Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bloggiesta Update!

Hello everyone, this is Aneeqah once again! So, I have been hard at work on the blog. And I must say, I'm loving Bloggiesta! The mini-challenges are so great, and I've learned about so many things, like Windows Live Writer and SEO! I'm having a blast finally working on things that I've been meaning to do for such a long time.

Anyways, so here's my updated list:

-Update all reviews to GR
-Label all my posts
-Make sure all posts have same formatting
-Learn a little HTML coding
-Clean up the sidebars
-Update my challenge lists
-Update my read in 2012 list
-Write & schedule at least 4 posts- I want this to be a priority for me! I want to be more consistent in posting, and scheduling posts will help me do that.
-Update the calendar- add all the new releases and my posts
-Organize my TBR
-Update my NetGalley reviews
-Begin & finish adding all my reviews to Amazon
-Schedule a TBR post for April
-Find & follow at least 5 new blogs
-Explore & use Windows Live Writer
-Update the About Me page
-Look into making a graphic for my ratings
-Find/or make social media icons & add them to the sidebar

So, not bad! Hopefully, I'll get more things done tomorrow. What have you all gotten accomplished so far in Bloggiesta?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Batty About Books - Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Part 1

Yippee! Welcome to the inaugural posting of Batty About Books where Maria Selke (@mselke01) and I will read and review books together.

 Maria answered my tweet out - "Anyone want to be book buddies?" with an affirmative - SUCKER! No, really, I'm grateful and excited!

We decided to use Google Docs and DM each other on twitter to keep track of our reading.  We chose Graceling by Kristin Cashore as our first read - based on our love of fantasy and The Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy nominees list.  Many moons ago I read Graceling and I wanted to re-read it before Bitterblue finally releases in May! Yippee, again!

I will post my original thoughts in blue along with Maria's responses in purple here on The Brain Lair.  Maria will post her thoughts and my responses over on Maria's Melange.  Follow along as we "Bat"tle our way through the books!

BTW, we both love BatGirl and though you see Maria's shoes in the pic - mine are ordered and on the way! We hope you join us in our reading and please share your thoughts in the comments!

Graceling by Kristin Cashore - Beginning to Page 115
Kathy: I picked up the audiobook of this because I didn’t think I’d have time to read. Man, the time really flew by! The audio is done in full cast with sound effects and everything! I love it.  I have to post something now because I accidentally listened PAST where I was supposed to stop! I’m really glad we picked this one!
Maria:  I’ll have to check that out. I just finished my first audio book (Dead End in Norvelt). I don’t process audio well - I’m easily distracted - so I was pleased to see how I enjoyed that format (though I didn’t like that book).

Kathy: My first thoughts were about how Cashore chose many different types of Graces.   I love that there are graces for cooking, fighting and even swimming. I was thinking of the Grace I would like to have and also wondering why Cashore decided to call them “Graces”.  Just looked up the definition of Grace and one is “Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion” and it kind of makes sense. The Grace is such a part of who they are and yet it’s beautiful at the same time.  I also wonder why everyone is afraid of the the Graced.  
Maria: I agree. Though as a gifted resource teacher, I “get” the resentment that is sometimes shown toward those who have that “effortless” skill. I like the fact that she doesn’t have EVERYONE have a Grace. Though I’m surprised so far that they are outcasts. I’d expect that there would be some breeding to ensure better Graces, and I’d like to know if there are any genetic lines of the Graced.

Kathy: I think I would like the Grace of Housekeeping.  Not just cleaning the house but making it welcoming and inviting. Including the art of cooking. It’s my downfall. I never learned how to do those things and wish I knew how. What about you? 
Maria: If I could gain a Grace, I’d love to have a better memory. Not eidetic like my hero Barbara Gordon, though. I’d love to be able to pick and choose, decide which memories to store in my perfect mind’s eye and which to allow the normal progression of fading. (BTW, I’m a terrible housekeeper and I hate to cook. I do enjoy baking when I have a chance).

