Monday, January 31, 2011

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Other Words for Love
Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Publisher: Delacourte
Released: January 11, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 368
Source: Cavalier House Books
Ari Mitchell feels invisible at her Brooklyn high school. Her hair is too flat, her style too preppy, and her personality too quiet. And outside school, Ari feels outshined by her beautiful, confident best friend, Summer. Their friendship is as complex and confusing as Ari's relationship with her troubled older sister, Evelyn, a former teenage mom whose handsome firefighter husband fills Ari's head with guilty fantasies.

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York - and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn't think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari's family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake's family, he pulls away, and Ari's world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?
This book needs a new summary. When I first read it I thought, this sounds good, but that was it. I didn't really have a feel for what it was about or an intense desire to read it. I was actually more inclined to support its author, Lorraine, because she follows me on twitter and is a debut author. When I received an ARC for review I was definitely looking forward to it, but it still didn't make it to the top of my pile. So can someone please rewrite this summary because this book deserves so much more than that!

Ari is who I was in high school*. I went from never having a real boyfriend to being in a serious relationship where this guy was my whole world and when we broke up I wanted to die. Okay, it wasn't so dramatic, but I sure thought it was at the time. Obviously I lived, and breaking up was definitely one of the best things to ever happen, but I can still remember the hurt and uncertainty of it all. I can also remember being in love for the first time and all the new feelings and experiences had. Lorraine captures these life experiences perfectly. Reading Ari's point of view was like looking in a mirror. Anyone who says (s)he can't relate to Ari is either a liar or hasn't experienced love.

Other Words for Love is really just a simple love story which, I think, is a testament to a great writer. There is nothing extraordinary about this story, it may not even be very original. But it was definitely one of the best contemporary books I've ever read. When you write as beautifully as Lorraine does, you don't need fantastical elements or a whimsical setting. You only need a character with a strong voice, and simple can become anything but.

I was also more than impressed by Ari's supporting cast. Can I just tell you that I wanted to punch Ari's mom in the head? 'Cause I did. I kind of hated her and the way she treated Ari, but this ended up being a good thing. The author was able to create a story so real that it evoked actual physical reactions from me - I was balling up my fists, releasing exasperated sighs, and there were even a few times I had to set the book down - all because I felt so strongly about her mother. It isn't often that a book will do this to me, so I give major kudos to Lorraine. Ari's mom was a character I loved to hate, and she was only one of the many characters in this novel who nearly walked off the pages.

This is a novel I hope everyone will read and appreciate as much as I did. As for its author, I am forever a fan and will read anything she writes. No details yet, but Lorraine is working on her next novel which is also set in New York. You can keep up with her via twitter and her website for upcoming news.

*So I didn't go to a fancy prep school. Or have a supermodel for a best friend. Or have a crush on my brother-in-law. Or get in with the rich and famous. But I swear there are similarities!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

In My Bag (26)

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.

Week before last my friend John of Cavalier House Books went to the ABA Winter Institute in Washington, D.C. While he was there he picked up a bag-full of goodies for me!

Haunted by Joy Preble
Strings Attached by Judy Blundell
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta
Wither by Lauren DeStefano
Bumped by Megan McCafferty
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Consequences of the Heart by Peter Cunningham
Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier
Die for Me by Amy Plum
The Dark City by Catherine Fisher
Angel Burn by L.A. Weatherly
Hourglass by Myra McEntire
Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
Hereafter by Tara Hudson
The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon
Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
Legend by Marie Lu

I knew John was planning on picking up a few review copies for me, but I was stunned by this pile! I can't even tell you which book I'm most excited for because I'm really looking forward to reading all of them. What'd you guys get this week?

The Mermaid's Mirror Giveaway!

For those of you who are unaware, L.K. Madigan shared some tough news on her blog earlier this month. In light of this shocking tragedy, authors, bloggers, and book-lovers everywhere are banding together to spread love for Lisa and her books.

Lisa's debut novel, Flash Burnout, won the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and has become a favorite of many. The Mermaid's Mirror, her second novel, was just released this past October. In honor of Lisa and her books, I'm giving away my ARC of The Mermaid's Mirror, but you're going to have to work for this one.

You must participate in at least one extra entry, but I hope you choose to do more. The goal of this giveaway is to help spread the word about Lisa. Add her books on Goodreads; become a fan on Goodreads; blog, tweet, facebook; do whatever you can to show Lisa we love her and leave the details in the box.

Contest is open to US/Canada only and will run through Monday, February 14 11:59PM CST.

