Friday, December 31, 2010

Best/Most Memorable Reads of 2010

As I was looking over my list of 160 books read in 2010, I realized I had a pretty awesome reading year this year – I can remember a vast majority of these books with a smile.

So I decided instead of doing a just traditional best list, I’d mix in some memorable moments from my year in reading.

Memorable Dystopian Moments

Thanks to two whole dystopian theme months (February and August), this was my most read genre. I already pointed out my top 5 2010 faves at The Book Smugglers (MONSTERS OF MEN by Patrick Ness, THE UNIDENTIFIED by Rae Mariz, SHIP BREAKER by Paolo Bacigalupi, SHADES OF GREY by Jasper Fforde, INSIDE OUT by Maria V Synder and 2011 release DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver), but really most of my dystopian reads were awesome.

The Rise of Contemporary YA

I never pegged myself as a big contemporary YA fan, but some of my very favorite 2010 books were contemporary.

BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (read in 2009)
THE CARDTURNER by Louis Sachar
AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR by Morgan Matson
LOSING FAITH by Denise Jaden
ROSEBUSH by Michelle Jaffe
THE BODY FINDER by Kimberly Derting (sort of paranormal, but whatevs!)
SOME GIRLS ARE Courtney Summers

Lots of debuts on that list too!

The year I finally read….

My first Sarah Dessen (JUST LISTEN), my first Ellen Hopkins (TRICKS) and my first Meg Cabot (AIRHEAD).

Most memorable first line

This award goes to Justin Cronin’s THE PASSAGE: “Before she became the Girl from Nowhere – The One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years – she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.” Love it!

Most memorable first chapter

For me, this is a tie between 7 SOULS by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando and ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis. In the first, Mary wakes up naked in an NYC Crate & Barrel display bed and doesn’t know how she got there. In the second, Amy has to decide if she wants to be frozen so she can join her parents on a 300 year space journey to a new planet. Both are riveting and set the scene for some killer novels.

Most memorable laugh

This came from the chapter entitled "The precious Jewells" from Leila Sales’ MOSTLY GOOD GIRLS. Funniest thing I read all year!

Most memorable cry

Even though MOCKINGJAY was my least favorite of the series, it was still my most anticipated read of the year (DELIRIUM was a very close second) and it affected me the most emotionally too.

Most memorable couples

Katniss and Peeta from MOCKINGJAY, Lennie and Joe from THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE, Trella and Riley from INSIDE OUT.

Most memorable WTF

Most of MOCKINGJAY really. WTF was up with cat lady in the fur shop?

Most memorable scene that gave me chills (in a good way)

Gloria and Charlie on the roof in the rain in Andrew Auseon’s FREAK MAGNET.

Most memorable scare

NEVERMORE by Kelly Creagh. I had to cover my eyes!

Most memorable villain

Major Prentiss in Patrick Ness’ THE ASK AND THE ANSWER and MONSTERS OF MEN. I know I talk about him all the time, but whoa. He’s evil with a capitol E and yet, Ness still had me hoping for his redemption. Amazing.

Runner up: Billycan from Hilary Wagner’s NIGHTSHADE CITY. A twisted albino former lab rat – yes!

Most memorable cover

I love my ARC of MATCHED by Ally Condie. It’s sparkly!

Most memorable unexpected reveal

The end of Chevy Stevens’ STILL MISSING. I did not see that one coming in a million years, and yet, in the context of the story, it totally makes sense.

Honorable mention: RUNAWAY by Meg Cabot. So twisted!

Most memorable backlist reads

THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA by Megan Whalen Turner (pubbed 2000)
THE BLONDE OF THE JOKE by Bennett Madison (pubbed 2009)
THE ASK AND THE ANSWER by Patrick Ness (pubbed 2009)
DREAM GIRL by Lauren Mechling (pubbed 2008)
PARABLE OF THE SOWER by Octavia Butler (pubbed 1993)

Favorite Reads of 2010 (regardless of pub date, alphabetical order)


THE CLEARING by Heather Davis

DELIRIUM by Lauren Oliver

I’D KNOW YOU ANYWHERE by Laura Lippman

LINGER by Maggie Stiefvater



THE QUEEN OF ATTOLIA by Megan Whalen Turner


SHADES OF GREY by Jasper Fforde

What were your most memorable reading moments?

