Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Guest Blog: Sarah Quigley

Guest Blog: Confessions of a Wannabe Alternateen

My goal in high school was to be the ultimate alternateen. It was the early 1990s, and grunge music had crept out of the damp garages of Seattle and into MTV and mainstream radio. I played my Nirvana and Alice in Chains cassettes until they wore out. I wore lots of black. I drank coffee with tons of cream. I read Sassy magazine. And I desperately pined for a long-haired, flannel-wearing boyfriend.

My path to becoming an alternateen was paved with some obstacles. The first was friends, or my serious lack of them. The people that I wanted to hang out with, the ones going to Soundgarden concerts and starting their own bands, intimidated me. I didn’t feel cool enough to even talk to them. Instead, I ate lunch with girls who listened to Top 40 radio and shopped at Deb. They were nice enough, but I didn’t feel like I was friends with any of them. I felt like they tolerated my presence but secretly thought I was a total weirdo. Which I was.


Another issue was my budget. I made minimum wage ($4.25) frying chicken and washing dishes at the supermarket deli, and most of my earnings were poured down the gas tank of my trusty 1974 Dodge Dart. I couldn’t afford the wardrobe staple of alternateens everywhere: Doc Marten boots. All I had were my stupid fake leather Doc knockoffs from Payless, which made my feet sweat like nobody’s business. Spending a day in those boots was like throwing my feet into one of the deepest pits of hell, so I rarely wore them.

What I could afford were t-shirts. The best ones, of course, could only be obtained at concerts, and I was not allowed to drive to Minneapolis to see shows yet. Fortunately, I had a pen pal in Green Bay, Wisconsin, who was the leading the life I dreamed about. She had a boyfriend who looked like Eddie Vedder, and her parents let her go to as many concerts as she wanted. I mailed her fifteen dollars and asked her to get me a t-shirt at the next show she went to.

Two weeks later, a manila envelope arrived in my mailbox. Yes! I ripped it open and unfolded the shirt. Here is what I saw:

I’d seen one of the long-haired alternaboys (my would-be boyfriends) wearing this shirt around school, and I was pleased. I’d never heard Dinosaur Jr’s music, but that didn’t matter in the least. I was certain that this t-shirt was the ticket to all my dreams. It would transform me from nerdy freak to alternateen.

The next morning, I put on my new t-shirt, feeling instantly cooler. I threw on my rattiest pair of jeans and (ugh) the fake Doc Martens. I walked downstairs to have breakfast, throwing my shoulders back, certain that this was going to be the best day of my life.

My mother was in the kitchen making pancakes. She glanced up from the griddle, and her eyes grew wide.

“What are you wearing?”

“A t-shirt.”

“I can see that. Why are you wearing a shirt that shows a little girl smoking a cigarette?”

“I like the band.” A lie, but what did my mother know?

“You can’t wear that to school.”


“It’s inappropriate.”

“Why?” I knew why.

“You know why.”

My grandfather had died the previous summer of lung cancer, and my mom was working on an anti-tobacco campaign for the state. I was as against smoking as she was, but couldn’t she see that the shirt was a joke?

“I want to wear it.”

“Well, then you’ll have to cover up the cigarette somehow.”

“I can’t do that.”

“Then go find a different shirt.”

This was unbelievable. Did my mother realize that she was shattering my dreams and ruining my life? Obviously not. I stomped upstairs to my mother’s sewing corner and rummaged through her supplies. I found a patch of the American flag. I carefully ironed it on to my t-shirt so that it was hanging off the end of the cigarette. Now it looked like the girl was hanging out a Fourth of July parade.

“Happy?” I asked my mom, modeling my modified t-shirt.

She smiled faintly. “Not really, but it’s an improvement. Go ahead and wear it if you want.”

That day at school, a bunch of people asked me why I had a patch on my t-shirt. I explained that I’d bought the shirt this way at a concert, but I don’t think anybody bought my story. I was a fraud, and everybody knew it.

I couldn’t wait for the day to end, and I bolted from my seat as the bell rang at the end of eighth period. As I race to my locker, I noticed the long-haired boys standing in a cluster by the water fountain. The cutest one smiled when he saw me, and nudged his friends. This was it. I was officially a joke.

Then they all started clapping and shouting, “Yeah!”

Were they serious? It looked like it.

I smiled a little and continued walking. After I passed them, a huge grin broke out on my face. They thought my shirt was cool, even with the dumb flag patch. Maybe there was hope for me after all.

I never wore that t-shirt again, but I did eventually buy the Green Mind album, whose cover features the smoking girl. It’s good. I wish I’d heard it before I put on that t-shirt. The title track would have provided me with some much-needed perspective:

I've been bouncing off the walls
I can’t hang with them for long
They’re cool, but I need you
On a certain level I think they’re great
But on another I can’t relate
To anything they do


Thanks, Sarah, for this great guest blog!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Sorry about the lack of posting lately. It's been, what, 3 days? My sinuses are not adjusting well to the weather changes and I've been pretty much asleep the whole time. I guess it could be worse - I could have the swine flu. It seems like everyone is coming down with something.

