Saturday, December 31, 2011

KRWLucy's Challenges of 2012

Hi Everyone!
Happy New Years Eve! I would like to wish you the best for the 2012 year!
With the New Year, comes a new book list, and some challenges. This is my first year I'm doing challenges. I'm not making any promises though. School can always be a challenge, along with my sports, and personal life! But hey!, I'll give it a shot.

Not Afraid 42012 Standalone Reading Challenge
The Standalone Challenge is to read 15 standalone YA books in 2012!
1. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
2. In Honor by Jessie Kirby
3. Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
4. The Story of Us by Deb Caletti
5. The Whole Story of a Half Girl by Veera Hiranandani
6. Addison Blakely: Confessions of a PK by Betsy St. Amant 
7. Crazy by Amy Reed
8. The Boy Recession by Flynn Meaney  
9. My Sister Lives on the Mantle Piece by Annabel Pitcher
10. Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani
11. The Story Teller by Antonia Michaelis
12. Rock On: A story of guitars, gigs, girls and a brother (not necessarily in that order) by Denise Vega
13. The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen
14. Wander Love by Kristen Hubbard
15. The List by Siobhan Vivian

2012 YA Contemporary Challenge

The idea of this is to challenge yourself. I choose level one.. I know a little easy which is to read 5+ books.

1. Pizza, Love, and Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn William
2. Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler
3. The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
4. The Difference Between You and Me by Madeleine George
5. 37 Things I Love (in no particular order) by Kekla Magoon

I felt it was also necessary for me to come up with a list of books that I would like to read...
1. Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
2. We'll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han
3. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han
4. The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
5. Something Like Fate by Susane Colasanti
6. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
7. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
8. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
9. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
11. Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally
12. Between Here and Forever by Elizabeth Scott
13. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
14. So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti
15. Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass
16. Lost It by Kristen Tracy
17. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
18. Death Cure by James Dashner
19. Through My Eyes by Tim Tebow
20. Loving Emily by Anne Pfeffer
**Threes also Left to Love by Jolene Perry but the release date won't be known to April :(

Loving to Read One Step at a Time

Friday, December 30, 2011

Challenge List for 2012!

Aneeqah's Not So Real Life

Hey guys! I'm really excited to be joining some challenges in 2012. There's SO many that I want to do, but here are the ones I've chosen:

2012 YA Contemporary Challenge
My goal for this challenge is to read 10 young-adult contemporary books. I usually read a lot of fantasy and dystopia, so I think this challenge will help me to branch out a little with my reading. Here is [so far] the list of books I plan on reading:

1. The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenburg
2. Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tregay
3. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
4. The Fine Art of Truth and Dare by Melissa Jensen
5. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick
6. Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti
7. Pizza, Love, And Other Stuff That Made Me Famous by Kathryn Williams
8. Flirting In Italian by Lauren Henderson
9. Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
10. Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Not Afraid 1

2012 Stand-Alone Challenge
The goal for this challenge is to read 15 young-adult stand-alone books. I've only read a few stand-alone books in the past, because I like series better. But with all these cliffhanger endings in books lately, I think reading stand-alone books could really save me some anticipation! =) Here's my tenative list as of right now:

1. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
2. The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
3. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody
4. Fracture by Megan Miranda
5. Slide by Jill Hathaway
6. The Catasrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
7. Above by Leah Bobet
8. Gilt by Katherine Longshore
9. This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
10. When the Sea Is Rising Red by
11. Something Strange and Deadly
12. The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long
13. ??
14. ??
15. ??

Debut Author Challenge
The goal for this challenge is to read 12 books by a first-time author. I've never kept track of authors before, really, so I'm interested to see how many debuts I can read this year! My list:
1. Fracture by Megan Miranda
2. Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
3. Harbigner by Sara Wilson Etienne
4. Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
5. Slide by Jill Hathaway
6. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
7. The Selection by Kiera Cass
8. Of Poseidon by Anna Banks
9. Gilt by Katherine Longshore
10. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
11. The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges
12. Above by Leah Bobet

Of course, I'm sure these lists will change dramatically over the course of 2012! These are just the ones I think I might read during the year. 2012 should be a great year for reading! [And, hopefully, the world won't end. Because there are just too many books I'm waiting for that come out in 2013!!]

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Bookaday Update - Fall 2011

I'd listed several books I wanted to read over my 16 days off, 18 to be exact. I'm six days into the challenge and I've only finished 4 books! What's slowing me down? Two re-discovered loves; Twitter and Puzzles.

