Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (15)

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...

Subway Girl
P.J. Converse
Coming March 15, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
From the moment he sees Amy on a Hong Kong subway, Simon wants to talk to her. But when he finally works up the courage, he finds out he can't. Because Amy doesn't speak Chinese, and Simon is failing English. But despite their language barrier, Amy and Simon connect, and they discover they understand each other.

In this stunning first novel about class differences, cultural arrogance, unwanted pregnancy and abortion, sexual double standards, and love and friendship, two vulnerable teens carve out a relationship even though each seems way beyond the read of the other.

My thoughts:

Contemporary? Check.
Person(s) of Color? Check.
Debut Author? Check!
This novel hits the trifecta of what I want more of this year.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In My Bag (28)

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.

 Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
(thanks to Michelle at Cavalier House Books)
Like Mandarin postcard from Kirsten Hubbard

So evidently I've had this postcard for a while since it's postmarked January 7, but I just found it while cleaning out my car. I guess it was stuck among other mail and slipped through onto my car floor. I was so glad I found it! I loved Like Mandarin, so I'm pretty psyched to have a postcard from Kirsten. Thank you, Kirsten, for writing an amazing novel and taking the time to send me a note!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Forgotten Friday (4)

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 . . .

Looking for Alibrandi
Melina Marchetta
first published 1992

I am so ashamed to say I have not read any of Melina Marchetta's novels. I have heard nothing but great things about all of her novels, especially the Printz winner Jellicoe Road. Because I typically read authors' novels in the order they were published, so I most want to read Looking for Alibrandi. I love books that explore family relationships, and I love books about growing up. Looking for Alibrandi sounds like it's about both.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (14)

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...

Sean Griswold's Head
Coming March 1, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
According to her guidance counselor, fifteen-year-old Payton Gritas needs a focus object - an item to concentrate her emotions on. It's supposed to be something inanimate, but Payton decides to use the thing she stares at during class: Sean Griswold's head. They've been linked since third grade (Griswold-Gritas - it's an alphabetical order thing), but she's never really known him.

The focus object is intended to help Payton deal with her father's newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis. And it's working. With the help of her boy-crazy best friend Jac, Payton starts stalking - er, focusing on - Sean Griswold . . . all of him! He's cute, he shares her Seinfeld obsession (nobody else gets it!) and he may have a secret or two of his own.

In this sweet story of first love, Lindsey Leavitt seamlessly balances heartfelt family moments, spot-on sarcastic humor, and a budding young romance.

My thoughts:

How flipping cute does this sound?! Unfortunately, I haven't gotten to Lindsey's debut Princess for Hire, but I've heard nothing but good things about her characters and writing. Plus she's just so darn adorable on her blog and on twitter, how could I not want to read her books?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Do Bloggers Sell Books?

There's been a lot of talk lately about the good vs. bad of book blogging, and I have to say that it's made me sit back and think about why I started blogging, what I mean to accomplish, and what kind of effect (if any) my blog has on readers. It appears there are industry professionals who believe bloggers don't sell books. They are certainly entitled to that opinion because they're probably right. I'm sure many bloggers don't sell a single book, but I bet a lot of them do.

I know because I'm one of them.

One of my greatest strokes of luck since I began blogging - and I truly believe it was sheer luck - was being approached by my local indie bookseller. They found my blog, liked what they saw, realized I was local, and said, "Hey, we should team up!"

Since partnering with Cavalier House Books I've had the opportunity to participate in their school book fairs. I spent two days back in November talking to high school kids about books. It was amazing. I'm sure the majority of kids who bought books those two days would have made their purchases regardless of my being there, but there were several who actually took my recommendations.

There was one kid whose friend was obviously a bookworm, and she picked up several books while he just stood there watching her. I asked him if he read, and he said he didn't like to but thought it was because he never found the right book. I pointed him over to John Green telling him it may be a good place to start. The friend then told me - and I'm sure this will embarrass him to no end if he reads this - that he and his girlfriend had just broken up so she was trying to help him find something that might make him feel better. I told him to go with An Abundance of Katherines (because it seemed fitting), and I said I was so sure he would like it I'd buy it back from him if he didn't. True to my word, I'm happy to refund his purchase. Except I haven't heard back ;)

There were several highlights from that day, but that one kid was my favorite. I hand-sold several books including every copy we had of Before I Fall and nine If I Stays, but I'm most proud of that one John Green. I really hope Colin speaks to that guy the way he spoke to me.

