October 31, 2011

Another year older.

Happy birthday to ... me!

That's right, I'm another year older. What does that mean? Well, right now it just feels like that means I deserve to be bogged down with more work than I'd ever want. Two jobs + schoolwork does not bode well, people.

I realize my blogging duties have fallen by the wayside, too. Don't think I'm not aware! I see you people unfollowing me. (You know who you are!) Does this upset me? Yes and no. Really, I can't blame someone for unfollowing a blog that's been rather inactive. But like I've been saying - this will change. Really, it will. I've got some clear schedules coming up. I'm close to finishing The Daughter of Smoke and Bone, so there WILL be a review sighting! (Holy cow, don't hold your breath.)

I owe a big thanks to Amanda for hosting the Bout of Books read-a-thon, which really did push me to read this past week during every significant gap of free time that I had. If not for that, the book review wouldn't be up as soon as it will be. (Also, she was awesome enough to send me a very funny birthday gift. AND a birthday pic. She rocks, basically.)

Now, about this birthday business.

I plan to redeem my free coffee, hold my head high, destroy my Accounting exam, and be as happy as can be.

October 25, 2011

Cover Like/Dislike - featuring Cindy!

Today's post is brought to us by Cindy, from Oodles of Books!

C O V E R       W A R
Wither VS This is Not a Test


 Hated Cover: Wither by Lauren DeStefano
I know. Some of you must think I am insane, but yes, I hate this cover. Okay, hate is a strong word. I don’t like it too much.
Why? Well, for starters, what is up with her hair? That’s the first thing I think when I see this, every time. I know that this poof hairstyle is quite common these days for models and such but I honestly don’t find it attractive. I also think her dress is…a little strange. I mean all those frills and stuff? I don’t like ‘em. She also looks sort of like she’s sitting on a throne but that could just be me being crazy.
Wither does sound really good and I cannot wait to read it but I find the cover weird. I do think that the caged bird and the significance this may hold is pretty interesting, but I’m sort of a hater. So I am sorry, but I just dislike this cover.

Loved cover: This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
The drops of blood, the girl in mid fall, the mysterious background…what is going on here?

This is one of the best covers that I have seen in a while, I think. It’s so simple, but so eye-catching and it makes me want to pick up the book and find out what is happening. It also reminds me of a cross between The Dead-Tossed Waves and Imaginary Girls.
It does seem like it’s going to be a pretty amazing book, so maybe that’s why I like it so much, and I can’t wait to read it. I really loved this cover from the moment I saw it.  

* Thanks for the great post, Cindy!

What do you think of these covers? What makes or breaks a cover for you? Fonts? Pictures? Sparkly vampires?

October 24, 2011

Bout of Books 2.0 read-a-thon: Begin!

Hosted by Amanda.

Whaaaaaat? I'm participating in a read-a-thon amidst my hectic schedule? Yes! It'll give me all the more reason to read, and it's a great segway into my birthday.

My Goals
  • 1 book. Yes. 1. It'll be quite an accomplishment.
Books To Read
  • The Daughter of Smoke and Bone
  • Lola and the Boy Next Door
  • Between Here and Forever (keep pushing it off!)


Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Today #insixwords: 

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Today #insixwords:Books:

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Today #insixwords: 

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Today #insixwords: 

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Today #insixwords: 

Number of books I’ve read today:
Total number of books I’ve read:
Today #insixwords:

October 20, 2011

REVIEW! The Pledge.

THE PLEDGE by Kimberly Derting
In the violent country of Ludania, the language you speak determines what class you are, and there are harsh punishments if you forget your place—looking a member of a higher class in the eye can result in immediate execution. Seventeen-year-old Charlaina (Charlie for short) can understand all languages, a dangerous ability she’s been hiding her whole life. Her only place of release is the drug-filled underground club scene, where people go to shake off the oppressive rules of the world they live in. There, she meets a beautiful and mysterious boy who speaks a language she’s never heard, and her secret is almost exposed. Through a series of violent upheavals, it becomes clear that Charlie herself is the key to forcing out the oppressive power structure of her kingdom….

My rating: 4 stars.


I went out on a limb here, reading The Pledge. It's admittedly not in my genre of choice - contemporary. BUT. It was mostly everything I could've asked for.

Most notably - the awesome sense of plot and descriptions. Hellooooo, you two! Where have you been in my YA novels? So glad you've returned. That's basically the conversation I had going on in my head. Derting's world just packs this live punch that's great; it's gritty, urban, magical.  And the characters have distinct personalities! It's easy to form connections to them, which helps guide the story. Truth be told, some are cliche, and a bit predictable. But the more developed characters make up for their lacking.

There's some slow build-up, which leads to confusion about just what kind of world they're living in, and why, but everything is resolved in the end.  However, that's where things seem to get a bit screwy.  Characters suddenly do a 180 and show other sides of themselves, causing me to feel detached from them after finally feeling like I knew their purposes within the story. It's a bit offputting and annoying. The way everything - and everyone - ties together seems illogical at times, or presents Oh c'mon, really now? moments/reactions.