Books Read in 2010

YA Fiction

Zombies Vs Unicorns (audio)
Trance by Linda Gerber
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams
The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Rosebush by Michele Jaffe
Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney

Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler
Freak Magnet by Andrew Auseon
Mostly Good Girls by Leila Sales
Losing Faith by Denise Jaden
Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick
Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King
Last Night I Sang to the Monster by Benjamin Alire Saenz

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee
Nevermore by Kelly Creagh
Razorland by Ann Aguirre
Black Hole Sun by David Macinnes Gill
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
Escape from Furnance: Solitary by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Gardener by SA Bodeen
The Water Wars by Cameron Stracher
For the Win by Cory Doctorow
The Unidentified by Rae Mariz

The Blending Time by Michael Kinch
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman
This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony
Gone by Michael Grant
Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd
Nomansland by Lesley Hauge
The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
Z for Zachariah by Robert C O'Brien
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin
The Eternal Ones by Kirsten Miller
7 Souls by Barnabas Miller and Jordan Orlando
Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
Borderline by Allan Stratton
Slept Away by Julie Kraut
Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready
This Gorgeous Game by Donna Freitas

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
Matched by Ally Condie
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White
My Double Life by Janette Rallison

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater
Runaway by Meg Cabot
Being Nikki by Meg Cabot
Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
The Clearing by Heather Davis
The Blonde of the Joke by Bennett Madison
The Vampire Is Just Not That Into You by Vlad Mezrich
Stolen by Lucy Christopher
Jumped by Rita Williams-Garcia
The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter
The Eternal Kiss (Anthology)
Airhead by Meg Cabot
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Soldier X by Don Wulffson
Back Home by Julia Keller
Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick
Out of the Blue by SL Rottman
The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten
Exodus by Julie Bertagna
Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien
Inside Out by Maria V. Snyder
The Line by Teri Hall
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody
Sapphique by Catherine Fisher
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Lockdown (Escape from Furnace) by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

The Resistance by Gemma Malley
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore
My Soul to Save by Rachel Vincent
My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent
Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves
Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe
Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough
The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
Dream Life by Lauren Mechling

Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling
All Unquiet Things by Anna Jarzab
Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

YA non-fiction

Read, Remember, Recommend for Teens by Rachelle Rogers Knight

Middle Grade Fiction

Radiance by Alyson Noel
Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park
Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins
Joy of Spooking Unearthly Asylum by PJ Bracegirdle
First Light by Rebecca Stead
The Limit by Kristen Landon
Dark Life by Kat Falls
Alison Dare: The Heart of the Maiden
Alison Dare: Little Miss Adventures

Comet in Moominland by Tove Jansson
Beware, Princess Elizabeth by Carolyn Meyer
Claim to Fame by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Imposters by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Adult fiction

Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag
Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith
I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman
The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
The Whole World by Emily Winslow
Salvation City by Sigrid Nunez
A Friend of the Family by Lauren Grodstein
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Yes, My Darling Daughter by Margaret Leroy
The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Still Missing by Chevy Stevens
Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
Never Look Away by Linwood Barclay
The Tourist by Olen Steinhauer
The Girl She Used to Be by David Cristofano

Tethered by Amy MacKinnon
Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon
Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
The Widow's Season by Laura Brodie
Mathilda Savitch by Victor Lodato
The Invention of Curried Sausage by Uwe Timm
The Passage by Justin Cronin
Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
The Things that Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist

Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde
 The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min
The Last Surgeon by Michael Palmer

Adult non-fiction

Can You Get Hooked on Lipbalm? by Perry Romanowski
Earth the Book by The Daily Show writers
Don't Sing at the Table by Adriana Trigiani
Either You're In or You're In the Way by Logan and Noah Miller
Take Ivy by T. Hayashida
Love in a Time of Homeschooling by Laura Brodie


Funny Business by Leonard S. Marcus


The Vegetable Dishes I Can't Live Without by Mollie Katzen

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Where My Last 20 Books Came From (11)

So one last time this year!  The source of my latest reads:

