Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top Ten Reads of 2009

2009 has been a great year for books (although I suspect 2k10 will be a LOT better). Here are a list of my top ten books for this year. Some books were published this year, others are the ones that I've read and discovered, not necessarily this year.


  1. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  2. Being Nikki by Meg Cabot
  3. Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
  4. Graceling by Kristen Cashore
  5. Paper Towns by John Green
  6. Along For The Ride by Sarah Dessen
  7. Memoirs of A Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
  8. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  9. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
  10. Blue Moon by Alyson Noel
    Of course, there are many many more that I read and enjoyed (like the full Immortal Series by Alyson Noel or The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins) but these are my absolute favorites of this year.

    Under My Tree

    This post will show you what I got under my tree this Christmas. Yes, I know, it's a bit late... but is came!

    Wednesday, December 30, 2009

    Christmas Giveaway Winners!

    I have finally consulted with the great Random.Org tool. And the winners are as follows:
    But first I would like to thank you all who entered and what a blast it was! SO let's get to the point....
    Winner of their choice of book $15 and under is........

    Natalie (Mindful Musings)

    The second winner who has first choice between Hold Still and Waves is....


    The third winner and the one who receives the left over choice between Hold Still and Waves is...


    Congrats to all the winners. I will be emailing soon and I will request your choices and reply within 3 days. Thank you!

    Dear John by Nicholas Sparks

    Dear John

    "When Savannah Lynn Curtis comes into his life, John Tyree knows he is ready to turn over a new leaf. An angry rebel, he had enlisted in the army after high school, not knowing what else to do. Then, during a furlough, he meets the girl of his dreams. Savannah Lynn Curtis is attending college in North Carolina, working for Habitat for Humanity, and totally unprepared for the passionate attraction she feels for John Tyree. The attraction is mutual and quickly grows into the kind of love that leaves Savannah vowing to wait for John while he finishes his tour of duty, and John realizing that he's ready to settle down with the young woman who has captured his heart. Neither can foresee that 9/11 is about to change the world and will force John to risk every hope and dream that he's ever had. Like so many proud men and women, John must choose between love and country. And like all those left behind, Savannah must decide to wait or move on. How do we choose wisely? How can we face loss-without giving up on love? Now, when he finally returns to North Carolina, John will discover that loving Savannah will force him to make the hardest decision of his life. An extraordinary, moving story, Dear John explores the complexities of love -- how it survives time and heartbreak, and how it transforms us forever." from GoodReads

    In true Nicholas Sparks form, this story is one of romance, loss, and life. Let me start by saying that this is the first book I read on my new Kindle and not only was the Kindle amazing, but the book was, too.

    It was Christmas day and my family came over and I couldn't let go of this book as hard as I tried. The voice of the main character, John, is so strong and unique that it kept me intrigue. I've never read too many books from the male POV but this one was just breath-taking. Seeing John fall in love and then go through the struggles that he goes through just kept me on my toes.

    I cried a lot in this book, too. There are three parts and I cried on all three of them. It's such a touching and real story that it feels as if I went through it. I can't wait to see the move.

    In one sentence:
    A story that touches your heart and it lingers there days after you've turned the last page.

    5/5 stars.
    I leave you with the trailer:

    Monday, December 28, 2009

    Queste by Angie Sage


    "There's trouble at the Castle, and it's all because Merrin Meredith has returned with Darke plans for Septimus. More trouble awaits Septimus and Jenna in the form of Tertius Fume, the ghost of the very first Chief Hermetic Scribe, who is determined to send Septimus on a deadly Queste. But Septimus and Jenna have other plans—they are headed for the mysterious House of Foryx, a place where all Time meets and the place where they fervently hope they will be able to find Nicko and Snorri, who were trapped back in time in physik. But how will Septimus escape the Queste?
    Queste, like all the books in the Septimus Heap series, is filled with nonstop action, humor, and fantastical adventure as Septimus continues his journey of Magykal self-discovery." from GoodReads

    In this fourth volume, Septimus Heap, alongside his friends, embark in an intriguing adventure. I must say that I love children fantasy series, they're so light and fun, it keeps you turning the pages. This fourth book doesn't disappoint, in fact, it's one of my favorites from the whole series!

