Weekly Recap 7/18/10

Books Read:

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater – I wanted to like this more than I did.  I think I might have built it up too much in my head, because I love her writing.  I really liked Cole and Isabel, but Grace and Sam kind of grated on me and were too melodramatic.  Parts of the book were a little slow and didn’t hold my attention.  I will most definitely read the last book in the series, Forever, and anything else Maggie Stiefvater writes, but this wasn’t one of my favorite books.

Hate List  by Jennifer Brown – Wow.  This book was really amazing and yet so painful to read all at once.  Part of me couldn’t stop reading and the other part needed a break all at once.   There were a lot of aspects of the shooting that seemed very familiar from the shootings at Columbine and Heritage in 1999.  Probably others, too, but those are the ones I picked up on, since I was a senior in high school when they happened and Heritage was my rival high school.  I cried a lot reading this.

The Search by Nora Roberts – Not my favorite NR ever, but better than some others I’ve read recently.

Hard to Get by Emma Carlson Berne – The Simon Romantic Comedies are kind of hit or miss for me.  Some I love, some just don’t work for me.  This one feel into the latter category.

In My Mailbox was created by Kristi over at The Story Siren. Click here to learn more about it.

Books Received: 11

  • The Kid Who Climbed Everest by Bear Grylls (PBS FIFO)
  • Intertwined by Gena Showalter (PBS Game)
  • Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner (PBS Game)
  • Linger by Maggie Stiefvater (Borders because Amazon didn’t change the date so I canceled my pre-order and picked it up in the store)
  • Goddess Boot Camp by Tera Lynn Childs (PBS Game)
  • X-Isle by Steve Augarde (PBS Friend)
  • Windblowne by Stephen Messer (PBS Friend)
  • Keys to the Repository (Blue Bloods, Bk 5) by Melissa de la Cruz (B&N Giftcard)
  • The Search by Nora Roberts (B&N Giftcard)
  • How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (PBS FIFO)
  • Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell (PBS Game)

Books Mailed: 3

  • Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien (PBS Game)
  • Mossflower by Brian Jacques (PBS FIFO)
  • Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski

Favorite Books of 2009

I read a lot of books this year – the most I’ve ever read in a year – and these are some of my favorites.  I had a hard time whittling the list down to just a few, but I didn’t want to spend all day working on this, so I had to stop somewhere.  You can check out my GoodReads profile for my ratings of other books not listed here.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This isn’t just one of my favorite books of the year – it’s one of my favorite books of all time!  The Hunger Games is simply amazing.  Katniss is a fantastic main character.  She’s smart and resourceful, but at the same time a little vulnerable.  The rest of the characters are so well written – Peeta, Rue, Haymitch, Cinna, Effie – they’re all so fabulous.  The story is action packed and full of surprises.  I also read Catching Fire, the sequel to the Hunger Games this year and thought it was fantastic as well.  I can’t wait for the third book to come out in 2010!

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols – Just thinking “John After” makes me swoon.  Meg is wild and doesn’t want to stay in the little town she grew up in.  John is the complete opposite – he doesn’t want to leave the town.  They’re forced to spend the week together because Meg got in trouble on a bridge one night.  Throughout the novel, we learn more and more about both of them.  It’s a romantic journey with a few twists and turns along the way.  I love Meg and John – who they are, who they become after spending the week together.  I really liked everything I read by Jennifer Echols this year.

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater – This was the third Maggie Stiefvater book I read this year, but it was my favorite.  They’re all so good.  Maggie’s writing is very lyrical and enjoyable to read.  Ballad focuses on James, a secondary character from Lament, and his time at Thornking-Ash.  Nuala is a faerie muse that can give James amazing talent at a price.  James and Nuala are fantastic – they’re both sarcastic and multi-layered.  This book kind of continues Dee’s story in a way and introduces fantastic new characters like Sullivan and Paul.  I started reading Maggie’s books because she was at the Decatur Book Festival, where I got to meet her and be a dork.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Another edge of your seat, action packed book.  The world that Thomas is dropped into is confusing to him and to us and I loved learning about it with him.  Everything about the book is interesting – the things that go bump in the night, the dynamics in the boys’ society, the maze, the boys themselves.  It was just all fantastic.  The ending was crazy and I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy to come out this year.

Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series by Rick Riordan – This is a fun series about an ordinary boy that finds out his father is a Greek god.  He goes to a camp for the sons and daughters of the Greek gods and goddesses, Camp Half-Blood.  From there, he has several quests that he completes with his friends.  The stories are so well thought out and weave Greek mythology into modern culture so well.  I loved Percy, Annabeth, and Grover.  They’re all great characters.  The first book, The Lightning Thief, is coming out as a movie in February, and I hope it lives up to the book!

