Saturday, June 19, 2010

Reading update

I've been reading tons since I last updated. In fact, I've read so much that I can't even do mini-reviews for everything. So to catch up, I'll just leave a list.

  • How my Private, Personal Journal Became a Bestseller- Julia Devillers
  • Tales from the Brothers' Grimm- Vivian Vanda Velde
  • Holly's Inbox- Holly Denham
  • Lost It- Kristen Tracy
  • Day of Tears- Julius Lester
  • Bleed- Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • Forget Me Not- Coleen Paratore
  • If I Stay- Gayle Forman
  • The Library Card- Jerry Spinelli
  • Deadly Little Secrets- Laurie Faria Stolarz
  • It Can't Happen Here- Sinclair Lewis (for class)
  • The Naked Mole Rat Letters- Mary Amato
  • Inexcusable- Chris Lynch
  • The Mystery of Mary Surrat- R. Jones
  • Top 8- Kate Finn
  • TTFN- Lauren Myracle
  • L8ter, G8ter- Lauren Myracle
  • If the Shoe Fits- Mason
  • Surviving Hitler- Andrea Warren
  • The Black Box- Schumaker
  • This is What I Did- Ann Ellis
  • Where Have All the Flowers Gone?- Ellen White
  • Birdie's Book- Jan Bozarth
  • Schooled- Gordon Korman
  • A Wrinkle in Time- Madeline L'Engle
  • Boy Meets Girl- Meg Cabot
  • I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It- Adam Selzer
  • Ever After- Rachel Vail
  • Love You Hate You Miss You- Elizabeth Scott
  • Keeping You a Secret- Julie Anne Peters
  • Because I am Furniture- Thalia Chaltas
  • Giving Up the V- Serena Robar
  • One of those Hideous Books where the Mother Dies- Sonya Sones
  • Fat Camp- Deborah Blumenthal
  • Nothing but Trouble- Rachel Gibson
  • Before I Die- Jenny Downham
  • In Your Room- Jordanna Fraiberg
  • Forever Princess- Meg Cabot
  • Indigo- Alice Hoffman
  • Everything Is Fine- Ann Dee Ellis
  • Burned- Ellen Hopkins
  • Survival in the Storm- Katelan Janke
  • The End of the Beginning- Avi
  • Never Bite a Boy on the First Date- Tamara Summers
  • Bookplate Special- Lorna Barrett
  • Killer Cruise- Laura Levine
  • Houston, We Have a Problem- Erin McCarthy
  • Feeling Sorry for Celia- Jaclyn Moriarty
  • A Beginning, a Muddle, and an End- Avi
  • Getting the Girl- Markus Zusak
  • Love that Dog- Sharon Creech
  • Sweet Talk- Susan Mallery
  • A Bad Boy can be Good for a Girl- Tanya Stone
  • Wake- Lisa McMann
  • What Would Emma Do?- Eileen Cook
  • Princess for Hire- Lindsay Leavitt
  • Hate that Cat- Sharon Creech
  • Locomotion- Jacqueline Woodson
  • The Possibility of Fireflies- Dominique Paul
  • The Sky is Everywhere- Jandy Nelson
  • Witness- Karen Hesse
  • Heart on my Sleeve- Ellen Wittlinger
  • Fade- Lisa McMann
  • Bras and Broomsticks- Sarah Mlynowski
  • Gone- Lisa McMann
  • I am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil, and I Want to be Your Class President- Josh Lieb
  • Cruel Summer- Alyson Noel
  • Blubber- Judy Blume
  • Forgive my Fins- Tera Lynn Childs
  • Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little- Peggy Gifford
  • The Realm of Possibility- David Levithan
  • Jennifer's Body- Nixon
  • "Ten Little Idiots"- MaryJanice Davidson
  • Erin McCarthy's short story from Bad Boys Over Easy

Monday, June 14, 2010

Contest at The Book Cellar

There's an awesome summer giveaway going on at The Book Cellar. Prizes include a signed copy of Sea by Heidi Kling, the winner's choice of books from a summer list, and a Sea tank top in the winner's size. Good luck!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Weekly Recap (5)

My reading binge is seriously interfering with reviewing. If I read books too fast, I won't review them because for me to do a full review of a book, I have to think about it for a good 24 hours or so after I finish it so I can do a thoughtful review. But lately I'm reading so many books that if I waited a day to review, I'd be hopelessly behind. And so we have another week of mini-reviews.