    The characters are funny and believable and the journeys are filled with magykal creatures. Angie Sage once again surprises me with her easy word flow and her great story-telling. Even if you're an adult, you're sure to enjoy this series.

    In this particular book, Septimus goes on the Queste and he discovers the truth about Time. This twist is very intriguing and will keep you on your toes.

    In one sentence:
    A fantastical return for Septimus Heap!

    5/5 stars

    Saturday, December 26, 2009

    Blog Of The Week (20-26th of December)

    Owned by: Maggie
    Maggie's Bookshelf is for fiction reviews and author interviews, primarily in the YA genre. Occasionally links and special events are also featured.

    Blog Of The Week is an ongoing weekly meme used to spotlight book blogs all around. To submit your blog (blogs will be randomly chosen) please follow this link.

    Friday, December 25, 2009


    Hello everyone!

    I hope you're having a great Christmas today! For today only, you will be granted with an extra entry if you join the Christmas Giveaway TODAY. So, go on and join!

    There will be a video coming soon with the nifty book related thing(s) I got today.

    Spread the cheer! YAY!

    Thursday, December 24, 2009

    What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Stones

    What My Mother Doesn't Know

    "My name is Sophie.
    This book is about me.
    It tells
    the heart-stoppingly riveting story
    of my first love.
    And also of my second.
    And, okay, my third love too.
    It's not that I'm boy crazy.
    It's just that even though
    I'm almost fifteen
    it's like
    my mind
    and my body
    and my heart
    just don't seem to be able to agree
    on anything." from GoodReads

    I got this one from my real life Secret Santa!

    I had only read one other book in verses, Ellen Hopkin's Burned and something that I had learned from it is that it was very honest. I was not surprised (well, okay, a little) to learn that this feel-good book was also very honest. The author doesn't hold back on real teenage life: our weird habits, our lusty (sometimes dirty) fantasies, and the fact that we have a body. I enjoyed the honesty of this book.

    I was also really happy with the humor in it. For a moment it seemed like I might have been the one actually experiencing these things because Sophie's quirky humor is much like my own.

    This is a perfect book for a gift because it's light, easy, and fun. Not at all heavy and complex like an Ellen Hopkins book but the verse writing and honesty is a bit similar.

    In one sentence:
    Read this in a sitting for a good dose of fun!

    4/5 stars

    Monday, December 21, 2009

    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    The Lovely Bones

    "My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer. This is Susie Salmon. Watching from heaven, Susie sees her happy, suburban family devastated by her death, isolated even from one another as they each try to cope with their terrible loss alone. Over the years, her friends and siblings grow up, fall in love, do all the things she never had the chance to do herself. But life is not quite finished with Susie yet ..." from

    Let me starts saying this novel is fantastic. It is gripping from the very first chapter. I didn't expect anything like it. Susie Salmon is murdered and we see her family and friends struggle with her death. She narrates her story from heaven, watching the several people of her life go about. She also fallows her murderer in a scary and haunting truth.

    What is the best trait about this novel is that it's told in such an honest and haunting voice, it resonates in your mind long after you've turned the last page. We see a fourteen year old die and she tells us those things she wishes she could have experienced but now is experiencing through her sister. She leaves the boy of her dreams and the family she loves so much.

    The end is just paralyzing. Such an amazing twist I never expected and I am NOT going to spoil. Let's just say, it's beautiful.

    One of the things that I didn't like that much was that it does drag out a bit. The time period is about eight years and I just wanted the murder to be solved and her family to be OK again but unfortunately, it's more complicated than that.

    Nevertheless, it's an amazing story. In one sentence:

    The Lovely Bones is a haunting, honest, and sometimes cruel read that turns out beautiful!