Zombies Vs Unicorns (audio) - Amazon Vine
Can You Get Hooked on Lipbalm? by Perry Romanowski - NetGalley
Radiance by Alyson Noel - BEA
Trance by Linda Gerber - BEA
Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers - Borrowed
Earth the Book by The Daily Show writers - Bought
Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag - Book tour
The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams - Unsolicited review copy (signed)
The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted - BEA
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly - BEA
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey - Blog tour
Rosebush by Michele Jaffe - Frankfurt Book Fair
Nightshade City by Hilary Wagner - Sent for review by author (signed)
Don't Sing at the Table by Adriana Trigiani - Sent for review by author (signed)
A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park - Won in a contest by author (signed)
Suspect by Kristin Wolden Nitz - Unsolicited review copy
The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney - Amazon Vine
Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley - Sent for review by publicist
Across the Universe by Beth Revis - Sent for review by editor
The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith - Sent by publisher for book club

I see I need to do better on bought books!  Well, there's always next year...

Audio Book Review: Zombies Vs Unicorns by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black

My track record with audio books is not very good. I fell asleep while listening to Hamlet in the car in my college years (bad because I was driving) and I fell asleep in the bathtub while listening to All The Pretty Horses (despite Brad Pitt’s narration – or maybe because of it?). In any case, I did want to give audio another try, and short stories seemed like just the thing. And it did work out well. I listened to some in the car and others while cleaning or doing menial tasks.

Justine and Holly are fun to listen to as they make their cases for their respective teams. And though I didn’t expect to side with team unicorn, standout unicorn stories from Diana Peterfreund (The Care and Feeding of Your Baby Unicorn), Meg Cabot (Princess Prettypants) and Garth Nix (The Highest Justice) slightly edged out the count of standout zombie stories from Alaya Dawn Johnson (Love Will Tear Us Apart) and Carrie Ryan (Bougainvillea). I’ll consider it my first audio book success!

Find out more about Zombies Vs Unicorns on the official website!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

18 books I wish I would have read in 2010...

...but for some reason just did not get to.  I wanted to mention them because some of them MIGHT have been favorites this year - if I had read them.  You can bet most of these (I hope) will show up on the blog in 2011 at some point.

6 books from favorite YA authors (not all from 2010)

Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
Sleepless by Cyn Balog
Experienced (A Beautiful Americans novel)
by Lucy Silag
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

Now except for Sleepless, these are all books that I bought, which explains partly why I haven't gotten to them yet since review books do tend to get priority in my pile.  Beth Kephart had two awesome sounding novels out this year and I bought both immediately and really can't wait to have the time to savor her way with language and story.  I've been reading Turner's Queen's Thief series ever so slowly because I don't ever want it to end!  Balog charmed with Fairy Tale, a story about fairies no less, so I'm interested to she what she has done with the sandman myth.  The Beautiful Americans series, featuring a group of American exchange students in Paris, has me captivated.  I bought Fever 1793 on recommendation from Rebecca because I do so enjoy plague tales.  I think I need to do a theme week, because I have a bunch of other books I'd love to read that'd fit the category.

2010 YA Debuts

Escaping the Tiger by Laura Manivong
Sea by Heidi R. Kling
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
The Red Umbrella by Christina Gonzalez
The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell
Eighth Grade Superzero by Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich

These first 4 all are set in exotic foreign locales (which I love, obvs) - Laos, Indonesia, France, Cuba.  I spent some time with the authors of the last 2 (had breakfast with Chelsea during BEA and Bemi was at two of Daniel and Audrey's book signings in September).  I've read 30 2010 YA debuts this year, but I still feel like it could have been more!  It was such a great year for debuts, wasn't it?

Adult books pubbed in 2010

Faithful Place by Tana French
Room by Emma Donoghue
Our Tragic Universe by Scarlett Thomas
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
Bloodroot by Amy Greene
How to Live Safely in a Science Fiction Universe by Charles Yu

I really can't believe I haven't read Faithful Place yet since The Likeness is one of my favorite books ever.  The other 5 are books I've added to my pile after BEA buzz and best lists galore.  I actually do not yet have Yu's book yet, but I plan to get asap.
Which books do you wish you had gotten to this year?

Secret Santa Gifts

Honestly, I've not been so lucky with Christmas gift exchange programs the past couple of years, but this year was beyond awesome!

