Picture drawn by Maggie Stiefvater, 2009. Header made by S.F. Robertson, 2010.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows

Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
"NEWSOUL

Ana is new. For thousands of years in Range, a million souls have been reincarnated over and over, keeping their memories and experiences from previous lifetimes. When Ana was born, another soul vanished, and no one knows why.

NOSOUL

Even Ana's own mother thinks she's a nosoul, an omen of worse things to come, and has kept her away from society. To escape her seclusion and learn whether she'll be reincarnated, Ana travels to the city of Heart, but its citizens are suspicious and afraid of what her presence means. When dragons and sylph attack the city, is Ana to blame?

HEART

Sam believes Ana's new soul is good and worthwhile. When he stands up for her, their relationship blooms. But can he love someone who may live only once, and will Ana's enemies--human and creature alike--let them be together? Ana needs to uncover the mistake that gave her someone else's life, but will her quest threaten the peace of Heart and destroy the promise of reincarnation for all?"- summary from Amazon

It took me a bit of time to get into this book. I mean, it was interesting enough to keep me turning pages but it wasn't until Ana got to Heart that things really started to pick up. From there, secrets were revealed, amazing fight scenes happened, and there was a very interesting climax.

I liked Ana's journey through the book, as she leaves isolation and meets new people, and has to rewire her thinking because her Guardian Li has been filling her head with lies. Meadows did a good job slowly changing this throughout the book. Ana and Sam were really cute together and I loved their interactions, seeing them do the will-they-won't-they dance. I also really liked some of the other characters we meet in Heart, like Stef and Armande.

The world-building of Heart and the soul reincarnation was done really well, though there's still some questions left unanswered and I hope those are addressed in the next two books. The climax was big and unexpected and I simply can't wait to see where Meadows takes us next!

Don't forget to take part in the Incarnate Theatre Treasure Hunt, which is going on until February 6!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Incarnate Theatre Treasure Hunt! + Interview with Katherine Taub


Welcome to the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt!

This week, 45 bloggers are celebrating the release of INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows by participating in a treasure hunt with clues, activities, and lots of prizes including signed books and handknit fingerless mitts. You've reached a CLUE blog, which means somewhere on this page is a clue to finding the hidden page and grand prize entry form on Jodi's website. Follow 26 clues to get there!

For more information on the INCARNATE Theater Treasure Hunt, check out Jodi's post.

(Pictured above: a knitted version of Councilor Sine from the book!)

I have an interview today with Katherine Taub, the voice actress for the audiobook of Incarnate by Jodi Meadows.

1) What brought you to the world of audiobooks? Is Incarnate your first one, or have you done others previously? Is it difficult to make that transition from traditional acting to only using your voice?

Incarnate is my first Audiobook. I somewhat stumbled into the world of Audiobooks by chance. As an actress, I am always open and have my ears-peeled for new and exciting opportunities. A few years back, another actor friend told me about a general audition for an audiobook producer at Deyan Audio. It was there, where I met Bob Deyan, who produced the Incarnate Audiobook. We didn’t work together immediately, but we kept in touch until the right book came my way. As for making the transition from traditional acting to voice acting, it is not so much as difficult as it is different. I love it. I find it somewhat-freeing, although you are more physically confined. At least with the audiobook. Every movement I made was picked up on the microphone. So I had to sit very still. But there is also a freedom to just play – and I found myself using my face a lot to help emphasize the various characters. But because there is no camera, you don’t have to worry about looking silly or anything else for that matter. (No “hair & make-up” is always nice!)

2) What is the recording experience like? How long did it take to record Incarnate? Any funny anecdotes?

I had a ton of fun recording Incarnate! I recorded over about 4, 6 hour days. There was also a big learning curve as this was my first book. I learned that I had more control in the recording booth than I originally thought. If I didn’t like how I read something, I had the freedom to stop and re-do it. If I made a mistake, you just go back and pick it up again. I felt very supported by the directors and producer, who were all so nice and helpful. We were a team.

There were lots of funny mis-steps. Words that would just come out wrong or I would transpose letters. Towards the beginning of the book when Ana & Sam are near the cemetery, she refers to the copse. And I was convinced it read corpse. We got a chuckle out of that one. Hey, she was at the cemetery after-all!

3) How do you prepare for the recording and get into the mindset and voice of multiple characters?

I prepared by first reading the book very carefully, in its entirety, getting lost in the story. I tend to read books & scripts as if I am the characters living in their world. I think it is my imagination that fuels me as an actor. So I jumped in that way. Then I made a list of all of the characters. I sat down with that list and just started thinking like the different characters and improvising from their point of view. Often images, or physical characteristics of who they were would come to me. Like Li, to me she was just a Witch. So that informed how I wanted her to sound. And when I began speaking as her, her sound organically came out. Then I would make notes on that sound to remind me later. I color coded the whole script – with each character being a different color. And when they spoke, and I saw their color, my mind automatically knew who was speaking, which made it easier to jump between characters. Of course, there were times where I had to stop recording and get my bearings on who was speaking and make sure they sounded like they did the day before!

4) When not acting, what do you do in your spare time?

I am very fortunate to live by the beach, and love to take walks there or just spend time outside near the water. I love spending time with my friends and family. I also like to travel, do yoga, ski, try new restaurants, read and see movies. I’m a pretty normal girl!

5) What is your favorite Jelly Belly jelly bean flavor (or flavors, if you're so inclined) or, if you don't like jelly beans, your favorite snack?

I’m more of a chocolate, sweets person! In all forms. Especially with caramel!. Rolos, Kitkats, brownies, that type of thing.



