Weekly Recap 2/13/11

I didn’t post last week, so this is two weeks worth of reading. :)  I’m not really sure why, but my reading rate has seriously slowed down from last month.  Lots of busy days recently, I guess.

Books Read:

Princess Diaries (Princess Diaries, Bk 1) by Meg Cabot – This was a lot of fun.  It was pretty different than the movie, which threw me a bit, but I ended up liking the book a lot.  It was strange that her dad was alive in the book (he’s dead in the movie) and Mia already knew and didn’t like her grandmother.  Definitely will continue to read this series. (Book made into a movie)

Entangled by Cat ClarkeReview here (British Books Challenge, Debut Author Challenge)

Only the Good Spy Young (Gallagher Girls, Bk 4) by Ally Carter – I think I say this every time I read one of these books, but I really think I was a spy in another life.  I LOVE spy books.  The GG books are just so much fun.  I love the characters and the world they live in.  This book was my favorite of the four.  I couldn’t put it down because there was constantly something I needed to get to the bottom of.  I hate that I have to wait a year for the 5th book! (Set in a Boarding School)

The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty – Review to come (Aussie YA Challenge)

Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness by Bryan Lee O’Malley – I still love these.  Scott and company are awesome!

Books Read in May

Continuing catching up on my thoughts on books I’ve read recently.  This is going to take forever!

Deadly Little Lies (Touch, Bk 2) by Laurie Faria Stolarz – Again, I liked this series.  I didn’t like the second book quite as much as the first book in the series, but I’ll definitely pick up the third book when it comes out.

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – Really interesting idea and fun adventure.  The characters really came across as younger than the ages they were supposed to be, but they were both likable, especially Deryn.

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles – I loved Perfect Chemistry when I read it last year.  This book focused on Carlos, Alex’s younger brother.  I liked Carlos’ bad attitude, but overall I felt the book was a bit too predictable and too much like Perfect Chemistry.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford – Kind of strange at times, but I liked it a lot.  I really liked Beatrice and Jonah and all the people on the radio.  The ending was not what I was expecting, but oddly satisfying.

Everything Beautiful by Simmone Howell – I was a little iffy on this while I was reading it at times, but I ended up really liking it.  The characters were not cliche and I really liked the story.

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Bk 1) by Rick Riordan – Loved this!  It was pretty similar to Percy Jackson, but in a good way.  Two kids find out that the Egyptian gods are real.  They have to fight a god.  They encounter a bunch of other parts of Egyptian mythology.  I liked Carter and Sadie and am definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.

Going Bovine by Libba Bray – Another kind of weird book and another bad attitude that I liked.  Heh.  But this book was really interesting and funny.  It was really long though and took me forever to get through.  It’s another book that I was a bit surprised by the ending.

Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu – Such a emotional book!  It was very well written.  I’ve watched enough of Hoarders on TLC to understand the situation and Lucy’s story just broke my heart.  I really liked Lucy and wanted to make everything better for her.  The book did leave me kind of sad at the end because I wanted to know what happens next.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green – OMG I loved this book!  I am so glad I picked John Green for my “Pick an Author” challenge this year.  I’d heard mixed reviews about this book, but I loved it.  I loved Colin and thought he was a fantastic character.  Hassan and Lindsey were great too.  I loved the way the book was written, especially when they were in the cave.

Spirit Bound (Vampire Academy, Bk 5) by Richelle Mead – Another great book in this series!  I am kind of sad that it is almost over.  I am not going to spoil anything, so I will just say this book is really good and I can’t wait for the last one to come out!

Heist Society by Ally Carter – Ocean’s 11 with teenagers.  The book was pretty fun.  I liked Kat a lot.  I really wanted the book to be longer so that we could get to know the rest of the characters better.  I hope there are more books to follow!

The View from Saturday by E. L. Konigsburg – Ergh – here’s one I didn’t like.  I read it because it won the Newbery award and I can kind of see why it did, but I didn’t really like the story.  The kids weren’t believable and the book was just strange.

Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantasky – This one was just okay in my opinion.  I liked it more in the end than I did in the middle.  Jessica occasionally annoyed me.

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols – The sequel to The Boys Next Door.  I love Jennifer Echols’ writing and TBND is fantastic.  Part of me was excited for this to come out and part of me was a little resistant because sometimes Happy Ever After should just go on Forever After. :)  I really liked it, though.  I still love Lori’s brother and all the Vader boys.  I was kind of sad that there was less wakeboarding in this book.