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009

    Shadowland by Alyson Noel

    Shadowland by Alyson Noel

    At the start of this breathtaking novel, Damen and Ever travel to Summerland in search of an antidote to reverse a powerful poison. But instead of the cure they seek, they find something far more sinister: the truth about their existence and the fate lying in wait of an immortal’s soul.

    Now, with Damen fighting to save them from the Shadowland, Ever turns to magick, hoping to break Damen’s curse. Along the way Ever encounters the mysterious Jude, finding herself drawn to him in a way that will test her love for Damen like never before . . .
    from GoodReads

    This novel starts as gripping as any other in the series. Both lovers are faced with such an obstacle, it makes a strain in their relationship. But then, when Damen reveals that they are destined for the Shadowland...everything gets even more complicated.

    Ever struggles to find the antidote until she comes around a book of magick which Damen thinks is sinister and dark. But that's not the only thing...the beautiful Jude appears and Ever and Damen's love is tested. Maybe they weren't meant for each other?

    What I loved about this novel is that it really presents the characters more than in the last two books...they seem more breathtakingly real than before. The end is gripping and it is a cliffhanger you won't believe.

    Jude, the new character, is amazing. You feel as if he's your best friend and you can tell him anything. But who is he? Or better question...what is he? (You'll have to find out). In this book, alliances are drawn and old characters come to hunt Ever...testing her trust like never before.

    One thing that I didn't like at all was the constant use of the word 'gape'. I hated it. Every time it appeared I cringed a little. And this is more about personal taste but I hate pet names and the times Ever and Damen call each other 'Baby' just makes me want to throw up.

    In one sentence:
    Alyson Noel has taken the Immortals series to a whole new lever...ahem...a whole new universe!

    4/5 Stars

    Tuesday, December 15, 2009

    Two For Tuesdays (3)

    It's been so long since I've done this! I decided to shake it up a little bit. So instead of posting an actual review, I'll just put what written on the back flap.

    by Alice Seabold

    "When we first meet Susie Salmon, she is already in heaven. As she looks down from this strange new place, she tells us, in the fresh spirited voice of a fourteen year old girl, a tale that is both haunting and full of hope.

    In the weeks following her death, Susie watches life continuing without her- her school friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her family holding out hope that she'll be found, her killer trying to cover his tracks. As months pass without leads, Susie sees her parents' marriage being contorted by loss, her sister hardening herself in an effort to stay strong, and her little brother trying to grasp the meaning of the word gone.

    And she explores the place called heaven. It looks a lot like her school playground, with the good kind of swing sets. There are counselors to help newcomers adjust and friends to room with. Everything she ever wanted appears as soon as she thinks of it- except the thing she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on Earth.

    With compassion, longing, and growing understanding, Susie sees her loved ones pass through grief and begin to mend. Her father embarks on a risky quest to ensnare her killer. Her sister undertakes a feat of remarkable daring. And the boy Susie cared for moves on, only to find himself at the center of a miraculous event."

    by Alison Goodman

    "Twelve Year Old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye- an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.

    But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen year old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.

    When Eon's secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic... and her life."

    And here, for your enjoyment, is the trailer for the movie, The Lovely Bones.

    Saturday, December 12, 2009

    BOTW (6th-12th of December)

    Hope's Bookshelf

    Owned by: Hope
    Young adult book reviews, author interviews, and a few contests sprinkled in between.

    If you'd like to be featured in a future BOTW (Blog Of The Week), follow this link to sign up :)

    Wednesday, December 9, 2009

    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

    Pride and Prejudice

    "Darcy had never been so bewitched by any woman as he was by her...                 
    With the forces of the world conspiring to keep Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet apart, how will fate manage to bring them together? It certainly won't be easy if they're fighting it every step of the way. But theirs is a love that was meant to be, despite all the odds against them."

    In one sentence:
    A timeless classic must-read!

    At the beginning, Pride and Prejudice is a slow book but it is beautifully written. The book kept me reading because I was intrigued by Mr. Darcy's character. He is the most interesting character in the whole book. In fact, all of the characters are very believable.

