Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Daisy's Mini-Review of More Than This by Patrick Ness

Title/Author: More Than This by Patrick Ness
Publisher/Date published: Candlewick Press, September 10 2013
How I got this book: bought it for book club

Goodreads summary: A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...

So it's been 3 months since I read this book and I'm still unsure how I feel about it. So here are some general thoughts on this book:

-I felt like this book had two different parts: the one in the 'now' and the one we saw through flashbacks. And I was kinda bored for a big chunk of the 'now' part, but the flashbacks were BEAUTIFUL. If the whole book could have been filled with the same level of awesome that were the flashbacks, that would have been perfect. It almost felt as if I was reading two different books just thrown together into one binding.

-There was something SO creepy about one of the characters! I really don't want to give anything away, but seriously, I wouldn't want to come across him even in broad daylight. Totally creeped me out.

-I LOVED the romance. It was beautiful and perfect and told in the flashbacks and it was just amazing.

-The end was just a whole lot of WTF??? I mean, some of the actions of one character just made no sense whatsoever and it was just WTF??

-There's a revelation about Seth's past and it was so infinitely sad and I can't imagine going through something like that.

So I'm torn. There were beautiful parts and sad parts and a whole bucketload of WTF moments, but for a big chunk of the book I was kinda bored.

Have you read this book? Any thoughts on it? Let me know!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Top Ten Worlds We'd Never Want To Live In!

To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the future topics, click here!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday revolves around worlds that we would NEVER want to live in, or characters you'd never want to trade places with. With all the dystopian and post-apocalyptic stuff out there right now, it's not too hard to pick a few.

Tahleen's Picks

1. The world in Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave. I don't know about you all, but the ENTIRE time I was reading this book I felt so grateful I didn't have to be in this vision of Earth. Never have I been so grateful that hostile alien lifeforms weren't targeting our planet.

2. The world in Susan Beth Pfeffer's Life As We Knew It. I felt an incredible desire to stock up on canned foods after reading this book.

3. Much as I love these books, the world in Derek Landy's Skulduggery Pleasant series. Because honestly, I would be one of the pitiful mortals without magic who would probably get stuck in the middle of a vampire slaughter, wizard battle, or Faceless Ones attack. And I would have absolutely no idea what was going on.

4. The world in Ernest Cline's Ready Player One. I would hate to live in a world where the only happy places were online, everyone interacted online for the most part, and 1980s pop culture knowledge was your ticket to popularity. Also the environment is pretty much dead.

5. The world in Daniel H. Wilson's Robopocalypse. Because I would most likely die a painful, robot-induced death, and if not I would constantly be fearing for my life and would probably have lots of dead family and friends.

Jamie's Picks

1. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins: Yeah, seriously. I don't want to ever have a government like that with the Hunger Games and the districts and such. No WAY. I would never have kids because I would never want them to ever have to deal with the reapings and such.

2. Delirum by Lauren Oliver: I don't want to live in a world where love is not okay. That sentence just sounds like a bad song or something right? Let me feel my feels!

3. Legend by Marie Lu: I would not be cut out for this world at all. So much fighting and I would hate the tests to be part of the military world and I wouldn't want to live in those slums plus the virus stuff and I just would never want to be in this one.

4. Bumped by Megan McCafferty: I would never want to live in a world where teenage pregnancy was like a good thing. Where you were trying to get knocked up and go pro in bumping. Haha that thought terrifies me. (I actually really liked this book -- very good satire!)

5. Blindness by Jose Saramago: This book depressed the hell out of me. I This world. Basically some sort of thing happens that causes everyone to catch this blindness and all the people who are blind get thrown in this hospital to live and things just are not good. I could never handle having this blindness happen so suddenly and being thrown into those awful conditions where people are trying to survive. 

What about you? What worlds in books would you never want to live in?

Monday, January 27, 2014

Julia Reviews A Gentleman 'Til Midnight by Alison DeLaine

Title/Author: A Gentleman 'Til Midnight by Alison DeLaine
Publisher/Year Published:  January 2014 by Harlequin 
How I got this book: I received an ARC from Harlequin in exchange for a review
Why I read this book: It came to my door and jumped out at me, because lady pirate!
Rating: 4 stars

What a better way to start a day then to find a historical romance book that takes new turns on beloved tropes. A Gentleman to Midnight goes from the high seas back to England all the while dealing with titles, family and a smoldering connection between our leads James and Katherine. Let’s SCORE it.

The Setting
A Gentleman ‘Til Midnight starts off on a pirate ship captained by a countess, Lady Katherine. After the first chapter I was quite taken. Yes. Pirates. Lady pirates at that. I am in love. The story starts off with the not actually pirate but pretty much pirate crew finding a ship-wrecked man. They decide to pull him aboard. This is our hero, James. He and Katherine have a history I guess, meaning Katherine hates James for being the captain who could have rescued her at one point in her past, but failed.

They spend some time on the ship as it heads back to England from the Mediterranean. They are heading back because Katherine is now a countess and they are trying to strip her of her (Scottish) title. Once they get to England (which is still in the first half of the book… woe), they must convince the peerage that she is worthy of her title and will fit in with society/not be a pirate any more.

The plot was a little plodding at places, especially toward the end. Some things that happened there I just rolled my eyes at and groaned. But this book does get major points for being not your everyday historical. Even when the story is back in London, it’s easy to tell that things are in their own type of London, different from the other historical romance land. It was refreshing.

The Characters
Katherine and James were not my favorite leads. Their characterization was somewhat annoying, but I will say that they are consistent. Katherine is brash, headstrong and doesn't make the wisest in the moment decisions. But she is a leader and I think a good captain (as she can listen to her crew that hopefully can counterbalance her headstrong nature). She does everything with good intentions.