The Pace by Shelena Shorts – Another kind of weird book.  I was on board with the first twist, but kind of annoyed with the second reveal.  It just seemed like too much.

How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman – Really short book that I liked but didn’t love.  It would be a little better if it was longer, I think.  I’m not sure exactly why I think that.

Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray – Really great!  I will admit – the book is British and I am kind of an Anglophile, so I was probably predisposed to like this book, but I really did like it!  The boys were all great characters.  I was cheering for them on their trip.  Parts were really funny and parts were heartwrenching.

Getting Revenge on Lauren Wood by Eileen Cook – I was a little wary of this book as Mean Girls stories sometimes annoy me, but I ended up really liking it.  I occasionally thought Helen went too far, but I generally found myself cheering her on.

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty – This book was written mostly in letters, plus sometimes in signs and “trial” transcripts.  I liked getting to know all of the characters so well.  There were times when the girls were kind of annoying and I liked the boys more, but I liked all of them in the end.

Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover by Ally Carter

Picture 3Don’t Judge a Girl By Her Cover (Gallagher Girls, Bk 3) by Ally Carter

When Cammie Morgan arrives at her friend Macey’s five star hotel for the Democratic National Convention-where Macey’s father is about to receive the vice presidential nomination-she thinks she’s in for an exciting end to her summer break.  But if you’re a Gallagher Girl, “exciting” and “deadly” are never far apart.

Things quickly go south when Macey is summoned to the hotel roof to shoot a PR piece with the presidential candidate’s son.  But instead of cameras, attackers descend from a helicopter and swarm the girls, commanding, “Grab her.”  After a narrow escape, Cammie and Macey find themselves at a top secret hideout owned by the Gallagher Academy. and thus begins Cammie’s junior year at spy school.

Cammie doesn’t need her genius IQ to see that the kidnapping attempt has changed everything, especially now that Macey is a major celebrity, and the school has been besieged by news crews. More disturbing, Cammie can’t shake the suspicion that her mom and Mr. Solomon know more about the attack than they’re letting on.  After all, why weren’t the attackers surprised to find themselves in combat with two teenage girls who handled themselves like seasoned pros?

But these suspicions won’t stop Cammie from jumping at the chance to join Bex and Liz as Macey’s private security team on the campaign trail. Before long, the girls are using their espionage skills at every turn, as Cammie gets closer and closer to the shocking truth…

This book was a little different than the first two books in the series.  This time around, Cammie and her friends were facing actual danger from an unknown source.  I liked it, but I kind of missed the part that the school played in the first two books in the series.  I really liked that we got to know Macey more.  I do hope that we will continue to get to know Bex and Liz as well.

This book really sets up the next book, which is good but kind of annoying.  I want to know what is going on!  I need answers! :)

Decatur Book Festival 2009

It finally came!  This weekend was the Decatur Book Festival!  I volunteered to work the first half of the day at The Escape, the Teen Stage.  At the beginning of September, I decided to read a book from each of the authors I would be seeing.  So I read I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter, Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle, Pure by Terra McVoy, Sea Change by Aimee Friedman, As You Wish by Jackson Pearce, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, and Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead.  Some of them I liked, some of them I didn’t.  Most of them you can read my opinions about here or on Goodreads.

I decided to go over to Decatur early so I could walk around before I was volunteering.  Everything was very festival-ish – lots of tents, funnel cake and fresh squeezed lemonade stands, lots of people milling about.  There was a parade to the children’s’ stage that I ended up being in the right place for – this is the banner at the end:

banner

As you can see, the day was not exceptionally sunny, but it was definitely humid!  I ran into a couple friends and chatted with them and got them to get a book signed for my dad during my shift.  (Thanks again, Jenna and Giselle!)  After adding a few answers to the giant crossword puzzles (I was good at the Harry Potter and the Children’s books ones and just okay at the adult one!), getting a grilled cheese sandwich (from the Kid Food stand – oops!) and some lemonade, I checked in, put on my T-shirt, and headed to my stage.

bookzillaThe shirt is orange, which I kind of object to, but at least it is not a bright Tennessee, Auburn, or Florida orange.  The book monster on the front is Bookzilla.  You can see the full demon lizard on the DBF website.

The Escape was luckily one of the indoor stages.  The air conditioning was nice, but after several hours of the door constantly opening and closing, it was hot and stuffy in there too.  But no worries!  Too many things to do to worry about the state of my (incredibly frizzy) hair.  When I arrived, I found out I was the only volunteer for the morning.  My stage captain was Terra McVoy, plus three people from Little Shop of Stories who were helping out and selling books.  I helped them put LSoS bookmarks in all the books, which was kind of fun.