Kathy: Anyway back to the book. I like Giddon and Po and look forward to seeing how things play out between those two.  Po sounds so handsome and suave and Giddon so strong.  It’s clear Katsa is developing feelings for Po, but with Katsa’sstrong aversion to will Cashore advance this relationship? Why doesn’t Katsa want to get married? Did I miss that part? 
Maria: I love the budding triangle, as I mentioned in my section. The love triangle of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere is one of my favorite things in literature, and I love a well developed, tense, dramatic triangle. Sadly, it is so easy to get this wrong. So I hope that it continues to progress well. I don’t think I recall Katsa mentioning why she doesn’t want to get married, but I would guess it has something to do with the fact that she would be forced (she would believe) into a traditional female role if she were married. It probably also ties into her lack of a real female role model. Giddon’s overprotectiveness doesn’t help in this aspect. I think Po’s ability to see her as a valuable sparring partner may help her see that she can find a way to embrace her feminine side along with the rest of her. At least, I hope it does. Yet I also respect her desire to stay single. This was one of the things I disliked about Katniss in the later books.

Kathy: Was Cashore hinting at a relationship between Bann and Raffin? 
Maria: Intriguing thought. I didn’t pick up on much with Bann on this first read through, but I can really see this possibility as I think back on the text. I hope she is, actually. If she can do it respectfully and avoid stereotypes.

Kathy: And last but not least, what do you think Po’s grace is?
Maria: Hmmm... I hadn’t really thought about this, as I was assuming it was just tied into hand to hand combat. Are all the Graces completely unique? Can more than one person have the exact same combination? I remember Po claiming that he isn’t as skilled with things like throwing knives as Katsa is. He’s clearly skilled at hand to hand combat... but he always seems to be able to anticipate her moves. Maybe that ties in?
Katsa does also seem to have extra strong bone structure, as she avoids severe injury even when hit by Po. 

Tune in next week for Part 2!

Also, thanks to Jen at TeachMentorTexts and Colby at SharpRead for this wonderful idea!!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Slide by Jill Hathaway!

Slide (Slide, #1)I wanted to give a quick shout out to the book slide that comes out next Tuesday March 27th!
Vee Bell is certain of one irrefutable truth—her sister’s friend Sophie didn’t kill herself. She was murdered.

Vee knows this because she was there. Everyone believes Vee is narcoleptic, but she doesn’t actually fall asleep during these episodes: When she passes out, she slides into somebody else’s mind and experiences the world through that person’s eyes. She’s slid into her sister as she cheated on a math test, into a teacher sneaking a drink before class. She learned the worst about a supposed “friend” when she slid into her during a school dance. But nothing could have prepared Vee for what happens one October night when she slides into the mind of someone holding a bloody knife, standing over Sophie’s slashed body.

Vee desperately wishes she could share her secret, but who would believe her? It sounds so crazy that she can’t bring herself to tell her best friend, Rollins, let alone the police. Even if she could confide in Rollins, he has been acting off lately, more distant, especially now that she’s been spending more time with Zane.

Enmeshed in a terrifying web of secrets, lies, and danger and with no one to turn to, Vee must find a way to unmask the killer before he or she strikes again.

Why I would Like to Read:
Theres many reasons I would like to read this, but one of the reasons is the word murder. I like this types of books (to an extent) because they have to figure out who was there and what happened. Another reason is, wouldn't it be cool to slide into someone!?!?! To sliiiddee into someone elses body!! Imagine....

You can read the first 50 pages here
Here is the blog tour
Loving to Read One Step at a Time,

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bloggiesta 2012

Hello everyone, this is Aneeqah here! I heard about a Bloggiesta this year, and I thought it was a great idea, so I'm going to participate. The Bloggiesta is just where you work on your blog for a weekend. It's going on from March 30th- April 1st. You can spend the whole weekend working on your blog, or just a couple of hours, whatever works for you! You can find out more information HERE and sign-up HERE.