James reminds me a bit of an old school hero. He isn't all rapey or anything like that, but his alphole tendencies are a bit prominent. He seems to be a walking erection when around Katherine and makes extremely dumb choices about her. Like really dumb. But he is caring around Anne, Katherine’s child, and genuinely seems to care about people. I liked him more in the former half then the latter though, which is usually opposite of the way things go.

This book really is saved by the amazingly interesting secondary characters. The entire crew is pretty much made of up nobles. We have the first mate whom if I remember correctly is an earl, and the friend maiden aunt lady with her niece also ton. I think the lady doctor is ton as well. It really threw me for a second. A lot of “historical” romances are anything but truly historical, but even in this sort of alternate history there are some limits. The chances of that many titles being on one minimally manned ship are super rare even for romance novels. Thus I took to calling this in my head alternate alternate history.

I do have to mention the daughter, Anne. While not too noticeable, she does come off a bit plot moppet like (a child really only there to further the plot). She wasn't around for too much main page time, but I thought I should mention it just in case plot moppets are your reading peeve.

Anyway the secondary characters really shine. They all have great personalities and jump off the page. Though as I write this, I wonder if I liked them more because I didn't have to spend so much time in their heads. I wonder if when I get to their books if I will start to dislike them, too. Oh, well. That is a problem for future me.

The Romance
Well, we know I didn't really like either lead all that much, but their romance was passable. I wish some of the ending didn't go down the way it did, but it actually felt consistent with their characterizations.
I felt like I would have really liked i t if they spent more time together. The time they did spend was filled with lustful gazes or paragraphs of wishing they could jump each other. I wish it was just more of them being people not potential partners, if that makes sense. But I think they suit each other and I enjoyed the tension and all that.

The Execution
This book entertained the hell out of me. It was a book that I read in a day, one that I just could not put down. The concept was unique and fun, the characters were funny, the story flowed really well. Like I mentioned earlier the ending seem to drag and the leads were a little annoying at times. But I enjoyed the book, and that’s what matters.

The Overview
Overall I liked it. It was a fun story filled with fun characters and a unique plot. I wanted more high seas and less callbacks to an old school time, but what I got wasn't bad. I was entertained and will continue to be entertained because I will definitely be continuing on to see what happens in the next book. I actually think I’ll get my wish of most of the story being on a boat. I can’t wait! A Gentleman 'Til Midnight is a wonderful debut from an author that I am sure to follow!

This ARC was provided to me from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Edit: I apparently forgot to give this a star rating! Ha. Four stars on the TB&TB scale.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Cocktail and Conversation: Unpopular Opinion?

Every other Thursday here at the Broke & The Bookish is  A Cocktail & Conversation time. One of the TBTB members will pose a question to 2-3 of the other members of TB&TB crew about books, life, music, etc and then they'll answer and we can converse about it. So grab a cocktail & cozy up for some conversation. It's 5 o'clock somewhere, friends. 

The Question: What is a book that the whole world seems to love that you just can not stand? Or don't even want to try?


Tahleen says:
I am in the minority of people who weren't totally blown away by Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I LIKED it okay, but it was so hyped up that I think it just fell short for me. It was good, but not the very best ever.

Jamie says
:  In terms of something I've read that I feel like I had an unpopular opinion on is Divergent. I didn't HATE it (gave it 3 stars so I liked it) but I feel like everyone LOOOOOVED it. I think a lot of it was a hype issue because  I just read it at the beginning of this year and at this point it is soooo hyped. In terms of something I'll never read? Well, I'm a pretty open read and will read almost anything but I don't care..I'll never read 50 Shades of Grey. I just won't despite many non-reading friends loving it.

Daisy says: It's definitely an unpopular opinion, but I really didn't like Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally, I had several issues with that book, one of which was the romance and both love interests. And I'm so sad about this because so many people loved it and the rest of her books...
And I'm with Jamie, I'll never read 50 Shades of Grey either, that's just a no go for me.

What about you guys? What's one book YOU have had the unpopular opinion on??

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Lori Reviews The Thorn Birds

Title: The Thorn Birds
Author:  Colleen McCullough
Published:  Avon, 1977
Where I Got It:  My mom gave me this book.

Summary from Goodreads:  Powered by the dreams and struggles of three generations, THE THORN BIRDS is the epic saga of a family rooted in the Australian sheep country. At the story's heart is the love of Meggie Cleary, who can never possess the man she desperately adores, and Ralph de Bricassart, who rises from parish priest to the inner circles of the Vatican...but whose passion for Meggie will follow him all the days of his life.

Why I Read It:  My mom and grandma loved this book when it came out.  A few years ago (4? 5?), my mom, who is totally not a reader, gave me a copy.  I picked it up a few times and set it aside.  One time I even read about 2/3 of it before stopping.  I just couldn't finish.  This year I signed up to participate in Roof Beam Reader's TBR Pile Challenge and wanted to finally finish--mostly because this book obviously meant enough to my mom for her to buy me a copy.

My thoughts:  I decided to tackle this book first for the TBR Pile Challenge because of my mom.  I wasn't getting any pressure from her, but I felt like I needed to finally read the novel.  I read the entire thing in six days.  It's not a particularly short book.  I just couldn't put it down.  Maybe it was a right book, right time kind of thing.  Who knows?

The book starts out on Meggie's fourth birthday.  She is the youngest of several children and the only girl.  Her family is fairly poor, so they tend to get practical gifts, like clothes and shoes.  Except this time Meggie's mom bought her a beautiful doll that Meggie had seen on her only trip into town.  Meggie absolutely treasured that doll.  The opening chapters do a wonderful job of setting up the family dynamic--the mother works all the time on the home, the father is lord and master, the eldest brother has a great anger in him.  It's a dynamic that is explored throughout the book.  We all have our reasons for doing what we do and acting the way we act--they're just not always apparent to the outside world until much later.  That's the case here.