Books read this week:

Milkweed- Jerry Spinelli
This book is about a boy who wants to be a Nazi, until he saw something that changed his mind. He is a boy who is, at first, nobody. A common thief. And then he becomes somebody and is put into the ghetto in Warsaw, where he learns that it would be safer if he could go back to being nobody. Immediately engrossing. From page one, Spinelli draws you into this boy's world.
The Sacrifice- Kathleen Duble
Abigail is a ten year old living in Andover, Massachusetts at the time of the Salem witch trials. At first, news of witches being found in Salem offers her a distraction from her hum-drum life of doing chores, but when the girls from Salem come to Andover to seek out witches there, things take a turn for the worse when Abigail and her sister are accused of witchcraft. They are put in jail and are faced with a terrible dilemma: they must either plead innocent and be hanged, accuse someone else of witchcraft and be freed, or refuse to plea at all, and be kept in jail. Based on actual events involving the author's ancestors, The Sacrifice is a realistic and compelling tale about a dark time in American history. I kept turning the pages to find out what would happen to Abigail and her family.
Fade to Black- Alex Flinn
Alex has HIV, and one day as he is sitting in his car at a stop sign, someone bashes in his windshield with a baseball bat. Delia, a mentally challenged girl, witnesses the crime. Another boy is suspected of it because he has made it plain that he hates Alex and is paranoid about catching HIV from him. This book was very compelling. I wanted to read it as fast as possible to find out who had harassed Alex. But at the same time, I was often frustrated with the boy who is suspected of the crime, frustrated enough to be tempted to throw the book across the room. This is not a flaw with Flinn's writing. In fact, it's one of the good things about it. This character is entirely believable and I feel the same distaste for him that I would if confronted with this person in reality.
Boy Meets Boy- David Levithan
Vivid, unique characters (Infinite Darlene? I love her.) make this book a joy to read. It's your basic boy meets boy, boy falls madly in love with boy, boy screws things up with boy and must redeem himself story, but the characters (and the wonderful concept of "painting music") all add to the sweetness of the tale.

Little Miss Red- Robin Palmer
Sophie is not a wild kind of girl, but on a vacation to visit her grandmother in Florida soon after breaking up with her longtime boyfriend, she meets a bad boy who makes her want to be wild. So she abandons her safe ways only to find out that charming, sexy bad boys aren't all they're cracked up to be. A charming, lighthearted fairy tale retelling that made me smile.
Story of a Girl- Sarah Zarr
Deanna Lambert has a reputation. She is known as the school slut, and has been ever since she was thirteen and her dad caught her in the back seat of seventeen-year-old Tommy's Buick. The reader feels for Deanna as she tries to regain her father's trust, deal with Tommy, and confront her loneliness when her two best friends start dating.
The Boy who Dared- Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Bartoletti tells the story of a Hitler Youth who committed treason. Very readable and heartbreaking.
Seeds of Hope (a Dear America book)- Kristiana Gregory
This book is set during the California gold rush. It wasn't much of a page-turner, and I wasn't completely engaged with the characters, but certain images from the novel are still stuck in my head a couple of days later.
Willa at Heart- Coleen Murtagh Paratore
The third novel in the Wedding Planner's Daughter series. Willa is enjoying dating JFK, but a new girl shows up who threatens their relationship and gets the role Willa wanted in the town's production of Our Town. I love this series. Willa is a bookworm, and her love of books immediately makes me bond with her. I have to admit, there are certain passages in teh book that made me teary-eyed.
Aquamarine- Alice Hoffman
At the end of the summer, following a big storm, two best friends find a mermaid in the pool of the resort where they're staying. The mermaid, Aquamarine, falls in love with a boy who works at the resort snack bar and won't go back to the ocean until she has a date with him. A cute, fun read.
Civil War Ghosts- David (?) Cohen
A nice mix of history and ghost lore.
Green Angel- Alice Hoffman
A compelling novel about grief, written in beautiful language that keeps the reader guessing about what happened to Green's family that fateful day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekly(ish) Recap (4)

So, with Spring Break last week, I forgot to do a recap, and I'm reading too much to do full reviews of everything. I thought my book binge would slow down once Justin came home from training but it seems to have gotten even more intense because books are helping me not freak out so much over the thought that in 3 weeks (!!!!), one of my dearest friends will be in Afghanistan, and also my growing concern that the next time I see him might be the last time, ever. Since I'm reading so fast, it's hard to do real reviews.