So, I have a long, long list of what I want to get acomplished. As of right now, I have no plans for the weekend, but something could come up. So hopefully, I can get most everything done! Here's my list:

-Update all reviews to GR
-Label all my posts
-Make sure all posts have same formatting
-Learn a little HTML coding
-Clean up the sidebars
-Update my challenge lists
-Update my read in 2012 list
-Write & schedule at least 4 posts- I want this to be a priority for me! I want to be more consistent in posting, and scheduling posts will help me do that.
-Update the calendar- add all the new releases and my posts
-Organize my TBR
-Update my NetGalley reviews
-Begin & finish adding all my reviews to Amazon
-Schedule a TBR post for April
-Find & follow at least 5 new blogs
-Explore & use Windows Live Writer
-Update the About Me page
-Look into making a graphic for my ratings
-Find/or make social media icons & add them to the sidebar
-Clean up the sidebars!

This isn't in any particular order, so I will probably be jumping around on my list. Let's hope I have a productive weekend next week!

Do you all have any other suggestions of what I should do? Are you participating? If so, please do comment. =)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood- Review

Reviewed by: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life- Teen Reviewer!
Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars
Genres: Historical Fiction, Dystopia
Release Date: Feburary 7, 2012
Source: The library!

Let me start of by saying this: I really wanted to love this book. I've heard so many good things about it, and I just had that feeling that I was going to love it. Also, the authors is so nice on Twitter, and I love her. But unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations.

So, let's start with the characters. Our protagonist is Cate, who is trying to balance everything from managing her sisters to keeping up with town appearances so no on suspects the Cahill family of witchery. I didn't like Cate at first. She was so stubborn, and sometimes was really plain mean to her sisters. But, I did grow to like her as the story went on. I liked that she wasn't perfect, but sometimes she just got on my nerves [especially towards the end, where she makes some really stupid decisions]. But overall, I liked her, even though she did irritate me.

The setting of the book was interesting. It seems like it's set in a dystopia 1900s type thing. Throughout the book though, I kind of wanted some more information. There was some mention of a Indo-China and war or something like that, but it was only mentioned once or twice. I'm hoping that we get to learn more about that in the next book, because it actually seems pretty interesting. The world-building doesn't seem complete to me in this book, so hopefully we'll learn something in the next one.

The plot started off quite boring, actually in the beginning, but the book really started getting interesting in the middle. There were some good plot twists that I didn't see coming, but there were also a few that were kind of obvious. I definitely wouldn't say this is an action packed book or super fast paced, but it was intriguing; you wanted to know what happened.

Now... the love triangle. I didn't really like it. To me, there was a case of almost insta-love, and I don't really like either of the guys. It's not very well done, and it seemed... a little forced, I guess. It would have been nice to see a little character development in both of the guys, so we could really see what they were like. So, I didn't really like it, at all.

Sometimes in the book, especially at the beginning, everything was downright depressing. Everything was going wrong, their mother is dead, Cate has to protect everyone, keep their identity a secret, etc. I mean, how can a 16 year old girl do that?! I wanted something actually happy for her. I can't imagine living through all that and still being totally sane. A little bit of happiness or happy events would have been great to the story, and make everything seem a little less hopeless, in my opinion.

And then the ending. I feel like it was so abrupt, a definite cliffhanger. We're left with so many questions, and I didn't really understand it. I felt like the events were so rushed. A little more time at the end would have been really good, so that we could understand everything. The book wasn't that fast paced, so the ending felt even more rushed at the end. It seemed like an almost awkward place to stop. Overall, it wasn't a very good ending, especially because it's a total cliffhanger [and we all know how everyone hates a cliffhanger ending].