I picked up a puzzle of my favorite picture - Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte - and have been spending hours on it. I haven't done this in a very long time and it has been so relaxing!! I hope to find slightly smaller puzzles though, this one is 1000 pieces.

I've always been a fan of Twitter but I'd pulled back to read more - putting in a word here, a retweet there, but not really interacting. Since most of my tweeps are educators, we are all on break right now and the conversations have been awesome. So, less reading time but a touch more connection with self and others.

So, what have I finished?
Shelter by Harlan Coben - one of the LA teachers does a mystery unit each year, so I'm always on the lookout for new books for her to add to her repetoire. I haven't read any of Coben's adult books but this young adult one sounded intriguing and maybe it could be a gateway for some students.  Although Shelter started out well, despite having the stereotypical sidekicks - a nerd adn a fat girl - it had promise.  Coben did tend to tell too much, I never had to figure out anything, each question would be answered about 2 sentences later.  And then the ending was so far-fetched as to be impossible. The age of the alleged villian would make the antics impossible. My disbelief came crashing to the forefront and wiped away most of my good feelings about the book.  The good news is there can still be a good discussion about this one. Pair it with Virals by Kathy Reichs and then talk about craft and writing for a variety of audiences.

Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins - I had been looking forward to this one, as I enjoy sappy romance. While there were enjoyable moments, they got sidetracked by the author's frequent exclamation of "bieber" or "elvis presley". I mean efron, lautner, gosling - yeah, I can see that working once or twice, jk. Throw in how often she told us Liam was hot (in a stereotypical bad boy in leather jacket with motorcyle way) and I was just happy to finish.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi - I had really been looking forward to this book! I like science fiction and this has girl protag! It started out slow and ended on predictable. But, the middle was fantastic. I just don't understand why she didn't use her undisclosed till later powers more.  Also, she never wore that awesome dress on the cover! Pair this one with Legend by Marie Lu and you are destined for a great conversation.

Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger - This follow-up to Origami Yoda focuses on Dwight and whether Yoda is helpful or hurtful. Dwight's nemesis, Harvey, makes a Darth Paper puppet and uses it to taunt this students, trying to convince them that Yoda is fake. The problems brought to Yoda this year seem much more serious. I like that turn. Obviously, pair this one with Origami Yoda and some actual origami.

Ok, back to reading! How are you doing on your reading goals?


Monday, December 26, 2011

I Challenge Thee, er, Me 2012

It's that time of year. Challenge time.  How will I grow as reader and a reviewer? Each year, I attempt something new and usually abandon it about 1/4 of the way through.  Not.This.Year. I am going to do this. I have two official sign-up challenges and then some personal challenges I will be tackling this year.

The Classic Double Challenge
This challenge intrigues me because you pair contemporary fiction with classic fiction. Something that I think could lead more students into choosing and reading classics outside of the classroom. I'm going for the LARGE level - 3 pairs of books

The 2012 YA/MG Fantasy Challenge
I enjoy reading Fantasy and Science Fiction. I'm not sure what attracts me to these titles and I want to find out. This particular challenge will pair nicely with my own personal Cybils challenge listed below.  For the YA/MG Fantasy challenge, you need to read 10 YA/MG Fantasy books released in 2012.

Cybils 2011 YA/MG Nominated Fantasy/Science Fiction Challenge
This challenge definitely needs a shorter name! There were too many books on the Cybils F/SF nominations list that I had NOT read.  So, I am going to remedy that by trying to read 15 books off the YA list and 15 books off the MG list.  Some of these will be decided when they release the finalist list on January 1!

My Printz of the Past Challenge
I became interested in the ALA Printz award back in 2006 when I became a middle school librarian.  I've been into it pretty much nonstop. In 2010 I formed the Goodreads Mock Printz group. This started as a part of a book group I was hosting at work and has grown from there.  I've been trying to at least read the winners of the award but decided this year to challenge myself to read all the Printz Award/Honor books for the past 11 years.

2012 MG/YA/A Genre Challenge
Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, has a book requirement in her classes.  She challenges the students to read 40 books in a variety of genres, to stretch themselves, to become better readers.  I take up her challenge with #bookaday and want to participate in this one too. Although her exact numbers to read in each genre may change with her students, I'm going with the original one published in The Book Whisperer.

I also want to read a variety of adult books so, I'm adding a component for genre books written for adults. Hence, the "A" in the challenge title.