Anyway, here's what I've read since the last time, as well as mini-reviews about the books that I haven't reviewed yet.

  • Her Patchwork Family- Lyn Cote
  • Animal Instincts- Gena Showalter
  • What My Mother Doesn't Know- Sonya Sones
    Quick novel in verse about Sophie, a slightly boy-crazy but likable girl and the boy she unexpectedly falls for. The poetry made it a real page turner. I read it in about an hour.
  • Bookmarked for Death- Lorna Barrett
    Second book in the Booktown Mystery series. Tricia still has the pesky problem of discovering dead bodies. An enjoyable bookish mystery.
  • The Boy in the Striped Pajamas- John Boyne
    This is a simple book about a dad, 2 boys, and a fence. Bruno's childish naivety lessened the impact of how tragic this story really is, but it's really the only way to tell this story. No nine year old kid is going to suspect his father of such terrible things.
  • Something, Maybe- Elizabeth Scott
    Elizabeth Scott has delivered a cute little love story. It made me feel all warm and fuzzy to see the connection between the two main characters develop.
  • What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know- Sonya Sones
    The companion to What My Mother Doesn't Know. Robin narrates. Another page turner.
  • Kissing Annabel-Steve Herrick
    I was really feeling the novels in verse this week. This one's about a high school couple first falling in love and then leaving home after they're done with school. Not very memorable, but an enjoyable way to occupy an hour or two.
  • I Can't Tell You- Hillary Frank
    In this one, the main character decides not to talk anymore. He feels like writing is safer after he's ruined his relationship with one of his best friends. I was rooting for a love story about the main character and Xandra, but no such luck. Batman makes an appearance though. Ha. Had a really great line about trust: "Trust is telling someone what keeps you up at night. Or trying to. Or at least, wanting to." Something like that, anyway. I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book in front of me at the moment and don't feel like going to get it. Anyway, I really love that definition of trust. It helps me when I worry that I don't trust Justin enough because I worry about making the words come out right. And my worry about making the words come out right really gives me a lot in common with the narrator because I, too, find it easier to write than to talk. (For example, it's much easier to trust Justin with my secrets when I can write them down, seal them up in an envelope and not have to worry about his reaction for awhile...if all of a sudden, he gets judgmental, well... what's the worst thing he can do? Stop writing me? )
  • The Fat Girl- Marilyn Sachs
    This book was good, but the narrator (who was so not the protagonist) was such a jerk! He was manipulative and insincere about his feelings for Ellen, unless, of course, he'd fooled himself into thinking he was in love with her.
  • Eighth Grade Bites- Heather Brewer
    Vlad is a unique vampire. For one thing, he's half human. For another, he might be the only vampire left. And for him, eighth grade really bites when his substitute teacher gives him the worst assignment ever; for their unit on mythological creatures, Vlad must take on the persona of a vampire and confess to his English class about his nature. This book was a nice change from the moody Edward Cullen types. I liked having a vampire protagonist who didn't think he was damned, who saw himself as a normal kid with a different diet.
  • Crank- Ellen Hopkins
    Another novel in verse. This one is about a girl named Kristina, who calls herself Bree. During a summer vacation, Bree falls in love--with Adam, and the monster, meth. Her relationship with Adam doesn't last long but Bree keeps flirting with the monster long after she returns to her mom's house. My favorite poem was around page 70-something, when Bree is first getting involved with Adam and admits that she was afraid to let him kiss her. Yeah, I could relate.
  • Princess Mia- Meg Cabot
    After her breakup with Michael, Mia gets deeply depressed, has to go to therapy, and finds the diary of one of her long-dead ancestors. Entertaining, but not very deep.
  • The First Part Last- Angela Johnson
    I read this one at the bookstore in a little over an hour. The ending leaves the reader with hope for Bobby's future.
  • Street Love- Walter Dean Myers
    Basically this book is Walter Dean Myers' version of Romeo and Juliet, in verse. It was nice to get such a clear portrait of falling in love from a guy's perspective. It was so sweet.
  • TTYL- Lauren Myracle
    And finally, this book is amusing and fun, a nice light chick lit read.
Currently Reading:
Milkweed-Jerry Spinelli
The Blacker the Berry- Wallace Thurman (School)