So, in the end, it was a pretty good book, despite the problems. It was compelling to read, and I was interested in the story. But, there were so many problems that I couldn't fully enjoy the story. I still probably will read the next book [which is going to be called Star Cursed], although I won't be buying it, just getting it from the library.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Truth about Guys: One Guy Reveals What Every Girl Should Know--- Review

The Truth about Guys: One Guy Reveals What Every Girl Should Know by Chad Eastham


Okay, it's a fact. God made guys and girls different in more ways than just the physical.
But how different could we really be? After all, we are all made in His image, right? Well, yes, but let’s just say that guys and girls view the world in such different ways, that it’s a miracle we communicate at all. What’s worse is that girls this age often think they know what makes guys tick. That couldn’t be more wrong!
Chad Eastham tells it like it is . . . to girls . . . from a guy’s perspective. As a popular presenter at Revolve conferences, he is known for his ability to speak truth and to give girls clearer perspective about guys and themselves as well as understand their own value. Chad explains, “You are incredibly valuable and worthy simply because God created you.”

My Review:
This was such an interesting read for me. I have a great guy friend, and know some male teachers really well, and of course theres my classmates who are guys, and my brother and dad, and sometimes things they say or do annoy me and I don't understand why they do it! Sometimes it does get my agitated, but I'm a 14 year old girl! What else do you expect. There is a male teacher at my school who always loosens me up about it, and we laugh when I get mad.. but man somethings they can may you mad!!

This is a girl read. For the first part it talked about girls and how we think. Then it moved on too boys and how they think. Some were similar some were not! It gave good tips, and advice to make sure you have healthy relationships when you are older. It had great review/ discussion questions at the end, so it was great to answer certain things that you learned in you're own way.

It answered some of the most awkward questions possible too:P It was a great book, where it answered tons of good questions.

Chad Eastham had a hard time growing up. He mentioned that he didn't have that role model as a teenager, and he wanted to make sure some did. Its a hilarious read! I LOVED it!

Here are some of my favorites quotes, and sayings from the book:

"One day the guy gets down on one knee with a ring and asks you to marry him, very similar to the decision to finally purchase the car of his dreams. Then he stands at the altar and promises to protect the car, drive it nicely in the rain or shine, and never leave it outside in the cold to rust. I mean, he takes his marriage vows. Bottom line, he commits to something he now values remarkably."

"Deciding yes or no is one of those privileges that girls get. If I were a girl I would probably not throw that one away."

"Keep your head up and keep going forward. But know this. You do belong! You are valuable! I mean that with all my heart."

Loving to Read One Step at a Time

Friday, March 16, 2012

Blood Red Road by Moira Young- Review

Reviewed by: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life- Teen Reviewer!
Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genres: Dystopia, Post Apocalyptic
Release Date: June 7, 2011
Source: The Library!
My Review:

In this book, we meet Saba. She, her twin brother Lugh, her little sister Emma, and their father. They live in a desert-like place, in the middle of nowhere. But one day, a red sandstorm comes, and 4 mysterious horsemen come and take Lugh away. So Saba embarks on a journey to find her beloved brother Lugh.

I'm just going to say that I really liked this book. It definitely was not at all what I was expecting. For example, the world building. I thought it was pretty well done. There are still a few things that were never answered, but everything was really well thought out and it all made sense. Truly, this book had it all. Cage fighting, escape scenes, giant worm scenes [yes, I typed that correctly!]. Whenever something seemed dull, there was always another surprise around the corner. There were so many good plot twists, and unique things that really kept me reading. I was totally hooked when I read this story! It had it all, and I just devoured the book.

I also liked the characters, Jack being my favorite. I was surprised to find that I really cared about the secondary characters, which is usually a rare case for me! They were pretty well-fleshed out, they had their own personalities, and I just loved them. I even liked Saba, after I warmed up to her. Although, sometimes, she was so oblivious and rude, that I wanted to punch her. But, I loved how she was fierce and tough.

The writing style was also something very interesting in this book. I wasn't expecting it at all. At first, it seemed kind of disjointed, but I was surprised that it started flowing easily after a while. It required getting some used to, but after a while, I barely noticed it, which actually really surprised me. And I liked it, after finishing the book. It conveyed a message: Saba was a simple, tough girl, who didn't know how to read or anything. It was a simplistic writing style.

The beginning, however, was boring for me. I found myself mad at Saba, and just plain bored. I was beginning to think that I was going to give the book up, but then it actually starts to get good. And after that point, I was totally hooked. It just takes a long time to set everything up and to get used to the style of the writing, but after that, the book gets really good.