Another dream-come-true has been my display. CHB has graciously given me a space inside their bookstore to showcase some of my favorite books. And I don't know how many people pay attention to the title of the display or what John and Michelle tell them about me, or if they ever even visit this blog. But it gets their attention, and the books sell. And the books are constantly changing. The display features new titles, old titles, whatever I want people to notice. One of the last times I checked on it Michelle told me a girl stopped in front of the display, picked up Boy Meets Boy, and left the store with it clutched to her chest. Picturing that literally brings tears to my eyes. I love knowing that someone else is getting to experience the wonder of David Levithan's writing because of me. Sure she may already be a fan. Maybe she's even read it and just wanted her own copy. Or maybe the cover caught her eye, and had it not been right in front of her she may have glanced over it and missed out on the beauty of Paul's story.

As a book blogger, I know I don't have much push or pull when it comes to book sales. In the immense world that is the internet, I play an infinitesimally small role. However, regardless of the influence I have, I will always, first and foremost support literacy, and one of the ways I do that is by supporting the books and authors I love. I will always read, I will always buy, and I will always recommend. So it may not mean a whole lot to John Green himself, but selling that one copy of An Abundance of Katherines means the world to me.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's no secret that I am a big fan of romance in YA. I'm a sucker for all things warm and fuzzy, and it really doesn't take much to make my heart melt. In honor of this Valentine's Day, I wanted to dedicate this post to a few of my favorite couples in YA. These are the pairs that keep me swooning long after I've finished their stories.

Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie
(Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty)
The Jessica Darling books may not *technically* be a YA series, but I'm counting it as one. To me, J.D. and Marcus are epic - their roller coaster relationship spans five books and takes us past high school, past college, and into the "real world" of love, life, and Barry Manilow. Jessica is one of the funniest narrators out there, and Marcus's suave flirtations and song writing skills make him a magnetic heartthrob.

Anna and St. Claire
(Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins)
Who says the nice guy always finishes last? Not St. Claire. Good boy to the core, Étienne wins Anna's heart with his charm, wit, and flawed personality. Okay, so his British accent doesn't hurt either!  

Sam and Grace
(The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater)
It must be real cold in Mercy Falls if Sam and Grace still need to bundle up. While reading this series makes me crave hot cocoa and cuddling next to a fire, it's a bit too warm when Sam and Grace are in a scene.

Mia and Adam
(If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman)
I get so emotional just thinking about these books . . . I can't even tell you why Mia and Adam are one of my favorite couples. They just are. And after you read If I Stay/Where She Went, they'll be one of yours, too.

Bianca and Wesley
(The DUFF by Kody Keplinger)
Thinking of Bianca and Wesley is sort of like thinking of a dirty joke. It makes you smile and blush a little just from the memory. This snarky, fun couple may have begun as little more than a booty call, but we soon see they're a lot softer than their tough exteriors imply.

Michele and Philip
(Timeless by Alexandra Monir)
Could you imagine dreaming of a beautiful face all your life and then seeing it in person? Michele couldn't until she did, after unexpectedly falling one hundred years into the past. Michele soon finds herself racing through time to keep Philip in her life and out of her dreams. Of course, who wouldn't risk everything for a classy gentleman like Philip? 

Jessica and Lucius
(Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey)
It takes Jessica a while to come around, but she eventually sees all that Lucius has to offer. After all, a Romanian vampire prince comes with his own charm. It is mostly through his letters to his uncle that we see who Lucius really is and how he feels about Jessica. His chivalry is endearing, and Jessica learns to appreciate it in the end.

Paul and Noah
(Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan)
Theirs is the most honest of relationships. Built on lust and uncertainty, Paul and Noah are doomed from the beginning. But Paul doesn't let their breakup ruin their future. He figures out how to right his wrongs and make up with the boy he loves. Of course fixing things isn't so easy, but then love rarely is.

Nick and Norah
(Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan)
"I know this is going to sound strange, but would you mind being my girlfriend for the next five minutes?" The next time you're out at night, ask a stranger this and in him you'll find your soulmate. Okay, maybe not in real life, but in a Cohn-Levithan novel it sure happens that way! Nick and Norah are two of my all-time favorite characters. I loved being inside their heads and witnessing first-hand all the anticipation, confusion, and thrill of new love.

Amy and Elder
(Across the Universe by Beth Revis)
Amy and Elder may not be a couple in a conventional sense, but they sure do create sparks. Thrust together while fighting a common enemy, these characters must lean on one another while they figure out the fate of their existence. Of everyone's existence! All while traveling through space! I can't wait to see what Beth throws at them in future installments. I think Amy and Elder have the potential to stick together through space (heh heh) and time.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Forgotten Friday (3)

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 Outsiders
S.E. Hinton
first published 1967

I have a feeling I'm going to keep embarrassing myself with these posts. The Outsiders is another classic read by nearly everyone I know. I wish I had an excuse for not reading it, but I just never did. What are some classics you've never read?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (13)

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 March 1, 2011 - Preorder it below

From Goodreads:
When you can see things others can't, where do you look for the truth?