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead – Richelle Mead is another author that I started reading because of the Decatur Book Festival.  I am glad I did.  The Vampire Academy books are about a group of vampires (obviously), but the story is different than any other vampire book I’ve read.  The Moroi are more good vampires with special powers, while the Dhamphir are their helpers/bodyguards, and the Strigoi are the bad vampires.  Rose, a dhamphir and the narrator of the stories, is strong, sarcastic, and fantastic.  All of the characters are really great – Dimitri, Lissa, Christian, Adrian – all of them!  The books are part high school drama, part romance, and part action.  It’s a great combination!

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose – I thought I should round this out with a non fiction book.  Going into this book, I was a little unsure of if I would like it.  I was really afraid he would spend the book making fun of Christians and the students at Liberty.  But he really didn’t.  Roose wrote about this experiences in a very straight forward manner.  He was honest about his feelings about the things going on around him.  He also presented the reasons that the school or other students acted in a certain way in a non-judgemental way.  Overall it was a very interesting and insightful book.

I may have one more review for 2009 if I finish the book I’m reading now, but if I don’t, have a happy new year!  See you in 2010!

Waiting on Wednesday 11/4/09

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

Usually I try to make my WoW posts about a book that is coming out in the next month or so that I am interested in.  But yesterday Maggie Stiefvater posted the cover and a teaser for Linger, the sequel to Shiver, and I am so darn excited that I am breaking all my rules. :)  So… The book I am eagerly anticipating this week is Linger by Maggie Stiefvater.

lingerIsn’t it pretty?  I don’t have a description yet, but Maggie posted a couple paragraphs yesterday on her blog.  It’s spoilery if you haven’t read Shiver!

grace

This is the story of a boy who used to be a wolf and a girl who was becoming one.

Just a few months ago, it was Sam who was the mythical creature. His was the disease we couldn’t cure. His was the good-bye that meant the most. He had the body that was a mystery, too strange and wonderful and terrifying to comprehend.

But now it is spring. With the heat, the remaining wolves will soon be falling out of their wolf pelts and back into their human bodies. Sam stays Sam, and Cole stays Cole, and it’s only me who’s not firmly in my own skin.

I can’t wait!

eta: Der, I went to goodreads and there is a description of sorts there, so I guess I could share that.

Continues the story of the wolves of Mercy Falls. . .

It’s about after. What happens after you discover there are werewolves in the wood, after you’ve fallen in love for the first time, after you’ve lost what you think you can’t live without, after you’ve become someone you can’t live with.

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater

Picture 6Ballad: The Gathering of Faerie by Maggie Stiefvater

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament: The Faerie Queen’s Deception, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James’ musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

Hm, where to start… I really liked this book.  REALLY liked it.  I would like a James of my very own, please.   I loved James’ sarcasm and attitude.  I liked his snarky comments and outside persona, but I loved that we also got to know his inner vulnerability.  Same for Nuala.  Nuala was really cool, tough, and strong, but she had a softer, more unsure side.  I liked her a lot more than I liked Luke in Lament.  With Luke, I had a hard time feeling he was really telling Dee the truth, but I never doubted Nuala.

I really liked the story and the new cast of characters, especially Paul and Sullivan.  Dee annoyed me in this book, though.  It stinks because I really liked her in Lament, but she was so whiny in Ballad.  I know she’s been through a lot (to say the least), but I hated that she was still jerking James around and she was so mopey.  I wanted to feel more sorry for her because I liked her so much, but I just didn’t.

So in conclusion – read this book!  It is good. :)

Oh, by the way, this was the 100th book I’ve read this year!  I never expected I would read so many books in a year.

Teaser Tuesday 10/6/09

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title and author, too, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they want

My teaser:

“I’m happy with my level of awesomeness.  Happy enough to work my way up on my own, anyway.”

~Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater, page 31

I’ve come across many quippy lines that would make good teasers while reading this book.  I’m definitely planning on using “I’m happy with my level of awesomeness” in my next work review!

Lament by Maggie Stiefvater

lamentLament by Maggie Stiefvater

Sixteen-year-old Deirdre Monaghan is a painfully shy but prodigiously gifted musician. She’s about to find out she’s also a cloverhand—one who can see faeries. When a mysterious boy enters her ordinary suburban life, seemingly out of nowhere, Deirdre finds herself infatuated. Trouble is, the enigmatic and conflicted Luke turns out to be a gallowglass—a soulless faerie assassin – and Deirdre is meant to be his next mark. Deirdre has to decide if Luke’s feelings towards her are real, or only a way to lure her deeper into the world of Faerie.