For the Book Blogger Holiday Exchange, Jenn of Jenn's Bookshelves was my Secret Santa and she surprised me with my gift when we all met at Michelle's for pizza back at the beginning of December when I was in DC for a few days.  I was so surprised and delighted by her gifts.  I took a bunch of pictures of the presentation and the contents on my BlackBerry and ... they have since mysteriously disapeared.  But believe me when I say the wrapping was very festive. 

Jenn bought me two books off of my dystopian wish list:  FEED by Mira Grant and TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN by John Marsden.  And she also gave me fab holiday themed post-its and very useful bookmark thingies.  Thank you so much Jenn!

I also did a private exchange with Carla of The Crooked Shelf.  She got me SLOPPY FIRSTS by Megan McCafferty and SECRET SOCIETY GIRL by Diana Peterfreund.  As well as Bailey's Truffles, a Bailey's hot chocolate set and a kitten calendar!  I think someone knows me quite well...  Thank you Carla!!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Return of Cat Tuesday (11)

One of the bulky items I brought back in my suitcase this month from the US was this cat cube bed.  Emmy loves it (but only turned on its side):

And bonus picture of Kaia and Lu:

Monday, December 27, 2010

Many Mini Reviews

I have a bunch of year end mini-reviews for you today.

TRANCE by Linda Gerber (Penguin, 2010)

Ashlyn and her sister have been pulled into trances that make them write numbers since they were children. After a car accident that injures her and kills her mother, Ashlyn’s trances seem to have stopped. But just as her life starts to regain some normalcy, Ashlyn’s trances come back…

The author of the fun teen mystery series “DEATH BY…”, Gerber has proven that she can do the genre well. TRANCE adds a slight paranormal element to the plot, but Ashlyn’s grief and her feelings of isolation are wholly relatable and true to life. The narrative is fast moving and there are plot twists a plenty. Bonus factors: Sweet romantic interest “The tie guy” and a fascinating discussion of numerology.

TRANCE is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

RADIANCE by Alyson Noel (Square Fish, 2010)

12 year old Riley is dead. But in the Here and Now, death is not an end, it’s an exciting new beginning with new responsibilities.

Riley is the younger sister of Ever (star of Noel’s Immortals’ series) and this is the beginning of her own spin off series. The story is short and pretty straight-forward, and Noel offers up some interesting ideas of what the afterlife might be like. Riley comes off as a know-it-all pest sometimes, but she’s ultimately endearing. This looks to be a fun series for middle grade readers. Bonus factors: “getting your glow on”, haunted houses.

RADIANCE is available in paperback now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.  Sequel SHIMMER is due March 2011.

CAN YOU GET HOOKED ON LIP BALM? by Perry Romanowski (Harlequin non-fiction, 2011)

In this cosmetic industry expose, cosmetic scientists who post at answer readers’ burning questions about shampoo, make-up and perfume.

My main take away from this book is that higher price usually does not equal higher quality (except in the case of fragrance). Often times a mass market brand (such as Pantene) will actually be better than a more expensive brand simply because the brand has more money to put into research and development to improve the product.

The question and answer format was maybe not the ideal way to present the material, but follows the structure of website so I can understand why they did it that way. In any case, the answers are written in a clear yet entertaining style. I definitely feel like a learned a lot, especially about taking companies advertising claims with a very large grain of salt.

Many of the facts presented negated the claims of a natural beauty book I read last year – saying organic cosmetics are a lot of advertising bunk and are usually less effective, more expensive, and no safer than regular cosmetics.

CAN YOU GET HOOKED ON LIP BALM comes out on Feb 22, 2011

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve!

We're off to Daniel's mother's house to eat some wild boar.  Yes, it's a real German Christmas.

To celebrate Christmas, Daniel did a series of drawings.  This is my favorite:

See the whole series all at

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

My Favorite Reads of 2010

You'll have to wait until closer to the end of the year to see ALL of my favorites (hey, I still have time to read - what if one of those books is on my favorites list?), but you can see my 2010 favorites of the dystopian genre over at my guest post on The Book Smugglers.

I also tell you which dystopians I am most looking forward to in 2011.

A special bonus?  A hilarious picture of my kitteh Emmy!  You know you want to look....

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Return of Cat Tuesday (10)

Brrrr! It's cold and snowy here:

Kittehs have no trouble finding warm hide-outs.  Does this count as a kitteh pile even though Kaia and Lu (on top) are not actually touching Emmy (inside)?