My clue for the password is . . . Fourth word: s
Remember, there are no spaces in this password!


Check out these other clue blogs (this is not the whole list):

Fictional Distraction
Stuck In YA Books
Ramblings (of a fiber obsessed transplant Vermonter)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of January 23 + Retrospective

I'm back with a vlog this week since I got a lot of great books this week (and have batteries!)! Enjoy!




Books Shown:

Perception by Kim Harrington (ARC, March 2012)
Spin by Catherine McKenzie (paperback, Feb 2012)
What Happened to Hannah by Mary Kay McComas (paperback, Jan 2012)
Perfect Escape by Jennifer Brown (ARC, July 2012)
The Watcher in the Shadows by Carlos Ruiz Zafon (ARC, June 2012)
A Midsummer's Nightmare by Kody Keplinger (ARC, June 2012)
Revived by Cat Patrick (ARC, May 2012)
Belles by Jen Calonita (ARC, April 2012)
The White Glove War by Katie Crouch and Grady Hendrix (ARC, July 2012)
The Last Princess by Galaxy Craze (ARC, May 2012)
The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney (ARC, August 2012)
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (ARC, April 2012)
The Drowned Cities by Paolo Bacigalupi (ARC, May 2012)
Purity by Jackson Pearce (ARC, April 2012)
172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad (ARC, April 2012)

and here's this past week's retrospective:

Monday- I posted my thoughts on negative reviews, Goodreads, and author behavior. Please take part in the discussion!

Tuesday- I reviewed Cinder by Marissa Meyer, which is in stores now! The post now contains a snippet from the audio book.

Wednesday- I posted a long-awaited Ask Book Chic and need more questions! Feel free to leave your questions in the comments or send me an email.

Thursday- I reviewed Truth by Julia Karr, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I posted my review policy, which I'm very excited about!

Saturday- I reviewed Ditched by Robin Mellom, which is out in stores now!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Ditched by Robin Mellom

Ditched by Robin Mellom
"High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat, handle first.

Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.

Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together -- stain by stain on her thrift-store dress -- exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag's moving car...

But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love."- summary from Amazon

Oh my goodness, this is a funny book! It was a great break from a lot of books I've been reading lately. I loved the back-and-forth of the novel, reading Gilda and Donna's reactions as Justina recalls her prom night. There's also a really cute thing in the book where there's a picture of the dress and an arrow pointing to a particular stain or bruise right before the chapter that brings about the next part of the story (I hope that made sense).

The summary should already clue you in, but this is a crazy adventure that propels the reader through the story. Justina's voice is perfect and she is a flawed character but as she retells the story to other people, she grows and reconsiders how she went about handling everything. There isn't just the present day and the day before though; Justina recounts a lot of memories that help flesh out all the characters we meet.

Ian and Justina make such great friends and it was so cute to see them together. I also particularly enjoyed the Mikes and their dates- they were very funny but also very helpful and sincere when Justina needed help.

Overall, a hilarious, fabulous debut and I'm really eager to read more from Mellom!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Review Policy

Yes, I'm finally doing one, after over 4.5 years of blogging. I never really needed one until recently because I didn't get many requests that needed to be denied. But the requests have gotten quadrupled in the past two months for some reason; I feel like I've had sort of a low-key blog for a long time (people may disagree, but that's how I see it). Anyway, let's get this show on the road:

What I Review: This is mainly a book blog for Young Adult titles, but I do occasionally review middle-grade and adult titles. I am open to pretty much any genre within the YA world. However, in the case of non-YA books, I will actively seek them out if I'm interested. I am only open to books being published by major publishers with smaller publishers being considered on a book-by-book basis. I do not accept any self-published work. Here's a list of other places that do accept small press and self-published books.

Who I Accept Requests From: I am open to receiving requests from publicists (either in-house or third party) and authors, preferably through my email (bookchicclub-at-gmail-dot-com) though I am fine with requests coming into my Facebook or Goodreads accounts. Please do not send a request to me through Twitter; I will ignore it.

Book Formats: I vastly prefer a physical copy of either an ARC or finished copy, but do read e-galleys that I've gotten through Netgalley or Simon and Schuster Galley Grab from time to time. PDFs/Word docs are fine as well.

How/When I Review: I generally review books in the month they are released, or anytime after. It is rare that I review a book way ahead of its release date. I also cannot read and review every book I receive, but precedence is given to books I personally request as well as any book I agreed to after reading a pitch. I try to make my reviews as professional as possible while still keeping my voice (which includes the occasional LOL and exclamation point). I do not do lengthy literary critiques. While my reviews are mainly on the positive side, that will not always be the case but I will be respectful in any negative review I post (or when dealing with aspects of the novel that I did not like). You can also check these posts (How I Write Reviews and Negative Reviews) if you want to read more about my review process.

Guest Blogs/Interviews: I am open to guest blogs if I have the space for it in my schedule; email me if you have a topic you'd like to write about. As for interviews, if I want to interview you, I will send you an email asking about it.

Disclosure: The vast majority of the books I read and review are provided by the publisher or, in rare instances, the author. I am an Amazon Associate, and include that in the link to buy the book. I do not accept/receive monetary compensation in exchange for my reviews.


You can read me more about me personally here, and also see a (somewhat) complete list of reviews here. If you don't want to go through my whole bio, here are two very important things you should know before sending a request my way: 1) My name is James (or Book Chic, but I am not Maggie- yes, this happened) and 2) I am a male blogger.