    During the last one hundred pages I got more interested in the book. It started moving faster and I couldn't wait to get to the end. In conclusion, Pride and Prejudice is a beautiful book that is a must-read. It is a classic for a reason and it's this: Characters. Characters. Characters.

    Tuesday, December 8, 2009

    Yay! It's Christmas: Interview with Holly Schindler

    Hi everyone! As part of the Yay! It's Christmas celebration I am here with an interview with Holly Schindler, the debut YA author herself! Check them out!

    1.  How did A BLUE SO DARK change from the first outline to the final draft?  Did these changes surprise you?

    The book was pretty internal when I started…that was the number one critique I was getting from editors as I submitted the earliest drafts.  Each time I revised the book, I included more scenes, more action.  I had to pull Aura out of her head and allow her to interact with the world around her…it wasn’t a surprise, really…it was a delight, because each time I revised, Aura became more and more of a real person.  I loved bringing her to life!

    2.  How has your own life influenced A BLUE SO DARK and your writing in general?

    When I started to write A BLUE SO DARK, I pulled out all my old notebooks and journals from high school, to reconnect with my teen “voice.”  When I realized how similar my nearly-thirty-year-old voice was to my fifteen-year-old voice, I really was off and running on the manuscript.  (I even included a few of the poems I wrote as a teen in the book—though they’ve been tweaked to fit the events of the novel!) 

    Plus, the novel’s filled with the “furniture” of my life—the story takes place in my girlhood hometown, Aura drives the same car I drove in high school, her mother works at the museum here in Springfield…all of my old haunts show up in the book…

    3.  You have signed your third book deal, congratulations!  Did it become easier to land deals after signing A BLUE SO DARK?  What did you learn from the publishing process from A BLUE SO DARK?

    Thanks for the congrats!  It’s been a crazy, crazy year…to go from no publications to three books in development!  Sometimes I can’t believe my luck lately. 

    …I’m not really sure that it’s any easier to sell a manuscript just because you’ve sold one in the past…I think each book kind of stands on its own, and if it doesn’t cut the mustard, it won’t be acquired.  But, yeah, going through the process once takes the fear-factor (or, really, the worry-factor) out of an acquisition.  You know what the process is, so you know what to anticipate, what the next step is. 

    4.  Aura seems to be afraid of herself in some ways and shuns her art.  With many teens today expressing themselves through art, do you think that Aura made it even harder for herself?

    Most definitely.  But what I think makes it so rough for her is that art is really central to who she is.  That’s pretty much the way I feel about my writing.  If I’m not writing, I’m pretty lost.  I think if you try to cut yourself off from the thing that makes you tick, for whatever reason—it’s not cool or acceptable—you lose yourself.  And that’s a place you never want to be.

    5.  What was the hardest and easiest part about writing Aura’s story?

    The easiest part was that first draft…it just really flew.  Once I got started, I completed the manuscript in two months!  I polished it up a bit, then began to submit…and the rejection slips started pouring in.  The HARDEST part was then distancing myself from a project I loved and had connected with from the start so that I could identify its faults and figure out how to begin rewriting.  (Sometimes, you feel a little like you’re ripping the arms off your baby when you do a global revision!) 

    6.  Can you describe your writing in two words? 

    MAN, this is a hard one.  The first thing that comes to mind is literary fiction.  But my favorite books are those that combine the literary (characters and beautiful writing) with great plots.  I want to find myself asking both, “What’s going to happen next?” and, “How will this character change?” as I’m reading a book.  Which is what I try to remember as I’m writing a new manuscript.  (Pretty long-winded two-word answer, huh?)   