The big plot is Meggie falling in love with a priest.  That's what this book is known for, right?  I loved the dynamic between the priest and Meggie!  He was about eighteen years older than her and first met her when she was a child.  So, in some ways he always thought of her in that light.  But she grew up and became a lovely woman and he was attracted to her.  He struggled with how to honor his vows and also honor with woman he loved. (I was raised Protestant, and converted to Catholicism, so I am used to pastors being able to marry; however, my eventual children will be raised Catholic and I am kind of curious to see how they react to this story...)  However, it's not the love that is the main point.  It's the pain caused by the love, by the things we want most in life, that is the point.

When she novel shifted focus to Justine and Dane, I very nearly lost interest.  Justine is really abrasive and I didn't like her.  A couple of things seemed to come out of left field.  But they eventually make sense.  Honestly, one of those things almost made me yell out when I was reading the novel at work (I work in a library frequented by graduate students, so we keep things very quiet...).  Then the last passage beautifully ties it all together and is the reason I give the book four stars:
Each of us has something within us which won't be denied, even if it makes us scream aloud to die. We are what we are, that's all. Like the old Celtic legend of the bird with the thorn in its breast, singing its heart out and dying. Because it has to, its self-knowledge can't affect or change the outcome, can it? Everyone singing his own little song, convinced it's the most wonderful song the world has ever heard. Don't you see? We create our own thorns, and never stop to count the cost. All we can do is suffer the pain, and tell ourselves it was well worth it.
Life is pain, but we endure.

It wasn't the best written novel in the world.  And that's fine.  I wasn't expecting it to be.  But the story!  Oh, the story definitely sweeps you along and sometimes you just can't breathe.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Top Ten Things On Our Reading Wishlist

To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the future topics, click here!

Today's topic: Top Ten Things On My Reading Wishlist (if you could make authors write about these things you would. Could be a specific type of character, an issue tackled, a time period, a certain plot, etc.)

Jamie Wants To See...

1. A YA Oregon Trail story. I mean, that's interesting as crap to me. I would accept historical BUT it would be also wickedly cool to have a paranormal/supernatural twist on it which explains why people were dying...aside from like dysentery. I would also take a YA Little House on the Prairie.

2. Books set on different planets. I want something that is SO unlike Earth -- totally different society/laws/ways of life.

3. More alternate history type novels: I would love to see important events in history and have one small thing change in how everything unfolded which then alters the course of history. It just would be so different to see how a world could be imagined if someone in history didn't get assassinated or DID or if the other side won the war and how life would be different, etc.

4. YA characters who are famous actresses or singers or models or something. I just have always been enamored by the lifestyle of the rich and famous and would love a novel that really gets into it.

Come check out 10 other picks on my blog!

Julia Wants To See

5. Historical Romances not set in England/during the regency: History is a rich place. There area TON of time periods that I wish to read romances in. I read one set in Tang dynasty China recently and want more like that. What about frontier America? Ancient Rome? URGH the possibilities are endless! Take my money!

Jen Wants To See

6. More books set during the 1920's: I've come across a handful but I feel like it's such a unique decade...I want to read more!

7.  More road trip books: I love living vicariously through the characters being able to take a journey with them.

Tahleen Wants To See

8. More books set in Hawaii: I know I am continually talking about this, but I'm always on the lookout for books set in Hawaii. If I could have more books that showcase that setting and culture, I would be very happy.

 Jana Wants To See

9. Books about bookish people. I want to read a YA book about a book blogger (like what if two book bloggers fell in love in the blogosphere?), or a librarian, or even if the people were just bookish and talked books and had clubs and went to author events. I think it would be fun.

Bridget Wants To See

10. More books from A. S. A. Harrison: I just read The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison, who sadly passed away a few months before it was published. This was her first and, unfortunately, last novel, and I wish the world hadn't lost this amazing author even before she could see the popularity of her first novel. I want more :(

What's on YOUR reading wishlist?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 1/5 - 1/18

Jamie's Haul 


I loved both Eleanor & Park and Fangirl so I knew I had to buy this one for myself! It's, unlike the other two, an adult fiction novel so I'm excited to see her write for that audience.
I finally read my first Melina Marchetta novel (Jellicoe Road) and it SLAYED me so I knew I needed to read more of her and went with this one!

I just finally read Divergent at the beginning of the year and I already had Insurgent so I asked for Allegiant for Christmas knowing I was going to start the series in 2014!


For Review

The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder
The author was kind enough to send this to me and it looks so excellent and plus that cover is pretty! Seems like there is a road trip element so you know I'm there! Thank you, Wendy!

The Last Forever by Deb Caletti
I've never read a Deb Caletti before but I hear she is a staple if you like contemporary YA.  This one looks to have romance and an MC dealing with the grief of losing her mother and I'm HOPING that the relationship with her dad is an important piece as well! Thank you Simon & Schuster!
Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
Morgan Matson is one of my all time favorite contemporary YA authors. I LOVED (like 5 stars) Amy & Roger's Epic Detour and Second Chance Summer so I've been DYING for this one since I heard about it. When she contacted me to send this to me I was ecstatic and even more moved by her note! Made my week! Put this one on your TBR and all other Morgan Matson if you like contemporary YA and haven't read her yet!!! Thank you, Morgan!
Broken Hearts, Fences and Other Things To Mend by Katie Finn

Okay, so Katie Finn? She is totally Morgan Matson. I'm not entirely sure why she writes under a different name within the same genre except I know she published another series under Katie Finn. Don't care WHAT the name on the cover is...MORE MORGAN MATSON IS THE ONLY THING I CARE ABOUT! This one looks like a good beach read for sure! Thank you, Macmillan!