2012 Battle of the Kid's Book Reading Challenge
Every year School Library Journal hosts a Battle of the Kids' Books to find the best book of the previous year. They get celebrity judges, authors all, to read two  of 16 books and determine which will move on until only 1 is left. I discovered the challenge in 2010 and read 11 of the 16 books.  Last year I read 15.  My goal for 2012 is to read all 16 and try to pick the winner!

I'm creating a challenge page that will list a combination of books I want to read or have read for challenge.

Are you up to the challenge?  What are your reading goals for 2012?

UPDATE: Adding a Newbery Awards challenge that will cover three to four years! Check out Watch.Connect.Read for details! Totally "stress-free" #nerdbery challenge! Yay, Mr. Schu and Mr. Sharp!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Reading Challenge 1 - Holiday Bookaday

This is my second year joining Donalyn Miller, The Book Whisperer, in holiday #bookaday.  We challenge ourselves to read a book each day we are not at work.  I have 16 days off and many books to tackle for Mock Newbery and Mock Printz plus I have two books to read from The Nerdies and two recommendations. Hmm..

Ok, without further ado, my holiday #bookaday Hope to Read list
  1. Under the Dome by Stephen King
  2. The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner
  3. Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger
  4. Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
  5. Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
  6. Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones
  7. Shelter by Harlan Coben
  8. Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson
  9. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
  10. The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman
  11. Everybody Sees The Ants by AS King
  12. Saving June by Hannah Harrington
  13. Until There Was You by Kristan Higgins
  14. Never Forgotten by Patricia McClintock
  15. One for the Money by Janet Evanovich
  16. Invisible Sun by David MacGinnis Gill
  17. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
  18. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Not on original list but read
Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Retribution by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Small as An Elephant by Jennifer Jacobson

That's  good place to start, but there's more than 16 books and some of them are long! I better get cracking! Do you have any days off coming up?  If so, what are your holiday reading plans?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Aneeqah's Not So Real Life- Books I Want to Recieve

Even though we don't celebrate a holiday this time of year, I always have a book wishlist!! =) Here's my list:

1. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
2. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
3. Fateful by Claudia Gray
4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
5. Sweet Venom by Terra Lynn Childs
6. Shatter Me by Tahereh Mai
7. Carrier of the Mark by Leigh Fallon
8. Legend by Marie Lu
9. Wildfire by Karsten Knight
10. Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

Also, here are the top 10 books I'm anxiously awaiting for in 2012!

1. Insurgent by Veronica Roth
2. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
3. Endlessly by Kiersten White
4. Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
5. City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare
6. Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake
7. The Enchantress by Michael Scott
8. Untitled (Red Pyramid #3) by Rick Riordan
9. The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
10. Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Happy holidays everybody! Make some time to snuggle in a blanket by the fire with a good book. :)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

KRW Lucy - Books I Want in 2012

Ninja Chica Lucy has a good mix of old and new titles she's looking forward to and you can see, she's keeping it real!

1. The Death Cure by James Dashner
2. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
3. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
4. Left to Love by Jolene Perry (I don't know when the release date is! But I really want it when it comes out!!)
5. 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
6. Facing the Giants by Eric Wilson
7. The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
8. Leap Day by Wendy Mass
9. Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass
10. 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
11. 12 Finally by Wendy Mass
12. 13 Gifts by Wendy Mass
13. Pure Red by Danielle Joesph
14. Win Forever: Live, Work, and Play Like a Champion by Pete Carroll and Yogi Roth
15. Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters by Chesley B. Sullenberger and Jeffery Zaslow
16. My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald
17. A Father's Love: One Man's Unrelenting Battle to Bring His Abducted Son Home by David Goldman
18. Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me by Howie Mandel and Josh Young
19. The Summer Before Boys by Nora Raleigh Baskin
20. Just Don't Fall: How I Grew up, Conquered Illness, and Made it down the Mountain by Josh Sundquist
21. Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Lynn Vincent and Todd Burpo
22. Through My Eyes by Nathan Whitaker and Tim Tebow
23. Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss and Love by Matt Logelin
24. Side Effects by Amy Goldman Koss and Osho
25. Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley

Loving to Read One Step at a Time

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Bellanush - Books I Want in 2012

Ninja Chica Isabella of Bellanush

Well I have a lot of books that I want to get for the holidays so it was hard to narrow it down to ten! I managed though so here are the

Top Ten books I would like to recieve:

1. Crosssed by Ally Condie
2. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
4. Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin
5. Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O'Roark Dowell
6. Entwined by Heather Dixen
7. Halo by Alexandra Adornetta
8. Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
9. Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
10.Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

That's my list! Happy Holidays! :)

Ninja Chica Anusha of BellaNush

Here are the books I would LOVE to receive:

1. Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick
4. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce
5. Sweet Venom by Tera Lynn Childs
6. Nick & Norah's Infinite Play List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
7. A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
8. This Isn't What It Looks Like by Pseudonymous Bosch
9. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
10. Torn by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Happy Holidays everyone!!!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Sunday Salon - Books I Want to Read

This week some of the Ninja Chicas and I will be posting about books we want to read in 2012. Today is my day.