I will update this as needed so always be sure to check here before sending a request in case anything has changed. If there are any questions or clarification is needed, please leave a comment or email me.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Truth by Julia Karr

Truth by Julia Karr
"Nina Oberon's life has changed enormously in the last few months. When her mother was killed, Nina discovered the truth about her father, the leader of the Resistance. And now she sports the same Governing Council–ordered tattoo of XVI on her wrist that all sixteen-year-old girls have. The one that announces to the world that she is easy prey to predators. But Nina won't be anyone's stereotype. And when she joins an organization of girls working within the Resistance, she knows that they can put an end to one of the most terrifying secret programs the GC has ever conceived. Because the truth always comes out . . . and the consequences can be deadly."- summary from Amazon

I've been looking forward to this follow-up to XVI because I loved Karr's debut. This sequel is a bit more low-key than its predecessor, though the climax is a pageturner. I think the main reason for that is because now that the reader knows about the Resistance and how basically all of Nina's friends are involved in it, most every setting is set up to have no surveillance; it diminishes the watchfulness of the Governing Council.

It was cool to see more aspects of the world, like how the Media works and how the Resistance uses it to create interruptions. Bringing in new characters and giving old ones bigger parts was great too. I loved the idea of the Sisterhood, the girl group within the Resistance doing their own projects. Nina is still a wonderful, feisty main character and Karr did a good job weaving romance into the book without it dominating anything else, or taking away focus from the main plotlines.

Overall, an intriguing followup and still worth a read. Karr has carved out a very interesting, layered world and I cannot wait to read more from her, whether it's in this series or not. I'm not sure if there'll be a book 3 in this series, though I kinda hope there is. I want there to be a government upheaval and everything set right again!!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ask Book Chic (26)

It's been a LOOOONNNGGG time since I've done one of these, so I figured I needed to post one! Enjoy!

Molly asks "My question which YAL book character do you relate to the most and why. BTW, I enjoy your blog. I can always know what to pick up by reading this."

That's so sweet of you to say! I would say I relate to Jonathon from Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina the most because I'm on the lookout for love and it's a hard journey. I hope I can have a happy ending like his! Plus, we both love Kylie Minogue! :)


Liviania asks "Have you ever said anything on your blog that you regret?"

Nope. I always stand by what I say, and spend a lot of time thinking about I want to say and how to say it before posting it. Even if it's against the grain (like my post earlier this week about snark in reviews and DNF reviews), it's still my opinion and I have the right to say it. Also, I'm always right so there's no need for regret. :P


kallosmango123 asks "i just wanted to ask What your best 2011 read so far is."

Yeah, a bit late on this one, lol. I actually revealed my Top 10 earlier this month- Part 1 and Part 2- and it's a great list. For 2012 so far, my favorite read has been Cinder by Marissa Meyer (review posted yesterday). I also really liked My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky (review posted last Saturday) and The Selection by Kiera Cass (small review on Goodreads, full review in April).


Ronyka7 asks "my question is simple... I just started a blog this year (note: this was from back in 2011), I only have 9 followers. How long did it take for you to have so many followers and how did you get noticed by publishers?"

It's taken me a long time to get as many followers as I have- the way to do it (and also getting noticed by publishers) is to just keep posting quality reviews and other posts as well as network by commenting on other blogs and being on Twitter. Other bloggers, book lovers, and publishers will eventually notice you and give you the follow and, in the case of publishers, review copies. Good luck!!


Farrah asks "Question: What book/books would you take on a long plane ride?"

Honestly, just whatever I have to read for review at that time, lol. I don't do a whole lot of non-review reading and usually don't have the time to re-read faves, so the list would constantly change.


Total Book Nerd asks "My question is when and if you do procrastinate, what activity or thing made you want to procrastinate? To break it down, What are you usually doing when you're procrastinating? LOL."

Usually it's the internet that distracts me at any time, though sometimes it's also watching TV or DVDs. But the internet is the main one with Twitter, Youtube, tons of awesome blogs, GChat, and so many other things.


These are the last questions I have, so I'm all out!! If you have any new questions for me, leave a comment or send me an email! I'd really appreciate it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Cinder by Marissa Meyer
"Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future."- summary from Amazon

I absolutely loved this debut and cannot wait to read the rest of this series. I flew through this book and had such trouble putting it down; I was actually really surprised at how quickly I got through this novel because this font is on the small side and it is 400 pages long. But Meyer's prose flowed so well and her characters were really interesting.

The world building was great and I liked this futuristic reworking of Cinderella (the little allusions here and there were fun to spot). The whole hierarchy of humans, cyborgs and bots was cool, and getting to read about the inner workings of the government with other countries and the Lunars through chapters following Prince Kai was intriguing and added a great depth to the book as a whole.

I loved Cinder as a main character- she was fun, thoughtful, intelligent, and resourceful. The other characters were handled well too, even the evil stepmother and stepdaughters (though Peony wasn't really evil). I also loved Cinder's helper bot who was just a hoot. I did think Queen Levana was a bit one-dimensional and, though I hate her with a passion (I kept thinking "JUST STAB HER!" whenever she came on the scene), hope we get more characterization from her in future books.

The ending for me was okay. It was a perfectly fine ending, but I was hoping for a bit more, i.e. Levana death as well as some other things. We do have three more books though so I guess we have to keep some threads open.

Overall though, a fantastic, engrossing debut from Meyer (who is also a Sailor Moon fanfic writer, which makes her even more awesome in my eyes) and one I think you all should read.

Here's a snippet from the audiobook (courtesy of Novel Novice):



FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Meandering Monday- Bad Reviews, GoodReads, and Authors

Blogger note: A lot of this started out as a comment on Maggie Stiefvater's post about bloggers. It'd be best to read that first then come back here (or not, whichever, lol).