    7.  How did you come up with the title A BLUE SO DARK?  Were there other title ideas before this one? 

    A BLUE SO DARK is actually a phrase I lifted from the manuscript.  And, yes, there were other titles before that one…I submitted the manuscript under four different titles, actually.  When Flux acquired the book, the working title was THE OCEAN FLOOR.  My editor was kind of lukewarm about the title, and suggested I troll the manuscript for other possibilities.  I sent him several, but when I finally shot him A BLUE SO DARK, he immediately sent me a THAT’S IT! kind of e-mail.  Lukewarm no more…

    8.  What are your favorite genres to read? 

    Uh, all of ‘em.  Seriously.  My tastes run the gamut.  I was a literature major in undergraduate school, and I still do love the classics.  As far as contemporary lit goes, I read everything from children’s books to YA to romance to mystery to horror to fantasy to literary fiction…about the one genre I never really connected with as much as the others was sci fi…but as soon as I say that, I have to remind myself of the William Gibson and Ursula K. Le Guin novels I enjoyed…so, no, nothing’s out!  If it’s in print, I’ll read it!

    9.  Who are your favorite authors?

    Hear that scraping sound?  Yeah, that’s me dragging my feet.  Every time I start to list my absolute faves, I start to think that there’s just not enough space in the world to list them all.  And the thing is, I know from my own experience how hard it is to break into the publishing world.  So I figure everything that’s in print has merit.  EVERY author has some quality to admire, be it their character development, their ability to infuse the pages with humor, their ability to juggle subplots, etc…I try to learn something from EVERY novel I read…

    10.  What would you say are some similarities and differences between you and Aura?

    The most obvious difference is that I didn’t grow up with a schizophrenic mother.  But Aura’s voice is probably more like the voice in my own head than any other character's I’ve ever written…her humor, her observations all pretty much just sound like me.

    11.  Is there ever any time when you have doubted your writing and wanted to give up?

    I decided to devote myself to my writing full-time when I got out of graduate school back in ’01.  And I won’t lie—it got frustrating…especially as three unpublished years turned into four…then five, six, SEVEN.  But I always felt like I was getting a little bit closer to publication, as no-way-hozay rejections were becoming this-was-such-a-close-call rejections.  I felt like if I just stuck it out a little longer, the work would eventually pay off. 

    12.  What advice would you give to other writers about the process of writing and the road to publication? 

    Just follow your heart.  If you REALLY love writing, sink your nails in and don’t let go.  Don’t allow anybody else to convince you it’ll never happen.  Every writer gets to their first publication eventually…the only way you don’t is by giving up.

    13.  Finally, what is the message you want your readers to obtain from A BLUE SO DARK? 

    I really don’t want to put a message in my readers’ heads before they even open the book.  I just want them to discover Aura and her story on their own, to draw their own conclusions…which they’ll be able to do, starting May 1, 2010! 

    …I can’t wait for A BLUE SO DARK to hit bookstore shelves.  The idea of it gives me goose bumps, actually… 

    Thanks, Holly!

    You can check out Holly Schindler's website here and her blog is here. Don't forget to get A BLUE SO DARK on May 2010! I know I can't wait :)

    Sunday, December 6, 2009

    Historical Reading Challenge

    I entered another challenge! My first challenges woo! Let's see if I actually do them :) I tend to plan what books I buy but end up buying a few others. I'm reading 6 of these.

    Here are a few details. You can enter here:

    1. Anyone can join. You don't need a blog to participate.
    --Non-Bloggers: Include your information in the comment section.

    2. There are four levels:

    -- Curious – Read 3 Historical Fiction novels.

    -- Fascinated – Read 6 Historical Fiction novels.

    -- Addicted – Read 12 Historical Fiction novels.

    -- Obsessed – Read 20 Historical Fiction novels.

    3. Any book format counts.

    4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.

    5. Challenge begins January 1st thru December, 2010. Only books started on January 1st count towards this challenge.

    I'll be posting my books in this post :) I will also be reviewing them.

    1. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen
    2. Rumors by Anna Godbersen
    3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
    4. Envy by Anna Godbersen
    5. Splendor by Anna Godbersen
    6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

    In My Mailbox (5)

    In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren and it's a weekly meme that features the contents of my mailbox.

    So this week I didn't get anything in my mailbox but I bought Shadowland by Alyson Noel (link goes to to Goodreads.