Uninvited by Sophie Jordan
I got this as an ARC and I wasn't sure if I'd be into but the more I've heard about it the more I want to read it! Doesn't the cover look like a hair product advertisement? Have you read this...let me know how it was!! Thank you, Harper Teen!

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Beauty and the Beast retelling sort of? I honestly don't really know what this one is about! Tell me what this is about if you've read this! Thank you, Harper Teen!
Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

I just got the first book so I'm excited to binge read these. The covers creep me OUT. Thank you, Quirk Books!

Daisy's Haul 

-The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten: sooo I just noticed that this hasn't gotten all that great reviews, but a tale of revenge and a sisterhood of girls specialized in breaking hearts sounds like it could be fun!
-Defy by Sara B. Larson: and this one hasn't gotten great reviews either, BUT it's a YA fantasy about a girl dressing as a boy and that's something that I'll ALWAYS give a try!
-A Breath of Frost by Alyxandra Harvey: WITCHES!!! Please be awesome!

Egalleys for review:
-Such Sweet Sorrow by Jenny Trout: a retelling of Romeo and Juliet featuring Hamlet and all kinds of monsters?? YES PLEASE!
-Killer Frost by Jennifer Estep: the stakes keep getting higher in this series!
-The Poisoned Crown by Maurice Druon: I still need to start this series, but it sounds EPIC!
-The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz: I've never read a book by Melissa de la Cruz before, but this sounds like it could make my fantasy loving heart happy!
-Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel: OMG SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!! I mean, a Peter Pan retelling!! EEEE!!! I will be all over this book!
-The Body in the Woods by April Henry: a new YA mystery series! It sounds really exciting!
-My Last Kiss by Bethany Neal: I'm always drawn to those after-life stories and this sounds like a great one!
-The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu: this sound brutal and harsh and I've heard it's AMAZING.

Have you guys read any of these? Are any of these books you are looking forward to?

Our Broke & Bookish book haul is inspired by memes like IMM & Stacking the Shelves & Mailbox Monday. This is just our very simple way of doing it collaboratively so we can participate in all of them and not have to choose one.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bookish Deals (29)

Hello! Happy Saturday, everyone! Welcome to today's biweekly edition of Bookish Deals where I (Julia) try to scour the Internet to find you guys an array of deals to fit in with any budget!

It's been a while! Let's get back to the goods, shall we?

 by Jodi Meadows - $1.99  
AZ | BN - (review)
Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, one of those souls vanished, and no one knows why.

When Ana travels to the capital city of Heart, its citizens treat her as a nosoul, suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peal Pie Society 
by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - $1.99  
January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion - $1.99  
An international sensation, this hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love.

Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date. He is a man who can count all his friends on the fingers of one hand, whose lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a “wonderful” husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which he approaches all things, Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical—most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver.

Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent—and on a quest of her own. She is looking for her biological father, a search that a certain DNA expert might be able to help her with. Don's Wife Project takes a back burner to the Father Project and an unlikely relationship blooms, forcing the scientifically minded geneticist to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie—and the realization that love is not always what looks good on paper.

The Rosie Project is a moving and hilarious novel for anyone who has ever tenaciously gone after life or love in the face of overwhelming challenges.

Marley and Me by John Grogan - $1.99  
John and Jenny were just beginning their life together. They were young and in love, with a perfect little house and not a care in the world. Then they brought home Marley, a wiggly yellow furball of a puppy. Life would never be the same.

Marley quickly grew into a barreling, ninety-seven-pound streamroller of a Labrador retriever, a dog like no other. He crashed through screen doors, gouged through drywall, flung drool on guests, stole women's undergarments, and ate nearly everything he could get his mouth around, including couches and fine jewelry. Obedience school did no good—Marley was expelled. Neither did the tranquilizers the veterinarian prescribed for him with the admonishment, "Don't hesitate to use these."

And yet Marley's heart was pure. Just as he joyfully refused any limits on his behavior, his love and loyalty were boundless, too. Marley shared the couple's joy at their first pregnancy, and their heartbreak over the miscarriage. He was there when babies finally arrived and when the screams of a seventeen-year-old stabbing victim pierced the night. Marley shut down a public beach and managed to land a role in a feature-length movie, always winning hearts as he made a mess of things. Through it all, he remained steadfast, a model of devotion, even when his family was at its wit's end. Unconditional love, they would learn, comes in many forms.

Is it possible for humans to discover the key to happiness through a bigger-than-life, bad-boy dog? Just ask the Grogans.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Tahleen is excited for the Youth Media Awards!

So in the past couple of years, I have become more and more aware of the Youth Media Awards, more commonly known as the Newbery, Printz, and Caldecott awards. Mostly this is because of my career as a librarian, but it was always something I was at least vaguely aware of growing up. Now, as a member of the American Library Association, I'm even more excited than ever, especially since I have the opportunity to watch a live webinar of the announcements!

I know the big awards in entertainment tend to be for movies and television around this time of year, and it's all in the forefront of everyone's mind since the Golden Globes were last weekend and the Academy Award nominations were announced yesterday, but I don't watch as many movies as I read books. I love wondering whether or not I've read the winners, if any of the predictions were right, and reading about the ones I've NEVER heard of.

If you'll remember last year's awards, the Printz winner was the real dark horse of the year: In Darkness by Nick Lake (you can see my review on my personal blog, Tahleen's Mixed-Up Files, here). I had remembered seeing the cover in a review journal or something, but NO ONE had any idea it would have a chance at winning, except of course the committee.