The first panel was a group of guys and a girl talking about minicomics.  They talked about how to self publish your work, how to get ideas, and how to make comics if you aren’t the best artist.  It was pretty interesting.

The next speaker was Ally Carter, the author of the Gallagher Girls books.  She is incredibly nice!  Our little room quickly filled with girls listening to her.  She talked about getting published and where her ideas came from.  Gallagher Girls has always reminded me of Alias and it turns out that was the inspiration!  In the episode where they show Spy Sister’s background, Ally had it on mute and thought Nadia grew up in a spy boarding school.  She didn’t – it was just an orphanage, but that’s where the idea started!  Ally said that the plan is to have 6 GG books, which is fantastic!  I love Cammie and her friends.  The next book she has coming out is Heist Society, about a girl from a family of thieves.  I am sure it will be an upcoming Waiting on Wednesday.

The next event was DUCK Improv, a group of high school boys doing improv.  I did not get to see any of this because I was outside managing the line for Ally’s book signing, but I heard a lot of laughter from the stage.  My job during the signing was to write everyone’s name on a post it note and stick it in their book so the author wouldn’t have to ask how to spell it.  At first, the table was inside and the line was outside, so I also had to manage how many people were in line inside so it didn’t get to loud or crowded during the other speakers.

Next up were Lauren Myracle and Terra McVoy.  They talked about writing about spirituality in teen books.  To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of either of their books.  I am a Christian, so it wasn’t because of the subject matter, but they just did not appeal to me for various reasons.  However, I thought their talk was great.  They talked about their books and how they wanted the characters to be true and honest.  They didn’t want cookie cutter Christians where everything was sunshine and roses.  They wanted to write about the real struggles Christian teens face.  I really respect that and will give other books by both of them a change.  Despite not liking Pure, I really liked Terra McVoy!  She is an amazingly nice person.  She’s very passionate about children and teen books and her energy is contagious.  It was fun getting to know her.

The next two speakers were Jackson Pearce and Aimee Friedman.  I loved Jackson’s book As You Wish.  It was fun and adorable and made me wish for a Jinn of my own.  To fall in love with, not to make wishes, though I might have to wish for a cure for my dog’s ailments.  Their talk was about falling in love with the supernatural.  I honestly didn’t get to hear a lot of their talk because I was back to managing the line for Lauren and Terra’s signing, then helping the rush of people coming in for the next authors find seats.

Then I was standing at the back of the room and Maggie Stiefvater came in!  I loved her book Shiver and I’ve been following her blog and twitter for a few weeks and think she’s hilarious.  She was so nice!  She talked to me, despite the wildness of my hair! :)  I told her that I loved Shiver and she laughed and said it was still really weird to hear that.  She was just so nice and easy to talk to.  She said she had been sitting in a coffee shop before she came over and overheard a couple people talking about a book’s plot and characters.  She shared my amazement at the number of people excited to see authors and talk about books.  She was the next author on stage along with Richelle Mead, author of the Vampire Academy books.  Their talk was called the Vampires versus Werewolves Smackdown.  With lots of audience participation, they discussed which supernatural being was superior.  It was all really fun.  I was doing crowd management (the number of people that wanted to see them was insane!) and carrying books back to LSoS during the talk, so I missed a lot, but some of the things I did hear:

  • Lethalness: Werewolf killings are more drawn out and painful, but vampires are more stealth and can snap your neck before you know they are there.
  • Hotness: Werewolves are more muscular and animal like and “Taylor Lautner is really hot!”  I missed the vampire rebuttal to that one.
  • Better Clothing: Vampires in general have better clothing, but werewolves end up naked, so… make you own decision! :) (That was Maggie’s comment.)

Everything I heard was very fun and funny.  I think they did talk about Twilight a little, but I don’t think very much.  I knew the line was going to be insane and I actually wanted to get my books signed by these two, so I ducked out just before their 30 minutes were up and got in line.  We’d moved the signing table outside, which helped a lot.  The picture up there is Richelle, Maggie, bonus David Leviathan who spoke later in the day, and mass of people going in and out of the door to our stage.  After getting my books signed I had to hurry back to MARTA so I could get home and watch the UGA game.  I ended up making it home with about 2 minutes to spare before kick off.  I was so exhausted that I barely stayed awake through the game! (Not that it was much of a game after the first quarter.)

