Sunday, January 22, 2012

A Northern Light

Author:  Jennifer Donnelly
Year: 2003
Publisher:  Harcourt, Inc.

Sixteen year old Mattie Gokey dreams of moving to New York City, attending college and becoming a writer but she's trapped. Her mother died, her old brother ran away and Mattie is forced to help her father take care of the farm and raise her younger sisters. Yet she refuses to give up her dream. She takes a job working at a nearby resort to earn money to pay for travel expenses to New York City and along the way begins to give up on her dreams and settles on the idea of marriage and family. Then, a woman's body is pulled from the lake the resort and, through the dead woman's letters, Mattie realizes that she was murdered.

I LOVED this book. Jennifer Donnelly has a beautiful way with words and the story was very compelling. I loved Mattie and how she never really gave up on her dreams. Maybe it is my own dreams of someday writing that made me love Mattie so much. I also loved the way that Donnelly used words and their definitions to tell the story. That just played to the English major in me. It's a beautifully told story and Donnelly is a master of language. 

Looking for Alaska

Author:  John Green
Year: 2005
Publisher:  Speak

Miles Halter hates his life at public school in Florida. He doesn't have any friends and his only life is that of memorizing people's last words. So Miles talks his parents into letting him go to Culver Creek Boarding School in Alabama where he hopes to find his Great Perhaps. There Miles meets and becomes friends with the Colonel, Takumi, Lara and, most of all, Alaska. Beautiful, funny, sexy and crazy Alaska becomes the girl of Miles' dreams and completely disrupts his life. 

I wondered if this book would live up to all the great things I'd read about it over the years. When I finally found it at a used book store a couple of months ago, I bought it without thinking twice and brought it home and sat it in the dreaded TBR pile. With the recent release of The Fault in Our Stars, I started thinking I really should read this book and, on an impulse, I picked it up yesterday. There was a little bit more drinking and smoking than what I would have liked but overall it was a beautiful and haunting story. Not haunting as in scary but haunting as in it'll come back to me at odd times for the rest of my life. I was very impressed with the way John Green worked religion and life and death and what lies beyond into the story making it more than just a love story. I also appreciated that Green left some conclusions up to the reader thus making the story a little bit different for each of us.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer

Author: Michelle Hodkin
Year: 2011
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

It seems like things couldn't get more difficult for Mara Dyer - she wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there or of the accident that killed her friends including her best friend and boyfriend. But she feels responsible and knows there has to be more to the accident than everyone is telling her. Plus, things are happening to her now that seriously make Mara doubt her own sanity.  

This book alternated between being a creepy horror book and a straight up romance. There's not much of a way to write a synopsis of this book without giving away too much of the plot. So, I'll just say that it was a pretty good read. There were some really creepy spots, some good romantic spots, and some good dialogue. It wasn't the most awesome book I've read but it was a good book that I had to finish once I started if for no other reason than to find out if Mara was insane. The love interest was great. My favorite relationship in the book though was that of Mara and her older brother, Daniel. I thought he was great and I loved how he was always taking care of Mara and helping her. I found myself wishing I had a big brother just like him. 

Sunday, January 15, 2012


Author: Ally Condie
Year: 2011
Publisher:  Dutton Books

Crossed picks up after the events of Matched. Cassia is now making her way to the Outer Provinces trying to find Ky. In the course of her journeys, she learns about the Pilot and the Rising and begins to find hope in the future. Cassia sees a way out of the futile situation that she's trapped in but for some reason, Ky doesn't want to be a part of the Rising. 

This book switches viewpoints from Cassia to Ky and I'm not sure that I liked that. Condie didn't do as good of a job as Marie Lu did in Legend with the alternating viewpoints. Plus, I missed Xander. I'm really torn with this series to whether I like Ky or Xander best. Maybe in the third book one of the boys will do something to help me make my decision. Until then, I want more Xander in the books. Overall, I definitely enjoyed the book and am looking forward to the next one in the series. 