Now that I have been in charge of ordering teen books for the collection at my library for a full year, I'm really looking forward to see if I managed to get all the winners! Last year I had to make an order right after the announcements because I think I only had one of the Printz honor books (whomp whomp). I'm hoping this year I'll be more successful. But even if I'm not, I can't wait to see what great literature I have yet to discover. I'm going to make it a goal to read as many of the winners and honor books that I can! I'll have to get started with the Morris Award shortlist, announced in December.

Are you excited about any literary award announcements?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Top Ten 2014 Debuts Daisy's Excited For

To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the future topics, click here!

The (Hopefully) Witchy Goodness

Hexed by Michelle Krys: I SO want this book to be amazing and just be a great witchy book because it sounds like it could be!

Half Bad by Sally Green: MORE WITCHES! AND MALE WITCHES! Just be excited with me ok?

The Books That Will Tug At My Feelings Probably

Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy: So, to be honest, I kinda tend to avoid books dealing with illness, but I am just SO intrigued by the concept of what happens when you burn all your bridges thinking you're going to die and then having to deal with the consequences because you're in fact getting better. It sounds harsh and real and just like something I can't wait to read!

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira: This sounds like it has the potential to be beautifully heartbreaking!

The Science Fiction Fix

Nil by Lynne Matson: I cannot imagine waking up on an island with no clothes with no idea why I'm there and having to figure out how to survive. It sounds all kind of exciting!

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings: a world filled with assassins! EEEE!

The Fifty-Seven Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen: TIME-TRAVEL! Do I really need to say more?

The Miscellaneous Category

Prophecy of Oz by Megan Shan: I WANT THIS BOOK SO BAD! The niece of Dorothy going to Oz? GIVE IT TO ME NOW!

My Faire Lady by Laura Wettersten: This just sounds like an adorable read and I need those in my life.

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman: I usually avoid books dealing with WW II, but because this sounds so amazing, I will be making an exception, seeing Hitler through the eyes of someone close to him sounds both creepy and like something that I just can't resist reading!

So those are the 2014 debuts I'm most excited for! Are any of these on your list? Other I need to add to it? Let me know!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Paula Review Beyond The Wall

 Published 2012 by BenBella Books, Inc. 
How I got it: got an ARC copy of it from the publisher at BEA last year
My rating: 3.5 stars

Disclaimer: this might be a short review and have some typos- because I have a very intrusive/insistent creature (a 3 year old corgi/german shepard) sitting here next to me and licking my hands and keyboard and computer while I'm trying to type.

This is the first time I've ever felt the need to read a companion book to a series. No matter how head over heels I am with a series- I've never actively gone out to find essays that delve further into the legend and lore of the series. I am usually of the mind set that sometimes fans reach too far and read too into things that the author never intended. With that being said- I finished the latest A Song of Ice and Fire book at the beginning of the year and I was in such a state of "I NEED MORE" that I was excited to remember that I had picked this up at the BEA last year.

First off if you are going to read this book- make sure you have finished all 5 of the currently released books! It reveals pretty much everything that could be considered a spoiler in the series. I had considered reading it right when I got it last year- and I would have been really bummed because there are a lot of Book 5 details in it.

My thoughts: There were a mix of essays I liked (an essay about how magic plays its part in Westeros) and essays that either weren't things I'm interested in (such as an essay about collecting the series and how much certain editions of the book are worth). There were also essays I just did not find compelling or agree with at all (one argued that rape or fear of rape plays an essential part in forming the lives of women in westeros- which just raised my hackles in all the wrong ways).

A few of the essays helped me form my own thoughts about characters and events in the series. However, I do not think that all of the essays in it are created equal. If your library has it and you need a little Westeros in your life- I think that this is a good book to read while waiting for the next installment.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Bundle Of Mini-Reviews From Jamie

I decided to do a round-up of mini reviews for some of my latest 4 & 5 star reads for your reading pleasure.

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of the best hands down. In YA and just in general. The Impossible Knife of Memory is the story Hayley -- a girl who has grown up on the road with her veteran dad who drives a rig for work and as a way to never settle down to try to keep his demons at bay. When her dad randomly decides to settle down and makes Hayley go to a traditional high school, she is nervous about the prospect of going to high school but also nervous for her dad as his PTSD seems to get worse. This book was kind of heavy but honestly was balanced because Hayley is such a firecracker and a guy she meets in school, Finnegan, is the sweetest. Their banter is hilarious and it really lightens the story as her dad's PTSD gets really bad. This story has a lot of depth to it, the writing is perfection for me and I got a wee bit emotional.  (read my full review of The Impossible Knife of Memory)

I totally thought Love & Other Perishable Items was going to be a cutesy romance based on the cover but it totally wasn't and I actually REALLY enjoyed it. Add Laura Buzo to the list of Aussie authors I really love! This book was smart and so realistic and I loved it. 15 year old Amelia gets her first job at a supermarket and quickly falls in love with the 21 year old guy that trains her on the register. They become fast friends and can talk about anything and Amelia knows if he could just get over the 6 year age different they'd be perfect together. It's heartbreakingly honest as it explores relationships but it also is a great coming of age novel that definitely felt DIFFERENT than things I've read before. (Read my full review of Love & Other Perishable Items -- this book was also published as Good Oil in Australia)

I don't typically read a ton of paranormal but I LOVED this...probably because it felt mostly contemporary YA but I digress. Addie lives in The Compound which is a place where people with special skills (things like clairvoyance and mind erasing) live and it's a huge secret to the normal world. Addie's skill is that she can search two different paths when faced with a decision. So when her parents tell her they are getting a divorce and her dad is leaving The Compound she's forced to search the two lives she'd have if she stays or leave. Most of the book is alternating chapters of her playing out these two lives (something that only takes her a few minutes) and then she eventually snaps out of her Search to realize what she has to do as both situations are complicated and she knows she has to make the right situation. It got INTENSE and I just really couldn't put this one down. It ends perfectly enough to leave you satisfied but dying for book 2.  (Read my full review of Pivot Point by Kasie West)

Have you read any of these books? Tell me your thoughts!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Julia's Reading Roundup from 2013

I started writing this post as a Romance Roundup from last year, but quickly it turned into a long summary of my reading habits and how they changed in comparison to the year before. So next time I post it will be a round up, but for right now I will wax poetically on my reading stats from 2013.