But trust me: The Pledge is an awesome thriller. The world is fleshed out, the descriptions spot-on, and the characters more or less come together seamlessly. It's a mingling of all things good. Read it!

October 16, 2011

In My Mailbox (23).

The Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor.
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins.


Ahem. Sorry. I made it my mission to get Lola while on my Fall Break, and I succeeded. I cannot wait to read it. How long have I been waiting now? Oh, right. Forever.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is another story. I just kind of stumbled upon it on my quest to get Lola, and I remembered all of the good things you've all said of it, so I decided to take it with me to scope out while I enjoyed my Pumpkin Spice latte.  And I discovered it is just as good as everyone has said. I'm actually reading it before Lola. I never thought that would happen.

Hope you all were just as excited with your hauls!

October 12, 2011

Why I love verse novels - featuring Ashley!

featuring Ashley from Basically Amazing Books!

Basically Amazing
Ashley is awesome, if you didn't already know. Need a book review? ASK HER! Seriously. She knows what she's talking about, and has not given me one bad recommendation yet. She is the Book Recommendation Queen.
She's also a lover of Contemporary YA books, and is hosting a GREAT event:
Click to check it out and sign up!

It's no secret or surprise that I love to read. I mean, seriously - I run a book blog, am guest posting on a book blog and books show up enough times in conversation that, if counted, I'd border on the obsessed. But, with how much and how often I read, I have come to the conclusion that all books are not equal and that (unlike with people) I'm allowed my biases and prejudices when it comes to reading.

My one true bookish love has always been and forever will be Contemporary in all its many forms. It can be mysterious, thrilling, romantic, suspenseful, terrifying, heartbreaking, soul-shattering, uplifting, and so many other things. But the Contemporary fiction that I've always been drawn to most, the ones I love more than any others, are almost always the stories that deal with really tough issues, that break my heart and shatter my soul, genuinely mourning the fact that they aren't actually real (coughJellicoeRoadcough).

But then, I discovered something new, something that blew my mind and changed me. These stories, these intensely emotional and powerful stories were also told using poetry. I was really confused the first time I picked up a verse novel (I was really quite young) because I didn't see how a book could be told through poetry. I don't have the aversion to poetry that many people have (most likely because I grew up with a dad and grandpa who could spout a poem to fit an occasion, to teach any lesson or to lighten any mood) but even still, I didn't think you could use it to actually write a book (apparently 13 year old me missed the fact that The Odyssey (which I read) and Paradise Lost (which I didn't) were also poems). But, I read it anyway and Oh. My. Goodness. Did things ever change. 

I think my first verse novel was Stop Pretending: What Happened when My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones. But I don't remember a lot about it or the experience, other than being really interested and intrigued by it. But then, in college, I kept hearing about Ellen Hopkins and her novel Crank that used the addiction and decline of her own daughter as inspiration. I went to the library and checked out Identical, the only Hopkins novel available. It's a big book, almost 600 pages, but when I opened it, I realized it was told in a series of poems and the style and the writing, and its ability to tell the story completely blew my face off. I'm not even kidding. I remember getting about halfway through the book when I realized that the poems that initiated the perspective shift between sisters actually contained a poem within a poem that often had an entirely different meaning, a sort of read-between-the-lines effect and I'm pretty sure I stopped breathing. I immediately went back to the beginning, needing to read all those poems again to make sure I hadn't missed anything

By the end of the book, I was a wreck. A wreck in the very best way, that is only possible after having your soul eaten alive by a book, being utterly consumed by a character and just needing the story to go on, to be real. And I admit that I was incredibly shocked by how much power and emotion and force Hopkins packed into those pages. Such few words, but so much feeling. 

And so, I started to actively seek out verse novels. And after finding some insanely amazing verse novels, some great reads, some good, some bad and some incredibly disappointing, I think I've finally reached a point where I sort of understand what it is about verse novels that really just draws you in and makes it impossible to breathe when you are reading one of the greats. And, on the flip side, I've discovered what doesn't work as well. 

It's a hard thing to really identify and put into words that will make sense to anyone who isn't me (because such is the way with all realizations that are more feelings than thoughts) but as best I can say, a verse novel is so powerful and offers such a strong connection to me, as a reader, because everything except that raw power and emotion and that umph that feels a little like you've been punched in the stomach and can't breath has been stripped away. You don't have the room or the time or the space for fillers and descriptions so instead of being able to take time and use the setting or other characters or their history do the talking, you rely on so few words that the emotions and feelings are the only things left, and it's impossible not to feel. There is also an urgency to a verse novel that is impossible to capture in a prose novel.  

But to everything there is an opposite and verse novels, just like prose novels, are not all created equal. And a piece of my heart mourns every poorly written verse novel, because it could have been so great. But some verse novels try to be prose, written in stanzas instead of sentences and I tell you, it does not work. When a verse novel tries to incorporate the same amount of detail that is found in prose, or implement too many side stories and additional 'things' it begins to fall apart and the magic of the verse is lost. 