Presenting Lenore is a blog to stalk!

Have you been over to check out the new YA writing community at Figment?  It's a place for those interested in young adult lit to read, write and connect.

Well, they've been checking me out - stalking me in fact.  Click over to see why.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Book Review: Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers

Eddie Reeves’s father, a semi-famous photographer, has committed suicide and Eddie just wants to know why. When she meets Culler, a student of her father’s, Culler tries to help her make sense of her father’s legacy and could just possibly be the key to unlocking the mystery of his death.

Courtney Summers is my go-to author for raw YA contemporary, and once again I was not disappointed. Though I may be getting tired of the death of a loved one angle in YA, when it’s done this well, I can’t complain. Summers captures that feeling of everything feeling meaningless after such a tragedy and has Eddie, who seems like she was a “good” girl before her father’s death, acting out and taking risks a teen in mourning might very well take.

The relationships feel very real here too. Eddie’s long-term friendship with Milo is tested by both her semi-withdrawal, complicated feelings towards each other, and Milo’s crush on a girl who looks like Marilyn Monroe. Culler is an older boy, a “starving artist” as well as someone who promises answers and thus has an irresistible allure. Eddie feels let down by her mother whose grief has kept her in a bathrobe and homebound, and is annoyed by the take-charge Beth, who tries to get both Eddie and her mother functioning again despite her own pain.

FALL FOR ANYTHING comes out in paperback tomorrow. Find out more about it on the author’s website.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Book Review: Earth the Book by The Daily Show Writers

At the BEA author breakfast back in May, I got to hear Jon Stewart talk a bit about this book -a guide to the Earth and the human race for the aliens that will inevitably find the barren wasteland we leave behind. We were also treated to a short, printed excerpt that produced a ton of giggles between Daniel and me.  Fast forward to the September release date.  We were at Watermark Books for Daniel's Buffalo book signing and saw a copy and had to get it.

Strangely, while the content structure has stayed pretty much the same, the jokes have mostly been changed. They are still giggle-inducing - just different. Be aware this book may not be for everyone (there is a naked picture of Larry King among other NC-17 content) but if you're not super sensitive and you like The Daily Show's brand of irreverant humor, this is one that will keep you laughing for days.  It would also make a great last minute Christmas gift!

Check out the book's website, where you can apply to be reconstituted when and if the aliens who find Earth decide to repopulate the planet.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Book Review: Secrets to the Grave by Tami Hoag

Marissa Fordham is found brutally murdered, her four year old daughter lying barely alive at her side in a pool of blood. Sherriff’s detective Tony Mendez calls in the help of Anne Leone, teacher turned child advocate, to help with the child, the only witness to her mother’s tragic end. After some digging, it turns out Marissa had been hiding some dark secrets – one of which being that she was living under an assumed name.

SECRETS TO THE GRAVE is the second book in a mini-series that started with DEEPER THAN THE DEAD. While it can be read as a standalone, if you plan to read the first book, you should read it first as basically that whole book is spoiled here. I did not read that first book due to lack of time – but I’m sure if I read it in 6 months, I won’t remember too much of what happened in this fairly standard crime thriller.

What attracted me most about the novel was the assumed identity angle. I always find it fascinating to read about people who have changed their identities and why. Marissa’s story is quite twisted too, and the killer’s motive pretty original (if crazy unbelievable). I am usually not that good at fingering the killer, but this time, I caught on to the clues pretty easily and early on.

I did laugh quite a bit at the repeated mentions by the characters that they were living in 1986 and did not have the proper equipment, such as widespread DNA testing and computer databases, to really do their job as efficiently as they might be able to do a few years down the road.

SECRETS TO THE GRAVE comes out on December 28th. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

This has been a part of a TLC tour.  Check out the tour post for more stops!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Lookalike: Across the Universe

I love when Alea (Pop Culture Junkie) does her lookalikes feature and Avis (She Reads and Reads) does her similiar covers feature.  You see, I rarely see these out - above what they've already shared.  But the other day, I was on the Frankfurt subway, and I kept seeing the following poster at the stations:

It's an ad for Dido and Aeneas at the Opera.  And it looks mysteriously like the cover for Beth Revis' forthcoming ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.

Yep - that's definitely the same girl!