 In no particular order (except the first two!):

  • The Fault is In Our Stars by John Green
  • Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta - LOVED Finnikin of the Rock
  • Endlessly by Kierstin White
  • The Enchantress by Michael Scott
  • Outpost by Ann Aguirre
  • The Outcasts by John Flanagan
  • Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
  • When She Woke by Hilary Jordan
  • Boy 21 by Matthew Quick
  • Wintertown by Stephen Emond
  • The Accidental Creative by Todd Henry 
  • Invisible Sun by David Maginnis Gill
  • Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
  • Midnight in Austenland by Shannon Hale
  • Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
  • The Dead of Night by Peter Lerangis
  • Insurgent by Veronica Roth
  • Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
  • The List by Siobhan Vivian
  • Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick
Those are just the tip of the reading iceberg!! There are many more on my Goodreads To Read list! And also on the Cybils 2011 Fantasy and Science Fiction nominee list!  I'd like to work my way through the middle grades list!

What's on your list?  What's coming out or has been on your TBR pile for quite a while?


Monday, December 12, 2011

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree by Ann Weisgarber - Review and Blog Tourr

Personal History of Rachel Dupree
Ann Weisgarber
Penguin Books

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree opens with Liz, Rachel Dupree's six year old daughter, sitting on a plank that's being lowered into a well.  Liz isn't being drowned, she's going down to get water for the family because the drought has left them with no other options.  Or so Isaac Dupree has convinced his wife Rachel there are no options.  They've been married a long time and Rachel is starting to lose faith in Isaac.  She's seen him put their land ahead of the welfare of the family too many times.  He will do ANYTHING for the land. Not so much for his family.

Rachel and Isaac have been married a long time.  They met when Rachel was a cook in Isaac's mother's boardinghouse.  He came home after the war and she fell in love. Isaac fell in love too, but not with Rachel.  More with the land she could give him.  He was determined to go west and make his fortune as a landowner and he was entitled to 160 acres.  He didn't want to marry Rachel but he could see how she felt about him.  And he did want her 160 acres - immediate land doubling.

So, they got married and both Rachel and Isaac thought they got what they wanted. They were both wrong.

Ann Weisgarber tells the Personal History of Rachel Dupree in alternating time periods but always through Rachel's eyes.  While Rachel's story of love making you blind is compelling, I find the setting is an even stronger character: the drought so strong they could only take sips of water, the lightning storm that promised survival on one hand but didn't quite make it, the landscape so harsh that all the neighbors were leaving them.  Rachel uses the weather as sort of a touchstone, it brings backs memories of other, mostly happy times. These times serve to give Rachel the strength to make some tough decisions.  Or at least to plan them.

I'm hoping that if I'm in the situation that Rachel is, where my husband continually proves that he doesn't actually love me but really loves the land, where my husband continually puts my children and me in danger, when my family is about out of food and my husband will not ask his mother for money, where there is never enough money, ever. I hope that I don't wait over 14 years to get strong. I hope that I'll pay attention to the signs that he gives me along the way.  That the ache I get from his disapproval - and my kids too - serve as a warning.

Even sort of knowing what's going to happen doesn't prevent The Personal History of Rachel Dupree from pulling you in. The vivid scenery descriptions place this book solidly in the 1900s. The tumbleweeds, the shack, the clothing - this is good historical fiction.

About the Author
Ann Weisgarber was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio. She was a social worker before earning a master’s degree in sociology at the University of Houston and becoming a teacher. She divides her time between Sugar Land and Galveston, Texas.

The Personal History of Rachel Dupree has been optioned for a film my Viola Davis who played Abilene in The Help.

Thanks to Penguin Books and TLC Book tours for the book!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand Review

Review Done By: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life


Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Genres: Angels, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

My Review: First off, I would like to thank the publishers of this book, HarperCollins, for giving me a free e-arc of this book. I appreciate it so much!

So, in this sequel to Hallowed, Clara is trying to piece together the fire, what was supposed to happen. She can't seem to figure out what she was supposed to do that faithful night. And all the while, things are changing. Clara is forced to learn things, whether she likes it or not. And not all of things are good.