Clarity "Clare" Fern sees things. Things no one else can see. Things like stolen kisses and long-buried secrets. All she has to do is touch a certain object, and the visions come to her. It's a gift.

And a curse.

When a teenage girl is found murdered, Clare's ex-boyfriend wants her to help solve the case - but Clare is still furious at the cheating jerk. Then Clare's brother - who has supernatural gifts of his own - becomes the prime suspect, and Clare can no longer look away. Teaming up with Gabriel, the smoldering son of the new detective, Clare must venture into the depths of fear, revenge, and lust in order to track the killer. But will her sight fail her just when she needs it most?

My thoughts:

I have to be honest and say that what drew me to this book was its cover. It's beautiful! It also reminds me a little of The Body Finder - really just a contemporary story with a few paranormal elements thrown in and lots of mystery. (And I don't mean to imply I think this novel will be unoriginal. Besides, I loved The Body Finder, so bring on the paranormal murder mysteries!)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

Alexandra Monir
Publisher: Delacourte
Released: January 11, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 288
Source: Cavalier House Books
Series: Book 1 of Timeless
When tragedy strikes Michele Windsor's world, she is forced to uproot her life and move across the country to New York City, to live with the wealthy, aristocratic grandparents she's never met. In their old Fifth Avenue mansion filled with a century's worth of family secrets, Michele discovers a diary that hurtles her back in time to the year 1910. There, in the midst of the glamorous Gilded Age, Michele meets the young man with striking blue eyes who has haunted her dreams all her life - a man she always wished was real, but never imagined could actually exist. And she finds herself falling for him, into an otherworldly, time-crossed romance.

Michele is soon leading a double life, struggling to balance her contemporary high school world with her escapes into the past. But when she stumbles upon a terrible discovery, she is propelled on a race through history to save the boy she loves - a quest that will determine the fate of both of their lives.
Man, I loved this book. I always forget how much I love historical fiction, and then I pick something up like Timeless, and I'm completely swept away. I don't have much experience with time travel in literature, but I think the author did an incredible job of focusing on the story instead of the science. Too often authors can get themselves in trouble with too many details and confusing technicalities. This was not the case with Alexandra Monir's fantastic debut.

Michele has been haunted by dreams of a mysterious man for as long as she can remember. She doesn't know his name or who he is, but she knows his face and his voice. When she's forced to move across the country to live with her estranged grandparents, the last thing on Michelle's mind is her mystery man. That is until she finds herself thrown back 100 years into history and she comes face to face with him.

Monir's descriptions of 1910 New York bring the city to life - all the hustle and bustle, fancy ball dresses and tuxedos - I could really see it. Good historical fiction makes me want to be in that time period, and Timeless had me searching for keys and old diaries in hopes of hurtling myself back in time. Michele's voice was an authentic one, in that I empathized with her from the start. The loss of her mother, the frustrations that came with being in a strange place with distant people, running into the man from her actual dreams - all these things made me root for Michele and a solution to her problems.

Overall, I was invested in the characters, and I loved the setting. My one criticism is I could have used a little more Philip. He was pretty dreamy. Lucky for me (and you), I think he'll be around in book two ;)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Get your flu shot...

or smack yourself in the head like I've been doing all week when you catch it. But I guess that's what happens when you actually catch up on reviews, have some posts scheduled, and have a little time to breathe. Fate intervenes and hands you the flu. Pity party over. Good news for you is that while I was home from work, in bed, and unable to move I read. I read a lot. And I read some pretty fantastic books for future reviews. You see, I hit the review pile and I hit it hard. Sadly, my reviews won't be up for a while due to future release dates, BUT lucky for you I'm posting some sneak peaks to tide you over. I was blown away by these novels, and frankly I can't be waiting around for publication dates to share them with you. You're welcome ;)

Strings Attached
Judy Blundell
March 1
This book was deliciously dirty - full of mobsters, schemes, and nightclubs all in 1950 New York City. I loved the way the city came to life, and the spunk Kit brought to it. I stayed up way too late finishing this mysterious read, unable to wait until morning for the ending.

Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best
Maria Padian
March 8
I love this book I love this book I love this book! Henry and Eva are the sweetest of friends, and their story is the sweetest of friendships. How lucky are we who have friends to look out for us and take care of us even when we don't realize we need it?

Like Mandarin
Kirsten Hubbard
March 8
Haven't we all wanted to be like someone? Grace longs to be someone, somewhere outside of Washokey, Wyoming. So much that she can feel it in her bones, and I could feel it in mine while reading. Kirsten is so incredibly thoughtful and inspiring on her blog it's really no wonder she can create a novel with the same characteristics.