So there's been a lot of stuff going around the blogosphere about negative/snarky reviews on Goodreads and elsewhere and also bad author behavior. I'm kinda going to be touching on those things but I'll be mainly focusing on my thoughts regarding reviews and how people post them.

I really liked Maggie's review vs. post (or, as someone called it in the comments, "reaction posts") point and it may be something I need to keep in mind for the future. I got involved with the GoodReads stuff twice (defending the books and authors in question) and it was just a bit stupid to waste time on that when I could've been reading a wonderful book instead. I did also leave a comment on a blog that had been involved in a separate incident that I'd heard about, funnily enough, via GoodReads. I need to know when to just read it (or not even get that far) and then X out and forget all about it and go back to whatever awesome book I'm reading or great friend I'm chatting with in Gmail or Twitter.

My problem with it was that both times, the users in question had a lot of followers on GoodReads and (I guess wrongly) I felt that what they were writing should have been less snarky and a bit more professional. I feel like if you're making a habit of writing a review for every book you read, wherever it is, you should be held to a slightly higher standard than the average joe who writes a "review" every six months. I don't care for snark pieces when it comes to anything (books, music, movies) so it bothers me to see somebody with 600 followers or whatever write something so low-brow. Again, it shouldn't bother me (I'm not even the author!) but it does.

Also, I'm not a fan of writing a full-fledged review of a book you didn't finish- it just loses its credibility for me as a useful review; in the interest of full disclosure, I did write two sentences on Goodreads though about Melody Burning because I didn't finish it, but I'm not going to waste time writing 3/4 paragraphs on it. I'm on to the next book. But I didn't post it here on the blog, nor do I even consider it a real review. I may be alone in this though since it's kind of telling people there's a "right" way to write a review, which I do have strong opinions about (and have even from before I was a blogger).

I think the other thing too, for me, is that I viewed GoodReads as a booklover's haven as opposed to Amazon which is open to everything. I had been told about it by my blogger friends and so thought it was like a collection of great book bloggers' reviews, both positive and negative. That image shattered pretty quickly, but I kinda held on to the hope that it wouldn't be infiltrated by snarky ne'er-do-wells.

What may be at the root of how I feel has to do with having to work so hard to be noticed and respected by publishers. I am not kissing ass by not being snarky or writing mainly positive reviews; these are my genuine thoughts. While I am not necessarily a professional (I put LOLs and multiple exclamation points among other things in my reviews), I do my best to make my reviews and my blog as professional as I can make it. I want to be taken seriously, especially when the publisher is kind enough to send me advance review copies. I mean, we have a blogger convention that's going into its third year, being run by smart, hardworking bloggers and also has authors and publishing professionals taking part in panels and discussions. Seeing snarky reviews, especially of a book yet to come out (which means a publisher sent you a copy), just cheapens the blogosphere and hurts our credibility. Maybe it's just me, but if a publisher sends you an advance copy for review, you should at least have the decency to keep snark out of your review. There is the Golden Rule- "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."- but it should be revised to say "If you don't have anything nice to say, at least say it tactfully."

I pride myself on being a good reviewer and writing anything negative I have to say in a polite, constructive manner. Constructive criticism doesn't stop at the editing stage, like some people seem to think; if the comment is general enough- bad characterization, stilted dialogue, etc.-, authors can take that into consideration when writing their next book if they want. No, you can't change the book you just read but you could potentially help the author get better as time goes on. I do know some authors who look for that in blogger reviews; if something is repeated enough times, they do their best to get better at it with their next book, which I think is a good attitude to have.

In regards to authors getting involved, I don't think it's the way to go. It's kinda like when people get up in arms about something "offensive", all you're doing is bringing MORE attention to it. If you don't want anyone to read or watch it, DON'T SAY ANYTHING (I will tell you that if I'm ever an author, this will be hard for me, lol). Because once you say something, people are drawn to it and then want to see what all the fuss is about. Except in this case, for some people, it may turn them off from reading any of your books and that's losing more potential customers. Personally, I let the book stand on its own away from the author; I do the same with music and movies. If what you write/sing/act is good, then I'm all for it. You can do whatever you want in your personal life. That is not my business.

Please chime in with your thoughts and questions, no matter what they are- good discussion is always needed (plus, there's the new comment system from Blogger so I can reply to individual posts!). I do have comment moderation up (for every post, not just this one), but every comment will be posted.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky

My Awesome/Awful Popularity Plan by Seth Rudetsky
"Justin has two goals for sophomore year: to date Chuck, the hottest boy in school, and to become the king of Cool U, the table in the cafeteria where the "in" crowd sits.

Unfortunately, he has the wrong look (short, plump, Brillo-pad curls), he has the wrong interests (Broadway, chorus violin), and he has the wrong friends (Spencer, into Eastern religions, and Mary Ann, who doesn't shave her armpits). And Chuck? Well, he's not gay; he's dating Becky, a girl in chorus with whom Justin is friendly.

But Justin is determined.

In detention one day (because he saw Chuck get it first), Justin comes up with a perfect plan: to allow Becky to continue dating Chuck, whom Becky's dad hates. They will pretend that Becky is dating Justin, whom Becky's dad loves. And when Becky and Justin go out on a fake date, Chuck will meet up with them for a real date with Becky. Chuck's bound to find Justin irresistable, right? What could go wrong?"- summary from Amazon

OK so I really need to read summaries before starting a book because I had no idea this was a gay novel until I started reading it. No joke, I re-read the first page just to be sure that it was a male narrator commenting on wanting a boyfriend. This of course made me really want to read the novel even more so than before.