Other bloggers and authors are also spreading the love - be sure to also visit them!
The Book Pixie
Bibliophilia - Maggie's Bookshelf
Denise Jaden
2009 Debutantes
School Library Journal
Fat Girl Reading
Green Bean Teen Queen
YA Librarian Tales

Friday, January 28, 2011

Forgotten Friday (1)

Forgotten Friday is something new here at bookmarked! After researching other memes, I discovered there really weren't any that featured the books we've always wanted to read but keep forgetting about. This is an idea I've had floating around for a while because I am notorious for wanting to read old releases and getting side tracked by the new books constantly coming out.

This week's featured book is . . .

The Giver
first published March 1993

I am actually embarrassed to tell you I've never read this book. I mean, who hasn't read it? I swear I feel like I'm the only one. My school only had recommended reading lists, never required, so although this title was included, I never got around to it. After reading and reviewing Matched and comparing my review to others', I kept seeing it being compared to The Giver. I had no idea, which made me bump Lois Lowry's Newberry award-winning novel a little higher on my list. I vow to read this book before the end of the year. What book are you ashamed to have skipped?

If you'd like to join the fun and share your Forgotten Friday post, please include your name and link below!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fallen by Lauren Kate

Lauren Kate
Publisher: Delacourte
Released: December 8, 2009
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 464
Source: Library
Series: Book 1 of Fallen
There’s something achingly familiar about Daniel Grigori.

Mysterious and aloof, he captures Luce Price’s attention from the moment she sees him on her first day at the Sword & Cross boarding school in sultry Savannah, Georgia. He’s the one bright spot in a place where cell phones are forbidden, the other students are all screw-ups, and security cameras watch every move.

Even though Daniel wants nothing to do with Luce–and goes out of his way to make that very clear–she can’t let it go. Drawn to him like a moth to a flame, she has to find out what Daniel is so desperate to keep secret . . . even if it kills her.
Mysterious boys and fallen angels make Fallen a pretty enticing read. Despite some mixed reviews, I flew through it (no pun intended). And while I did have a few issues with the pacing in places, the story was intriguing enough to push me through the slower parts so that I could piece everything together. At the start of the novel, I was a bit confused - but in a good way. I was unsure of who was good and who was bad, but this only made me enjoy it more. I wasn't expecting a mystery, but it was a welcomed surprise.

Luce is understandably sullen when she finds herself alone at Sword & Cross. She feels like she must hide her past even though she's unsure of what actually happened to get herself sent away. She soon learns the freak accident that landed her in Savannah isn't the only weird thing happening. Creeping shadows and Daniel's constant shift in mood make Luce wonder what else she doesn't know.

I have to say the supporting characters did a lot for me in this novel. Arianne and Penn were very likeable and added much to the story. I wish Penn played a larger role because she was probably the most interesting character in the novel. The Luce-Daniel-Cam love triangle really wasn't anything new when it comes to YA, but what can I say? I'm a sucker for them. Say what you will about this passive protagonist, I enjoyed her story and her love interests.

Was this the best book I've ever read? No. Has it won any prestigious awards? I don't think so. Was I entertained? Absolutely! I won't pretend that this was the best book I've ever read, but I did enjoy it enough to recommend it to fans of paranormal romance.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

Coming February 22, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
After a classmate commits suicide, Kana Goldberg - a half-Japanese, half-Jewish American - wonders who is responsible. She and her cliquey friends said some thoughtless things to the girl. Hoping that Kana will reflect on her behavior, her parents pack her off to her mother's ancestral home in Japan for the summer. There Kana spends hours under the hot sun tending to her family's mikan orange groves.

Kana's mixed heritage makes it hard to fit in at first, especially under the critical eye of her traditional grandmother, who has never accepted Kana's father. But as the summer unfolds, Kana gets to know her relatives, Japan, and village culture, and she begins to process the pain and guilt she feels about the tragedy back home. Then news about a friend sends her world spinning out of orbit all over again.

My thoughts:

I made several reading goals for myself this year, one of which was to read more books featuring persons of color. Orchards sounds like an amazing story of growth and self-realization. Just thinking about the Japanese orange groves makes me want to book my flight and read the book there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu

Dirty Little Secrets
C.J. Omololu
Publisher: Walker Books
Released: February 2, 2010
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 224
Source: Library
Everyone has secrets. Some are just bigger and dirtier than others.

For sixteen years, Lucy has kept her mother's hoarding a secret. She's had to — nobody would understand the stacks of newspapers and mounds of garbage so high they touch the ceiling and the rotting smell that she's always worried would follow her out the house. After years of keeping people at a distance, she finally has a best friend and maybe even a boyfriend if she can play it right. As long as she can make them think she's normal.