    And that's it :)

    Friday, December 4, 2009

    Hold Still by Nina LaCour

    Hold Still

    An arresting story about starting over after a friend’s suicide, from a breakthrough new voice in YA fiction.
    dear caitlin, there are so many things that i want so badly to tell you but i just can’t.
    Devastating, hopeful, hopeless, playful . . . in words and illustrations, Ingrid left behind a painful farewell in her journal for Caitlin. Now Caitlin is left alone, by loss and by choice, struggling to find renewed hope in the wake of her best friend’s suicide. With the help of family and newfound friends, Caitlin will encounter first love, broaden her horizons, and start to realize that true friendship didn’t die with Ingrid. And the journal which once seemed only to chronicle Ingrid’s descent into depression, becomes the tool by which Caitlin once again reaches out to all those who loved Ingrid—and Caitlin herself. from GoodReads

    Caitlin wakes up one day and her whole world has changed, her best friend committed suicide and suddenly everything seems darker and lonely. I have to say, this story is very raw and the descriptions are very powerful, I didn't expect something like it, ever. I loved how inside the book, there are pages of Ingrid's journal written in her hand writing. It made it all seem more real, as if I was reading the journal alongside Caitlin.

    Even though the book is very touching, I didn't cry like I thought I would. Some things seemed a little undeveloped like the relationship with Taylor. I feel that I needed to see a bit more of it, of how it went from shyness to being comfortable with him. One of the best parts is when Caitlin finally goes to visit Ingrid's parents. It's so beautiful how the parent's sadness is portrayed. I can relate to Ingrid's dad because my own dad is a very sensitive person.

    The book is short, a bit over 200 pages, so it's a quick read but by no means is it 'light'. Everything from the character's emotions to the description of Ingrid's suicide and her dark journal entries is very deep. I liked that there were a lot of metaphors in the book, it portrayed stuff that the MC felt but didn't necessarily narrate.

    The only 'negative' comment I have to give is that sometimes the sentences are very quick and short. I have seen this work on other books but I don't think it does here. But that's about it, everything else is great.

    In one sentence:
    Raw and powerful with vibrating descriptions.

    Thursday, December 3, 2009

    Blog Of The Week 29-5

    By the Book Reviews features reviews of Teen and Young Adult books.
    It also features interviews with authors. Past author interviews have included Meg Cabot, L.J. Smith, Ellen Hopkins, and many more.
    We also feature contests and giveaways.

    Do you want to be spotlighted here? Follow THIS link.

    The Hunger Games #3

    It's coming out in August 24th. Can't wait? What about you? Any theories?

    Yay! It's Christmas (or Holidays) Big Give away!

    What's better than the Holiday season, huh? Not much, to be honest. And to celebrate both the Holidays and my reaching 50 followers - THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! - I will have a HUGE give away. Here are the prizes:

    1st Winner: HIS/HER choice of book (as long as it's available) less than $15. YES! ANY BOOK!
    2nd Winner: HIS/HER choice between Hold Still by Nina LaCour and Waves by Sharon Dogar
    3rd Winner: The remaining book between Hold Still by Nina LaCour and Waves by Sharon Dogar

    * US residents only (this includes Puerto Rico)
    * MUST leave an email (if you're uncomfortable with this, email me at
    * FOLLOWERS only (new or old)
    * ENDS December 27th

    Extra Entries (easy peasy):

    +5 Follow on Twitter (YayReader)
    +10 Add on Facebook Fans (HERE!)
    +10 Twitter about the contest
    +15 Post on your blog (sidebar, etc.)
    +20 BLOG about the contest
    +10 Tell me about Holiday traditions in your family.
    +20 Refer new people to enter this contest (have the people mention you and each will get you +20)

    Now, go out and spread the holiday cheer!

    For ever 10 new followers that I get throughout the duration if this contest, everyone will get an extra entry (and maybe something else, but that's to be decided).

    *Note: If you feel uncomfortable stating your details in the comments, please use THIS form. ONLY use it if you must, please.


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