY by Ty Roth.
2. THE NAME OF THIS BOOK IS SECRET by Pseudonymous Bosch.
3. WHERE THE TRUTH LIES by Jessica Warman.
4. ACCOMPLICE by Eireann Corrigan.
5. LOOKS by Madeleine George.
7. BUMPED by Megan McCafferty.
8. THE KARMA CLUB by Jessica Brody.
10. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan.
11. BEAUTY QUEENS by Libba Bray.
12. INTO THE WILD NERD YONDER by Julie Halpern.
13. THE CELLAR by A. J. Whitten.
14. PRISCILLA THE GREAT by Sybil Nelson.
15. THIS WORLD WE LIVE IN by Susan Beth Pfeffer.
16. BLACK BUTLER VOLUME 1 by Yana Toboso.
19. ANGELFIRE by Courtney Allison Moulton.
20. DAWN OF THE DREADFULS by Steve Hockensmith.
21. GIRL WONDER by Alexa Martin.
22. DREADFULLY EVER AFTER by Steven Hockensmith.
23. LIKE MANDARIN by Kirsten Hubbard.
24. GUANTANAMO BOY by Anna Perera.
25. WITHER by Lauren DeStefano.

Pages Read: 8072
Total Pages: 28173

Challenge Updates:

2011 Reading Challenge: 92/180
2011 Manga Challenge: 6/15
2011 Debut Author Challenge: 9/44
2011 YA Historical Challenge: 7/10

Favorite Books: WHERE THE TRUTH LIES by Jessica Warman, ACCOMPLICE by Eireann Corrigan, WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green and David Levithan, PUTTING MAKE UP ON DEAD PEOPLE by Jen Violi, GIRL WONDER by Alexa Martin

Biggest Disappointment: BUMPED by Megan McCafferty

Biggest Pleasant Surprises: BLACK BUTLER VOLUME 1 by Yana Toboso, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, SO SHELLY by Ty Roth

Book Blogger Hop (22) and Follow Friday (11)

This week's Book Blogger Hop question is...

Summer is coming quickly! What summer release are you looking forward to the most?

Tough question! I have so many on my list, but Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt is definitely up among the ones I'm waiting for the most. The author is one of my favorites, and I can always count on her books to lift me up and provide a cute, funny read. A lot of books I read are very dark and often sad, so Barnholdt is perfect to raise my spirits after many depressing reads!

This week's Follow Friday question is...

If you were stocking your bomb shelter and only had space for 10 books, what would you HAVE to bring?

Talk about impossible questions! I'm going to have to go with The Spaces Between Trees by Kate Williams, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, One Night that Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt, Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols, How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford, Looking for Alaska by John Green, the Hunger Games Trilogy, and Charlotte's Web by E. B. White. I feel like it's a good mix of books that provide a lot to think about, as well as a couple lighter ones and of course, the last one just because I have so many childhood memories about it.

If you're new to my blog, welcome! Please drop your link in the comments section so I can return the favor :) 

Where the Truth Lies: Review

Title: Where the Truth Lies
Author: Jessica Warman
Release Date: September 2010
Published By: Walker Books
Pages: 320
Goodreads Rating: 3.76 stars

Review: Emily leads a seemingly perfect life attending a Connecticut prep school: she has three best friends, a kind headmaster father, and a loving mother. Her intense nightmares are the only sign that not all is right. But when the enigmatic Del Sugar shows up, she's swept away in a passionate romance. With Del comes discoveries, not the least of which being secrets about herself and her past. They unravel her perfect life and lead her on a journey where she questions love, family, and her own history.

Don't be fooled by the idyllic cover - this book contains a raw story that packs a powerful punch. The prose is simple yet effective, each word conveying every emotion needed. Though this isn't often the case with contemporary novels, the plot was suspenseful and could sometimes border on emotionally draining, but in a good way. Everything about WHERE THE TRUTH LIES makes you feel, from the honestly portrayed characters to the twists in the story.

The characters were all developed fully, with their good and bad sides clearly on display. Each has their own heart-wrenching story, but I didn't find this getting in the way of the plot itself. Similar to the characters themselves, the relationships between them were rather complex as well and had their ups and downs. Del was definitely not the perfect dream nice guy mothers would wish upon their daughters, and this was shown without being preachy or overbearing.

