Saturday, November 27, 2010

Across the Universe winners!

Well guys, it's been a while and I'm sure you're all anxious to find out who won a signed copy of Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I won't make you wait any longer. The winner is...

Be sure to visit Kristin's blog not only to congratulate her but to stick around and read a few of her reviews - I enjoy her blog very much and hope you do, too!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

In My Bag (24)

In My Bag is my version of the weekly meme, In My Mailbox. IMM was started by Kristi over at The Story Siren, and it explores the contents of my mailbox or shopping bag on a weekly basis.

For review:
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier
Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld

All books this week were received from Cavalier House Books. Super excited about Anna and the French Kiss. I've heard really great things about it, so I'm really looking forward to jumping in.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall
Lauren Oliver
Publisher: HarperCollins
Released: March 2, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 406
Source: Library

*Debut Author Challenge
What if you only had one day to live? What would you do? Who would you kiss? And how far would you go to save your own life?

Samantha Kingston has it all - looks, popularity, the perfect boyfriend. Friday, February 12th should be just another day in her charmed life. Instead, it's her last. The catch: Samantha still wakes up the next morning. In fact, she re-lives the last day of her life seven times, until she realizes that by making even the slightest changes, she may hold more power than she ever imagined.
There is something to be said about Lauren Oliver. She brings debut authors to an entirely different level. In Before I Fall, the reader re-lives Sam's last day on Earth seven times. Seven. I stress this because despite all of the gleaming reviews, I was a bit apprehensive: can I really read about the same day seven times and still care by the seventh round? Well, I cared. A lot. In fact I think I cared more each "day" than the one before. It's mind boggling that in her very first novel Lauren was able to create, and recreate, a single day I never wanted to end.

Sam Kingston is the kind of girl I love to read about. She's kind of a snotty bitch. She's beautiful and popular, and she makes the lives of everyone who isn't just a little crappier. You would hate her if you didn't want to be her. Overall Sam is a pretty flat character in the beginning, but when she's faced with her own mortality, she becomes this other person. And that person is pretty darn likeable. Seeing Sam evolve into a better version of herself seemed like a privilege: like I was so lucky to be let in on Sam's secrets.

I'd love to write a more critical review, picking apart the plot and character development, to convince you to read this book. But I can't because all I want to do is jump up and down and scream, "Y'ALL! THIS BOOK IS SO FREAKING GOOD! YOU HAVE TO READ IT NOOWWW!!!!" Because y'all, it is that good, and as much as I've been trying, I really can't put into words how this book made me feel. There were several times that I had to put it down and say, "Wow." I actually had to step away so that I could both think about everything going on and try not to blow through it too quickly. This is a book to be savored: it's thought-provoking and emotionally charged, and it's the kind of read that doesn't let go.

The brilliance that is Lauren Oliver's first novel has made me a fan for life. Whatever she writes, I will read. Before I Fall is one of the best books I've read this year and definitely the best debut. While I have to be picky about the books I buy (because I have yet to find that damn money tree...), my next trip to Cavalier House Books will definitely include picking up a copy. It's one that must have a home on my shelf.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Contest Update

So I made a huge mistake by leaving out a very important tidbit of information in the Across the Universe Giveaway post.


Yep, I'll admit to totally sucking, but I caught it and now you now! I also wanted to take this opportunity to let you guys know that bookmarked is now on Facebook! The link (along with links to Twitter and Goodreads) are all on the sidebar, but I know most people use readers and may not have actually visited the site lately.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah

Where the Streets Had a Name
Randa Abdel-Fattah
Publisher: Scholastic
Released: November 1, 2010
Age Group: 9 - 12
Pages: 320
Source: 1 ARC Tours
Thirteen year old Hayaat is on a mission. She believes a handful of soil from her grandmother's ancestral home in Jerusalem will save her beloved Sitti Zeynab's life. The only problem is that Hayaat and her family live behind the impenetrable wall that divides the West Bank, and they're on the wrong side of check points, curfews, and the travel permit system. Plus, Hayaat's best friend Samy always manages to attract trouble. But luck is on the pair's side as they undertake the journey to Jerusalem from the Palestinian Territories when Hayaat and Samy have a curfew-free day to travel.

But while their journey may only be a few kilometers long, it could take a lifetime to complete. . .
As a child, and even as a young adult, I knew of there being conflicts in the Middle East; however, I had no idea what was really going on. It wasn't until I went to college and became a Religious Studies major that I really understood the history of the Middle East, its religions, and the strife that's resulted. Where the Streets Had a Name is a book I wish had been around when I was a kid. It is an excellent view into the life of a young girl in Palestine trying to get into forbidden Jerusalem.

Disfigured by the crossfire of her war-torn home, Hayaat is perhaps more emotionally scarred than physically by the death of her best friend. But such is the life in Palestine. Her family can only hope that she will marry despite her bad fortune because a good marriage is Hayaat's best chance at a good life. While a future such as this may seem little more than grim, Hayaat is no worse for the wear. She is just another thirteen-year-old girl who likes to skip school to play with her best friend Samy and argue with her older sister.

Hayaat also spends a lot of time listening to her grandmother's stories of Jerusalem before her family was forced out of their homes and moved to Bethlehem. When her grandmother falls ill, Hayaat decides she must travel to Jerusalem and bring back the soil of her grandmother's homeland to save her life. Armed with nothing more than an empty hummus jar, Hayaat and Samy make their way toward Jerusalem.

I often believe the world could be a better place simply if everyone would read. And I don't just mean having the ability to read, although that is obviously a part of it, but if everyone read more. Where the Streets Had a Name is the perfect example of this. With a setting like Palestine, one would think it would be difficult to create a hopeful story, but Randa Abdel-Fattah tells a courageous one with more heart than some people I know. It is a story everyone should read at least once and probably more than twice.

I wish I would have remembered to go back and copy down a few quotes to share before I had to send my copy along its way. There was one passage in particular when Sitti Zeynab is telling Hayaat a story and she says something about smiling being the same in every language. It is that kind of truth that makes this novel one of the most inspiring I've read this year.

Across the Universe Giveaway

So if you remember my IMB post from a few weeks ago, I received a second ARC of Across the Universe by Beth Revis from the amazing people I get to call my friends at Cavalier House Books. I haven't gotten a chance to pick it up yet due to other deadlines, but everywhere I look someone is talking about it. I'm so glad I get a chance to read it before its release, and I'd like to share that opportunity with one of you!

I'm giving away my second ARC to one of you lucky readers. Following is much appreciated but not required, and this time I'll allow one extra entry for sharing. Be sure to include the link in the form!

*By the way, this is a SIGNED copy! Yep, that's right. Sorry I forgot to mention it in the original post. I just remembered after picking it up!*

**Contest has ended. Stay tuned for winner announcement and more giveaways coming soon!
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