When Lucy arrives home from a sleepover to find her mother dead under a stack of National Geographics, she starts to dial 911 in a panic, but pauses before she can connect. She barely notices the filth and trash anymore, but she knows the paramedics will. First the fire trucks, and then news cameras that will surely follow. No longer will they be remembered as the nice oncology nurse with the lovely children—they'll turn into that garbage-hoarding freak family on Collier Avenue.

With a normal life finally within reach, Lucy has only minutes to make a critical decision. How far will she go to keep the family secrets safe?
The only reason I set this book down while reading was to give my eyes a break from bulging out of my head. This book was flipping crazy! Lucy is an average teen who only wants to fit in, but her mother is such a literal mess that Lucy must keep her and their home away from prying eyes - effectively keeping herself from having friends, going on dates, and having the normalcy she craves.

Lucy's story is a sad one, and she is a character worthy of empathy from page one. The responsibility she feels of protecting her mother is completely reasonable - this is her mother we're talking about. Yet the reader also understands Lucy's anger and even resentment. It is because of her mother that Lucy must remain a recluse, lest someone gets close enough to discover her secrets.

Dirty Little Secrets takes place in less than a day, but never does the plot seem forced or rushed. Omololu does an amazing job of taking the reader into Lucy's past to reveal her mother's deterioration all while keeping Lucy's current dilemma at the forefront. This book is a shocking view into the life of a hoarder and the devastating result this sickness can cause.

This book may have had me itching for a shower by the time I finished, but I must say I welcomed that feeling. Because this book made me actually feel all kinds of dirty while reading it, and isn't that what we want in a book? To feel something? C.J.'s next project is actually a paranormal romance series, which I am very much looking forward to. Book one, titled Destined, is scheduled to release Spring 2012. Details can be found on her website.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bloggiesta Finish-Line!

Well guys, the end of Bloggiesta is here, and I must say I had a blast. I wasn't as productive as I'd have liked and I didn't get to participate as much as last time, but sometimes life gets in the way of blogging. That said, I did put a dent in my to-do list, and I certainly feel a lot more organized that I did when I started. Here's a recap of what I hoped to accomplish with the things that got done crossed out:

- catch up on reviews
- create post templates
- update review archive
- tweak about me page
- add/create labels for posts
- create a review policy
- work on future discussion posts
- update social network profiles
- clean up google reader
- add copyright info
- order business cards
- organize goodreads shelves
- finish up secret project to announce next month

I did write a few reviews and work on my super secret project, but I definitely didn't do enough to warrant scratching them off the list. I hope everyone enjoyed Bloggiesta as much as I did! What'd you guys get done this weekend?

Friday, January 21, 2011


Twice a year, Natasha of Maw Books hosts a three-day blogging marathon called Bloggiesta. Pedro the mascot (Plan. Edit. Develop. Review. Organize.) is kicking things off today for Bloggeista's fourth edition!

Head on over to Maw Books to sign up for the challenge!

I have several goals to meet this weekend, so let's get started. This is my starting list for everything I've been meaning to accomplish. It's a pretty long list, so the likelihood of me getting to it all in three days is slim to none. But, typing it all out will hold me accountable to at least some of it, right?

- catch up on reviews
- create post templates
- update review archive
- tweak about me page
- add/create labels for posts
- create a review policy
- work on future discussion posts
- update social network profiles
- clean up google reader
- add copyright info
- order business cards
- organize goodreads shelves
- finish up secret project to announce next month

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist
Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf
Released: May 23, 2006
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 192
Source: Library
So you're a guy; you're at a band show and your ex, the girl who dumped you, walks in with the new guy. Looking for a safe exit, you ask the girl you happen to be sitting with to be your girlfriend for five minutes.

You're a girl; you're at a get-together and your least favorite female strolls in. The stranger sitting next to you asks you to be his five-minute date. So what do you do? You lock lips.

Nick and Norah's instant connect begins a roller-coaster "first date" that takes them through Manhattan and into themselves. A novel concept that works.
Confession: I never really read YA when I was a YA. I didn't read much at all when I was in high school, and when I did it was usually a Nicholas Sparks novel. Then came college, and as a religion major, I didn't have much time for reading anything that wasn't required. It wasn't until I was in my early twenties and out of school that I started to read for pleasure again, and then it was mostly adult titles. Until I picked up Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist.

I was shocked by how much I loved it. Rachel and David are so freaking amazing at capturing the essence of being a teenager - all the angst and drama and heartbreak and confusion. And you don't need to be a teenager to get it. Granted my teenage years weren't all that long ago, but I'm sure everyone must remember what that time in life was like. Reading Nick and Norah is sort of like reliving all the best parts.