Saba, at times, was a problem for me. I did like her for the most part, but at the beginning, she was so ridiculously mean to her little sister Emma. I know I don't like one of my sisters, but I'm not that mean to her. She's your sister, you're not expected to love her at all times, but you can't be continuously mean to her 24/7.

So overall, I really liked this book! It's got lots of action, and it keeps you hooked, and it's so, so different from anything else that I've ever read. I definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a fast-paced, action-filled read!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2012 Battle of the Kid's Books - Round 1 - Sepetys vs Blumenthal

Some of my favorite children's authors have been selected to judge this year's Battle of the Kid's Books contest.  Check out the bios of Sara Zarr, Matt Phelan, Maggie Stiefvater, Jeff Kinney, and BARBARA FLIPPIN' O'CONNOR!! (emphasis added ;)) I mean, have you read The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis?? If not, go, now, do it!


Today we have two historical titles, one fiction and one nonfiction, battling it out for the right to proceed to the next round! Both books bring an aspect of history to light that many students may not know much about.  The authors take little known bits of two major topics, the Holocaust and Prohibition, and make them informative and engaging. But who does it better?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

Ruta Sepetys brought to us another aspect of the Holocaust withe Lina and her family being sent to Siberia by the Soviet Secret Police.

"They took me in my nightgown."

Lina's story opens with the NKVD arresting her family. Their father is missing and they have no time to wait for him. They are hoarded onto a trunk and transported out of the city. That much we expect from reading past histories.

What follows are the horrors the family endures as they are led to a collective farm with a "shanty village". Lina, her mother, and her brother Jonas, are forced to sleep in a corner of a hut and pay "rent" to the owner. They have to dig with the blade part of a trowel. And they don't know why they are digging this hole. Since the collective grows beets and potatoes, they are sure they won't have to worry about food. They are wrong.  The rations they receive are meager at best, a smaller than palm-sized piece of bread.  With winter on the way, how will they survive?

Things go from bad to worse as the families are told they must sign a document stating they owe money to the government, they AGREED to work the farm, and they must work for 25 years!

Lina's mother is determined to do whatever it takes to keep her family safe and sound. Lina is determined to document what's left of their lives, so the people can know and maybe one day, her father will know what happened to his family.

Bootleg: Murder, Moonshine and the Lawless Years of Prohibition by Karen Blumenthal
This nonfiction picture book brings to life the era known as Prohibition. Blumenthal opens with The Valentine's Day Massacre - which I knew was when Al Capone was murdered but didn't know it was a part of the country's rebellion against Prohibition.  We then get some background knowledge of Morris Sheppard, who sparked the movement to stop the sale of alcohol.

This would prove to be more difficult that not.  Everybody drank alcohol since it was safer than water and cheaper than coffee! I mean, "families stared teh day with a glass of whiskey or cider."  In steps Carrie Nation, who believed divine inspiration led her to trash saloons. Soon she was in and out of jail and she died fighting to end sales of alcohol.  The book continues by telling us that Prohibition did not come easy even to the folks who passed the law.

The Winner?
I have to give it to Between Shades of Gray. I may have a bias against nonfiction though! I already lost the Amelia vs. Anya contest. And while I appreciated Matt Phelan's reasoning, I think kid's will side with me. There is something about Historical Fiction that draws you in to the story and leads you to find out more about what's going on. When I finished Between Shades of Gray, I immediately bought four copies and shared them in the school library. The teachers then started booktalking it in class.  Today is the first day, I've seen a copy in the library.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig- Review

Reviewed by: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life
Pretty Crooked by Elisa Ludwig
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genres: Contemporary
Release Date: March 13, 2012
Source: NetGalley
My Review:

In this story, we meet Willa. She's moving, once again, but this time, to a new and rich private school in Arizona. There, she meets the popular crew- but she also meets girls who aren't as fortunate as most of the kids at Valley Prep. Willa wants to help. How does she plan to do this? Willa's going to steal from the rich kids, and give gifts to the girls who aren't as rich, or popular.

