Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Favorites

I'm sure that I've read more books in 2009 than I have in previous years. A lot of them, probably even most, were good, and a few really stood out. Here's some of my favorites.

Most Inspiring: North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley made me contemplate once again about what the word "beautiful" really means. It's a gorgeous story with great characters.

Best Writing:
I came across a bunch of quotes from Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey that I really want to remember. It's a fantastic read, and although it officially doesn't come out in paperback format until January 17, I've seen paperbacks in bookstores, and Amazon has it marked as in stock!

Same Difference by Siobhan Vivian was a lovely story. I loved the setting and the realistic way friendships were depicted.

Most Fun:
Fairies! And theatre! I loved Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. Full of awesomeness. Perchance to Dream, the second book in the series comes out in May. Six months of more waiting? Sigh.

Most Surprising:What do I mean by surprising? I mean that I was surprised by how much I liked Going Too Farby Jennifer Echols. I think the cover threw me off at first, but once I began reading the story, I absolutely loved it. I'll definitely be looking into more books by this author.

Best Jane Austen Spin-Off:

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz is a modern retelling of Persuasion. I found out about this book when I asked a blogger who pointed me to a post by another blogger. There are so many Pride and Prejudice spin-offs. I was ecstatic to see one for Persuasion and even happier that it was done really well.

Best Historical:
I love historicals. The Luxe by Anna Godbersen was very intriguing, and I kept reading to see if my suspicions were correct. Definitely got my interest within the first chapters.
Most Bizarre:
Days of Little Texas by R.A. Nelson was absolutely bizarre. The mix between religion and the supernatural was fabulous. It wasn't perfect, but it definitely left an imprint on my brain.
Most Addictive:

My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent was completely enrapturing. Turned out to be a very quick read because I couldn't put it down! I had several moments when my heart literally started speeding up because I was so invested on what was going to happen to the characters. The second book in the Soul Screamers series, My Soul to Save, has just recently been released, and I have a copy on its way to me now.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick was thrilling. Patch rode the very fine line of between being a bad guy and just a regular jerk exceptionally well. Every once in a while I wanted to slap him, but he soon did something to get back on my good side. Amazing.

Most heart-breaking:
I don't remember crying during a single book I read this year, I'm not a very outwardly emotional person, but Under This Unbroken Sky by Shandi Mitchell had me the closest to doing so. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but I soon settled into the rhythm of the story and fell in love. The ending nearly ripped my heart out.
I'm ready for 2010 and all that it has to offer. Bring it on.
Book titles are Amazon affiliate links.
In the words of Bugs Bunny, "That's all, folks!"

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Be Safe & Have Fun

May you all have a fun, safe, and meaningful holiday. See you on Monday.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

WoW: Epitaph Road by David Patneaude

2097 is a transformed world. Thirty years earlier, a mysterious plague wiped out 97 percent of the male population, devastating every world system from governments to sports teams, and causing both universal and unimaginable grief. In the face of such massive despair, women were forced to take over control of the planet--and in doing so they eliminated all of Earth's most pressing issues. Poverty, crime, warfare, hunger . . . all gone.

But there's a price to pay for this new "utopia," which fourteen-year-old Kellen is all too familiar with. Every day, he deals with life as part of a tiny minority that is purposefully kept subservient and small in numbers. His career choices and relationship options are severely limited and controlled. He also lives under the threat of scattered recurrences of the plague, which seem to pop up wherever small pockets of men begin to regroup and grow in numbers.

And then one day, his mother's boss, an iconic political figure, shows up at his home. Kellen overhears something he shouldn't--another outbreak seems to be headed for Afterlight, the rural community where his father and a small group of men live separately from the female-dominated society. Along with a few other suspicious events, like the mysterious disappearances of Kellen's progressive teacher and his Aunt Paige, Kellen is starting to wonder whether the plague recurrences are even accidental. No matter what the truth is, Kellen cares only about one thing--he has to save his father.

The concept of this book is completely intriguing! I wonder how they control how many men are around? I love how this book is set in a time that isn't that far away. Just think, one plague and BOOM. you're gone. Kind of creepy.

For more WoWs check out Breaking the Spine
Ephitaph Road's Amazon Page*

*Amazon Affiliate link

Monday, December 21, 2009

Fall Into Reading Wrap-Up

I did a lot of reading this fall, but only two of the books were on my official Fall Into Reading Challenge list, which has been hosted by Callapidder Days. Those two books were:

The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell

(Links lead to my reviews)

The other five books are still languishing on my TBR shelf. However, over my Christmas break, I'm hoping to get some reading in, and those books will be read. Hopefully. Maybe I'll even do some reading on the trip to Mississippi tomorrow. Maybe.

This challenge was fun, and I'll definitely be participating in the Spring reading challenge, when it rolls around. I hope you'll join me!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren.

This week was slow in quantity but full of awesomeness!

I got a call from the library and picked up a DVD of North & South. It's a BBC mini-series based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. It is awesome. You should find a copy. If you don't believe me, go ask Pirate Penguin.

Then, I got a couple of awesome books from My Friend Amy.
I love the covers on these books! White Picket Fences has such a subtle cover, and Breaking Up Is Hard to Do is so warm. They both sound like fabulous books. Plus, Breaking Up is Christian YA! I'm hoping I enjoy it. I don't see much of it around.

What do you think?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Movie Review: Julie & Julia

If you know me, then you're mostly likely are aware of the fact that I can't cook. At all. As in, the only things I have ever made with any success are cheesecake, brownies, and Ramen noodles. The neccessities of life, of course. My father says that any one who can read can cook, but I think there is a huge distance between cooking and cooking well.

That's why I surprised my self when I picked up Julie & Julia at the local movie rental store. Mainly, I picked it up because of Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. I love them both. And even though I can't cook good food myself, I certainly enjoy it when others do.