Between Shades of Gray
Ruta Sepetys
March 22
I don't know what was more heartbreaking - the story or the fact that this part of history is so widely unknown. I studied WWII on a university level and had no idea any of this happened. Read this book. Tell others to read this book. As Elie Wiesel said in his Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, "...I have tried to keep memory alive . . . I have tried to fight those who would forget. Because if we forget, we are guilty, we are accomplices."

Lauren DeStefano
March 22
Holy dystopia! Just when you think you've read it all, another fabulous addition to the genre comes out. The world Lauren created was brilliant - and all with the main character trapped on a single floor of a mansion for the majority of the novel! Bring on the rest of the trilogy!

Myra McEntire
May 24
This debut is as stunning as its cover. The story found inside is built like a Southern woman - full of class and charm, attitude and strength - something its author knows all about. I will bet this blog when this book comes out, sparks will fly.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

In My Bag (27)

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.

These are actually from a few weeks ago, but I forgot about posting them until now.

For review:
 The Darlings Are Forever by Melissa Kantor
Red Moon Rising by Peter Moore
(review request accepted - big thanks goes out to Deborah at Disney!!)

Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli
Crank by Ellen Hopkins

No Small Thing by Natalie Ghent
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas

 Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

I went on a mini shopping spree at Cavalier House Books, and I went to a library book sale with my mom where I picked up Milkweed, Crank, and No Small Thing for only $1. What'd you guys get this week?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Forgotten Friday (2)

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 . . .

first published August 2000

I read several of Jerry Spinelli's books when I was a kid including Wringer, Maniac Magee, and Library Card, but I never got around to Stargirl. I probably would have had a happier adolescence if I had. A story of individuality and quirkiness, I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it, but I know I'll enjoy it more when I finally do. What book(s) do you think you've missed out on?

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

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (12)

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:
Sixteen-year-old Liz Grayson is photogirl - sharp, focused and ready to take the world by storm with her camera. But Liz's entire life is called into question when her brother is accused of a crime - and the accuser is Liz's own best friend. As the aftershocks from that accusation rip through Liz's world, everything she thought she knew about photography, family, friendship and herself shifts out of focus. And for the first time in her life, Liz finds herself unable to trust her own point of view. Told in stunning, searingly raw free verse, Exposed is Kimberly Marcus's gut-wrenching, riveting debut and will appeal to fans of Ellen Hopkins, Laurie Halse Anderson, and Virginia Euwer Wolff.

My thoughts:

This is another debut I'm really excited about! It sounds very mysterious - I'm very curious to know what it is her brother's being accused of... I'm also thrilled about the format. I've really come to love novels written in verse, so I'm really looking forward to this one.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe
Beth Revis
Publisher: Razorbill
Released: January 11, 2011
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 398
Source: Cavalier House Books
Series: Book 1 of Across the Universe
Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules

Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.

Now Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.
I received this review copy back in October, and ever since it's just been sitting around taunting me. You see, I've been afraid of it. I am not a fan of science fiction, and to me, AtU seemed like hardcore sci-fi - spaceships, distant future, new Earth, frozen people - definitely more than I could handle. And then the reviews started pouring in, really good ones. And then people were naming it their favorite book ever, people whose opinions I trust. And then I read somewhere that it was "science fiction for teens who don't like science fiction", and I thought maybe that could apply to me. And then I still put it off and read two other January releases before this one, and the next thing I knew I had five days before its release to read it.

Someone please tell me I will someday learn.


You know, I really tried to suppress the crazy, but this book is just too good.

The first chapter is a marathon in that it is an intense, heart-racing account of Amy's last moments on Earth. The reader is then thrown into Elder's world on the Godspeed, the ship traveling to new Earth. The chapters alternate between Amy and Elder throughout this novel, giving the reader ample knowledge of both characters' personalities and worlds so that there is no trouble empathizing with both.

Beth's world building is brilliant - so much so I could see the Godspeed in all its glory. I can't think of any other YA writer whose descriptions are as vivid as those of Beth. (Suzanne Collins, maybe?) The plot and character development are also stunning - again, there are few writers I can think of who deliver such an incredible package. This story is one people dream of dreaming up in that it is one of the most original and spellbinding I've ever heard. And the strong characterization doesn't stop at Amy and Elder: Harley, Doc, and even Eldest are also well fleshed out and integral to the story.

This book was unputdownable from start to finish. It was suspenseful and mysterious, and it kept me on my toes. There were a few clues along the way I was able to pick out, so I had a few theories in mind about halfway though. Some things I guessed correctly, while others nearly knocked me out of my chair. I can't wait to go back through and find all the clues I missed. The ending was satisfying enough, but I'm definitely anticipating book two's release sometime next year.

My only regret when it comes to this novel is that I wasn't outside reading it under the stars.
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