From that time on, the world was hers for the reading....


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thoughtful Thursday

When I was a kid, my parents and I would pack up the car and take long road trips. That's how we spent our summers. And no matter what our destination, I always packed a bag of essentials to keep me entertained as the world flew by the car windows. The bag always contained snacks, books, games (sometimes card games, sometimes hand-held electronic games), music, puzzle books, and, when I was really small, coloring books and crayons.

Last night, I took a similar bag with me to the hospital. As I sat in the CCU waiting room hoping to hear good news about my dad's heart procedure, I tried to entertain myself in so many ways, but the only thing that really helped was reading. When I need an escape, a good book has always transported me to another place. I was so grateful for books as I feverishly read page after page of Delirium by Lauren Oliver. (Later that night, I was super grateful for doctors.)

I'm sure it was because of what was happening all around me--watching my mom pace nervously, seeing patients wheeled by, overhearing conversations about heart procedures, watching people cry and worry--but these were the quotes I marked and decided to share for this week's edition of Thoughtful Thursday.

"Stupid, stupid--to be so careless with our time, to believe we had so much of it left."

"You have to go forward: It's the only way. You have to go forward no matter what happens. This is the universal law."

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad

Everyone needs a guilty pleasure. Mine was always "The Hills" on MTV, so, of course, I loved Lauren Conrad's L.A. Candy series. The library finally got Sugar and Spice , the third and final book in the series, and I relished every word.

New reality-television star Jane Roberts is filming the second season of "L.A. Candy" and trying to get used to the hassles, celebrity, and paparazzi that come along with it.

Her goals this season are simple: Swear off guys, avoid being the topic of tabloid fodder, surround herself with people she can trust (not so easy in Hollywood), do her job, and get her personal and professional life under control.

But things get a little crazy when her former friend and current co-star, the backstabbing Madeline, gets a job at the same place Jane works. Soon she finds it's impossible to plan successful events and perform her job to the best of her ability when an ex-friend with a grudge is questioning her every decision and attempting to sabotage high-profile celebrity events.

To add to the stress, Jane's high school sweetheart Caleb is in town and Braden, her L.A. crush who usually doesn't want to give her the time of day, is back in her life with an interest in being more than just friends. What was that no boys rule again?

Jane's best friend and roommate Scarlett is enjoying life with her new boyfriend Liam and attending classes at UCLA. She couldn't be happier, until Liam's desire not to be on camera and jealousy about what's going on during "L.A. Candy" filming puts a strain on their relationship.

Both Jane and Scarlett start to wonder if this whole Hollywood thing is for them, doubts that are increased ten-fold when Jane makes a shocking discovery about the show.

Turns out, reality isn't so real after all.

Sugar and Spice was such a fun read! Lauren Conrad's knowledge of reality television enhanced this delicious story about love, friendship, and what really goes on behind the scenes of a popular television show. I'll never look at reality television the same way again.

I was sad to see the series end, but happy that the characters finally found peace.



For more information on Lauren Conrad, visit:
@LaurenConrad
laurenconrad.com

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Susane Colasanti: So Much Closer

I am such a fan of Susane Colasanti's writing (novels and her super-positive blog) that I was thrilled to receive an advance reader's copy of So Much Closer, which will be available in bookstores everywhere on May 3.

Brooke Greene is all about "The Knowing," a feeling that overcomes her when she knows what she wants to do, when she wants to do it, and how she wants to do it. And she knows that she and Scott Abrams are meant to be together. Unfortunately, Scott doesn't know. Yet.

When Scott reveals that he and his family are moving to New York City, Brooke knows that her time is running out. She must tell Scott how she feels, no matter what it takes. For Brooke this means taking a huge leap, leaving her life (and mom and best friends) in New Jersey behind, following Scott to New York City, living with her estranged father, and completing her senior year of high school at a brand new school.

Whoa! I can't figure out if Brooke's decision makes her incredibly naive, lucky, or brave. But I couldn't help but like her and cheer her on as she made new friends (Sadie and John rocked!), felt the heartbreak of losing touch with her old friends, opened herself up to new experiences, made amends with her parents, and told Scott how she really felt.