Luke isn’t her only problem. A sinister faerie named Aodhan is also stalking Deirdre. Long-time enemies with a common goal, Luke and Aodhan carry the same assignment from the Faerie Queen. Namely, kill Deirdre before her music captures the attention of the Fae and threatens the Queen’s sovereignty. Caught in the crossfire with Deirdre is her best friend James whose devotion has been teetering precariously on the line between friendship and love for months – a feeling that Dee doesn’t quite reciprocate. It’s Luke she can’t stop thinking about: Luke, who was supposed to kill her immediately but hasn’t. Luke, who cannot refuse the Queen’s orders without paying an unimaginable price. Deirdre ultimately must confront the Faerie Queen before she loses everyone she loves.

I wasn’t really sure what to think of this book going in.  I can’t really think of many books about faeries I’ve really liked.  However, I am now a huge fan of homocidal faeries.  I really liked this book!  I loved Deirdre.  She was a fantastic heroine.  I liked that she wasn’t the most popular girl, but she was okay with that.  She’s smart, talented, and best of all, she didn’t expect to be rescued.  She found her own way out of the trouble she found herself in multiple times.  Luke was a conundrum.  Is he good or is he bad?  For much of the book, I wasn’t convinced one way or the other.  I liked that, and I liked discovering his story throughout the book.

The book was beautifully written and fascinating.  I read a lot of the book while eating lunch this week and when I went back to work, I couldn’t get the story out of my head.  There were also several laugh out loud moments.  Some of them were completely unexpected, but it kept me on my toes.  I loved how important the music was to this book.  It was described so well that I could hear it as I read.

I am very excited to read Ballad when it comes out and find out what happens.  I liked James and want to hear his story!

Waiting on Wednesday 9/16/09

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The book I am eagerly anticipating this week is Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater.

In this mesmerizing sequel to Lament, music prodigy James Morgan and his best friend, Deirdre, join a private conservatory for musicians. James’ musical talent attracts Nuala, a soul-snatching faerie muse who fosters and feeds on the creative energies of exceptional humans until they die. Composing beautiful music together unexpectedly leads to mutual admiration and love. Haunted by fiery visions of death, James realizes that Deirdre and Nuala are being hunted by the Fey and plunges into a soul-scorching battle with the Queen of the Fey to save their lives.

I am currently reading Lament and it is really good!  I really like the way Maggie Stiefvater writes.  She’s also an artist and a musician and posted a really cool trailer for the book here.

Last week, Maggie posted a teaser from Ballad:
BalladThis is a teaser from Maggie Stiefvater’s BALLAD, a novel involving homicidal faeries and kissing that’s coming out October 1st.

He turned towards me. For a long moment, he stood facing me. I was held, anchored to the ground – not by his music, which still called and pushed against the music already in my head and said grow rise follow – but by his strangeness. By his fingers, spread over the ground, holding something into the earth, by his shoulders, squared in a way that spoke of strength and unknowability, and most of all, by the great, thorny antlers that grew from his head, spanning the sky like branches.

Then he was gone, and I missed his going in the instant that the sun fell off the edge of the hill, abandoning the world to twilight.

Teaser Tuesday 9/15/09

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!
  • Share the title and author, too, so others can add the book to their TBR Lists if they want

My teaser:

James had looked up “the fear of public humiliation” for me (katagelophobia), and one afternoon we’d even tried hypnosis, complete with self-actualizing pamphlets and soothing music.  We’d just ended up slap-happy new fans of New Age music.

~ Lament by Maggie Stiefvater, page 9

Since I just finished Frostbite last night, I haven’t actually started Lament yet, so I had to pick a quote from the beginning of the book!

Teaser Tuesday 9/8/09 Part the Second

BalladThis is a teaser from Maggie Stiefvater’s BALLAD, a novel involving homicidal faeries and kissing that’s coming out October 1st.

He turned towards me. For a long moment, he stood facing me. I was held, anchored to the ground – not by his music, which still called and pushed against the music already in my head and said grow rise follow – but by his strangeness. By his fingers, spread over the ground, holding something into the earth, by his shoulders, squared in a way that spoke of strength and unknowability, and most of all, by the great, thorny antlers that grew from his head, spanning the sky like branches.

Then he was gone, and I missed his going in the instant that the sun fell off the edge of the hill, abandoning the world to twilight.

Buy it here. Enter the contest at Maggie’s blog here.  Watch the kickass video trailer here.

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!