Last year I actually read the highest percentage of romance novels since I started doing my stats. In a side bar, the way I do my stats is by counting. Super high tech I know. But for those of you who don't know, Goodreads has a stats page that is accessible from your My Books Page (up at the top). It put everything into cool pie charts and graphs. This is also how I found out that I haven't had a 5 star books since 2010... You can also get their from the View Books page of the current reading challenge (or you used to before they changed everything).

Anyway, back to my romance novel stats. I think two years ago it was 49% romance novels, 2012 was 46% (or I may have flipped those two), but last year was a whopping 65%! If I had to guess why there was such a jump, I would say it was for three reasons.

First, I read the last two books of the Song of Ice and Fire series last year which is quite a challenge. I am pretty sure the last books are close to if not over 1000 pages. They are interesting books, don't get me wrong, but as I read them I need to focus a lot on them. My brain needed to use a lot of power, so to balance that out, I needed brain fluff. I remember reading in particular A Feast for Crows on the beach in Abu Dhabi, having to intersperse light-hearted pirate novellas in the midst.

Second, last year accidentally turned into the year that I either catch up or finish series that I had started. I read started the Hathaway series in 2012 and finished that one up. There was also Julie Anne Long's never ending Pennyroyal Green Series (seriously, when are Olivia and Lyon getting their own book?!), and technically I am still one behind on that one. Julia Quinn, Elizabeth Hoyt, Kristen Callihan and Sarah MacLean all had next novels in their series that I read to keep (mostly) current.

Last, I actually really used my TBR shelf as a place to pick out my books and read. I think I really made a dent this year. In fact out of my 52 books, 42% (or 22 books) were ones that I had already owned before reading them. I did not count the ones I bought and then read right away, but ones that I had that sat a bit, even if it was for a week or so. That's amazing! I am finally working my way through those Boarders and Half Price Books going out of business sales that I took advantage of (see picture).

Actually because I was curious I did a little count of where each of the books came from that I read: 12 were physical books off my TBR shelf in my living room, 10 were eBooks that were on my eReader (yay! look at me working through a goal from last year),  5 were books I bought to read right away, 20 were borrowed from my sister, cousin, work colleagues or the library, 2 were review books and 2 I classified as other (one was a gift book at work that is like a book on penguins and the other was a free novella from the authors website).

So there you have it friends. I think overall last years reading was a good haul. I wish I had read more than my minimum, but I did finish or catch up on some series that have been lingering, start and continue with a book club from work which continually pushes me toward books I would never read otherwise, and in general had a good time reading.

How did your 2013 in books turn out? Let me know! I'd love to read about it!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our Top Ten Bookish Resolutions - Top Ten Tuesday!

 To learn more about Top Ten Tuesday or see the future topics, click here!


 Top Ten Bookish Resolutions


Jamie's Resolutions

* Do a better job with my Netgalley & Edelweiss books: I went overboard back in the day and I REALLY need to read the books I requested so I'm pretty much not going to request anymore (or use that damned auto approval and download them) until I get my NG ratio up and get a chunk of them off my Kindle.

* Read 5 classics in 2014: Pre-blogging I used to read more classics and I just haven't been anymore because they take me longer and require a little more patience. I need to stop caring about that and just read because I truly WANT to read some of these classics on my bookshelf.

* Stop being afraid of chunky books: I have so many HUGE books on my bookshelves and I need to stop being afraid to read them and also stop caring about how it will affect my blogging if I tackle them because I typically think, "I could read 3 books in this time."

Bridget's Resolutions


* Read more non-fiction books: Almost every non-fiction book I've read, I've liked--so I want to try more! Plus I learn stuff!

* I second Jamie's resolution to do better with Netgalley!!

Jana's Resolutions

* I want to read more books! Sometimes I read slow, sometimes I'm too tired, and sometimes I'm in a slump and neglect my books forever. I want to read more, and beat my 62 books read from last year.

* Read books with more "heavy" subject matters: I hate crying, so I shy away from a lot of books with heavy subject matter. I won't read John Green or Gayle Forman even though all my friends love them! I'm just so scared! I need to get over this. What books do I need to read, peeps? Lay them on me!

* I want to be ok with not finishing a book:  If I don't like a book, I'll quit it! That should help with my reading slumps, too. Why waste time reading a book I don't like?

Paula's Resolutions


* I want to read 10 books physically sitting on my shelf before I buy new ones.

* I want to read a book that has been on my to-read shelf for over a year

*  I want to keep my book club going all year.

Tahleen's Resolution


* To read as many of the Youth Media Award winners as I can once they are announced at the end of January. Definitely at least the Printz winner, and preferably all of the honor books.

So what are your resolutions for the new year in relationship to books and blogging?