Before anything, let's take a moment to admire the absolutely gorgeous cover! It's stunning! I'm going to seriously have to buy the book, if only for the cover! [If you couldn't guess, I love beautiful covers.] I totally judge books by their covers, and this book lived up to its cover!

I think it should be known that I stayed up until 3 AM reading this book. Yes, 3 AM. I'm not even exaggerating a bit. I finished the book at 2:56 AM, and then thought about it for another good 10 minutes, then finally fell asleep. I don't think the right word is addicting, but compelling. This book just made me want to read and read, to figure what was next, what was going to happen. There was a lot of suspense, lots of it, which is what really made the book compelling.
Another thing that made this book so amazing, so compelling, are the plot twists. There were just things that I half-suspected, things that I probably should have seen coming, and things that just plain surprised me, things I could have never expected happening, but they did. I don't think Ms. Hand over-did the twists, I think they were carefully placed to make you want to gobble up the book, which is in fact, exactly what I did.

But the main thing I must have loved about this book is that it grabbed your heart, made you want to cry. Characters in this book are facing lots of grief, and that grief is conveyed so so well, that at time, I felt like my heart was wrenched along with the character's, and I had tears in my eyes at multiple points and it was the middle of the night. So that's a pretty amazing thing, considering I never cry, especially when I'm reading in to the night. But I literally had tears in my eyes. The writing was just so phenomenal, I felt like I was with the characters, like I was a part of their life. It's a hard thing to do, but Ms. Cynthia Hand did an amazing job at it. I don't think I could have felt more connected to the story than I did.

I could honestly go on and on about the things that I loved about this book. But one important thing is that we did get to see more Christian in this book, and that's something I definitely liked. He was there in the last book, but I feel like he's a little more involved in the book this time around. We learn some pretty interesting stuff about him as well, and even though it wasn't utterly surprising, I think it was good information to know.

Also, we got answers in this book. It was about time. I hate it when authors stretch things out so long, where we get no answers for multiple books, but we got some pretty good answers in this book, about a multitude of things, things that I thought were minor at first, but really weren't. I really don't want to spoil it for anybody, so I'll just leave it that.

Why didn't I give this book a full 5 stars? Well, the main reason is our dear Clara herself. For basically the whole part of the book, except the end, she makes bad and plain stupid decisions, as well as a few other characters in the book. But it was mainly Clara. It just made me mad at her, even though I know I really shouldn't blame her. But, honestly, they were just so selfish and stupid and ignorant at times, I wanted to punch her. But she did really mature at the end, which is something I definitely liked, and that really made the book for me. Honestly though, having Clara be a pain throughout the whole book was just plain frustrating to me. She shouldn't have acted like she did.

Other than that, and a few minor problems that I had with the book, it was amazing. I was so afraid that this second book wouldn't live up to the first, especially with all the buzz and hype that the first book got, but I think this will please readers of the series, like me. =)

The book, thank goodness, didn't end with a total cliffhanger. I would say it ended similarly to Unearthly, in a place where you kind of wanted to know more, but you were okay with the book ending, unlike certain books I know *shoots scary look at particular books*. It's hard to explain, but I think the book ended well. But I still am dying to get my hands on the next one!

Overall, this book lives up to my expectations, and I think it may or may not live up to other people's expectations. Some may think it's alright, others might think it's amazing. I loved it in a different way than I loved Unearthly, and it was definitely different from the first book. This book deals with very real and true things, but Ms. Hand adds some things to it to make it, you know, fantasy. It's different from Unearthly, but in a totally good way. It's absolutely and utterly worth reading, and it's one of my favorites of the year!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Next Door Boys by Jolene B. Perry - Review and Giveaway

The Next Door Boys By Jolene B. Perry GIVEAWAY!
Review by KRWLucy

Leigh is just a trying to be a normal teen living a normal life. However, she is recovering from Ovarian Cancer. She is cancer free, and has convinced her parents to let her roam free into the college her experience. (Her brother lives next door, so they really have nothing to fret about)

At times Leigh gets weak, and is having problems staying awake. She doesn't worry about it much as she doesn't want to be an outsider.

Along the journey she meets some guys.....  (NO I WON'T SPILL THE BEANS!!)

When I started reading the book, I didn't realize that religion was a big part of the book. Once doing some research I learned why the temple was a big part of the book. I'm glad I stuck with it, as I couldn't put it down!!!

I was able to connect with the characters which is a big thing for me. I am very good at forgetting characters, but with this I didn't! I kept thinking of them after I finished the book. I keep making predictions on what happens in the next book!