By the way, there is still time to enter Beth's EPIC contest for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE and swag.  There are 100 prizes!!  What are you waiting for? (Contest ends Dec 20th)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Review: The Space Between Trees by Katie Williams

Evie is a friendless teen obsessed with a college age boy who clears dead animals from the woods behind the housing development where she delivers newspapers. When the boy finds the body of Evie’s childhood friend Zabet, Evie tells a lie at Zabet’s funeral that begins a tumultuous friendship with the local “bad girl” Hadley.

When I picked up this novel, I had the impression that it would be a mystery/thriller. But in reality, this is much more of a character study of a girl most people would overlook – a self proclaimed “space between trees”. Of course, the reason most people overlook girls like Evie is because she is basically bland and unremarkable. The most interesting thing about her is that she makes up lies to make her life sound more exciting/less pathetic to her mother and “The whisperers” - a group of good girls Evie eats lunch with at school (LOVED the whisperers - I want a whole novel about them, stat!).

One of these lies leads her to be reluctantly “adopted” by Hadley, Zabet’s real best friend. Hadley acts out (probably because her parents completely ignore her) and engages in destructive behavior, that Evie merely reacts to. The most “thrilling” parts of the narrative have to do with Hadley and Evie looking for Zabet’s killer, a search that amounts to a chain of coincidences, innocuous by themselves, but dangerous enough together to result in tragedy.

There is beautiful, lyrical writing throughout and the author’s insight into wallflowers and grieving communities is impressive, but I spent most of my reading time wondering where exactly the author was going and if I really wanted to keep following. I'm glad I stuck with it, but I am sure I would have enjoyed the journey more if I had gone into it thinking “literary fiction” rather than “mystery/thriller”.

THE SPACE BETWEEN TREES is out now in (gorgeous!!!) hardcover. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Return of Cat Tuesday (9)

Is it just me or is Kaia looking portly these days?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Author Ann Bonwill discusses Christmas Picture Book Favorites

Tis the season for some great Christmas picture book recommendations, and who better to go to for them than the debut author of a Christmas book herself?  Ann Bonwill's POCKET'S CHRISTMAS WISH first came out in the UK (with Oxford University Press) last year, and is now available in the US (with Barron's). 

Ann is a very good friend of mine now, but I wouldn't know her if it weren't for this blog.  Shortly after she moved to Germany (she's since moved back to the US), she wrote me an e-mail telling me she loved my blog and she lived in Frankfurt too.  Isn't that cool?  We've bonded over games of Time's Up, two trips to Italy together, trivia nights, and tons of sushi.  I am so thrilled that she's finding picture book success (not only is POCKET out, but she has THREE books coming out in 2011 and one slated for 2013 - check out her website for more details).

This is what she says about POCKET:

When writing Pocket’s Christmas Wish, I wanted to convey my own sense of the meaning of Christmas. For me it is not about presents and commercialism, but about a feeling--a spirit of the season. This spirit is hard to capture on paper, but I do think that it contains love, joy, memory, promise, and comfort, just as Pocket discovers on his journey. And it is about giving--not just gifts, but giving of yourself to others, which hopefully continues all year round.
Isn't that inspiring?  POCKET is a heartwarming tale that is neither religious nor commercial - a rare thing in the Christmas picture book market.  It's found its' way under the tree of my favorite little tykes.

And now, please welcome Ann Bonwill:

When Lenore asked me to recommend my favorite Christmas picture books, I thought I'd make a neat and tidy list of about four or five. But then I had so much fun revisiting books both old and new that my list exploded. So here are two lists, highlighting five favorites from my childhood and five new favorites I have found as an adult. Hope you find some favorites among them.

Newer Christmas Faves:

1. WOMBAT DIVINE - Mem Fox/Kerry Argent (Sandpiper, 1999) - Wombat cannot wait to join his friends in the nativity play, but he's not quite right for any of the parts. You'll have to read this charming Australian story to find out just what part he ends up with and how perfectly he performs. (And if you like the subject of nativity plays, don't miss Barbara Robinson's The Best Christmas Pageant Ever for middle grade readers.)

2. SHALL I KNIT YOU A HAT? A CHRISTMAS YARN - Kate Klise/M. Sarah Klise (Square Fish, 2007) - Mother Rabbit knits a hat to keep Little Rabbit's ears warm in the snow. Her gift kicks off a collaboration between mother and son as they work together to make hats for all their friends. Not only is this a snuggly story of friendship and giving, but the hats make fantastic fashion statements. Break out your knitting needles.