I feel like this book was made for me [no, not the stealing part, the new kid part!]. I mean, I moved to a new, rich school this year. So, I felt like I could totally relate to that part of it. And I think Ms. Elisa Ludwig defintiely did her research. The way she described going to a new school, where everyone is so rich, is believable. Based on my experience, it all works and makes sense. It's so realistic. Like, how no one seems they're more popular than others, and how's there's not really any kids that get into trouble. My school isn't as extreme as Willa's new school, but that's kind of how it is for me here. That part of the book was perfectly done.

I'm usually not a fan of contemporary, but I liked this book! And, I don't like retellings in general, but I feel like this one was very well done. Usually with a retelling, you know exactly what's going to happen, but I was surprised when I read this book [maybe that's just because I haven't read Robin Hood, so I don't know what happens?]. But, it was very well done, and the author put it into the modern context really well.

I also liked the main character. Willa was very funny, a little sarcastic, and she was caring. That being said, I think she made some really stupid decisions. Does she have to steal things? Why not get a job and help people? There were moments where I wanted to hug her, and moments where I wanted to punch her. But, I could really see her compassion for others through the things she did. She just didn't make the smartest decisions.

There were alot of unanswered questions in this book. I know this is just book one in a series, but at least some questions should be answers. Almost nothing was answered, just left mysteriously dangling. And the ending, was none other than a cliffhanger. We finally get a hint at some answers, and then "BAM!" last page. It was just so frustrating for me.

Overall though, I enjoyed the book. I was really hooked towards the end, I didn't want to stop reading! I would definitely give this book a shot if you like to read contemporary, or want a cute and funny read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for allowing me to read and review this book!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Halflings by Heather Burch- Review

Reviewed by Aneeqah's Not So Real Life
Halflings by Heather Burch
Rating: 2.5/5 Stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy,
Release Date: January 17,2012
Source: ALA Midwinter [Thank you to the publisher!]
My Review:

So, in this book we meet Nikki Youngblood, your typical teenager. Or so she thought.But when I mysterious attack on her happens, three strange creatures called Halflings, are sent to protect her. But who are they protecting her from? Why is she being hunted? What's so special about Nikki?

I really liked the action in this book. The book starts out with a bang, and there's lots of action throughout the book that kept me reading, and a few twists I really didn't see coming. It was a really compelling read for me, and I loved that. I finished the book really quickly, since it was short anyways, and I wanted to see what happened. There were lots of questions and some mystery that also kept me hooked throughout the whole book.

Unfortunately, that's where the good really ends for me. Our main character, Nikkki Youngblood, is a strong, worthy fighter who keeps her ground. Or so we're told. I honetstly didn't see Nikki being strong at all throughout the book. She changes who she is for two guys she doesn't even know well at all. If you're telling me that Nikki is a strong character, then you need to show me that. It's the age old rule of "Show, Don't Tell." Would I describe Nikki as strong? Uh, no, not at all. She's just your average main protagonist trying to decide which guy to choose.

Another thing is the insta-love. And the love triangle. Both of these thing annoy me so, so much, I don't think I can voice my contempt for these things. And, guess what? Yep, there's not only insta-love in this book, but there's also a love triangle! Do you know how frustrating this was? Well, it was frustrating. Very frustrating. I like a well done love triangle [like in Cynthia Hand's UNEARTHLY series] but this certainly wasn't well done. Mace was just plain annoying to me. I tried so hard to like him, but he just seemed like an obsessed stalker [which he essentially was, actually]. And I don't understand why Nikki even liked Mace, either. I certainly didn't see why she liked him. Raven, on the other hand, I liked better. He was your typical bad-boy, though. There was nothing unique about him for me. Hard outside, soft inside, yes, yes, we've seen this before. And I especially didn't like the insta-love. Nikki immediately fell in love with both boys, although I could see how the author tried to make it non-insta-love [is that even a word?], but it didn't work, unfortunately. Nothing really did work.