I'm very impatient when it comes to books, so I'm dying to know when the next one comes out! I was almost not sure there was going to be a next one. It left me on a cliffhanger so after doing much research, I saw there was one, I screamed YES! I hope it comes out soon!! (It is called Left to Love)

I would like to thank Net Galley, and Cedarfort for letting me have the opportunity to read this book.

Giveaway Information- 
The giveaway is open to North America and International. 
If you are an International winner you can ONLY receive an ebook. 
If you live in North America you have the option of a hard copy or an ebook.  
How do you enter?- 
Leave ONE comment telling me your most unexpected read, and why.
Leave an additional comment if you tweet about the giveaway. You must use the hash tag-    #nextdoorKRWLucy
Winners will be chosen by
Entries must be in by Sunday December 11, 2011, 11:59pm


~Loving to Read One Step at a Time

Monday, December 5, 2011

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody - Review

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody
Farrar Straus Giroux
June 2011

About 'My Life Undecided':

"...Brooklyn Pierce, a fifteen year-old girl notorious for making bad decisions, enlists the help of the online blog reading population to vote on how she should live her life. But some things in life simply aren't a who you fall in love with."
(from publicist)

Pretty good book. I thought the idea of it was fun and creative. Maybe not my favorite book but it was still good. What I don't get is that she didn't learn from her mistakes, which yeah is the point of the book and why she is writing the blog but still, wouldn't you think that she might have said to herself "Hey, you know I'm not making the wisest decisions. Maybe I should think before I act..." But no she doesn't. Which is kinda stupid of her, but amusing and frustrating to the reader all at the same time. And you would also think that she would realize that she likes Brian WAY sooner, but you know, that proves just how dense she is sometimes. I liked how her sister screwed up, and showing the sisterly love a little bit. I also liked how Brian completely adored her. He seemed to be a really sweet guy who is understanding , intelligent, and really cares about the people he loves. Also, the game of Truth or Dare was...interesting. :) All in all, it was a good book and I hope other people enjoy the book like I did. (review by Isabella)


Would you put your fate into the hands of blog readers?

Jessica Brody web

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Sunday Salon - The Ninja Chicas

Please welcome the Ninja Chicas!

Here they are talking about Books Students Like to Read.  Check out their linked pages for more information about them and the books they like to read. Review Policy here.

Aneeqah's Not So Real Life -  I think it depends on where you are. Where I am, kids seem to be interested mainly in realistic fiction. I think it helps them connect their experiences with something.

Keeping it Real With Lucy - I don't know what books are popular with kids my age - I see them reading fantasy, realistic, science fiction. It all depends on what students like. (And if they don't like to read... I hand them a book to start!)

Isabella and Anusha of Bellanush - Isabella says: I think action for guys because its almost always about fighting,blood and death. I think girls also like action but do enjoy a good romance book because everyone loves when the gorgeous guy comes and helps the girl and how they will always be together. But I think most girls like when it doesn't end well and they have to work it out.

Anusha Says:  Alot of action/fantasy books, because people have short attention spans [like me!]  and need to be intrigued

Alexa of Simon Cowell's Corner - I believe that books that kids my age really like to read are romance novels, (though I really don't enjoy them) All kids, mostly girls, at the pree-teen age like to imagine if they had a boyfriend like the wonderful, non-realistic ones they experience in novels.

The Sisters - We would both have to say fantasy, mystery, Sarah Dessen (for girls), adventure, fantasy romance (once again girls, I have never seen a boy even look at twilight), sports books (for boys) and last but not least adventure.

The Ninja Chicas are looking for books to review.  Check out their posts by clicking the links and find out the types of books they would be interested in reading/reviewing.  Check out The Brain Lair for our review policies.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Blog Hop

Yippee! My computer was virused for the umpteenth time so I decided to scrap it and finally get a new one.  In celebration, I've joined The Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Blog Hop! A trillion, okay but it's over 200, blogs have gotten together and each blog is hosting a giveaway.  And you can enter on each site!!

Here at The Brain Lair we have two levels of giveaways:

1. An MG or YA book of your choice up to a $20 value!
2. An MG or YA book of your choice up to a $10 value!

How to Enter
Leave a comment listing one book you want to read before the New Year! 
Be sure to leave your email so that we can get in contact with you.  
The giveaway is open from December 2 - December 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm.  
Winners will be chosen randomly and announced on The Brain Lair December 7, 2011.  
Giveaway is open to US only! 
 Only one entry per person!