3. SANTA DUCK - David Milgrim (Putnam, 2010) - The bold illustrations are a perfect match for this funny story about Nicholas Duck who finds a Santa hat on his doorstep. He becomes the go-to guy for Christmas wish lists, and when it's all getting to be just a bit too much for Nicholas, he runs into Santa himself. A winner with a warm message and lots of laughs.

4. SANTA'S STUCK - Rhonda Gowler Greene/Henry Cole (Puffin, 2006) - I can definitely relate to eating too many Christmas cookies! Unfortunately for Santa, all this munching results in getting stuck in the chimney. Not to worry, with a little help from his animal friends Santa is soon on his way. Fun rhymes make this one a great read aloud.

5. STICK MAN - Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler (Arthur A. Levine, 2009) - This quirky story stars Stick Man, who despite being a stick somehow manages to have a big personality. Stick Man gets into a series of scrapes until some help from Santa returns him to his Stick Lady Love. Gotta love a book with a character named Stick Lady Love.

Childhood Favorites (that are still available!):

1. MR WILLOWBY'S CHRISTMAS TREE  - Robert Barry (Doubleday, 2000) - Originally published in 1963, this fun Christmas classic was reprinted in 2000 with full color washes. An ode to recycling before its time, it tells the story of a giant Christmas tree that bring happiness to many, from a Monopoly-like millionaire to a tiny mouse family.

2. Richard Scarry's FAVORITE CHRISTMAS CAROLS - Richard Scarry (Sterling, 2009) - True, I was a teenager when this one first came out in 1990, but I'm putting it on my childhood list since Richard Scarry was one of my favorite childhood illustrators. I'm not usually a fan of books that make noise, but who can resist the play-along keyboard attached to this jolly volume of carols. It was reprinted in 2009, perfect timing for my son to enjoy Scarry's wonderful animal illustrations.

3. THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS - Clement Clarke Moore/Tasha Tudor (Little Brown, 2002) - No Christmas collection is complete without at least one copy of The Night Before Christmas. While many illustrators have put their spin on these famous words, the one nearest to my heart is Tasha Tudor's interpretation, which I have read with my parents every year since its first publication in 1975. Perhaps this book is the reason that I now have a Corgi...

4. TALES FROM MOOMINVALLEY - Tove Jansson (Square Fish, 2010) - OK, so I'm cheating and this isn't a picture book, but I can't miss an opportunity to talk about my favorite characters, the Moomintrolls. This reissued collection of stories includes one holiday tale, The Fir Tree, in which the Moomins wake up from hibernation just in time to experience the mystery of Christmas.

5. HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS - Dr. Suess (Random House, 1957) - I couldn't leave this one off my list. I love the characters (yay Max!), the word play, and the message. Perfection.

There you have it, my Christmas library. And while I'm at it, I can't resist mentioning two of my favorite Christmas movies - A Christmas Story for pure nostalgia, and White Christmas for pure glamour. In fact, I am off to watch White Christmas right now... Happy holidays to all!

What are some of your Christmas season picture book favorites?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Book Review: The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Shouldn’t a daughter know her mother? Lucy has lived a happy, sheltered life with her affluent parents, but the arrival of a poverty-stricken woman who looks just like her mother shakes up her entire existence.

THE TWIN’S DAUGHTER is a delicious psychological historical thriller which never goes where you might expect it to. There’s a foreboding, claustrophobic atmosphere (the events of the story happen almost entirely at Lucy’s house, which she rarely leaves, over a period of a few years) which leads up to the tragic event spoiled in the official summary (which you won’t find here).

Lucy is an appealing main character and her believable relationship with neighbor boy Kit is a solid foundation in an otherwise shifting social/familial landscape. Lucy’s relationships with her mother, newfound aunt and father seem distanced in comparison and as a young teen, Lucy can only see a very small part of the big picture – a picture filled with, class-differences, jealousy, betrayal, murder, and scandal. That means a lot of what really happens is only hinted at, which made my brain hurt when I tried to untangle all the adults’ motivations after the twisty ending.