Nick and Norah takes place in a single night, and oh, what a night it is. It is a whirlwind of clubs, exes, and emotions in the city that never sleeps. The dialogue is witty and snarky and funny, and I still, two years later, can't believe how spot on it is. David Levithan has this way of saying everything you've ever thought or felt but could never convey. Never have I loved the written word as much as I have since discovering David's writing.

This novel was made into a major motion picture back in 2008. I saw the movie before reading the book, so I  really enjoyed it. Many people who read the book first were very disappointed in the film due to plot changes, casting, etc. I can definitely see where these people are coming from (Memo to Casting Director: Did you read the book!?! Michael Cera is NO Nick.), but I believe if you can look at the book and movie as two separate entities you can enjoy them both. But hey, that's just me.

There are few I know who've had negative feelings toward this book. The few who have were mostly put off by the casual cursing and sexual situations. Neither of these things bothered me in the least, but I will warn those who admittedly have a problem with these things. That said, never did I feel anything to be inappropriate or unrealistic.

I've revisited this book twice since I originally read it, and each time is just as fun as the first. I'm really hoping to make BEA this May and my list of things to do in New York includes dining at Veselka's and visiting Electric Lady Studios all while keeping an eye out for a yellow Yugo.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (10)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

Coming February 15, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
What if your worst enemy turned out to be the best friend you ever had?

Meet Brooke: Popular, powerful and hating every minute of it, she's the "It" girl at Douglas High in Lake Champion, Minnesota. Her real ambition? Using her operatic mezzo as a ticket back to NYC, where her family lived before her dad ran off with an up and coming male movie star.

Now meet Kathryn: an overachieving soprano with an underachieving savings account, she's been a leper ever since Brooke punched her at a party junior year. For Kath, music is the key to a much-needed college scholarship.

The stage is set for a high-stakes duet between the two seniors as they prepare for the prestigious Blackmore competition. Brooke and Kathryn work toward the Blackmore with eyes not just on first prize but on one another, each still stinging from a past that started with friendship and ended in betrayal. With competition day nearing, Brooke dreams of escaping the in-crowd for life as a professional singer, but her scheming BFF Chloe has other plans. And when Kathryn gets an unlikely invitation to Homecoming, she suspects Brooke of trying to sabatoge her with one last public humiliation. As pressures mount, Brooks starts to sense that the person she hates most mights just be the best friend she ever had. But Kathryn has a decision to make. Can she forgive? Or are some rivalries for life?

My thoughts:

I am super excited about this upcoming debut in contemporary. I'm all about supporting debut authors and The Contemps, so knocking out both with one novel sounds great to me. Every high school has its rivalries, and I can't wait to what Sara does with this one.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

I'll be taking a break for a while...

Due to a very tragic event, I will be losing one of my dogs today. Euthanizing her was the hardest decision I've ever had to make, but one that seems best in this situation. My heart is broken and my whole body aches, but knowing that she will be surrounded by people who love her as she passes quietly gives me a little comfort. I'll be going this afternoon to say my goodbyes. God, please give me strength to get through this day.

Daisy was the first dog I ever owned, as I never had childhood pets, and the past five years I've had with her have been the best. She is a very sweet girl who loves to cuddle and finish my cereal, and I will miss her terribly.

Because of this unforeseen tragedy in my life, I will be disconnecting for a while in order to spend some quality time with the rest of my family. I wish no one would ever be faced with a decision such as this, and I can't apologize enough to those who have.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (9)

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine. It features upcoming releases we can't wait to get our hands on.

This week's pick is...

Where I Belong
Coming February 1, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
Corrinne Corcoran's upscale Manhattan life is perfectly on track - until her father announces he's been laid off and she's shipped off to Broken Spoke, Texas, to live with her grandparents. All alone in a big public school and forced to take a job shoveling manure, Corrinne is determined to get back to the glamorous life she's supposed to be living. But as she grudgingly adjusts - making new friends and finding romance along the way - this city girl beings to realize that life without credit cards and shopping sprees may not be as bad as it seems...

My thoughts:

What first draws me to this book is its beautiful cover! I love everything about it - the dress, the shoes, the cowboy, the title font - everything. Secondly, although I'm not a city girl/socialite, I am from Podunk, USA. So, I feel like I will relate to her experiences in the South.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Matched by Allie Condie

Ally Condie
Publisher: Dutton
Released: November 30, 2010
Age Group: YA
Pages: 384
Source: Cavalier House Books
In the Society, Officials decide. Who you love. Where you work. When you die.