After you enter here - look below and hop on over to another blog and enter their giveaway too! Yay for the holidays!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

I hope you all have a Happy Thanksgiving!
I'm gonna try to catch up on some reading from our Mock Printz Goodreads group! Happy Reading!

Mock Printz 2012's currently-reading book montage
Mock Printz 2012 182 members Reading the best of the best in Young Adult literature published in the previous year. Our goal is...

Books we're currently reading

The Berlin Boxing Club The Berlin Boxing Club
by Robert Sharenow
Start date: November 16, 2011

I Am J I Am J
by Cris Beam
Start date: November 16, 2011

Life: An Exploded Diagram Life: An Exploded Diagram
by Mal Peet
Start date: November 16, 2011

View this group on Goodreads »

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Adventures of Sir Gawain the True by Gerald Morris

Morris, Gerald. The Adventures of Sir Gawain The True. Houghton Mifflin. 2011. 14.99. 9780547418551.

Oh, Gerald Morris. You had me at "You don't think that just because you saved my life we're, you know, in love or something, do you?"

Sir Gawain the Undefeated was just that and while he didn't lack courage, King Arthur also wanted his knights to learn how to be kind and courteous.  Shortly after Gawain's less than stellar encounter with a lady and a dragon, (but no tattoo) King Arthur reminds his nephew, and the other knights, that chivalry is NOT dead! Sir Gawain is having none of it, I mean, he doesn't want to be called Sir Gawain the Love Doctor now does he? But, alas, we follow Sir Gawain and watch as he moves from a steadfast belief that "might makes right" to thinking carefully not only about situations but about the people involved in them. If you don't know anything about King Arthur, no worries, Morris takes the legend and brings it to an understandable and easy-to-grasp level.  This would be perfect in a classroom.  It's only 118 pgs and includes adventure, friendship, battles, and trickery all covered in a healthy dose of humor.  I can see it as a read aloud.  I'll be picking up the other two books in the The Knights Tales and you should too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - Review

Review Done By: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life


Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Magic

Review: This story is about a girl named Karou, who lives in a town called Prague, in the Czech Republic. She's a little unusual. She has blue hair, draws incredible well, plus other strange details, but the strangest thing being: she lives a double life. All of her life, she's been divided by her two lives, her normal one, and her not-so-normal one. And all of this time, she's always felt a little... off. But how could she not, working for a magical teeth-collecter?

I think I surprised myself in two ways while reading this book. Let's start with the good one. Even though there's lots of unfamiliar words and names in this book, I could remember them and keep them seperate without any problem. Usually, with lots of confusing names, I have to flip back in the book and try to figure out which person is which, what word means what, or I just keep reading and hope it makes sense to me. But I never found myself doing that in this book. Ms. Taylor made very distinct names and characters, and so it was very easy to keep up with everything.

The other thing I surprised myself with was that I easily guessed the whole mystery of the book. The whole question, the suspense, once I met the other important charcter, I guessed it with a snap. I'm not sure if it was supposed to be that obvious, because I'm absolutely terrible with figuring out the mystery. Seriously. Something could be so obvious, and I would totally miss it. But that wasn't the case in this book. Which very much surprised me.

One thing I also loved about this book is the description. I've read some very descriptive books before, and to be honest, I just skimmed through alot of those books. But the descriptions were so unique in this book, and it painted a picture of the whole scene to me. I think it defiantly added a whole lot to this book, and it made it better.

Also, I think Mrs. Taylor added lots of details in the magic aspect of the book. I don't want to give anything away, but I feel as everything is very well-thought out, and I don't even think I have any questions about how it all works, and trust me, I always have questions!

The things I didn't like about the book? The main problem for me would probably be that it dragged in places. I know the author had to set up the scene and everything, but for me, that took too long, and honestly, it got kinda boring in the beginning of the book. It took a while for me to actually begin to get really intrested, and even then, the book sometimes lost my intrest near the end. The middle was for sure the most intresting part for me, where there was some really good conflict and some action.

Another thing I strongly disliked was the fabulous cliffhanger. Honestly, I shouldn't have expected more from this book. I don't think I've read a book that came out this year that doesn't have a cliffhanger. It would have been nice if this book would have been different, but of course, it didn't. Cliffhangers are really starting to get on my nerves. But, hey, that's the price you pay for reading good books, right?

In the end, I think this book is great for more older readers. Younger kids won't really enjoy it, since it doesn't have much action in it. Honestly, I was expecting more action than what I got, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it was still a pretty good read. I'll be looking forward to the next one!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Sunday Salon -Hound Dog True by Linda Urban

Hound Dog True. Urban, Linda. Harcourt Children's Books. 149p. 15.99. 9780547558691.