THE TWIN’S DAUGHTER is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Book Review: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Since the death of her younger brother, Andi can’t really make herself care about anything. Until she goes on a trip to Paris with her father and finds the secret diary of Alexadrine, a girl who lived through the French Revolution. Despite living 200 years apart, Andi discovers strange parallels in their lives and soon the past will become all too present.

Despite the fact that me and this novel got off to a rocky start (I am soooo over teens suicidal over their feelings of guilt for a loved one’s death), I really came to adore it, so much so that I had to buy a hardcover for my keeper shelf after having read the ARC.

There’s so much to love here – the exploration of classical music via a fictional composer named Amadé Malherbeau, a reimagining of might what happened to Marie Antoinette’s son Louis-Charles, a believable and sweet romance, and even of bit of time travel. It’s an immersive read, well-researched, tight and passionate.

My favorite quote:

"Life's all about the revolution isn't it?" he said. "The one inside, I mean. You can't change history. You can't change the world. All you can ever do is change yourself."

REVOLUTION is available in hardcover now. Find out more about it at the author’s website.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Return of Cat Tuesday (8)

Lu may not be interested in "kitty crack" (what we call these certain cat treats Emmy and Kaia go crazy for), but he does like his playtime.

Mouse hunting


Play fight with Kaia

Rest time with Emmy

Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Orphaned just a year before our story begins, Will Henry is the assistant to Dr. Pellinore Warthrop, a Monstrumologist studying all manner of horrible creatures. One night a grave robber comes to Warthrop with a terrible specimen – an adult Anthropophagus entwined with a half devoured teen girl. This visit sets off a terrifying chain of events set in motion years before by someone very close to our dear Monstrumologist and he and Will Henry must work quickly to solve the mystery of the monsters unheard of presence in New England before they become a large-scale menace.

Though the story gets off to a ponderously slow start and Dr. Warthtop immediately grates with his constant admonishments of Will Henry to “snap to!”, I soon found myself fascinated by this gruesome tale told in a clever faux Victorian style with obvious relish by Author Yancey.

Gruesome might even be too light a description for what transpires in this volume – be prepared for copious amounts of blood and brain matter splatter as well as bone crunching. It’s also interesting to note that the number of diabolical, shady and/or insane men far outweigh the noble, and there are in fact NO female characters who are not quickly dispatched victims (i.e. no chance for any best actress awards in a film version of this Printz Honor Book).

Fans of this volume will be pleased to note that the sequel, THE CURSE OF THE WENDIGO is now available as well, and I am greatly looking forward to immersing myself in Will Henry and Warthrop’s further adventures.

Oh, and in case you need a impetus to pick up these novels, I have two sets of both novels to give away to two of my readers in the US today. Simply fill out the form at this link to enter!

Find out more about the books at the official website:

Read the first chapter of THE MONSTRUMOLOGIST.
Read the first chapter of THE CURSE OF THE WENDIGO.
Find out more about the author at his website:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A few words

I am back in Frankfurt after a wonderful two week trip to the states!

Thanks to: Trish for hosting me at her pad in Santa Rosa - I now wish I could move in next door to you!  Pam for setting up a fun book blogger lunch and tour of Chronicle Books with Lara. Debbie for the book swap. Josh and Rachelle for the excellent dinner (as usual), even if I only did get one nutty irishman. Michelle for providing us with pizza to facilitate our bookish talk, Jenn for my fab book blogger holiday swap gift (I really lucked out this time!), Deborah for the rides to and from and Swapna for the excellent gossip ;)  Ann and Matt for rolling with the punches.

I was so busy I was only able to read three books on my trip - REVOLUTION by Jennifer Donnelly, THE TWIN'S DAUGHTER by Lauren Baratz-Logsted and FALL FOR ANYTHING by Courtney Summers. Reviews coming up soon!

I also was able to keep review books in my suitcase to a minimum because I took the plunge and got an eReader! I am now the proud owner of a color NOOK and I love it so far.  Can't wait to try out the lending feature.

Daniel was busy while I was gone.  He booked a gallery show and did 12 paintings/drawings for it.  And he was also interviewed about IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN? on Cynsations.  Check out Daniel's interview!  If you want to leave a comment, you can on Cynsations LiveJournal.

Thanks for being patient with me while I was away.  Now I am off to tackle the google reader and leave some blog comments.