Another thing I disliked was the writing. It was just mediocre. I could see some attempts at good writing, but it didn't work. Like I said before, I could see how the author tried to make Nikki's feelings for Raven build up, but it didn't work. I honestly don't know what was missing. I feel like the author needs a little more writing experience, or something to help out her writing. The writing definitely has potential, though, but it needs work. It wasn't horrible, it just wasn't good.

And lastly, but not least, the ending. A cliffhanger. Seriously? The three things I hate: insta-love, poorly done love triangles, and cliffhangers, all in one book. I didn't even fully comprehend the ending, and then "BAM!" it was over. I feel like I blinked, and it was over. There are some cliffhangers that are fantabulously done [which, I really do hate to admit, because I don't like cliffhangers] and they make you want the next book, but this ending didn't really do that for me. Instead of screaming with rage and throwing the book on the floor, I just scratched my head and said "Huh?". I feel like it was much too rushed and seemed kind of weird.

It truly breaks my heart to write this review. I got the opportunity to meet the author at ALA, and I got my book signed by her too. She was such a sweet person, so definitely go out and meet her if you ever get the chance. I'm only sad I didn't like the book as much as I liked her.

So overall, I liked the action, but there was just way too many things that kept me from enjoying the book. I would give this book a shot if it seems like something you might like, but be wary before you start.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler- Review

Reviewed by: Aneeqah's Not So Real Life
Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Genres: Contemporary
Release Date: June 1,2009
Source: Library
My Review:

In this story, we meet Anna. Her best friend is Frankie. Her other best friend was Matt. But they were becoming something more. And then he dies. This book is about Anna, a year after Matt's death, going on a trip with Frankie's family to California. They all are still trying to cope with Matt's death. So Frankie plans a game. They meet 20 boys in 20 days, and maybe Anna can finally have her romance. But Anna's heart is still broken from Matt, and here's the thing- Frankie never knew about Anna's budding relationship with Matt- because he died before he could tell her.

This is one of those books where my heart just ached, especially towards the end. By the end of the book, I was so attached to the characters. I really felt for Anna, Frankie, and Aunt Jayne. I wanted them to find their "Happily Ever After" and to move on. I was totally rooting for them, which is not something that I usually do with books. I really felt all the characters, which was amazing. They felt so real.

I also liked how not everything went as planned. Not everything you plan for a vacation actually happens, in real life. And that's how it was in the book, too, which added an even more realistic feel to the book. Not everything was perfect.

Also, the cover makes sense in the story. Yes, it's gorgeous, and that was definitely one of the reasons that I wanted to read it [because, you know, I absolutely love pretty covers!]. But after finishing the story, it totally makes sense. It's so well-thought out and fits well with the story. It's not a random girl in a dress, which most book covers are right now... So it's pretty, and it works with the book. Perfection.

However, there were some small things that I didn't like. For one, it's been a year since Matt's death. And it seems like it happened yesterday. Everyone is still depressed, crying, and everything. Shouldn't they have moved on? I've observed that it takes less than a year to accept death. Crying a little bit makes sense, but not full-out bawling all the time. Remember him, but try to move on.

There were a few other tiny things that I didn't like, but they're kinda spoilerish, so I'll just leave it at that. Overall though, it was a cute, heart-warming contemporary read.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg-Review

Reviewed by Aneeqah's Not So Real Life
The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Rating: 4.5/5 Stars
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Paranormal, Contemporary
Release Date: February 21,2012
Source: ALA Midwinter [Thank you to the publisher!]

Brie has died, from literal heartbreak. Like, her boyfriend said, "I don't love you." and her heart broke, literally. So now, she must go through the 5 stages of death so she can move on. But things start unraveling with her old life, and Brie can't do anything but watch as things fall apart.

I really liked this book. Brie was so funny, and sarcastic, she was such an amazing protagonist. She was so realistic too, I really felt like I could go and meet her in person [which I would totally love to do, actually]. Throughout her whole journey, she made realistic descioins, although some were frustrating, and at some points, I got kind of mad at her. But overall, I really liked her!