This is the story of Mattie Breen.  A shy, ten-year-old girl who's always moving and just wants to be a "custodial apprentice". Hound dog true.  Mattie figures if she works with her uncle, Potluck, during recess adn other school-related free time, she can avoid the debilitating effects of being new and friendless and having no one to sit next to or chat with. Then Mattie meets Quincy. Quincy has this unaffected way of talking, like everything and everyone is boring.  You know the tone. It's how the word "whatever" became so ubiquitous.  Anyways (ha!), to Mattie, Quincy is like this sophisticated teen and she's afraid that she'll be rejected by her so she's determined to avoid her and spare herself the heartache.  Unfortunately, her mother has other ideas.  So Mattie decides she can be cool and unconcerned. But you can only pretend for so long.

I was a Mattie.  Still am.  I prefer books to people because I always feel out of my league. Like, why are these sophisticated people talking to me. Or, more often than not, why aren't these sophisticated people talking to me! How can I be more like them?  How did they become so awesome? Is there some secret school these people went to that I need to know about? Luckily, since I read a lot, I know all about characters and I routinely try different ones on hoping no one notices and they accept this new "me".  It leaves me on edge, always second guessing myself, checking my words before spitting them out.  It's why I love texting and twitter.  I can be anybody! Hound dog true.

But, enough about me, please! Linda Urban has a passion for what she calls "quiet books", as evidenced by both Hound Dog True and A Crooked Kind of Perfect.  This is one of those quiet books that, on the surface, seems like not much is happening, but underneath, you can see the changes in Mattie, the struggles she's facing and attempting to overcome, and you root for her and you pray and you hope and you keep reading because if Mattie can do it, so can you.

For you writers out there, check out Urban's earlier attempts at Hound Dog True. It gives you hope.  Don't give up because you didn't wake up with a vision and the story pretty much writes itself.  Sometimes the good stuff takes patience and perseverance. Poor Moe.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Flint Heart by Katherine Paterson - Eligible?

The Flint Heart. Paterson, Katherine and John.  Candlewick Press, 2011. 19.99. 9780763647124.

This "freely abridged" version of Eden Phillpott's The Flint Heart written in 1910. It says abridged - Phillpott's story was 334 pg and Paterson's is 288, but it appears to be the same story. I wonder if it's eligible for the Newbery?

According to the Expanded Rules of the Newbery Manual, a book should be an original work. Something New.  It can have parts pubbed before.  But, each committee has to determine what that means to them.  I think this one is NOT eligible but would love to hear your thoughts.

I did find something in the comments on The Heavy Medal blog when they discussed The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship Of Her Own Making.  But, as mentioned, rules depend on committee. If you were on the committee, what would you say?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Bellanush Review

 Graceling by Kristin Cashore. Graphia. 9780547258300. $9.99

Reviewed by BellaNush

Isabella says:

I loved this book! I just enjoyed everything about it! It was an  interesting idea. The two different colored eyes, Katsa's graceling being survival not killing, Po losing his sight! I was absolutely mesmerized by this book. :) Yes, Po losing his sight did make me sad, but it also seemed needed. So I definitely enjoyed this book and I hope others do to. I think this is a good book for people who like descriptive writing and read a lot. But I also think people who don't read a lot would enjoy it because it has a wonderful plot.

Anusha says:

I didn't like this book. No, actually I hated this book! I found it boring, annoying, dumb, insufferable, and most of all, stupid. First off, I HATED the main character! I found her really annoying, because in the beginning of the book, Katsa seems very strong and unbreakable. Then in the middle, she was breaking down and crying over every little thing! Near the end, she was just a mess. Crying one second, taking down an army the next. In love one moment, furious the next. I hated her little mood swings! They were really annoying. The author could have made her a great character, but all we got was this ignorant, annoying, stupidly emotional, mess. It's pretty sad actually.... Second reason why I hated this book was the story. The idea of Gracelings didn't appeal to me from the start, but I thought it would get better. I thought the author would make them more interesting, but no. That never happened. The Gracelings could have been great for the story, but the author chose to focus on everything BUT them. I also hated the whole medieval theme. The characters speech pattern got really annoying after a while, and I just couldn't stand it! It didn't seem perfectly medieval,or at all normal. The speech was at an annoying level in between! Overall, I felt like the book was a COMPLETE waste of my time.

What do you think?


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