But more than anything, I enjoyed watching Brooke discover a side of herself she never knew existed and become excited for her future.

This novel had a big, beating heart. And that heart was New York City. My favorite part was following Brooke around as she explored the city. So Much Closer was a beautiful love letter to New York.

I miss New York, and Susane Colasanti's words made me feel like I was there again. Her descriptions of the sights, sounds, smells of the city perfectly captured the magical energy you can't help but feel when you walk the streets of New York. I felt like I was visiting the neighborhoods and hanging out with my friends on the High Line. Now that's good writing.


For more information on Susane Colasanti, visit:
@susanecolasanti
susanecolasanti.com

Monday, March 28, 2011

Rachel Hawkins: Demonglass

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins was one of my favorite books of 2010, so I literally did a happy dance when I saw Demonglass on the new release shelf at my local library!

Sophie Mercer isn't a typical teenager. She thought she was a witch. But she's actually a demon.

Her crush? Not so typical either. Archer Cross is a spy for The Eye, a group set out to destroy all Prodigium (witches, shapefshifters, fairies, and Sophie).

Knowing she's a danger to her family and friends, Sophie decides to spend the summer in London with her dad (also a demon and head of the Prodigium Council) to undergo the Removal, a risky procedure that will destroy all of her powers. And maybe Sophie.

While there, she discovers that she and her dad aren't the only two demons in the world. In fact, an entire new breed of demons is being raised with super, uncontrollable powers and a taste for death and destruction.

Once again, Sophie and her friends are in danger. Upon investigation, Sophie learns that the source of the danger and attacks on her life may be a little closer than she thought. And now she's not quite sure whom she can trust.

I enjoyed this book. Sophie was just as wise-cracking and self-deprecating as ever. And a love triangle added an extra level of vulnerability to Sophie's plight. The chemistry was hot. The heartbreak was tender.

Rachel Hawkins has a real way with language, speaking as teenagers do without sounding forced or fake. Plus, she writes hot kissing scenes.

The ending was fast and action-packed, leaving a major cliffhanger that had me wanting more.


For more information on Rachel Hawkins, visit:
@LadyHawkins
readingwritingrachel.blogspot.com

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday Five: Ally Carter Edition

In honor of the forthcoming publication of the second book in Ally Carter's Heist Society series, Uncommon Criminals (June 21), today's Friday Five is devoted to Ally and five things that make her fab!

1. Ally's books have been published in more than twenty countries and have appeared on best-seller lists from the New York Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, Barnes and Noble, IndieBound, and Bookscan. Not too shabby for someone who has never taken a writing class.

2. Girl power! In both the Gallagher Girls and Heist Society series, she has created real girls who are easy to relate to (because, just like us, they like boys and fashion) and the type of girls we should strive to be (well-educated, loyal, and not just smart, but geniuses). Not only that, they kick butt!

3. It's easy to write smart characters when you're smart, too! Ally was co-valedictorian of her high school senior class. Plus, she has degrees from both Oklahoma State University and Cornell University. Go, Ally!

4. She wrote screenplays in college. In fact, she uses screenwriting techniques, like storyboarding, to map out her novels. I'd love to see the storyboard for Uncommon Criminals.

5. There's going to be a 5th book in the Gallagher Girls series! Ally said on her blog that "it is probably the most complex GG book yet." Sounds exciting!

Ally loves to offer mini excerpts of upcoming novels and glimpses into her writing life to her readers at Twitter and on her official website blog, so I recommend visiting her at:

@OfficiallyAlly
allycarter.com

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Trailer: So Much Closer

Check out the trailer for So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti.




Must Read: The Last Little Blue Envelope

I've probably written this here before, but I love everything about Maureen Johnson. Really. Her Tweets are funny and entertaining. She cares about the world and participates in charity projects. And she writes fabulous books, including one of my all-time favorites, 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I'm counting down the days until The Last Little Blue Envelope will be in bookstores and libraries everywhere.

April 26!

32 days!!

Synopsis:
Ginny Blackstone thought that the biggest adventure of her life was behind her. She spent last summer traveling around Europe, following the tasks her Aunt Peg laid out in a series of letters before she died. When someone stole Ginny's backpack--and the last little blue envelope inside--she resigned herself to never knowing how it was supposed to end.