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Author:  Marie Lu
Year: 2011
Publisher: G. P. Putnam's Sons

Fifteen year old June is a prodigy in the Republic - an area once known as the western coast of the United States. She's quickly making her way up the  military ranks and destined to be a star. Day is her exact opposite. He's a renegade and the Republic's most wanted criminal. Then, one day June's brother is murdered and  Day is the prime suspect. This leads June on a personal mission to find and capture Day; but, once she does, she learns that they might not be as different as they seem and Day just might not be the hardened criminal he's painted as.

My sister ordered me to read this book right now. She told me it was wonderful and unputdownable. She described it as part The Hunger Games, part Divergent and then a little something else. She was right. It's a great book. It has those echoes of YA dystopian literature that's so popular right now but it's different. This book is told in alternating viewpoints between June and Day and it works better than almost any book I've read that switches narrators. In the physical sense, the font changes with the characters so it makes it easier to make that mental switch because you actually see the change. June and Day are well developed and very sympathetic. Even if you are tired of all the dystopian literature, read this one. It's worth it.

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Clash of Kings: Book Two of A Song of Ice and Fire

Author: George R.R. Martin
Year: 1999
Publisher: Bantam Books

I finally finished the second volume of A Game of Thrones!!!  Everybody knows what these books are about at this point so I'm not going to waste any time summarizing them. What I will say is that I don't know of any author that has continually frustrated me more than George R.R. Martin. When I'm reading the books, I'm completely drawn into the world, feeling the characters' emotions and loving the world he's built and then he goes and kills a character I love. When I finished the book, I didn't know whether to throw it at Martin or rush out and buy the third book. Since Martin's world doesn't intersect with mine, I guess I'll have to settle for buying the third book.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon

Author: David Grann
Year: 2010
Publisher:  Vintage Books

I must confess, I have a romantic attachment to the idea of exploration. The adventurer in me can't help but think about how wonderful it would be to live in a time where you could set out to explore unknown worlds. I sometimes find myself looking at a beautiful spot whether it be a waterfall, a mountain range or  a river and imagining what it would have been like to stumble across this piece of God's mastery and know that no human had seen it before. That's what drew me to this book. It's about the British explorer Percy Fawcett that made numerous treks to the Amazon searching for what he called the Lost City of Z. His final party consisted of three people, Fawcett, his son and his son's friend. They disappeared in the jungle. David Grann sets out to trace Fawcett's journeys and to try to solve the mystery of Fawcett's disappearance. 

I started reading this book months ago. I set it down 50 pages in and didn't pick it back up until today. I don't know why. I just wasn't in the mood to read it and, finally, today I was. I'm glad I did. It's a riveting story. It vividly brings to life the period of the explorers and their struggles and determination to find something that nobody has found before and write their name in the history books. I also envied David Grann just a little bit because he got to follow in Fawcett's footsteps and "explore" the Amazon himself.

Paper Dolls: Y: The Last Man, Book 7

Author:  Brian K. Vaughn
Year: 2006
Publisher: Vertigo Comics

This installment continues the adventures of Yorick Brown, the last man left on Earth after a mysterious plague has killed every male creature except Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. This volume finds Yorick in Australia - the last place his fiance, Beth, was known to be at before the plague.

I really like the story in these graphic novels. I think they're really. My one word of caution is that if you're squeamish about nudity, you need to stay away from them.

A Monster Calls

Author: Patrick Ness
Year: 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press

Conor's been having nightmares. Well, more specifically, he's been having the same nightmare every night. One night, just after midnight, a monster shows up at Conor's house. It's not the monster from his nightmare but another one. And what it wants from Conor scares him even more than his nightmare.

I can't say a lot about this book without giving away too much of the story and spoiling it. I can just say that it is wonderful. I didn't know what to expect going into it. I knew that it had made a lot of blogger's lists of favorite books from last year and had been getting rave reviews. I also knew that the main character was dealing with his mother's cancer. Now that I've read it, I understand why there's such secrecy about the actual plot of the story and I'm keeping the secret going but I'm advising everybody to read it. If cancer's touched your life, I especially recommend this book to you.