Anyway, this is the kind of book I'd like to write- a hilarious, sarcastic, compelling book about a gay protagonist navigating through high school. I was so happy to see so much humor in the book (pretty much a laugh a page, if not more) because while I love all the gay teen books I've read, there aren't that many that are also hilarious.

I loved how Rudetsky wrote Justin and Spencer's friendship- it felt realistic, and it was nice to see two gay guys just being friends. Reading about their friendship and inside jokes and rituals was really fun and kept the pages turning. What also kept me compelled was the whole comedy of errors going on as Justin went through fake-dating Becky to try real-dating Chuck.

Overall, a fantastic YA debut and I really hope Rudetsky writes more!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Signing Recap- Cinder by Marissa Meyer

I was so happy to be able to attend Marissa Meyer's signing in Chapel Hill, NC on January 6. There was a slight hiccup when I accidentally missed my turnoff for the interstate, but then another junction came up a few miles down the road, which put me just an exit ahead of where I had to get off! I stopped at McDonald's for dinner, then went off in search of Flyleaf Books, which was in a small plaza with a couple other places. But seriously, Flyleaf Books is a HUGE place- they even have a separate room for signing events (half of which is taken up by the used books section). Before taking my seat (I was like half an hour early), I read through the extra material in the paperback of Bossypants by Tina Fey which made me chuckle, and browsed the YA section.
Then I headed in and took a seat near the front and continued reading Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan while more people trickled in. I also took a picture of the speaking area because I had a feeling I'd be too scared to take a picture once Marissa was up there. I always feel awkward taking pictures of authors when they're reading or doing a QnA- does anyone else feel that way? Anyway, one of the booksellers came in and gave a great introduction and then Marissa was at the podium. She talked a bit about how Cinder came about, read a couple pages (she asked us to pick a number before page 150 and she would read starting from that point), then did a QnA. There were some great questions. By the way, the whole time Marissa was talking, I kept thinking she was like a cross between Sarah Rees Brennan and Molly Shannon- looks and personality-wise.
Once she was done with the QnA, people lined up to get their books signed. I waited a few minutes then got in line. Marissa was really nice and I gave her my business card to help introduce myself and she was like "I know you! You've been tweeting about this event!" We talked a bit about how I've come down to Chapel Hill/Raleigh quite a few times for book events and how this is such a great book community. There's a lot of great indie bookstores down there.
Afterward, I browsed throughout the whole store and while in the Used Books section, I overheard Marissa talking with some other people about how she needs a better phrase to write when signing for boys. She currently had "May all your ever afters come true!" (or something like that) which she thought was a bit too feminine. I later tweeted her with "May you grow cyborg arms with weapons and be happy." because there had been a young boy who had asked if any of the cyborgs in the book had weapons. So it seems fitting. Anyway, just a lovely event and I'm so glad I went!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani
"Can you find love when you think you already have it?

Shalini is new to L.A. Not new like from New York City new—or even Kansas new. New like from India new. And in the U.S., she has it all wrong: the way she dresses, the way she talks, the way she wears her hair. And then there is the ring, which makes her way different from everyone else—because Shalini has been engaged since she was three to Vikram, back in India.

Shalini’s life has been turned upside down. She doesn’t fit in, her mom is depressed, and email is no substitute for being with Vikram.

But when she meets Toby at school, Shalini’s heart gets turned upside down, too. Just looking at Toby makes her stomach flutter. She thinks she loves Vikram, but he never made her feel like this.

In Lovetorn, Shalini discovers that your heart ultimately makes its own choices, even when it seems as if your destiny has already been chosen."- summary from Amazon

This book was really interesting; I don't think I've ever read a book from an Indian's point of view. I thought the author did a great job writing Shalini's character and incorporating the Indian culture, including the arranged marriage (though, like it says in the book, that's not really done much now and is part of an older culture). Because of my unfamiliarity, this story was a breath of fresh air. I really liked Shalini's voice and she made the book fun to read. I feel like I didn't put it down all that often because I was interested to see what Shalini would be experiencing next now that she was in America.

I also really liked Daswani's inclusion of depression in the storyline and it rang true. I can only imagine what it's like to be uprooted from your home country and plopped down in another so far away, especially when you no choice in the matter. Daswani did a great job including it in the storyline and giving the mother a journey of her own to go through, along with the rest of the family's reactions and concerns to it.

I had a bit of a problem with the romance aspect of the book. We barely see Shalini with either boy, and so I never really got a connection with either one. Both boys were nice, but there wasn't much screen time for either. Vikram is only heard from through phone and email every so often, and Toby doesn't come into the story until halfway through the novel. So I didn't really buy that Shalini was in love with him. I think one of the problems regarding that was because the timeline was over a couple months, but it was crammed into 100 pages so it felt rushed to me.

Overall though, a promising debut and it is a cute book with some depth to it. I'd suggest a library read. Plus, yay for people of color on and in books! :)

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Try Not to Breathe by Jennifer R. Hubbard
"Ryan spends most of his time alone at the local waterfall because it's the only thing that makes him feel alive. He's sixteen, post-suicidal, and trying to figure out what to do with himself after a stint in a mental hospital. Then Nicki barges into his world, brimming with life and energy, and asking questions about Ryan's depression that no one else has ever been brave enough - or cared enough - to ask. Ryan isn't sure why he trusts Nicki with his darkest secrets, but that trust turns out to be the catalyst that he desperately needs to start living again."- summary from Amazon

I loved Hubbard's debut and have been eagerly awaiting to read her next book, which was just as amazing as her debut. Ryan is a great main character and I liked getting to know him throughout the course of the book as he opened up to himself and also to Nicki. They had an emotional journey together and Hubbard did a great job writing their interactions and giving them chemistry.