This book is a heart-breaker. While I didn't cry or tear up when I read this, it pulled on my heart strings all the same and I can see how others would cry during this. Grabbing you from the first page and never letting go, WHERE THE TRUTH LIES is a gritty, honest account of a girl exploring her hidden past and growing up in the process.

Waiting on Wednesday (2)

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill over at Breaking the Spine.

This week, my pick is...

Going Underground by Susan Vaught. Del is a good kid who’s been caught in horrible circumstances. At 17, he’s trying to put his life together after an incident in his past that made him a social outcast—and a felon. As a result, he can’t get into college; the only job he can find is digging graves; and when he finally meets a girl he might fall in love with, there’s a whole sea of complications that threaten to bring the world crashing down around him again. But what has Del done? In flashbacks to Del’s 14th year, we slowly learn the truth: his girlfriend texted him a revealing photo of herself, a teacher confiscated his phone, and soon the police were involved.
Basing her story on real-life cases of teens in trouble with the law for texting explicit photos, Susan Vaught has created a moving portrait of an immensely likable character caught up in a highly controversial legal scenario.

This sounds like a fascinating read to me! I like that it's based on a serious and relevant issue that affects many teenagers, especially since not a lot of novels deal with "sexting" (spreading naked pictures of girls and boys through texting). The cover is pretty creative too, and the positioning of the title and author is neat. GOING UNDERGROUND will be released in September 2011.

What are you waiting on?

The Magical Package

It's not a big secret that I'm really, really awful at opening packages. It doesn't matter what kind - I'm bad at all of them. Chip bags? Not happening. Those little plastic bags with Happy Meal toys? No way. But the kinds that are most impossible of all are the cardboard ones, of the sort FedEx or UPS would deliver.

A few days ago, I was lucky enough to receive a cardboard box with the promising return address of a well-known publisher. (Just what this publisher was, I shall leave for the next IMM post.) Needless to say, I was quite happy, if you define "quite happy" as jumping around and squealing, I MEAN, making professional noises of excitement. (The excitement of getting books never wears off.)

There was just one problem: I couldn't open it.

I tried everything. Clawing at it with my fingers, hacking at the duct tape with scissors, even yelling at it. None of these promising tactics worked. And so I concluded, this must not be an ordinary package.

No, this, bloggy friends, was a MAGICAL package.

I leaned back and appraised it. If it was magical, then I would have to use different strategies to attempt to open it. The usual curse-at-it-until-my-face-turns-blue wouldn't do anything, nor would stabbing it with my pencil.

I would have to use magic.

First, I set off in search of a wand. After all, every wielder-of-cool-magical-powers needs a cool magical wand. Unfortunately, there weren't a great many of them exactly lying around, so I settled for my light saber. Hey, at least it glowed.

Next, I needed a spell book, something that would provide a lot of fancy words to say to open the box. My personal library was quite small, though, so I ended up using my nanotechnology textbook instead. That had tons of fancy words.

Finally, it was time to cast the spell. I put on my cowgirl hat (no witch hats were around), waved my saber in the air, and intoned, "Molecular orbitals. Free electrons. Spectra. Electromagnetic waves."

I continued on like this for a while, but the package didn't open. Somewhere in the middle, my dad walked in, raised an eyebrow, and slid the scissors across the cardboard in one clean motion. The package burst open.

Now, some might say it was my dad who opened it, but I know better.

'Twas the magic.

So Shelly: Review

Title: So Shelly
Author: Ty Roth
Release Date: February 2011
Published By: Delacorte Books
Pages: 304 pages
Goodreads Rating: 3.49 stars

Review: Three historical figures are brought together in modern times: shy high school junior John Keats, prodigy and messed up Gordon Byron, and of course, Shelly. When Shelly drowns, Keats and Gordon fulfill her final request by stealing her ashes and bringing them to Lake Erie to spread. But as they navigate the many obstacles of their journey, they piece together their entwined but fractured pasts and come to terms with the truth of Shelly's death.

I'll admit, when I started SO SHELLY, I was fairly skeptical. The idea of bringing these poets and writers together in our world just felt a little odd, but that quickly changed when I read the first page. That was all I needed to suck me into the story, into the incredibly complex lives of the three and their surprising pasts. Ty Roth used actual legends of the writers' lives in the story, but despite the fact that many appeared exaggerated, this was somewhat the point. A person's reputations are a part of them.