I promise I'll have some reviews or at least memes up soon!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Gallagher Girls Chapter 4 Discussion!

Welcome to the discussion for Chapter 4 I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You, the first book in the Gallagher Girls series!

Check out past discussions here:
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Here are today's questions. Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

1. What was your reaction to learning that Macey was a Gallagher legacy?

2. Why do you think Mr. Solomon threw a letter opener at Ms. Buckingham? Dramatic effect? Showing off?

3. Any speculation as to why Macey has been to so many different schools?

4. If you had just been told that your new school was a school for spies, how would you take it? What would you do next?

5. Do you think Cammie, Liz, and Bex will end up making friends with Macey eventually?

6. How do you think the girls' new living arrangement will work out?

7. Cammie's mom acts completely different when she and Cammie are alone. Have your parents or someone else you know ever done that? What do you think the reasoning is behind this? How does it make you feel?

8. What's your opinion as to why Macey was so happy that her parents wouldn't know the real truth about her new school?

9. Why do you think there is no tuition to go to Gallagher Academy?

***Just a heads up - there will be SPOILERS***

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Trailer: Eternal by Cynthia Leitich Smith

I've read tons of great reviews of Cynthia Leitich Smith's latest novel, Eternal. It was released back in February but I haven't been able to get my hands on a copy yet because, well, I think this equation explains it all.
Teenager - job + $2.01G = NO MONEY! (where G = the price of gas)

Check out this book trailer, no money required. =]

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Violet on the Runway by Melissa Walker

A wallflower in the spotlight can do one of two things: wilt, or blossom...

Violet Greenfield's life changes forever when a lady in giant Chanel shades tells her she could be IT, the next Kate Moss-but taller, and without the PR problems. That's how Violet winds up with a business card in the front pocket of her jeans on her first day as a senior in high school. Angela Blythe from Tryst Models in New York City wants to put Violet on a plane and whisk her into the world of high-heeled boots and oversized sunglasses. Tall, skinny Violet, who's been P-L-A-I-N practically forever.

And guess what? She's going.

When I first got this book, I was 99% sure I wasn't going to like it. I thought "Oh man, a book about a model? Ugh.." I was sure that it was going to be mindless and boring. But I'm happy to report that none of my initial reactions were correct.

Violet was especially fun to read about because she was so normal. She was insecure and sarcastic. Every teenage girl out there can relate to worrying about fitting in and having body image issues.

Melissa Walker gives detailed descriptions that really pull the reader into the story. Her writing style paints vivid pictures for the reader. She didn't make modeling seem like it was all rainbows and smiles - she really laid the truth out there and showed you the real deal.

In the beginning, I remember thinking " she's going to be a model, huh." It was interesting to watch Violet's career take off. The story was even more transfixing to me, however, when Violet began to get involved in some hardcore partying and drinking. Veronica, her fellow model/roommate, was definitely a bad influence and encouraged Violet's dangerous behavior.

On the whole, all the characters were very real. It was great to see a shy, self-conscious character like Violet turn into someone who is confident and outgoing. My favorites (beside Violet) were the less-glamorous, caring ones - Roger and Julie. I'm hoping a relationship between Violet and Roger will have a place in the sequel. When Violet started semi-dating (if you can even call it that) Peter I remember thinking "Ahh! What is she doing with that scumbag?!" So, I am SO on Team Roger in this case.

Violet on the Runway was a very memorable novel. It had a great message about body image. I'm going to run out and get the sequel this weekend because I simply cannot wait to find out what happens next! I'm very pleased that it far exceeded my (low) expectations. Kudos to Melissa Walker for writing a novel that even non-drama/model/glamour-loving readers can enjoy!

5 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:
-are interested in the world of modeling
-like reading about insecure girls who become stronger & more confident

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

One Day Left... win bookmarks signed by Deborah Kerbel. All you have to do is leave a comment here. This giveaway ends tomorrow night at midnight. What are you waiting for? Go comment NOW!

Waiting On Wednesday (5)

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
Pub. Date: July 21, 2009
Publisher: MTV

There are so many ballads. Achy breaky country songs. Mournful pop songs. Then there’s the rare punk ballad, the ballad of suburbia: louder, faster, angrier . . . till it drowns out the silence.

Kara hasn’t been back to Oak Park since the end of junior year, when a heroin overdose nearly killed her and sirens heralded her exit. Four years later, she returns to face the music. Her life changed forever back in high school: her family disintegrated, she ran around with a whole new crowd of friends, she partied a little too hard, and she fell in love with gorgeous bad boy Adrian, who left her to die that day in Scoville Park. . . .

Amidst the music, the booze, the drugs, and the drama, her friends filled a notebook with heartbreakingly honest confessions of the moments that defined and shattered their young lives. Now, finally, Kara is ready to write her own.