Friday, March 5, 2010

Animal Instincts- Gena Showalter

Cover image from Amazon
Back Cover:
Unleashing your inner tigress isn't easy when you're a doormat by nature! Still, after escaping a wretched marriage to a cheating SOB, Dallas party planner Naomi Delacroix isn't about to let another man sweet-talk her into sheathing her protective claws. Not even hunky millionaire Royce Powell, who's hired her to arrange his mother's surprise party. Even if he does make her purr like a kitten with one heated glance...

Royce claims he's been in love with her since she threw a party for one of his friends six months ago. But if that's true, why is this incredibly eligible CEO currently taking applications for a wife? Despite herself, Naomi is tempted to fill one out. But can her inner tigress believe a man might change his stripes?

I've read several Gena Showalter books, and this book falls strictly into "I liked it" territory. I closed this book with a smile on my face, but the more I think about it, the more something bothers me.

Naomi fights Royce through every stage of their relationship, which seemed reasonable to me, given how badly she'd been hurt in the past. When she finally accepts Royce's proposal, Royce wants to rush into getting married, even though it felt like, for me, the entire relationship had been rushed. What really bothered me is what he tells Naomi to justify wanting to get married immediately: "I don't want you to have a chance to change your mind." Uh, no. Marriage is a serious commitment, and if someone is going to change their mind about it, it should happen BEFORE the ceremony. Thinking it through and being sure about it is a good thing, not something that should be avoided.

However, with that said, I felt that Animal Instincts is an enjoyable, light read. Naomi and Royce have sizzling chemistry and snappy dialogue that keeps the pages turning and the reader engaged. As long as a reader is able to suspend disbelief, this makes for a fun read.

Contest at Books and Literature for Teens

Books and Literature for Teens is giving away a copy of Merlin's Harp, which is a YA King Arthur story told from a female perspective. I definitely want to read this.

Contest at In which a Girl Reads

In which a Girl Reads is having an awesome contest right now. The winner gets any book under $20 from The Book Depository they want. It's an international contest, and all you have to do is follow her blog.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Her Patchwork Family- Lyn Cote

Cover image from

Back Cover:

Christmas is for Families...

And Felicity Gabriel intends to build a family right away! When she inherits a mansion, she decides to turn it into a home for orphans. But her first charges test her resolve. One child is a thief, suspicious of her kindness. The other is the local judge's traumatized daughter.

Broken by war, Judge Tyrone Hawkins is devastated when his little girl runs from him to Felicity. But Felicity's courage despite the town's scorn for her orphanage and her caring way with his daughter restore his lost faith. Now he wonders if they all can find the family they seek...just in time for Christmas.

This is the second book in the Gabriel sisters trilogy. It's set during one of my favorite time periods, immediately after the Civil War, and features a Civil War veteran as the hero. And I loved the first book in this trilogy, which I read last year.

So, I should have loved this one as well. Unfortunately, I didn't. I feel like there is too much that is underdeveloped in Her Patchwork Family. The books opens with Felicity at the funeral for her childhood sweetheart. His mother comes up to Felicity and tells her that she hates her. Then Felicity leaves Pennsylvania and later in the book the reader gets a one-sentence explanation of why Gus's mother would hate Felicity so much.

Another flaw of this novel is the lack of romance. I had a hard time buying the "happily ever after" ending the protagonists get because, although I could feel the connection between Felicity and Ty, it wasn't developed past an initial attraction. The "I love you"s came out of nowhere.

Ultimately, I find myself disappointed in this novel. However, when the last book in the trilogy comes out next December, I will most likely read it to see if Ms. Cote managed to recapture the magic of the first book in the trilogy.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review Policy

Because I need to get back to reviewing instead of just posting about the books I've bought recently, I shall post a review policy in part to motivate myself. And possibly score some more books in the process. Did I write that? Bad, bad ashley.

At any rate, authors and publishers, if you would like my humble opinion on your book, I would be glad to give it to you on my blog. I promise an honest assessment of what I like and don't like about your book. If you are interested, email me at