** A note about the linky change: Mr. Linky wasn't working when I went to post this so I was forced to switch to another linking service that I had already been contemplating because Mr. Linky had been acting a bit wonky. Upon further inspection, I think I am in LOVE with this new one and will go forward with it. There is also a randomizer feature for the linky that I am DEFINITELY going to utilize because 1) now people don't have to all refresh hoping to be #1 on the list at midnight because it's all random and 2) you can discover some new people at the top! Any time you go to the page someone new will be on the top! **

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Broke and Bookish Book Haul for 11/24 - 1/4

Bridget's Christmas Haul

This year I made the very smart decision to give my Amazon wish list to a few key people, i.e. my mother and my fiancé (who then passed it on to his parents). Here's what I ended up with (yay!):

The Silent Wife - A. S. A. Harrison  I came across this book in Target one day, and decided to forgo picking it up in favor of Joe Hill's N0S4A2 and Stephen King's Joyland (both of which were great, btw). Then I saw a great review of The Silent Wife on Slate and put it on my wish list.
Charity Case - Dan Pallotta  I work in the nonprofit industry doing fundraising, and it is incredibly frustrating to hear your organization denigrated for using "too much" money for overhead expenses (any org I've worked at has kept overhead to a ridiculous 7% or so…that's nothing) or not spending "enough" on the cause. Dan Pallotta did a great TED Talk a while ago that I love, and I wanted to read more about his theories, so I'm excited to dig into this one.
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks - Rebecca Skloot  This has been on my reading list for years, and I'm so excited to finally get to it!
Prep - Curtis Sittenfeld  I can't remember where I saw this reviewed, but it looked really intriguing!
The Ocean at the End of the Lane - Neil Gaiman  I saw this reviewed on Slate as well and thought it looked like it would be up my alley!
The Anatomy of Type - Stephen Coles  Yet another Slate pick! Their review made something I'd never really thought about in depth before---that is, the minute characteristics of the fonts we use on a daily basis---sound incredibly interesting. I can't wait to read this!

Daisy's Book Haul

So please keep in mind that this is 1,5 months worth of books for me. So my haul is a teensy bit epic :)

-A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness: Even after the mindfuck that was More Than This and not being really sure how I feel about that book, even 2 months later, I'm willing to give Patrick Ness another try.
-City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare: so I keep hearing both really good and really bad things about this series, but I'm still determined to give it a try and I needed something to add to my order to get free shipping ;)
-Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes: I haven't started the first book in this series yet, but it sounds like something I will LOVE so I pre-ordered the sequel.
-Altered by Jennifer Rush: I hear REALLY good things about this book!
-Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger: this will either be a complete hit or a complete miss. I'm hoping for the first.
-No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean: Ah, Sarah MacLean, your historical romances never fail to make me swoon and have all the feelings and I have no doubt that No Duke Goes Unpunished will be just as amazing as the other books I've read by you! There really is no good excuse as to why I haven't read this yet except that I've been crazy busy and stressed!
-Pawn by Aimée Carter: I wanted a shiny finished copy because it sounds REALLY good!
-The Night Itself by Zoë Marriott: basically I bought this because I'd been eyeing it for a while and Daph said it was good :)
-Fairy Bad Day by Amanda Ashby: this sounds really cute and the title even made my boyfriend smile, so obviously I need to read this!
-This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales: I have endless love for this book and needed to own a copy becaus I need this book to physically be in my life.
-The Hunger Games
Catching Fire
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins: AAAH! THEY ARE SO PRETTY!! I already owned a set of this series, but EVERYONE has already borrowed them and not all the borrowers are as gentle with my books as I would like them to be... Nobody but me is touching these beauties!
-Vicious by V.E. Schwab: I adored The Near Witch and am excited to see what happens when Victoria Schwab switches genres!
-The Rogue's Princess by Eve Edwards: I read the first two books in this series and they were really cute YA historical romance, so I figured I'd complete my collection.
-Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence: I've been eyeing this for 2 years and it was a total steal on Amazon, so...
-Unhinged by A.G. Howard: OMG, YOU GUYS! My pre-order came in early!!! EEEEE! I finished it this morning and have so many feelings!
-Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones: this was a really cute story! I think I would have loved it even more if I'd read it as a kid, but still really entertaining!
-Ashes to Ashes by Melissa C. Walker: I LOVED Unbreak My Heart and am dying to read this!

-Het Menselijk Lichaam by Paolo Giordano: wow, I just noticed that this doesn't even have an English translation yet! I was really impressed with The Solitude of Prime Numbers, so of course I wanted his newest release as well! Got this as a Sinterklaas gift from the boyfriend's mother :)

We had a Book Club Secret Santa and I got these two from Debby, THANK YOU! :D
-Cinder by Marissa Meyer: If I read this everyone can stop screaming at me? All my book club girls love this series, so I'm gonna give it a try and you can all say I told you so if I end up loving it :)
-The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons: which Debby got me because I am 'into epic lovestories' AND SHE'S TOTALLY RIGHT SO YAYYY!! :D

I bought this with a gift card I got for Sinterklaas :)
-Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella: I LOVE Sophie Kinsella's standalones and I hope this will me no exception!