Ballads of Suburbia looks so good! It looks like something a lot of people could relate to and enjoy. I've heard nothing but good things about Stephanie Kuehnert's other novel and I'm sure this one is just as good. I'm thinking that this will turn out to be a must-read but I guess I'll just have to pick it up in July and find out for myself!

That cover + that synopsis = holy crap, I have to read this.

The Waiting On Wednesday feature was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shrinking Violet by Danielle Joseph

High school senior Teresa Adams is so painfully shy that she dreads speaking to anyone in the hallways or getting called on in class. But in the privacy of her bedroom with her iPod in hand, she rocks out — doing mock broadcasts for Miami's hottest FM radio station, which happens to be owned by her stepfather. When a slot opens up at The SLAM, Tere surprises herself by blossoming behind the mike into confident, sexy Sweet T — and to everyone's shock, she's a hit! Even Gavin, the only guy in school who she dares to talk to, raves about the mysterious DJ's awesome taste in music. But when The SLAM announces a songwriting contest — and a prom date with Sweet T is the grand prize — Sweet T's dream could turn into Tere's worst nightmare....

Shrinking Violet was an average YA novel. It was cute and entertaining but not amazing.

I loved that Tere was a radio DJ. It was something new and interesting that I'd never read about before. This played a major role in the plot and helping her overcome her shyness.

I enjoyed watching Tere slowly become more outgoing. I could relate to her because I am very, very shy as well. Danielle Joseph describes Tere's feelings so well that even the most outgoing person could sympathize.

When Tere's radio station holds a contest with Tere as a prom date as the prize, the plot speeds up a lot. Tere is nervous and worried that people will react badly to the news that the cool DJ Sweet T is actually shy, unassuming Tere Adams.

Tere was an interesting and likeable character. Overall, this novel was was fresh and fun if somewhat predictable. It was a good read and I recommend it. This was Danielle Joseph's YA debut and a fairly decent one at that.

4 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:
-like novels based around music
-are interested in reading about or want to be a radio DJ
-know someone who is, want to read about, or are yourself shy

Monday, April 20, 2009

Live Like a Rock Star

Teens age 13-18: Enter the Rayne Tour Series' "Live Like a Rock Star" Sweepstakes today! Grand Prize: $850 night on the town, including dinner for 6 and limo service. First 200 entrants get a free copy of Always Watching.
Go here to enter.

ALWAYS WATCHING – Rayne Tour Series book #1

This daughter of a rock star has it all—until murder crashes her world.

During a concert, sixteen-year-old Shaley O'Connor stumbles upon the body of a friend backstage. Is Tom Hutchens' death connected to her?

Frightening messages arrive. Paparazzi stalk Shaley. Her private nightmare is displayed for all to see. Where is God at times like this?

As the clock runs out, Shaley must find Tom's killer—before he strikes again...

Seatbelt Suspense® for young adults.

Watch the trailer
Read prologue and first chapter
Join The Rayne Tour Series fan club.


Thanks to everyone to entered by contest for The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen!

The winner is:


Congratulations! I'll be emailing you shortly and you'll have 2 days to get back to me before I pick a new winner.

I'll be holding some more contests in the near future so keep checking back!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I'm On Twitter!

I just set up an account on twitter. I'm not entirely sure how it works so if someone would be so kind as to explain it to me I would love you forever!
Here's where you can find me:

In My Mailbox (13)

Remember that post where I said I can't go into a library without getting at least one book? Well, I went to the library. And got not one, but two books. I bought and swapped more than I got to review. Overall, this was a pretty good week in books.

From the library:

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks


Looking for Alaska by John Green
The Breakup Bible by Melissa Kantor

From PaperBack Swap:

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty
You, Maybe: The Profound Asymmetry of Love in High School

To Review:

One Lonely Degree by C.K. Kelly Martin


Brisingr by Christopher Paolini

From a contest:

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Credit for creating the In My Mailbox feature goes to The Story Siren. You can find out more about it here.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Book Trailer: Mackenzie, Lost and Found by Deborah Kerbel

Mackenzie, Lost and Found was such a good book. I really enjoyed reading it and you can read my thoughts on it here. When I found out that there was a new book trailer for it, I was so excited to watch it. I fell in love with the music in it and I think it fits the story well.

Want a Mackenzie, Lost and Found bookmark? Check out this post for more info.

So, without further ado, here's the lovely trailer made by The Compulsive Reader.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Map of the Known World by Lisa Ann Sandell

Cora Bradley dreams of escape. Ever since her reckless older brother, Nate, died in a car crash, Cora has felt suffocated by her small town and high school. She seeks solace in drawing beautiful maps, envisioning herself in exotic locales. When Cora begins to fall for Damian, the handsome, brooding boy who was in the car with Nate the night he died, she uncovers her brother's secret artistic life and realizes she had more in common with him than she ever imagined. With stunning lyricism, Sandell weaves a tale of one girl's journey through the redemptive powers of art, friendship, and love.