The prose is very atmospheric and it felt much like the cover- a bit... I can't even find the right word but the tone and color of the cover really matches the tone inside. It helped me really get into and understand Ryan's mindset. Hubbard does a phenomenal job getting down a boy's voice just right, like she did in The Secret Year; it never felt wrong or fake to me.

Overall, a fantastic follow-up to The Secret Year and I'm anxious to see what she gives us next!

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Meandering Monday- Best Books of 2011 Part 2

Here's the final 5 titles in my Best Books of 2011 list! This is in order of publication date, not by which I liked better because that would be too hard to choose!


Shine by Lauren Myracle
"When her former best friend, Patrick, is found near death, tied to the pump of the local gas station, sixteen-year-old loner Cat is forced into action. The local sheriff blames out-of-towners, but Cat knows someone in their tightly-knit Southern community is guilty of the crime. And only she has the will- and the fury fueled by a still raw wound- to find him."-summary from back of ARC

I reviewed Shine here and also interviewed Lauren on the blog!


The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

"Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness. Elisa is the chosen one. But she is also the younger of two princesses. The one who has never done anything remarkable, and can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs her to be the chosen one, not a failure of a princess. And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies, seething with dark magic, are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior, and he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do."- summary from Amazon

I reviewed The Girl of Fire and Thorns here and it has no comments- go show it some love!!


Amplified by Tara Kelly
"When privileged 17-year-old Jasmine gets kicked out of her house, she takes what is left of her savings and flees to Santa Cruz to pursue her dream of becoming a musician. Jasmine finds the ideal room in an oceanfront house, but she needs to convince the three guys living there that she's the perfect roommate and lead guitarist for their band, C-Side. Too bad she has major stage fright and the cute bassist doesn't think a spoiled girl from over the hill can hack it. . . ."- summary from Amazon

I reviewed Amplified here.


Legend by Marie Lu
"What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets."- summary from Amazon

I reviewed Legend here and also participated in the blog tour, where Marie talked all about Day, one of the two narrators!

and finally, the last best book of 2011:

Don't Let Me Go by J.H. Trumble
"Some people spend their whole lives looking for the right partner. Nate Schaper found his in high school. In the eight months since their cautious flirting became a real, heart-pounding, tell-the-parents relationship, Nate and Adam have been inseparable. Even when local kids take their homophobia to brutal levels, Nate is undaunted. He and Adam are rock solid. Two parts of a whole. Yin and yang.

But when Adam graduates and takes an off-Broadway job in New York--at Nate's insistence--that certainty begins to flicker. Nate's friends can't keep his insecurities at bay, especially when he catches Skyped glimpses of Adam's shirtless roommate. Nate starts a blog to vent his frustrations and becomes the center of a school controversy, drawing ire and support in equal amounts. But it's the attention of a new boy who is looking for more than guidance that forces him to confront who and what he really wants."- summary from Amazon

I reviewed Don't Let Me Go here and also interviewed J.H. on the blog!

and here's the rest of the list of the ones who almost made the cut (with links to my reviews):

1) 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
2) The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
3) The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
4) Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
5) The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
6) The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder
7) Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
8) Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith


Did any of these make your own Best of 2011 list? What other titles did you all enjoy last year?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

In My Mailbox- Week of January 8 + Retrospective

No vlog this week unfortunately as I have low batteries, so just pictures.



Books Shown:

Picture 1- Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin (ARC, March 2012)
Thou Shalt Not Road Trip by Antony John (ARC, April 2012)
Beauty by Lisa Daily (ARC, May 2012)
The Alchemy of Forever by Avery Williams (hardcover, Jan 2012)
Chopsticks by Jessica Anthony and Rodrigo Corral (ARC, Feb 2012)
Trafficked by Kim Purcell (ARC, Feb 2012)
The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George (ARC, March 2012)
Last Rite by Lisa Desrochers with signed bookmarks (ARC, May 2012)

Picture 2- This Time Together by Carol Burnett (library)
Almost Everything by Tate Hallaway (paperback, Feb 2012)
The Cowboy Takes a Bride by Lori Wilde (ARC, April 2012)
Vesper by Jeff Sampson (library)
Drink Slay Love by Sarah Beth Durst (library)
Dear Bully by Various Authors (library)
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock swag


and here's my weekly retrospective-

Monday- I posted the first half of my Best Books of 2011 (along with a partial list of books that almost made it) and tomorrow, I'll reveal the final five as well as the rest of the books that almost made the cut.

Tuesday- I reviewed Oopsy Daisy by Lauren Myracle, which is out in stores now!

Wednesday- I reviewed Fracture by Megan Miranda, which will be out in stores January 17.

Thursday- I reviewed Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan, which is out in stores now!

Friday- I unveiled my list of mid-East Coast events that will be updated as often as possible. If you know of any events not on this list that are in the PA/NJ/MD/DC/VA/NC area, please let me know either in the comments or by email.