Picture 1 Overall, I am so glad I volunteered.  There were a couple authors at other stages I would have liked to have listened to, but getting to be involved was so much more fun.  I got to meet all of the authors that came in during the day, which was very cool.  I got a free t-shirt, even if it is orange.  Mostly it was just fun.  I know this is going to make me sound old, but it was really great to see young people excited about meeting authors of books!  Most of them had already read the books and were more than willing to talk about them.  I chatted with the girls around me in line for Maggie and Richelle’s signing.  They all loved the Vampire Academy series and couldn’t believe I’ve only read the first one.  I was told to read the other three ASAP!  They had not read Shiver, so I told them about it and encouraged them to check it out.  A couple of them went ahead and bought a copy to have signed, which made me excited.  I love talking about books and sharing good books with others.  That’s why I started this blog!

Sunday I decided to go back to Decatur and walk around.  I sat at the Emerging Authors stage for a little while and listened to a couple of people talk.  I ended up buying a book called Adopting Alesia by one of the authors I saw, Dee Thompson.  It is her story of going to Russia to adopt a preteen as a single mother.  Her experience sounded very interesting, so I’m excited to read the book.

Afterwards, I headed over to the Children’s Stage and saw Judy Schachner, the author of the Skippyjon Jones books.  If you’ve never read them, you must read these books!  They’re about a Siamese kitten that thinks he’s a chihuahua.  They are seriously hilarious.  Her talk was very fun.  There was a lot of singing involved. :)  I got the first Skippyjon book signed for two of my friends’ sons.  After standing in line for Skippyjon, I was hot and tired, so I headed home.

Such a fun a weekend!  I can’t wait for next year!

Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter

Picture 3Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy (Gallagher Girls, Bk 2) by Ally Carter

After staking out, obtaining, and then being forced to give up her first boyfriend, Josh, all Cammie Morgan wants is a peaceful semester. But that’s easier said than done when you’re a CIA legacy and go to the premier school in the world…for spies.

Cammie may have a genius IQ , but there are still a lot of things she doesn’t know. Like, will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble is she really in after what happened last semester? And most of all, why is her mother acting so strangely?

Despite Cammie’s best intentions to be a normal student, danger seems to follow her. She and her best friends learn that their school is going to play host to some mysterious guests–code name: “Blackthorne. Then she’s blamed for a security breach that leaves the school’s top-secret status at risk. Soon Cammie and her friends are crawling through walls and surveilling the school to learn the truth about Blackthorne and clear Cammie’s name. Even though they have confidence in their spy skills, this time the targets are tougher (and hotter), and the stakes for Cammie’s heart–and her beloved school–are higher than ever.

I officially love this series now.  This is the second book and it was just as fun as the first one.  Even more fun, perhaps.  The first book did a lot of set up, but I felt this one allowed Cammie and her friends to grow.  And of course the new additions, the boys.  The affect they had on the girls and the school was pretty fun.  Zach was a fun character and I liked that Cammie never really knew what was going on with him.

I am still itching to do an Alias rewatch now.  I’ll admit that my dog and I were pavement artists on our walk this afternoon.  Marshall is definitely too nosy to be any good at it.  We’ll have to work on him.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

ityilybtihtky I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter

The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school that is, if every school taught advanced martial arts in PE, the latest in chemical warfare in science; and students received extra credit for breaking CIA codes computer class. So in truth, Gallagher Academy might claim to be a school for geniuses but its really a school for spies. Cammie Morgan is a second generation Gallagher Girl, and by her sophomore year shes already fluent in fourteen languages and capable of killing a man in seven different ways.But the one thing the Gallagher Academy hasn’t prepared her for is what to do when she falls for an ordinary boy who thinks shes an ordinary girl. Sure, she can tap his phone, hack into his computer, and track him through a mall without his ever being the wiser, but can she have a regular relationship with a regular boy who can never know the truth about her? Cammie may be an elite spy in training, but in her sophomore year, shes beginning her most dangerous mission–shes falling in love.

Overall, I thought this book was really cute.  Cammie is smart and funny and I found myself totally wanting to be a Gallagher Girl by the end.   I think it was my love of Alias bubbling back to the surface.   It was fun to see this super smart, highly trained girl encounter an entirely new obstacle – dating.  The book had more layers than I was expecting, like her relationship with her mom and the danger all the girls’ spy parents are in.   I thought the supporting characters (Cammie’s suitemates) were a little one dimensional.

I have the next two books in the series and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Ally Carter is one of the authors I should get to meet at the Decatur Book Festival.