A Map of the Known World told a great story of love and loss. Emotions that this story will evoke in readers range from sadness to frustration to triumph.

When Cora's brother Nate died in a car crash, her whole family was devastated. Now, six months later, her family is still in a state of numbness. Her father completely withdraws from life and her mother becomes very overprotective. Cora, however, is tired of living like that. She wants to continue on with her life, to experience all that the world has to offer.

She starts spending increasing amounts of time with Damian, the guy that was her brother's best friend. He helps her to get to know a side of Nate that she had never known before - his artistic, creative self. Seeing his beatiful creations helps motivates Cora to unleash her artistic abilities and finish Nate's last piece.

When her best friend ditches her for the "Nasties" she is disappointed at first but gradually forms another friendship to take its place. It's interesting to watch Cora realize that she is stronger than she knows.

I loved watching Cora and Damian's relationship develop into something more than just a friendship. I was very satisfied with the ending as well.

Overall, I was very happy with how this story played out. I could relate to Cora's need to get out and see the world and just live because I live in a reeeally small town like she did and sometimes it can be a bit smothering. I fell in love with the characters, especially Helena. We all need someone like her. I recommend this book to anyone who likes traditional YA literature.

5 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:
-liked Lisa Ann Sandell's previous novels & writing style in them
-liked the movie 'Raise Your Voice'
-like stories where a sibling dies and the rest of the family has to deal with their grief
-like to create or read about art

Thursday, April 16, 2009

24 Hour Read-A-Thon

Is anyone else participating in this? I'm considering it..but I can't decide. It sounds fun and I don't have any plans for Saturday..but 24 hours seems like a long time. My eyes will probably swell up and fall out! Okay, that was possibly a little dramatic but you know what I mean.

If you want more information, click here.

Apparently, you can be either a reader or a cheerleader. Not completely sure what that means..

Let me know if you're doing this or if you've done it before. If someone wants to do it with me, we could have a discussion/support/reading buddy group if that makes sense and isn't too dorky/lame. =]

Interview with Deborah Kerbel + Bookmark GIVEAWAY!

Deborah Kerbel is the author of Mackenzie, Lost and Found. It was released in November of last year. Click here for my review. Deborah has donated some bookmarks to be given away so read on for more information!

Did any of your inspiration for Mackenzie, Lost and Found come from real life experiences?

Absolutely! I draw on real-life experiences for all my books. The main idea for Mackenzie, Lost and Found came from a good friend of mine whose own move to Israel as a teenager changed her life forever. One day over lunch she told me a bit about it – and I went home and started writing.

If you had to create a soundtrack to ML&F what would be on it?

Definitely some love songs – because, at its core this book is a love story. And also something fast-paced and rocking to match the intensity of the final scenes. And …I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil the story.

What are you reading right now?

I just finished Dust of 100 Dogs by A.S. King (fabulous!) and now I’m reading Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay -- it came highly recommended by my mother-in-law who’s always really good at picking great books.

How did you decide on the title of Mackenzie, Lost and Found?

The title was something that came pretty easily. The first title I came up with was Finding Mackenzie – I liked it because addressed the main character’s biggest issues (feeling lost, alone, different). But after a week or two, I changed it to Mackenzie, Lost and Found which felt just right. And when my publisher accepted the manuscript, they never suggested I change the title.

Which character in Mackenzie, Lost and Found are you most like?

I’m definitely most like Mackenzie. Both of us avoid conflict and neither of us can get a tan!

What sets Mackenzie, Lost and Found apart from other YA novels?

A lot!

Although the main character is North American, the story is entirely set in the Middle East and doesn’t shy away from tackling some of the issues that affect that part of the world. I’ve never seen another YA book that’s done that.

Also, with Mackenzie, Lost and Found, readers will get a glimpse into a real-life world that many of them never imagined before – a world that’s teeming with passionate people and hot-button issues. Also, I think readers will get swept up in a heart-wrenching romantic adventure that could only take place in this conflicted corner of the globe.

If Mackenzie, Lost and Found were made into a movie, who would play the characters?

I love this game! Okay, how about:
Dakota Fanning for Mackenzie
Olivia Thirlby (from Juno) for Marla
Shia LeBoeuf for Nasir
and Russell Crowe for Professor Hill

How long did it take you to write Mackenzie, Lost and Found?

From the first word on the page (May 2005) to finishing the final draft (December 2007), it took about 2 and a half years. But I took at least a full year of that time off from writing and revising to be a full-time mom to my daughter Dahlia (who was born in July 2005).

Why did you choose to write for young adults?

It wasn’t actually a choice at all. Once I decided I wanted to be a writer, I picked up my pen, and teenagers flowed out onto the page. And like real teenagers, there was no holding my characters back after that!

What advice do you have for aspiring novelists?

Believe in yourself and develop a thick skin -- because a certain amount of rejection is hard-wired into this business. The writers who can rise above the rejection and keep moving forward are the ones who turn into authors!