Months later, a mysterious boy contacts Ginny from London, saying he's found her bag. Finally, Ginny can finish what she started. But instead of ending her journey, the last letter starts a new adventure--one filled with old friends, new loves, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Ginny finds she must hold on to her wits . . . and her heart. This time, there are no instructions.


For more information on Maureen Johnson, visit:
@maureenjohnson
maureenjohnsonbooks.com

Thoughtful Thursday

Banner created by roxicons @ Live Journal / Text added by me

"It sucks that we miss people like that.
You think you've accepted that
someone is out of your life,
that you've grieved and it's over,
and then bam. One little thing
and you feel like you've lost
that person all over again."
~ Rachel Hawkins (Demonglass)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Must Read: Where She Went

I really loved Gayle Forman's If I Stay and can't wait to read Where She Went an April 5.

Synopsis:
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future -- and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.


Check out the book trailer!






For more information on Gayle Forman, visit:
@gayleforman
gayleforman.com
facebook.com/pages/Gayle-Forman

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Must Read: Bumped

I'm a big fan of Megan McCafferty's writing and I'm slowly becoming obsessed with dystopian novels, so I'm really looking forward to Bumped, which is scheduled to be in bookstores on April 26.

Synopsis:
When a virus makes everyone over the age of eighteen infertile, would-be parents must pay teen girls to conceive and give birth to their children, making teens the most prized members of society.

Sixteen-year-old identical twins Melody and Harmony were separated at birth and had never met until the day Harmony shows up on Melody’s doorstep. Until now, the twins have followed completely opposite paths. Melody has scored an enviable conception contract with a couple called the Jaydens. While they search for the perfect partner for Melody to bump with, she is fighting her attraction to her best friend, Zen, who is way too short for the job.

Harmony has spent her whole life in religious Goodside, preparing to be a wife and mother. She believes her calling is to convince Melody that pregging for profit is a sin. But Harmony has secrets of her own that she is running from.

When Melody is finally matched with the world-famous, genetically flawless Jondoe, both girls’ lives are changed forever. A case of mistaken identity takes them on a journey neither could have ever imagined, one that makes Melody and Harmony realize they have so much more than just DNA in common.


For more information on Megan McCafferty, visit:
@meganmccafferty
meganmccafferty.com
facebook.com/pages/Megan-McCafferty

Monday, March 21, 2011

Must Read: Shift

Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready will be available in bookstores everywhere on May 3.

Synopsis:
Aura’s life is anything but easy. Her boyfriend, Logan, died, and his slides between ghost and shade have left her reeling. Aura knows he needs her now more than ever. She loves Logan, but she can't deny her connection with the totally supportive, totally gorgeous Zachary. And she’s not sure that she wants to.

Logan and Zachary will fight to be the one by her side, but Aura needs them both to uncover the mystery of her past--the mystery of the Shift.

As Aura’s search uncovers new truths, she must decide whom to trust with her secrets...and her heart.



Shift is the sequel to Shade, which will be available in paperback on April 5. You can check out the first 100 pages online for free! Just CLICK HERE.

Even better news -- the series is doing so well that a third book will be published in May 2012!

For more information on Jeri Smith-Ready, visit:
@jsmithready
facebook.com/jerismithready
jerismithready.com

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Cover : Passion

The cover art for Passion by Lauren Kate is gorgeous!

June 14 will be here before you know it!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Lauren Kate: Torment

I really enjoyed Fallen by Lauren Kate, so I was thrilled to find Torment at the library!

Luce is now attending Shoreline, prep school in Northern California. With the Outcasts (angels despised by both Heaven and Hell) out to kill her, Daniel (her fallen angel boyfriend) feels she'll be safe within the confines of this special school, where Nephilim (children that are a result of fallen angel and human affairs) are students and angels and demons are teachers.

Starting a new school isn't easy. Luce misses her family and friends. She also misses Daniel, who is always away protecting her. Worse, students at Shoreline seem to know about Daniel and Luce's doomed relationship that has played out over and over again throughout many lifetimes.