I also have to say that the illustrations by Jim Kay are marvelous. This book is as beautiful to look at as it is to read. 

Never to Sleep

Author: Rachel Vincent
Year: 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen

This novella is set in the Soul Screamers world; however, it does not involve Kaylee (or Tod) for that matter. It centers around Kaylee's cousin, Sophie, and takes place during the events of If I Die. Sophie meets a cute new guy at school and gets introduced into Kaylee's supernatural world. She visits the Netherworld and has an adventure of her own.

I enjoyed getting to see the story from another character's point of view and Sophie has always been a bit of an outsider. Can you imagine how angry she's going to be when she finds out that her family is supernatural? And that not only Kaylee but her dad has kept the secret from her? Although I did enjoy this foray into Sophie's world, I'll be glad to get back to Kaylee (and Tod) in the next full length book.

Monday, January 2, 2012


Author:  Julianna Baggott
Year:  February 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Source: NetGalley

This is yet another entry into the saturated field of YA dystopian literature and, I know, if you're anything like me, you're beginning to get wary of reading yet another book of this genre. But, I urge you to give Pure a look. 

Baggott creates a world post "Detonations" where there have been nuclear type bombs that destroyed most of the world. Many people were able to remain untouched because they had been inside these Domes that had been built at the times of the explosions. They are called Pures. Others, like the main character, Pressia, were damaged. Their bodies became fused with other objects causing horrible deformities. Life outside the Domes is difficult on a good day. At age 16, all people outside the Domes are required to turn themselves over to the OSR so that they can be either trained to be soldiers, or if not healthy enough, used as live targets. The book starts with Pressia's 16th birthday.

The other main character is Partridge. Partridge is a Pure raised inside the Dome. His father is one of the leaders. Partridge's brother committed suicide and his mother never made it inside the Dome and died a martyr helping others. Then, one day, his father makes a remark that leads Partridge to believe that his mother might still be alive. This leads Partridge to escape outside the Dome to try and find his mother. When he and Pressia meet up, both of their lives change forever.

I really enjoyed this book. I had some difficulties with some of the imagery and picturing some of the fusions described in the book in my head. i just couldn't wrap my mind around some of it. Guess my imagination is failing me there. 

2012 Reading Goals

This is going to be a very short post. When I look around my home, I see piles of unread books. I turn on my nook and there's hundreds of books there just waiting for me to read them. I turn on my ipod and check out my audible account and there's another group of unread books. So, my goal for this year is to get through as my as my unread books that I already own as possible without acquiring a bunch of new books. Wish me luck on that one.

Favorite Books of 2011

Hmm, so this one is kind of hard for me. I didn't read as many books in 2011 as I had intended to and, when I look back over my list, I don't know which books that I would consider my favorites of the year but I think I managed to narrow it down to these books (they're in the order that I read them):

  1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience & Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand - Such a terrific story. It read like fiction. 
  2. Divergent by Vericona Roth - I loved this book. I have recommended it to just about everybody I know. I want a Four.
  3. Graceling by Kristen Cashore - I can't believe I let this book sit in my TBR pile for so long. I'm so glad I finally read it. 
  4. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin - It took me forever to read this book and I'm still stuck on book two. It was one of those books that I had a very hard time putting down but once I did, I didn't get real enthused about picking it back up. And when I picked it back up, I couldn't put it back down.
  5. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline - This was probably my favorite book of the year and definitely my favorite audiobook. I completely enjoyed it and could not put it down.
  6. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini - I read this book in one sitting. 
  7. Matched by Ally Condie.
  8. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - this one has a big but beside it. I loved the audiobook. Jim Dale was terrific and completely drew me in and kept me listening but, I think that I wouldn't have been able to handle reading the book. I probably would have gave up on it but because I was listening to Jim Dale's narration, it makes the top ten list.
  9. All These Things I Have Done by Gabrielle Zevin.
  10. If I Die  by Rachel Vincent - I loved the turns this series took on this book. 
So, that's the books I really enjoyed this year. Wonder what's going to be my favorites for 2012.