The YA book blogging community?

Keep up the fantastic work! I truly believe that what you’re doing is changing the traditional (and by that I mean out-dated and elitist) approach to book reviews and promotion!


Thanks, Deborah, for doing this interview!


Five lucky commenters will win a bookmark signed by Deborah Kerbel.

One will be chosen out of every five comments, so for her to give all five there must be 25 comments minimum.

The deadline will be April 23, one week from today.

So what are you waiting for? Get commenting!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Last Chance..

...To enter my contest to win a SIGNED copy of The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen! It ends tonight at midnight so you have until then to go over to this post and put your entry in the comments. All you have to do is make up a title for a YA book. Could it be any easier? There's plenty of ways to get extra entries as well so be sure to check those out. You can always resort to flat out sucking up. =]
If you can't comment or don't want to leave your email address there for the world to see, you can always email your entries to me. See the original post for more information.

Waiting On Wednesday (4)

Donut Days by Lara Zielin
Pub. Date: August 6, 2009
Publisher: Putnam

Emma has a lot going on. Her best friend’s not speaking to her, a boy she’s known all her life is suddenly smokin’ hot and in love with her, and oh yes, her evangelical minister parents may lose their church, especially if her mother keeps giving sermons saying Adam was a hermaphrodite.

But this weekend Emma’s only focused on Crispy Dream, a hot new donut franchise opening in town, where Harley bikers and Frodo wannabes camp out waiting to be the first ones served. Writing the best feature story on the camp for the local paper might just win Emma a scholarship to attend a non- Christian college. But soon enough Emma finds the donut camp isn’t quite the perfect escape from all her troubles at Living Word Redeemer.


A novel that takes place at and around a donut shop? Yes, please. I love donuts, particularly plain glazed ones from KrispyKremes. I would be craving sweets the entire time I read this one but at least I'd have a legitimate reason to go out and buy some. The plot sounds fun and just crazy enough to keep my attention. I'm so looking forward to this one!

The Waiting On Wednesday feature was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Airhead by Meg Cabot


Emerson Watts didn't even want to go to the new SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening. But someone needed to look out for her sister, Frida, whose crush, British heartthrob Gabriel Luna, would be singing and signing autographs there-along with the newly appointed Face of Stark, teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard.

How was Em to know that disaster would strike, changing her-and life as she'd known it-forever? One bizarre accident later, and Em Watts, always the tomboy, never the party princess, is no longer herself. Literally.

Now getting her best friend, Christopher, to notice that she's actually a girl is the least of Em's problems.

But what Em's pretty sure she'll never be able to accept might just turn out to be the one thing that's going to make her dream come true . . . .



I loved Meg Cabot's previous novels, so I had some pretty high expectations when I picked this one up. I'm happy to report that I wasn't disappointed. Airhead was something completely different from any of Cabot's other books. Think Robin Wasserman's Skinned with a more romantic, girly, celeb-ish twist.

Em was a completely real, believable character. She was fun to read about because she was just a normal girl thrown into a totally insane situation. It was interesting to see how she dealt with being in Nikki Howard's body. Initially she freaked out - and who could blame her? Later on in the story, however, she starts to adjust.

One of my favorite parts of the novel was her feelings for Christopher. He had been her best friend (although she wanted to be more) for years and she was having a hard time dealing with the fact that she couldn't tell him that it was really her inside that gorgeous body. I love novels that aren't dominantly love stories but that have nice, romantic subplots. This novel definitely had some romantic dilemnas but they weren't the main focus of the story.

I would describe this novel as sci-fi for people who don't like sci-fi. The whole "full body transplant" concept is an intiguing procedure of the future (I've heard they've actually done it to monkeys, but don't quote me on that) that makes for a fastpaced, fun book.

I read this in one day because it was so readable and I just didn't want to put it down! Airhead is now probably my favorite of Meg Cabot's books. I can't wait to get my hands on the second and eventually the third books in this series.

5 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:
-enjoyed Meg Cabot's previous novels
-liked Skinned by Robin Wasserman
-like reading about futuristic medical procedures written in a fun, realistic way
-don't think you'd like sci-fi but like the idea of a regular girl adjusting to become a model (Trust me! I swear, you won't even know it's sci-fi)

Monday, April 13, 2009

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washedup child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun-but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl. Love, friendship, and a dead Austro-Hungarian archduke add up to surprising and heart-changing conclusions in this ingeniously layered comic novel about reinventing oneself.

My first thought after finishing this novel was "What a hilarious book!" Seriously, this was probably one of the if not the funniest novels I've ever read. I found myself laughing out loud countless times. However, some of the humor was on the crude side and there was some vulgar language so I wouldn't pass this to your twelve year old sister after reading it.

When Colin's girlfriend, Katherine XIX (yes, he'd had nineteen girlfriends, all with the name Katherine) ends their relationship, Colin is heartbroken. So the next logical move is to go on a road trip, of course. Colin and his best friend end up in Gutshot, a small town in Tennessee, by chance. They're offered summer jobs, so they opt to stay and see what the town has to offer them.