Saturday- I reviewed Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith, which will be out in stores January 24.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith

Diabolical by Cynthia Leitich Smith
"When "slipped" angel Zachary and his werewolf pal, Kieren, arrive under suspicious circumstances to a mysterious New England boarding school, they quickly find themselves in a hellish lockdown with an intriguing assortment of secretive, hand-picked students. Plagued by demon dogs, hallucinatory wall d├ęcor, a sadistic instructor, and a legendary fire-breathing monster, will they somehow manage to escape? Or will the devil have his due? Best-selling author Cynthia Leitich Smith unites heroes from the previous three novels in the Tantalize Series - including Zachary's girl, Miranda, and Kieren's love, Quincie - along with a fascinating cast of all-new characters for a suspenseful, action-packed clash between the forces of heaven and hell."- summary from Amazon

This series just keeps getting better and better! Each book is greater than the last and it started off with a pretty high bar to surpass. I loved seeing all my favorite characters again and especially all of them together, as they were separate in the first two books, then brought together in the third. Now, they have spent time communicating and getting to know each other so there's more of a friendship there.

Smith's prose is fast-paced and funny and I found it hard to put the book down (or, rather, X out of my Adobe Digital Editions which I use to read e-galleys, lol). I really enjoyed the multiple POV, which bounces between Zachary, Kieran and Miranda. Each had their own distinctive voice and it was fun getting to see their side. I also loved any interaction that involved Zachary's angel friend/co-worker (who may be gay? I'm not entirely sure) whose name I unfortunately cannot remember.

Overall, just a fabulous book with an action-filled plotline and an amazing climax with some sweet romance as well. I cannot wait for the next book in the series!

FTC: Received e-galley from Netgalley. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mid-East Coast Book Events!

So I realized that so far this year, there's quite a few book events being held in the mid-east coast which almost never happens. But it seems 2013 is bringing a lot of authors that already live in this area, as well as publishers hearing our plea for more book events here (it always surprises me that our nation's capital is left out of a lot of national book tours)!

Anyway, I thought I'd compile a list of events and keep it updated. If you know of any MG/YA events and conferences in the PA/NJ/MD/DC/VA/NC area (I know, a lot of abbreviations), please let me know and I'll update it here! I am also contemplating making a comprehensive list of books events everywhere in the US but I would need a TON of help with that so for now, I'm keeping it to this 6-state radius.

Tuesday, January 15 at 4-7pm
Morganton Library in Morganton, NC.
Victoria Schwab (The Archived), Beth Revis (Across the Universe), Megan Miranda (Fracture), Jessica Khoury (Origin), Carrie Ryan (Forest of Hands and Teeth), Alexandra Duncan (Salvage).

Friday, January 25 at 6pm
Barnes and Noble in Charlottesville, VA
Jodi Meadows (Incarnate), Victoria Schwab (The Archived), Beth Revis (Across the Universe trilogy), Ellen Oh (Prophecy)

Saturday, January 26 at 4-6pm
One More Page Books in Arlington, VA
Victoria Schwab (The Archived), Jennifer Rush (Altered), Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked), moderated by Diana Peterfreund (For Darkness Shows the Stars).

Saturday, February 2 at 7pm
Malaprops Bookstore in Asheville, NC
Lenore Appelhans (Level 2), Victoria Schwab (The Archived), Beth Revis (Across the Universe), Megan Shepard (The Madman's Daughter)

Wednesday, February 6 at 6:30pm
Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, VA
Lenore Appelhans (Level 2), Jodi Meadows (Incarnate), Megan Shephard (The Madman's Daughter), Meagan Spooner (Skylark)

Thursday, February 7 at 6:30pm
Hooray for Books in Alexandria, VA
Lenore Appelhans (Level 2), Jodi Meadows (Incarnate), Megan Shepard (The Madman's Daughter)

Saturday, February 9 at 2pm
Books-A-Million in Harrisonburg, VA
Jodi Meadows (Incarnate), Hannah Barnaby (Wonder Show), Kristen-Paige Madonia (Fingerprints of You)

Monday, February 11 at 7pm
Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill, NC
Fiona Paul (Venom), Beth Revis (Shades of Earth), Morgan Rhodes (pen name for Michelle Rowen) (Falling Kingdoms), Elizabeth Richards (Black City), Jessica Spotswood (Born Wicked)

Monday, February 11 at TBD
Event details to come.
Victoria Schwab (The Archived)

Saturday, February 16 at 6pm
Over the Moon Bookstore in Crozet, VA
Jodi Meadows (Incarnate)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan

Darkness Falls by Cate Tiernan
"Nastasya has lived for hundreds of years, but for some reason, life never seems to get any better. She left her spoiled, rich girl life to find peace at River's Edge, a safe haven for wayward immortals. There, she learned to embrace River's Edge, despite som drama involving the sexy Reyn, who she wants but won't allow herself to have. But just as she's getting comfortable, her family's ties to dark magick force her to leave.

She falls back into her old, hard partying ways, but will her decision lead her into the hands of a dark immortal? Or will it be her first step to embracing the darkness within her?"- summary from Amazon

I really enjoyed the first book in this series because I don't read many books about regular immortals. It's a bit of a breath of fresh air. Plus, Nas is a great main character with a great sense of humor. I really enjoy reading about her adventures, both present and past. I liked seeing the glimpses into her past and how it shaped her to be who she is.

The climax of the book is very action-filled and I had so much trouble putting it down. Tiernan really knows how to pace the plot and keep the action moving along at a good clip. It's almost 400 pages, but it felt much shorter.

Overall, a great sequel and I'm really excited to see how the trilogy wraps up in the final book (which will hopefully be out later this year, even though this one was pushed back due to cover change, but that was a good choice because the old cover looked like an 80s VC Andrews cover.).