As I said, the characters were very well-developed, to the point where each felt real and, to a certain extent, not. This didn't work against the story, though. Keats was perhaps the simplest of the three, and was a rather shy, timid guy who, despite being the narrator, was in the background or not present during the retelling of their past. (The book alternated between their current adventure and then stories of what occurred before.) He came out into the spotlight more towards the end, but I still wished we could have read more about him.

Gordon was, well, legendary. His screwed-up childhood was described in great detail, as were his many exploits as a teenager. Shelly was his neighbor, and so their histories were connected. They had a complicated relationship - Shelly was in love with him, but while he didn't love her back, he needed her to love him. And so he kept stringing her along, and she kept loving and hating him at the same time. Honestly, the way these two characters were described and developed was absolutely beautiful.

This book was a fascinating read. My attention was glued from the very beginning even though it does start a bit slow, mainly because of how intriguing the characters were. Some people might not like this one because it's rather quirky, but if you're like me and enjoy the off-beat books, then this one's right up your alley. SO SHELLY is a complex, beautiful novel that I never expected to like but found myself loving.

In My Mailbox (22)

So super-pumped to read these!

For Review:

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Words can not described how thrilled I was to get this in the mail. I adore Libba Bray's writing, and so of course, I quickly devoured this book! The review will be up in a bit, but this is a brilliant satire.

Wherever You Go by Heather Davis. This one sounds like a fantastic read, and kind of reminds me the Ghost and the Goth, which I really enjoyed. I hope I like this one just as much!

The Hole in the Wall by Lisa Rowe Fraustino. Although this isn't a recent release, I've heard amazing things about it so I'm eager to pick this one up. It seems like an awesome middle grade mystery.

Guantanamo Boy by Anna Perera. I haven't heard of this one until I received the opportunity to review it, but I feel like this is a good read outside my comfort zone.

Ultraviolet by R. J. Anderson. Do I even need to explain why I'm so pumped for this? Here's a line from the synopsis: "Once upon a time there was a girl who was special. This is not her story. Unless you count the part where I killed her."

Entire Pride and Prejudice and Zombies trilogy! So exciting! It also came with a letter from Elizabeth Bennett and three awesome posters.


Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard
Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Book Blogger Hop (21) and Follow Friday (10)

This week's Book Blogger Hop question is...

If you find a book you love, do you hunt down other books by the same author?

I usually intend to. The only problem is that I have a ton of books on my to-read list (478, to be exact), so it takes an amazing book to make me stray off the list and read more by that author. I have done it though, most notably with John Green. His books are indescribably awesome, and Nerdfighters, DFTBA! (If you don't know what that last thing is, look up the Vlogbrothers on YouTube. You won't regret it, especially if you're a John Green fan.)

This week's Follow Friday question is...

What is on your current playlist now?

These bands: My Chemical Romance, The Academy Is, All Time Low, Panic! At the Disco, 30 Seconds to Mars, Secondhand Serenade, Dresden Dolls, Jack's Mannequin, 2 AM, and Taeyang. Quite an eclectic mix :)

If you're new to my blog, welcome! Please leave a comment with your link so I can return the favor. I'm looking mostly for YA-centric blogs to follow.

Flirt Club: Review

Title: Flirt Club
Author: Cathleen Daly
Release Date: January 2011
Published By: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Goodreads Rating: 3.68 stars

Review: Izzy and Annie are two eighth-grade girls who have tried their hands at romance, with unsuccessful results. They and a few other friends form Flirt Club, where they attempt to model the flirting techniques they see more popular girls exhibiting, and at first, it seems to work. Izzy nets one of the most popular guys in school, Michael, but finds herself having to choose between her friends and her boyfriend. Soon she must figure out what's more important to her - love or friendship.

I loved the format of FLIRT CLUB. Though there was a lot of traditional narration, much of the book was comprised of notes passed between the girls and journal entries, which added a lot of fun to this read. Some reviewers didn't like the fact that the girls' method of communication was so outdated, but Izzy and Annie were rather quirky and I felt the long note passing suited them well. At times the letters could be a little off-topic even though that kind of thing would be normal in real life, and that was occasionally a bit distracting.