By the end of the summer, Colin has successfully gotten over Katherine XIX, fallen in love with someone else, and learned some important lessons along the way.

It was realistic, but then again it wasn't. I can see going on a road trip to take your mind off of getting dumped. But boarding with a random woman you just met (in a pink house, no less) - not so much. Everyone will be able to relate to Colin's need to matter.

If you like math, like reeeally like math, I'd definitely say that this book is for you. There are lots of mathematical and statistical references to look at. Even some graphs and diagrams!

However, even if you hate math as much as my mom hates giving me money for books (or anything else for that matter), you will still be able to relate to Colin and find humor in his antics. Most of the math-related stuff is contained either in footnotess or in the appendix so they're easy to overlook.

Colin was a great character. His child prodigy status doesn't get in the way of his likability or other good qualities. Hassan was also a good supporting character.

AAoK was very well-written and wholy satisfying. While some may have trouble getting into it at first, by the middle you'll be hooked. It's the newest addition to my "must-read" list. Even if you have to "put it in the freezer" for awhile, I highly recommend that all teens reading it all the way through at least once at some point.

5 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:
-liked John Green's other novels
-like random/crazy/not very realistic stories
-like crude/dirty jokes & humor

Sunday, April 12, 2009

In My Mailbox

Credit for creating the In My Mailbox feature goes to The Story Siren. You can find out more about it here.

This week I received lots of books from contests. That's really unusual for me because I never win anything. Really, I thought I might be cursed. But apparently, the curse is broken! Look below to see what I mean!

From contests:

Absolutely Maybe by Lisa Yee (this is my second copy so do you think I should give away my ARC or just put it on a swap site?)
Just One Wish by Janette Rallison
Say The Word by Jeannine Garsee
Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
Envy by Anna Godbersen

Wondrous Strange by Lesley Livingston

From PaperBack Swap:

I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter
Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley & Heather Hepler

For review:

The Angel Experiment
School's Out Forever
Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
The Final Warning
Max - all by James Patterson

Sorry about the lack of cover pics, I was too lazy to find some that didn't have that pesky "See Inside" banner. I hate those things.

Anyway, I'm excited to see what everyone else got! I usually get really jealous and have to drink a ton of Mountain Dew until I get so hyper that I forget about it. Healthy, right? Of course, the Mountain Dew binge occurs after I leave you all lovely comments saying how great your week was. See, at least I attempt (although, after this post it might be all in vain) to hide my burning envy.

DON'T FORGET TO ENTER MY CONTEST HERE! I'm giving away a free SIGNED book so stop procrastinating or whatever lame reason you have for not entering and GO ENTER NOW! There's lots (6 to be exact but possibly more if you think of a way to get the word out about it that I didn't) of ways to earn extra entries to boost your chances of winning.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Book Trailer: Freaksville by Kitty Keswick

Paranormal romance is a hot genre in YA books today. I mean, look at how successful Twilight was. So, naturally, when I see that there's a new book that fits this description I want to check it out.

"High school is hard enough when you’re normal. There’s peer pressure, book reports, the in crowd and the enormous zit that has a life of its own. Having a family whose skeletons in the closet lean toward the paranormal is not a topper on anyone’s list. Sophomore Kasey Maxwell is busy juggling the typical teen angst. Add visions, ghosts and hairy four-legged monsters into the mix and you get FREAKSVILLE. It’s a wonder Kasey has survived"


Friday, April 10, 2009

Some Personal News & Other Rantings

I've been so busy lately I haven't got much reading done. But I promise I have a really good excuse! Yesterday I was inducted into the Spanish National Honor Society so I've been getting ready for that all week. I was allowed to have a note card with my lines on it so I didn't have to do any memorization but I did have to go go out a buy a new dress. At least, that's what I told my mom.

I'm getting addicted to PaperBack Swap. I spend more time thinking about, picking out, ordering and giving other people books than I do actually reading them. Please tell me I'm not the only one who does this?! I thinking I'm going to name this frightfully awful (if not a bit expensive and counterproductive) affliction PBS Syndrome.

I also have this thing where I can't go into a library without getting at least one book. There are three libraries within 45 minutes of my house so they're convenient to get to. I went to the big one with an amazing YA section to get a book my sister needed for school and ended up getting Brisingr by Christopher Paolini. But, you see, that wasn't just any old book. That book was the third in a series that I've already read the other two and would've been $30 to buy in a store. Speaking of which, thirty bucks? What is that? I'm sure it's a good book, but not that good. I don't think I could ever be convinced to pay that much for a book. Furthermore, I refuse to buy books in hardcover. It's just wasteful.

I have to go back to the one with the marvelous YA section (that's in a loft overlooking the rest of the library!) today to return a book and pick up another book that I had on hold. So hopefully I'll miraculously find that I do indeed have some self-control.