Verse novels are meant to be sparse. It's like make-up; use sparingly and it can accent and highlight and accentuate all that is good and beautiful about you, but use too much and you end up looking like you are trying too hard, don't know how to handle the make-up brush and look fake

I love verse novels because they don't pull their punches. They don't sugar-coat. They are. They exist. They exude raw emotion and depth and dare you to discredit them. They cajole and lull you into a false sense of complacency and then they eat your heart for breakfast and and wear your soul as a hat. And the craziest part of that? It makes you happy and eager to do it again. 

It's very true that the same can be said for a well written prose novel. But right now, for this post, I'm talking about verse and there is something magically special when you truly find those verse novels that connect to you that make you believe in the power of the written word. And when you find them, it's definitely something to hold tight to, and to share with the world. 

And on that note - Let me share with you some of my most highly recommended verse novels:

*The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder: This is one of my absolute favorite reads from this year and Lisa has seriously mastered her writing. This is the book I recommend most highly to 'verse virgins' as a starting point. This story just pours from the pages, takes your breath away and reaches inside to touch you. I've read all her novels now, and while this is far and away my favorite, all are worth reading. 

Identical, Tricks or Impulse by Ellen Hopkins: Pretty much anything by Hopkins is worth reading, but these three are my favorites. They are long, powerful, painful, raw and real. But be warned - Ellen Hopkins is not for the faint of heart and her novels handle a lot of tough subjects and she doesn't shy away from them in her writing (incest, rape, child abuse, teen prostitution, suicide etc). Not everyone likes reading about those topics, so know about that before you start with these ones. But if you do or can read about these subjects, then Hopkins is a phenomenal writer who should not be missed. 

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech: This is a MG title and while it's missing some of the complexity as the books written for older teens, it loses none of the emotion and the confused feelings of our young narrator are so transparent. I've read and reread this one, and am reminded why Sharon Creech was one of my most favorite writers when I was a kid - Because she somehow knows and understands. Because she gets it. And that is clear in her writing both to the eyes and the emotions. 

I'm always on the lookout for new verse novels to love, so if you have a favorite, please, share! And if you are still unsure whether verse is really for you, let me know. I've convinced quite a few others to try one, and none have been disappointed so far!


The Realm of Possibility by David Levithan: Just wanted to add a personal favorite of mine along with Ashley's! David Levithan is amazing to begin with, but when he writes in poetry it's all the better. Told through longer poems, The Realm of Possibility is one of the first verse novels I ever discovered. It's beautiful.

** Thank you so much for the great post, Ashley!
It was awesome to have you on the blog! **

October 7, 2011

Follow My Book Blog Friday!

If you could pick one character in a book, movie or television show to swap places with, who would it be?

Hermione Granger. Only I'd ditch Ron and go for Draco.

October 4, 2011

Biggest Grammar Pet Peeve - featuring Amanda!

featuring AMANDA from

Long before I became an English teacher and claimed my language nerd status, my biggest grammar pet peeve was cemented. To this day, nothing makes my brain hurt more than seeing people mistake your for you’re or you’re for your. These two words are so different in meaning that no one would make the mistake of switching them, if people bothered to take a second to think about what they are saying.

You’re is a contraction of you and are. You is a pronoun and are is a verb. Together they create the two most important parts of any English sentence: the subject and the verb.

Your is a possessive adjective. Adjectives describe nouns. You all know what nouns are.

I am sure a lot of people think a mistake is harmless. I mean, people still know what you mean, right?


You've been warned.

I found this story on a blog called Grammar Vandal. While I am personally not interested in going around and correcting people’s grammar unless they have asked me to do so, this post caught my attention. Perhaps you will agree. It’s called, “She got what she deserved.” Click the link for the full post. What I am most interested in is here:

This is my new favorite entry on my new favorite Web site, fmylife.com:

"Today, I was flirting via text with a coworker. Things started getting heated, and I wanted to send her a sexy picture. I asked if she had any suggestions. She said, “Your nuts!” She meant, “YOU’RE nuts.” I sent her a photo of my junk. I offended a co-worker with incriminating evidence. FML"

Okay. We know this guy isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Anyone knows you don’t send naked pictures to someone you barely know. And I’m going to assume that these two people are over the age of 18, because if not, that’s a different issue altogether. Assuming they both are above the age of consent,

That girl got exactly what she deserved.

She mixed up “your” and “you’re” and thus was blinded with an image of the least attractive part of the male anatomy, an image that will likely stick in her mind for quite a long time.

Unfortunately, the FML link no longer works. But I think you get the idea. If getting pictures of some guy’s man parts interests you, by all means, continue making the your/you’re mistake.

As for me, I will continue using knowing the difference between your and you’re as my unofficial intelligence or “person worthy of my time” test. Crazy and judgemental of me, maybe. But it hasn’t led me astray yet.

It is how I got my boyfriend of five years, after all.

* Many thanks to Amanda for being amazing, helping me out, typing up this hilarious post and creating the spiffy Language Nerd button. She rocks, as always. You need to go check out her blog. Here, here and here.
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