I adored this movie. It was fun, and it made me laugh a number of times. The movie alternates between Julia Child's slow rise to fame as a cook in the 1950s and Julie Powell's attempt to cook and blog through the entire Mastering the Art of French Cooking book in one year.

I loved watching the romance between the couples. It was so sweet. The kind that while I watched I was thinking that if I ever did get married, I'd want it to be to a guy like that.

My favorite, favorite part of this movie was listening to Meryl Streep laugh. It has to be one of the most refreshing sounds I've heard in a while, and it just makes you want to jump in and laugh along with her.

Julie & Julie is a great movie. End of sentence.

Julie & Julia on Amazon*

*Amazon Affiliate Link

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

WoW: Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison

Beth has always been "The Beast" --That’s what everyone at school calls her because of her awkward height, facial scars, and thick glasses. Who could love a beast? Beth’s only friend is geeky, golden-haired Scott. That is until she’s selected to be her choir’s soprano soloist and receives the makeover of a lifetime. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of Beth.

Things only get better when her choir travels to Switzerland and Beth meets the mysterious Derek. They have an incredible whirlwind romance that makes Beth realize, for the first time, she too can find love. She’s no longer The Beast. In Derek’s eyes, she’s a beauty. But then Scott makes a heartbreaking confession to Beth that leaves her completely torn. Should she stand by sweet, steady Scott or follow the dangerous passionate feelings she has for Derek?

And there’s an even bigger problem: Derek’s got a secret . . . one that could shatter everything.

Music and romance! This book will be released on March 4, 2010 from Razorbill. It sounds absolutely fabulous. I wonder if it will ultimately be heart-breaking, hopeful, or both?

Sing Me to Sleep's Amazon Page*
WoW is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.

*Amazon affiliate link

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Book Review: Nanny Returns by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

For those who have not read the previous book, this review contains spoilers. Feel free to read my review of The Nanny Diaries instead.

Nanny is back and better than ever! After spending twelve years overseas Nan and her husband, Ryan (formerly known as Harvard Hottie!), return to NYC to establish some roots. After they buy a large home full of "potential" (read: It's basically falling down around them.), Ryan's called off to deal with a grain shortage in The Sudan.

Soon Nan finds herself once again dealing with people who think money can give them anything, a contractor who won't call her, the pressure of a husband who wanted to start a family yesterday, and when he shows up drunk on her doorstep, the now teenage Grayer.

When I heard there was going to be a sequel to The Nanny Diaries, I was ecstatic to see where everyone had ended up. This book did not disappoint in the least. Nan was engaging as ever. Over the years, she has become a bit more mature, which suits her well.

Seeing her still feeling bad for leaving Grayer behind, gave me mixed emotions. On the one hand, I thought it was sweet that she cared about him so much. On the other, I kind of wanted to tell her to get over it already. After all, what else could she have done? When Grayer lands back in her life, it's very intriguing to watch her actions. Will she bow to the "needs" of Mrs. X once again, or will she be able to finally stand?

There was many things going on at once during this novel, keeping it quite lively. Nan's life never seems to slow down, and while she whirled through the rat race of her life, I just had to think that something had to give.

Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus have done it again, bringing Nan and an incredibly entertaining cast of characters to life. This is one book I definitely urge you to pick up.

Nanny Returns: Amazon Page*

A copy of this book was provided to me for review.

*Amazon Affiliate link

Monday, December 14, 2009

Tangled Contest Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered to win an ARC of Tangled! I had 38 people enter. Not too shabby! You guys gave me some great feedback on what to change and what to keep on the blog, and I'm working on improving MM. =)

And the winner is...

Sandy @ Pirate Penguin's Reads

Congrats! I'll email you soon for an address.

Thanks to everyone who entered. There'll be more contests in the future!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

In My Mailbox

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. This week I've gotten a bunch of fabulous books!

From Bookmooch:I'll be reading The Body Project for the Women Unbound reading challenge. It seems like an intriguing look into the past of American Girls.

From contests:

I won Eyes Like Stars as a prize for entering the Very Fairy Holiday Contest. You can read my entry here. I'll be sending this off with some other awesome stuff to my cousin tomorrow for her birthday.

These two books came as prizes from the Book Blogger Appreciation Week. The Love Revolution is currently on loan to my mother. The minute she knew I had it, she snatched it up. The Bible Salesman sounds absolutely hilarious!

For review:
I'll be reading The Snowball Effect soon as part of the One ARC Tours. I really like the cover. Nanny Returns is the sequel to The Nanny Diaries! It is SO awesome.

From the library:

I've wanted to read The Adoration of Jenna Fox and Perfect You ever since I heard of them! I read Perfect You a couple nights ago, and it was fabulous!

That's all I received this week. What do you think?

Book titles are Amazon Affiliate links.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

WoW: A Match Made in High School by Kristin Walker

When the principal announces that every senior must participate in a mandatory year-long Marriage Education program, Fiona Sheehan believes that her life can’t get any worse. Then she marries her “husband”: jerky jock Todd, whose cheerleader girlfriend, Amanda, has had it in for Fiona since day one of second grade. Even worse? Amanda is paired with Fiona’s long-term crush, Gabe. At least Fiona is doing better than her best friend, Marcie, who is paired up with the very quiet, very mysterious Johnny Mercer.

Ha! Jerky jock. This one sounds like so much fun! It comes out on February 4, 2010. When you think about it, that's not too far from now! Where did 2009 go??

It's such a cute book, and I've read some really positive reviews. Can you imagine holding a grudge since the second grade? I definitely don't have that much willpower in me. You?

For more:
A Match Made in High School's Amazon Page*
Kristin Walker's Website
Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.

*Amazon affiliate link

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