After I picked up Brisingr, I came home to find that it was listed in the Random Buzzers store. I ordered it one the spot. Did I mention that this book would normally cost me THIRTY DOLLARS? I'm sixteen and currently unemployed (although I just got applications for the library that's closest to me and has a terrible YA section and Subway) and I certainly do not have thirty dollars to blow on a book that I may or may not find time to read. Have you seen the price of gas lately? I would need to have like at least three jobs to buy has AND support my book habit.

If you read through this ridiculously long rant, I apologize. Feel free to tell me how lame I am in the comments. Everyone else rolls their eyes at my bookish dilemnas so if I can't post it on my own BOOK blog, where can I tell it?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Waiting On Wednesday (3)

Love Off-Limits by Whitney Lyles
Pub. Date: August 04, 2009
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing

Natalie should be the happiest girl in the world, dating Jeremy who is totally hot and perfect by everyone’s standards. But something just isn’t right. The seemingly flawless couple has been dating since freshman year, and now Natalie fears the spark may be fizzling…at least on her end. But she’s not sure if breaking up is the right thing to do.

Being such an expert in love (or so people think), Natalie gets coaxed into writing a romance column for the school newspaper. And soon she finds spending time with her editor, Matt, to be way worth the work. It seems like the answer’s staring her straight in the face. Dump Jeremy and go out with Matt. There’s just one catch; Matt is Jeremy’s best friend, and dumping your boyfriend to date his closest friend is just wrong…right?


First off, I love the Simon Romantic Comedies. They're just cute and so much fun to read. That's what drew my attention to this book in the first place. Then the synopsis sounds really good, too. It sounds like something I could relate to. The cover made me laugh - how she's holding hands with one guy but looking at another.

The Waiting On Wednesday feature was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Mackenzie, Lost and Found by Deborah Kerbel


Still mourning the sudden loss of her mother, fifteen-year old Mackenzie Hill feels like she’s drowning in a sea of pain and loneliness. To make matters worse, her eccentric father is forcing her to leave behind the only home she’s ever known and move with him to Israel.

Coming of age in the ancient city of Jerusalem, Mackenzie quickly becomes caught up in a forbidden romance and an unwitting involvement in a shadowy ring of black-market bandits. Can she solve the mystery of the stolen artifacts without betraying her first love? And will she finally come to terms with the grief that had been slowly eating away at her heart…here in the last place in the world she ever wanted to be?

Mackenzie, Lost and Found is a 249 page YA novel which touches lightly on some of the intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict (such as security threats, rights to land, and the cultural and religious divide) from the point of view of a Canadian girl.


Mackenzie, Lost and Found was a great read. It was the first book I'd ever read that was set in Israel, which was very enlightening and educational for me. I actually learned a lot about what daily life is really like there. The setting alone really interested me. Mackenzie was a great character. She was your average, everyday girl thrown into a not-so-average situation. It was a lot of fun to see how she handled her predicament.

First off, we learn that Mackezie's mother died prior to the point where the book starts. We don't, however, find out how or why until later. The whole first half I was trying to guess (unsuccessfully, I might add) what happened to her mom. It definitely kept my interest and made me want to find out what happened in the past and what was going to happen in the future.

When Mackenzie's archaeologist father announces that they're moving to Israel for his job, she is ticked off to say the least. When they actually arrive in their new home, though, she is quick to forget her initial reaction. She soon immerses herself in the culture and even learns to speak Hebrew. She meets an American girl, Marla, who is about her age and they quickly become best friends. Marla's played an important role in helping Mackenzie adjust to her new life.

Mackenzie also develops a crush on a boy who works at a local convenient store. Even though he returns her feelings, they can't be together because of his family's cultural belief that he shouldn't date outside of his religion. But when did that ever stop two people in love? They resort to sneaking around behind their fathers' backs. The whole forbidden love thing was fun to read about. Granted, it's been done but Kerbel's take was refreshing and very enjoyable.

I really liked how some of the chapters were written from Nasir's point of view. If they weren't set up like that it would've been hard to tell what his emotions and take on the situation were.

The ending left a lot to the imagination, but sometimes that's just what you as the reader need. I think just about anyone could find something they liked in this fast-paced pageturner. I can definitely see myself reading this again in the future. I hope to see more from Deborah Kerbel in the future!

Romance, culture, mystery, and action? What's not to love?

5 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:
-like stories set in the Middle East
-like forbidden love stories
-are interesting in reading about multicultural relationships
-want to learn about the culture of Israel
-want a quick read that's fast-paced but still fairly deep

Monday, April 6, 2009


One winner will win a SIGNED copy of The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen. Check out my review here. I can tell you that this novel was deep, dark, and unlike any other YA book I've ever read.

To be entered: just think up your own original, creative YA book title and leave it in the comments along with your e-mail. If you're not able to comment you can e-mail entries to Please put "Shape of Water Contest Entry" in the subject line.
You MUST do the title part in order to be entered.
I'll pick the winner with a random number generator.