FTC: Received ARC from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Fracture by Megan Miranda

Fracture by Megan Miranda
"Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine -despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?"- summary from Amazon

Oh my goodness, this was a really good book. I liked the element of magical realism Miranda included, with Delaney's new ability. But the main amazing thing was how Miranda handled Delaney trying to fit back into her old life. It just felt so realistic seeing how she interacted with her friends and family and how they interacted with her as she adjusted back to life. I particularly enjoyed the relationship between Delaney and Decker; it was written really well and I could feel how awkward it was at times and also just how awesome their friendship was too. I also liked seeing Delaney deal with Troy as she navigated her new abilities; it brought up some interesting issues about life and death.

Overall, just an amazing debut and I'm looking forward to what Miranda writes next.

Check out the Fracture Facebook page for a chapter sampler, book event list, and other exclusive content!

FTC: Received ARC from my friend Susan (http://www.wastepaperprose.com). Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Oopsy Daisy by Lauren Myracle

Oopsy Daisy by Lauren Myracle
"Life for the Flower Power girls is never boring. Milla, still madly in crush with sweet Max, wonders if it’s time—dun dun dun!—for the two of them to actually HOLD HANDS. Eeek! Katie-Rose, on the other hand, can’t help but wonder when—or if—she will ever be crush-worthy, especially since the only boy to pay her any attention is pesky, annoying Preston, whose favorite pastime is throwing erasers at Katie-Rose’s head. Violet, however, has bigger issues than boys on her mind. Her mom is finally scheduled to be discharged from the psychiatric hospital where she’s been undergoing treatment, but what if her homecoming doesn’t go as planned? Luckily, Yasaman has a foolproof plan for distracting her friends from their worries. The targets: beloved teachers Mr. Emerson and Ms. Perez, who are meant for each other, even if they don’t know it. The goal: to bring those lovebirds together at their school’s “Kids Night In,” a teacher-chaperoned evening of fun, fabulosity, and possibly even romance . . ."- summary from Amazon

The third book in the Flower Power series is just as awesome as the first two. I simply flew through this book and had problems putting it down. Myracle's prose is fun and easy to read, and I love reading from each girl's different perspective. There's a lot of emphasis on boys and romance in this book, but there's some great chapters from Violet's point of view that deal with her emotions regarding her mom being back home from the psychiatric hospital. Those sections were really poignant to read and I think Myracle did a wonderful job making it realistic.

Overall, I can't say enough good things about Myracle's books and this middle-grade series in particular. I heard that this will just be a quartet, which means only one book left but I do hope more get written. These characters are so much fun to hang out with that I don't want to have to say goodbye to them!

FTC: Received hardcover from publisher. Link above is an Amazon Associate link; any profit goes toward funding contests.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Meandering Monday- Best Books of 2011 Part 1

OK, so I've finally compiled my Top 10 books of 2011 (I had to narrow it down from 26 titles), in order of publication date rather than importance because I could not do that. Here are 5 of the 10 (with links to my reviews after each one), the rest will be revealed next Monday. I'll also include a list afterward of books that almost made the cut because I want to showcase them as well.

1)
Real Live Boyfriends by E. Lockhart
"Ruby Oliver is in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel seems to have turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can’t figure out why.

Not only is her romantic life a shambles:
Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos,
Her mother’s got a piglet head in the refrigerator,
Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar,
Gideon shows up shirtless,
And the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever.

Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks?
Will she ever understand boys?
Will she ever stop making lists?
(No to that last one.)"- summary from Amazon

My review can be found here. You can also listen to/watch me read an excerpt from the book here.

2)
Leverage by Joshua Cohen
"The football field is a battlefield

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on-and off-the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy-including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes."- summary from Amazon

My review can be found here.


3)
Clarity by Kim Harrington
"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?"- summary from Amazon

My review can be found here. I also read an excerpt and interviewed the author!


4)
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
"Lina is just like any other fifteen-year-old Lithuanian girl in 1941. She paints, she draws, she gets crushes on boys. Until one night when Soviet officers barge into her home, tearing her family from the comfortable life they've known. Separated from her father, forced onto a crowded and dirty train car, Lina, her mother, and her young brother slowly make their way north, crossing the Arctic Circle, to a work camp in the coldest reaches of Siberia. Here they are forced, under Stalin's orders, to dig for beets and fight for their lives under the cruelest of conditions.

Lina finds solace in her art, meticulously-and at great risk-documenting events by drawing, hoping these messages will make their way to her father's prison camp to let him know they are still alive. It is a long and harrowing journey, spanning years and covering 6,500 miles, and it is only their incredible strength, love and hope that pull Lina and her family through each day. But will love be enough to keep them alive?"- summary from Amazon

My review can be found here.


5)
I Am J by Cris Beam
""Hola, Jeni."

J spun. His stomach clenched hard, as though he'd been hit. It was just the neighbor lady, Mercedes. J couldn't muster a hello back, not now; he didn't care that she'd tell his mom he'd been rude. She should know better. Nobody calls me Jeni anymore.


J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a "real boy" and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible - from his family, from his friends...from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he's done hiding - it's time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost."- summary from Amazon

You can read my review here. I also read an excerpt and had the author by for an interview and guest blog!


And now, 8 books that didn't make the cut but were very close (the other 8 books will be revealed next week)!

1) Divergent by Veronica Roth
2) Don't Stop Now by Julie Halpern
3) Hourglass by Myra McEntire
4) Withering Tights by Louise Rennison
5) Forgotten by Cat Patrick
6) Wildefire by Karsten Knight
7) Want to Go Private by Sarah Darer Littman
8) Misfit by Jon Skovron

Do you agree so far with my picks? What were your favorite books of 2011? Any guesses as to what books will show up next week?