In school, Luce learns about Shadows, which give her glimpses into her previous lives and goes on a quest to learn more about her past, which she has no memory of. This quest not only puts her in danger, but causes a rift between Luce and Daniel.

The story was often bogged down by over-the-top teen romance and angst, which became tiresome. But the suspense and angel/demon lore was interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat.

I'll definitely check out Passion this summer. I really need to know where Luce ends up and if she finds all the answers she's looking for.


For more information on Lauren Kate, visit:
@laurenkatebooks
laurenkatebooks.net

Friday, March 18, 2011

Must Read: Supernaturally

In October, I read Paranormalcy by Kiersten White and declared it the best book of 2010, so you know I'm excited for its sequel Supernaturally, which is scheduled to be in bookstores on July 26!

Synopsis:
A lot has changed in the six months since Evie escaped from the International Paranormal Containment Agency with her shape-shifter boyfriend, Lend. She finally has the blissfully normal life she’s always dreamed of, including:

1) A real live high school

2) A perfectly ordinary after-school job

3) Her very own locker (and by the way, rusted metal is every bit as awesome as she imagined)

But Evie’s not-so-normal past keeps creeping up on her...and things get pretty complicated when you factor in:

1) A centuries-old, seriously decaying vampire stalker

2) A crazy faerie ex-boyfriend who is the perpetual bearer of really bad news

3) A major battle brewing between the faerie courts where the prize in question happens to be...Evie herself.


For more information on Kiersten White, visit:
@kierstenwhite
kierstenwhite.com
facebook.com/kierstenwhite

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Must Read: Crossed

Crossed, the sequel to Ally Condie's Matched is scheduled for a November 1 publication date.

Synopsis:
In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky--taken by the Society to his certain death--only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander--who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart--change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.

I can't wait! I hope the library gets this one.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Ally Condie: Matched

I have to admit, I'd never heard of Matched by Ally Condie until I saw it sitting on a shelf at the library. I liked the cover. The story sounded interesting. I brought it home. What followed were many late nights where I read until I couldn't hold my eyes open anymore.

Imagine living in a world where every decision is made for you -- what to wear, what to eat, where to play, how to spend your time, what songs you can listen to, what you can read, where you work, and even when you die?

This way of life is all Cassia has ever known, and now that she's turned seventeen, it's time for The Society to dictate whom she'll marry. She is surprised but happy to be matched with her best friend Xander (it's rare to be matched to someone you actually know). Things seem perfect, until another boy's face appears on her match disk--her neighbor Ky. Was it just a glitch? Or is she really supposed to be with Ky instead of Xander?

Soon, Ky is all Cassia can think about and she finds herself falling in love with him. Their blossoming relationship opens her eyes up to possibilities, creativity, and a life where she doesn't have to follow The Society's rules.

But those who do not follow the rules and try to rebel in any way are punished.

I found Ally Condie's dystopian world both fascinating and disturbing. The plot moved quickly. Cassia was a character with many layers. The story was unforgettable, and I really, really, really need to know what happens next.


For more information on Ally Condie, visit:
@allycondie
allysoncondie.com

Friday, March 4, 2011

John Green: Looking For Alaska

People have been telling me for years that I need to read John Green, so, during a recent trip to my local library, I decided to check out Looking For Alaska. And I'm so glad I did!

Miles is sixteen years old, sort of friendless, and kind of a geek (he's obsessed with biographies and famous last words). He decides to reinvent himself and explore "a great perhaps" by leaving home and attending a boarding school in Alabama.

It doesn't take long for Miles to form friendships with a captivating group of pranksters who spend just as much time partying and having sex as they do studying. He's especially intrigued by Alaska, a self-destructive girl with a troubled past.

With chapter titles that count down the days "before", I felt unbearable tension. I knew something was going to happen. I got the feeling it was going to be tragic. And I greedily and rapidly read page after page until I knew.

Wow.

Looking For Alaska was a powerful story about friendship, love, loss, and sadness.

Was this really John Green's first novel? It's so smart and well-written that it felt like it should have been his tenth or twentieth. It's now my mission to devour every book he's ever written.


For more information on John Green, visit:
@realjohngreen
johngreenbooks.com
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