Who can enter: Residents of the US or Canada only.

For extra entries:
+1 follow this blog
+2 link to this contest (sidebars are fine, just tell me what/where you did.)
+1 add me to your blogroll
+1 comment on my review
+1 tell me how I can improve my blog
+2 if someone tells me you referred them
If you do something creative to get the word out about this contest that I haven't thought of already there could be some extra entries in store for you! Just tell me what you did!

Contest ends: Wednesday, April 15.
I'll announce the winner the next day.

Good Luck!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Be On The Lookout...

..for a contest starting tomorrow. You'll have to check back then for details! Start thinking of creative ways to get the word out about the contest and you could be eligible for lots of extra entries!

Go check out Child Abuse Month at Books Make Great Lovers!

It's Child Abuse Month over at Books Make Great Lovers. Topics to be covered will include rape, mental abuse, physical abuse and pedophilia. This is a very difficult subject to talk about but it's also very important that we do in order to raise awareness.

Some things on the schedule are:

~Chats about abuse
~A Child Called It
~Bad Girls Club
~Treacherous Love

Even if you think this topic doesn't matter or apply to you, I suggest you go check it out anyway. You may learn how to help someone else just by knowing what signs to look for.
Click here for more info.

In My Mailbox

Credit for creating the In My Mailbox feature goes to The Story Siren. You can find out more about it here.

For review:

The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Look Both ways by
Jacquelyn Mitchard
All We Know of Heaven by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Now You See Her by Jacquelyn Mitchard

Band Geeked Out by Josie Bloss
I haven't read Band Geek Love yet..anybody have a spare copy? =]

From contests:

A Season of Eden by J.M. Warwick
In Too Deep by Jennifer Banash
Again, I haven't read the first one in this series, anyone have a copy they'd want to trade?

PaperBack Swap:

GoldenGirl by Micol Ostow

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Book Trailer: Privilege by Kate Brian

I absolutely adored the Private series by Kate Brian. They had all the glamour and cattiness of Gossip Girl but with mystery and *gasp* a real plot. So, needless to say, I cannot wait to get my hands on her new spin-off series Privilege. It came out back in December (I know, I'm so behind!) The second one, Beautiful Disaster, comes out in June.

So, without further ado, here's the book trailer for Privilege made by TwilightGurl911:

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Help Me Pick A Book!

Okay, so, I have one credit on PaperBack Swap and I'm having trouble deciding on a book to request. I mean, there are so many to choose from! I have this problem every time I go into a bookstore. Now is where you come in! I want your opinion on which book to get. Here are the main books I'm choosing from:

Revenge of the Homecoming Queen - Stephanie Hale
Prom - Laurie Halse Anderson
Reincarnation - Suzanne Weyn
Vegan Virgin Valentine - Carolyn Mackler
Crimes of the Sarahs - Kristen Tracy
Geek High - Piper Banks
How To Be Popular - Meg Cabot

Give me your top 3, please! Seriously, I appreciate all your help. You guys are great. =]

The Shape of Water by Anne Spollen


"I had come to know silence well during those months after my mother died. When you sit in silence long enough, you learn that silence has a motion. It glides over you without shape or form, but with weight, exactly like water."

Magda's mother always said the world was full of strange and beautiful secrets only the two of them could see. But now she's gone and Magda's world is flooded with anxiety and loneliness—and maybe, madness. As an imaginary family of bickering fish begins to torment her, Magda's only outlet is starting beautiful but destructive fires in the marshes near her house.

The Shape of Water was a very memorable book. When I first began reading it, I had mixed emotions. I thought it was a bit on the strange side that Magda "saw" a family of fish. It took me some time to determine whether she was hallucinating or if they were her "imaginary friends." It turns out that while they were a figment of her imagination, I wouldn't use either of those terms to describe their relationship. When they started appearing less frequently, it helped clarify that Magda was learning to deal with her situation and come back to the real world. However, I would've liked to see more of an explanation of the fish.

The plot picked up somewhere in the middle when Magda's father starts dating again.

Magda was such a unique character. She had a way of looking at things that was all her own. Her thoughts were profound and insightful. It was interesting to watch her overcome her grief at the loss of her mother and slowly make her way back to reality. In the beginning, she can be described as "underwater." Eventually, she does move on and "resurface." I liked being able to see her grow as a person.

The ending wasn't necessarily all rainbows and smiles, but I liked it that way. You were definitely reassured that Magda was going to keep going and be okay. Really, that's all you need.

I wanted a novel with some depth that wasn't your run-of-the-mill YA book and The Shape Of Water delivered just that. I can honestly say it was different from anything I've read up to this point. This was Anne Spollen's first YA book and I think it was an impressive debut.

4 out of 5 stars

Recommended if you:

-want a book that's deep
-want something to make you think
-want an unusual, out of the ordinary read
-like books where one of the parents die and the child deals with thier grief
-liked Anne Spollen's other books
-are looking for a serious read