Egalleys for review:
-(Don't You) Forget About Me by Kate Karyus Quinn: This book sounds absolutely creepy and amazing!
-The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones and Ursula Jones: this sounds so good and if it's as charming as Howl's Moving Castle was I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this very much!
-The Last Best Kiss by Claira LaZebnik: I really enjoyed her first two books and I'm forever in for a retelling of Persuasion!
-Guy In Real Life by Steve Brezenoff: this has the potential to be AMAZING so obviously I want to read it!
-After the End by Amy Plum: I loved Die For Me and am embarassed to say I haven't read the rest of the series, but I adored Amy Plum's writing and this new series sounds really exciting!
-Don't Call Me Baby by Gwendolyn Heasley: I can't imagine my mom talking about embarassing childhood moments on a blog. And I want to! Imagine it. Not live it.
-The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings: OMG SO MUCH EXCITEMENT!!
-Wicked Games by Sean Olin: I'm always intrigued by a tale of revenge.
-Sleep No More by Aprilynne Pike: an ORACLE! I AM SO IN!
-The Eighth Day by Dianna K. Salerni: doesn't everybody wish for an eighth day to the week? ;)
-The Falconer by Elizabeth May: paranormal historical fiction YES! This combines two of my favourite genres :D
-Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell: I read the Vespertine AGES ago and really liked it! It feels as if I've been waiting on this book forever, as I added it to my TBR shelf 2,5 years ago!
-We Were Liars by E. Lockhart: OMG, SO EXCITED!!! I've heard people RAVING about this and did several happy dances when I got the approval e-mail! :D
-The Here and Now by Ann Brashares: so I adore her for her Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants books and this sounds AMAZING as well! And I'm seriously in love with that cover, it is so pretty!
-Broken Fences, Hearts, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn: this sounds like a super cute summer romance and I love those :)
-Royally Lost by Angie Stanton: so princes are running around in the wild and I want to read about them!

Our Broke & Bookish book haul is inspired by memes like IMM & Stacking the Shelves & Mailbox Monday. This is just our very simple way of doing it collaboratively so we can participate in all of them and not have to choose one.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Found on Google Image Search

I've posted numerous times that I've  been in something of a reading slump.  I am happy to report that I've gotten better.  I read over 100 pages of a novel on New Year's Day.  And I've been reading it over the past two days too.  I might actually finish.  It was quite a road to get here, though, and I still have a ways to go.  This is a problem that I've thought about a lot because reading is my favorite way to relax after a long day and it's my favorite way to pass the time, so not getting a whole lot of pleasure out of reading is really quite problematic for me--and I'm sure for many of you if you've ever found yourself in that situation.

I've been celebrating because I think I finally pinpointed a big part of the problem.  Cue the trumpets and the dancing bears!

The sheer volune of books that I've accumulated since I joined the book blogging community when I was a junior in college has seriously been stressing me out.  I met all of these people that I really like and I've trusted their judgment.  So when they say they like a book, I think I'll like it too--I buy it.  When they mention reading a book, I think that I need to have it too so that I can read it...sometime--I buy it.  But when you follow 150 book bloggers on Twitter and who knows how many book blogs and you subscribe to these mailings--it can get a bit overwhelming.  I had to keep buying bookshelves.  I kept spending too much of my paychecks, buying books (and food and clothes) when I should have been saving more of it for tuition and the future.  I began worrying that the room over my parents' garage--where most of my books live--would collapse (it wasn't a serious concern, but how many more books could I add before it was?).  I crammed my closet so that I could have more shelf space.  I'm not really proud of any of this.

I wasn't adding to a collection--I was becoming something of a hoarder and not in the funny way we joke about being book hoarders (obviously, I wasn't to the level of needing an intervention, but...).  I was buying books that, by the time they arrived on two-day shipping, I was "over" having.  I was willing to send them to my parents' house on my next trip.  That's not fair to the books.  And that was rather irresponsible of a lot of ways.

On top of the hoarding, I started feeling judged by my books.  They'd sit on their shelves and say "pick me, pick me!"  There were some books that I'd routinely think about reading and maybe even pick up.  But there were many more books that I just couldn't really remember why I bought them or really see myself reading them.  Gradually, I felt so much pressure to pick the right book, the book that would make all of my reading troubles disappear, that I wasn't able to pick any books.  And my reading suffered tremendously.  I devolved to the flitting from book to book habit.

So what's a girl to do?

I decided that I needed to purge.  I needed to get rid of the books that I knew I would never read.  I don't read that quickly.  I like watching TV and sporting events and doing other non-reading activities.  I'm not going to read the 1,001 book that you must read before you die.  I think I can make a pretty good dent in reading the major classics.  As for everything else...So what if I read a novel (or, hell, even just part of a novel) by some author and rather liked it?  I didn't need to go out and start wantonly purchasing all of the other novels written by them, without really considering whether I'd like this other book that really had nothing to do with the first book and might actually be quite different.  Maybe that one book that I liked was a fluke and the rest of their stuff really sucks and that's why it's obscure.  I'm sure I'll miss out on some great opportunities, but that's OK.  I can let that go.

I had to do my purging in layers.  Some of them are really easy calls.  That healthy cookbook whose recipes really just taste like cardboard?  Gone.  Others were a little bit more difficult, but still pretty easy.  I don't really need to buy a biography on every author I own a book by--I can just keep a biography of my favorite authors.  A lot of the others can go.  I also don't really need to own everyone's collected letters or diaries.  I definitely don't need four different historical interpretations of the same event or period.  I don't need three different copies of a book I've never read (keep the copy with the prettiest cover, right?).  And thus I filled up a tub of books that are just sitting in my room at my parents' house.

But then it gets a bit more difficult.

What do I do with books that were gifts?
Do I start reading the blurbs of the rest of the books I own and get rid of the ones that don't really sound as interesting as I had hoped, knowing that I can always get another copy if need be?
How do I reconcile myself to just donating or trading hundred (thousands, probably) of dollars worth of books?  Even if I sell them all, I won't make that much money.
Since I'm not big on poetry or short stories, what do I do with all of those?

In the end, it's worth it.  I can relax.  I can see the forest for the trees.  I can have a manageable to-read pile.  I can focus on the truly great books as opposed to holding on to super obscure books that really just taunt me and that I probably won't actually get to.  I'll probably miss out on a few things.  But I feel pretty confident that I'll hit the highlights and that if a book is really totally me, it will find its way across my radar at a time when I will jump right on it.

Have you ever done a book purge?  What were your criteria for selecting which books you'd keep and which books you'd get rid of?
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