Cassia has always trusted their choices. It's barely any price to pay for a long life, the perfect job, the ideal mate. So when her best friend appears on the Matching screen, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is the one . . . until she sees another face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Now Cassia is faced with impossible choices: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path no one else has ever dared follow - between perfection and passion.
Two months ago I found myself in a bit of a reading rut. I picked up several titles from my to-read pile only to toss them back on top of the heap. I reread a few old favorites, watched some trashy television, and thought about picking up Matched. Why I hesitate when it comes to dystopian fiction is beyond me. While it's proven to be a genre I enjoy, I'm never very eager to pick it up. But despite my reluctance, Matched was another fabulous dystopian.

Reading about Cassia's life left me full of empathy for her. While admittedly passive and only questioning when provoked, Cassia was content with life because the Society made her that way. It wasn't until she was caught up in a glitch in the system that she began to wonder if she truly did have a choice. Who wouldn't want to live in a world that insured one would be healthy, happy, and fulfilled? It really didn't sound that awful before realizing that living in a controlled environment, as safe as it may be, isn't really living.

The Society and the world it was in was extremely fascinating to me. Ally Condie did such an amazing job of world-building throughout the novel. Things were revealed slowly, but it allowed the reader to better understand the world Cassia lived in one function at a time. It seemed to also coincide with Cassia's understanding because even as a citizen, she didn't know how or why the Society functioned the way it did.

The only thing that kept Matched from being a favorite of 2010 was my indifference for Ky. I could see the appeal of the unknown and the forbidden, but there weren't any other qualities he possessed to make him more enticing to me. I actually felt myself rooting for Xander - he seemed attractive and like he genuinely loved Cassia, which made him much more appealing in my eyes. I'm hopeful Condie will be a little more revealing in the sequel and make Ky seem more worthy of being a contender.

Overall Matched was a fantastic novel by a very talented author. It ended with just the right amount of opening for part two and closure to keep us breathing until its release this fall. Cavalier House Books has Matched in stock and Crossed available for preorder in their store and on their website.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Mermaid's Mirror by L.K. Madigan

The Mermaid's Mirror
L.K. Madigan
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Released: October 4, 2010
Pages: 320
Source: Cavalier House Books
Lena has lived her whole live near the beach - walking for miles up and down the shore and breathing the salty air, swimming in the cold water, and watching the surfers rule the waves - the problem is, she's spent her whole life just watching.

As her sixteenth birthday approaches, Lena vows she will no longer watch from the sand: she will learn to surf even though her father forbids it. Because something keeps drawing Lena to the water . . . an ancient, powerful magic. And one morning Lena catches sight of this magic: a beautiful woman - with a silvery tail.

Now nothing can stop Lena from seeking the mermaid, not even the dangerous waves at Magic Crescent Cove.

And soon . . . what she sees in the mermaid's mirror will change her life forever.
The Mermaid's Mirror was one of the first ARCs I received from Cavalier House Books. I was not familiar with the author, and I had never heard of the title, but the premise seemed interesting. With the huge increase in fantasy and paranormal, I never read about mermaids so I was intrigued by a new take on the genre. That said, I was pretty disappointed with this read and a little disappointed in myself for not liking it more - it was one of those books I really wanted to like, but unfortunately I didn't connect to the characters enough.

To me, Lena was a spoiled brat through most of the story. I know most of us were at that age (okay, I was), but I didn't find her to be very likeable at all. I understood her frustration and anger, but the way she dealt with her feelings made her seem bratty and immature. I also had issues with the pacing. The first three quarters of the book seemed drawn out and slow, and then the end felt rushed. Overall, I wasn't left feeling very satisfied, and I was disappointed in Lena for the choices she ultimately made.

I really hate writing reviews like this one because I feel guilty when I have to be negative. But, as a blogger/reviewer, all I have is my integrity, and I must be honest if I want to keep it. I will say that I do look forward to reading Madigan's first novel Flash Burnout. While The Mermaid's Mirror was a bit of a letdown, I very much enjoyed Madigan's writing. Her descriptions of the ocean and beach were wonderful. I've spent many Christmases and summers in San Francisco because my mom is from there, so reading about the surfers and the waves was very enjoyable for me.

While I may have been underwhelmed by The Mermaid's Mirror, there are plenty of others who've read and loved it, so please don't let my review deter you if this book sounds like it's for you. Different books say different things to different people, so I'm sure many of you would enjoy this one. Here are some reviews from people who loved it: Lost for Words, The Book Scout.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Wishing everyone a safe and happy holiday! I hope 2011 brings good books, good people, and good blogging into your lives :)
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