As I said, Izzy and Annie were quirky, different, and a blast to read about. (Plus, Izzy had my name!) They were hilarious and honest even in tough spots. Although a lot of the book was about fun and boys, this wasn't completely fluffy and dealt with topics like a surviving friendship, first love, and first heartbreak. It did sometimes feel like the characters did things most eighth graders wouldn't - second base and drinking parties were treated like they were normal, but I remember in middle school, getting drunk and/or felt up was scandalous.

All in all, this was a fun and cute book that many tweens and younger teens would enjoy reading. Despite the drinking and second base, this had a lot of good themes about the importance of friendship and first dealings with boys, and had very much an innocent air. FLIRT CLUB is an adorable read that I would recommend to anyone looking for something funny and sweet to relax with, especially after a first heartbreak.

The Vespertine: Review

Title: The Vespertine Author: Saundra Mitchell
Release Date: March 2011
Published By: Harcourt
Genre: Historical fiction
Pages: 370 pages
Goodreads Rating: 3.82 stars

Review: Amelia van den Broek is different. She sees visions of the future, or what she calls "vespers", that only come to her at sunset. When she comes to Baltimore, eager to live a happy, simple life of everything the large city has to offer, people find out about her visions and call upon her to learn their futures. But soon, her forbidden romance with the mysterious artist, Nathaniel, isn't the only thing threatening her new way of life. Her visions are getting darker, and when one of them comes to pass, people begin to wonder: is she predicting the future, or causing it?

I came across few good reviews of THE VESPERTINE, so I was a little wary to start it. Despite my low expectations, I found myself enjoying the book a lot more than I thought I would. As befitting a historical novel, the writing has an older elegance to it while still remaining accessible to modern readers. The description in particular was beautiful, painting vivid scenes and planting the reader firmly in the unique setting of Baltimore, 1889.

Though I liked it, this book wasn't by any means perfect. I felt like there was a great deal of potential, but that it simply wasn't developed enough in certain areas. This opinion has been voiced before, but I wish the paranormal aspect was more fleshed out. I wanted to know more about Amelia and her powers, especially regarding their origin and why they occur. I also wanted a more developed romance between Nathaniel and Amelia, as sexy as their interactions were. They talked a little and then were suddenly in love.

Overall, this is a decent book for anyone who doesn't find themselves often reading historical fiction. The prose is perfect for the time era, and that, along with the vivid description, transports you straight into the novel. Certain aspects could have used some fleshing out, such as the paranormal part and the romance, but despite the mixed reviews, THE VESPERTINE is ultimately a fascinating and suspenseful read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review. This is no way affected my review, which is 100% honest.

Going to the Dark Side

Well, bloggy friends, I have done it.

I have gone to the dark side.

And what is this dark side, you ask? Why, I have gotten an e-reader. Specifically, a Kindle. The main reason I got it was because I've been getting a lot of e-ARCs lately, not just through netGalley but a bunch of places, and I really don't have time to sit down in front of my computer and read. Most of my reading time happens elsewhere, like on the bus.

I have to say, I really like my new Kindle. The contrast is low enough to be gentle on the eyes but high enough to provide easy reading. Another thing I really love is the convenience - no longer do I have to lug around two books if I'm going somewhere and I'm almost done with one. If I finish a book, all I have to do is hit the Home button and select another.

Of course, this is not to say by any means that all my reading material is on the Kindle. The vast majority of what I read is still piled up in various corners of the house, and the feeling of holding a plastic rectangle can't compare to the feeling of holding a thicker, paper rectangle.

What about you? Do you have an e-reader? Which do you prefer - e-books or physical ones?

Delirium: Review

Title: Delirium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Release Date: February 2011
Published By: HarperTeen
Genre: Dystopian
Pages: 441 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.15 stars

Review: In Lena's world, love - or as it's better known, deliria - is a life-threatening disease. Scientists are able to cure it, but the procedure is only safe for adults, so as soon as citizens turn eighteen, the government has them undergo the treatment. Like anyone else, Lena is afraid of deliria and its horrifying, well-documented symptoms, and can't wait to be cured and live a content, safe existence. Until the unthinkable happens: she contracts deliria. Lena fell in love.