I also liked the whole concept of this book, how you had to pass the 5 stages of grief to move on, and how you had "a little slice of heaven". I feel like it was really well thought out, and everything made sense. Plus, it was so easy to understand, which is a total plus.

Another thing I really liked was the plot. Yes, a few parts were slightly predictable, but there was one twist that I never saw coming at all, which, I absolutely loved. My mouth was literally hanging open! It was that much of a surprise for me. It made sense really, and from there, a lot of other things really clicked for me.

I could truly go on and on talking about this book! But overall, I really loved this book; it was such a cute and moving read. I'm not usually a huge contemp fan, but this is definitely up there in my favorites! You definitely MUST give this book a shot!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

2012 Battle of The Kid's Books - Round 1 - Amelia vs Anya

Each judge has been getting his/her due over at SLJ's Battle of the Books headquarters.  Make sure you check them out! Which judge will judge which books? Say that 5 times fast!

Let the Battle Begin!

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming

The full title of this one is The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart. And there-in lies what sets this biography apart from others.  Candace Fleming does an amazing job of interspersing Amelia's life (I can call her Amelia, right?) with the story of her last flight. She also uncovers some heretofore unknown facts about Amelia as well as that flight. At least, unknown by me.

Fleming opens by telling us that we don't know Amelia as well as we thought we did.  Did we know that she was a marketing machine? That the "facts" we've always just known about Amelia's life are, at best, designed to make her appear a certain way.   Fleming also tells us that there is a possibility tht something small, like learning to use a radio, could have changed history as we know it.

The book is filled with pictures and charts, including Amelia's first report card and an ad for some clothes she designed. Amelia even wrote magazine articles and gave lectures.

One of the final passages in the book talk about how George Putnam was afraid "the mystery of her disappearance would overshadow Amelia's legacy." And, unfortunately, his fears were realized, at least for me, until Fleming wrote this book. I conclude with the beauty of the title - Amelia Lost - we lost what she meant to us beyond her flight. Now we can remedy that.

Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Graphic novel? Love it already. Brosgol's drawings are expressive; even the pages without words are full of emotion.  Anya's totally in love with this guy at school but, of course, not the guy whose in love with her. She has this friend Siobhan who alternately helps her out and rags on her. Just like most friends. Anya's so distraught about the way her life is going, er not going, that when she ditches school she's not paying attention to where she's walking and she falls into a hole. And there's a skeleton down there! And the ghost of the skeleton! And when Anya get's rescued, so does the ghost.

At first Anya and ghost Emily are like, BFFs. Emily helps her with her homework and her boy problems. But, you know ghosts, they.are.never.satisfied.

"Are you...are you smoking a ghost cigarette?"

Soon Emily doesn't want to stay dead. Or at least not alone.

The Winner?
What a complex pairing. Graphic novel murder mystery vs nonfiction biography. Both about girls whose names start with A. Amelia Lost brings to the forefront the rest of the story. We have a better idea of who Amelia Earhart was as a person, not just some soul who disappeared. In Anya's Ghost we take a trip back to high school. A time of trying to find out who you are and where you fit in. And avoiding the "wrong sort" of person and not turning down help. Even if it comes from a questionable source.

I enjoyed learning all about Amelia Earhart; how her hair wasn't naturally curly, how she went to live with her grandmother at the age of three to distract Grandma Otis from recent losses, and how George Putnam provided the opportunity for her to be the first woman, an American at that, to complete a flight across the Atlantic. But on second reading, I was a little bored.  On the other hand, I was even more intrigued on my second reading of Anya's Ghost. This time I could focus on the drawings and when and how Emily and Anya changed throughout the story. I ended up giving a booktalk for Anya's Ghost on our school's morning news show. 3 copies were checked out before 11:30. The fourth wasn't checked out because I still had it.  So you know what this means?

I give the go ahead to:
Anya's Ghost by Vera Brosgol


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