The same lyrical writing that was so prominent in Oliver's debut novel is present in this one as well. Each word flows beautifully to the next, creating heart-rending passages that read like poetry. The perfectly crafted sentences came together to spell out a story of love, of fear, of desire. Though the premise is somewhat unbelievable, Oliver is able to suspend our disbelief in DELIRIUM and shift the focus to the gorgeous prose.

Some readers might be disappointed by the lack of action, although I didn't mind. Many dystopian novels feature a kick-butt protagonist who actively fights throughout the novel to gain rights or lead rebellions, but this book was mainly Lena and her struggle with falling in love. This is not to say she wasn't strong - she remained an independent girl, especially as she realized that the blank, repetitive lives of the "cured" might not be what she wanted.

By the end, there was some action, but it felt natural and worked with the story. I bet there are people who really dislike the ending - I know at least one of my friends hated it - but to me, it was the best possible ending to the book. It was bittersweet, though maybe a little more bitter than sweet, and I did kind of see it coming from Oliver's first book, Before I Fall.

DELIRIUM is the sort of book that can absolutely take your breath away. From the heartbreakingly beautiful story to the heartbreaking beautiful writing, Lauren Oliver crafts a novel unlike any other. It's a long read but it feels like time stops as you read this evocative book, and provides a haunting prediction of the future. This is not one for those who are easily depressed by dark books, but I would recommend this to anyone who's not.

Balancing the Darkness

No, this isn't a blog post about balancing the light and dark sides of the universe using the Force, although if you're a Jedi, you're more than welcome to comment with handy tips and tricks. (Like, how does one clean their light saber? I had an unfortunate incident with mine involving mud...)

This is about books, which is a good sign considering that, you know, this is a book blog. It's no secret that I enjoy darkly beautiful books along the lines of Elizabeth Scott or Carrie Ryan. I know some people don't like these kinds of books because they're too depressing, and while I understand where they're coming from, I like reading depressing books. For me, there's nothing like when an author can actually make you experience raw emotion - it shows the true power of words and storytelling.

However, such darkness takes its toll on everyone, and so usually I keep a few light books around to "balance the darkness". I generally pick either something fun and cute (think The Karma Club) or a book with an excellently snarky protagonist. Light, funny, or both does the trick, and then I'm ready to cry my eyes out again.

I've been wondering, though, what are your go-to books when in need of a pick-me-up? Do you choose a specific kind of book, like me, or is there an author you know you can always return to?

This Girl is Different: Review

Title: This Girl is Different
Author: J. J. Johnson
Release Date: April 2011
Published By: Peachtree Publishers
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 320 pages
Goodreads Rating: 3.61 stars

Review: This girl is different. That's always been Evie's mantra, and it's never been more true than when she entered public high school for the first time senior year. She had spent the first seventeen years of life homeschooled by her counter-culture mother, lives in an environmental dome they built themselves, and speaks out loudly against injustice. It's this last one that starts to get her in trouble at public school, and as Evie fights harder and harder for what she believes, she begins to see that she herself may be abusing power.

This book is different, and in an absolutely good way. One of its strongest aspects were the characters, from Evie, to Raj, to Jacinda. Evie was unique and smart, and had a strong voice, both from a writing standpoint and in the actual story. She wasn't afraid to be bold and outspoken even when she knew it was hurting her chances of getting into the college she wanted, and though she was initially blinded by what she perceived to be her justified social activism, I appreciated being able to see her grow as a character. The author managed to make her learn about her own abuse without coming across as overly preachy.

The minor characters were excellent at defying clich├ęs and stereotypes. Raj initially seemed to be an attractive, kind, and thoughtful guy, perfect for Evie, but soon proved himself to be a selfish jerk. It was an empowering moment for Evie to realize this, and I was cheering her along the way. Jacinda seemed like a "typical" ditzy cheerleader in the beginning, but then showed her true colors as fierce, loyal, and strong. The rest of the cast was well fleshed-out with no one being slanted as a true villain, but rather just showing everyone as flawed human beings.

THIS GIRL IS DIFFERENT is definitely up there with my favorite reads of 2011. Though the little quirks of this book were fascinating, the bare bones of the plot weren't that special, but it still managed to keep me utterly engrossed in the story. This has a rich cast of characters, and both major and minor characters are fully developed. True to its name, this different book starkly stands out, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for an amazing read.

FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher for review. This is no way affected my review, which is 100% honest.