Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day

A new boyfriend is just a Facebook profile away!

Heidi Ryder comes back to school after summer break only to realize her three best friends have all coupled, leaving her to be the 7th wheel?  When a gorgeous guy sweet talks her, only to get her to do a favor for him, it looks from afar like she blows him off.  Why would she do that?  She MUST have a boyfriend!  Instead of coming clean, Heidi goes along with the notion that she has a boyfriend.  All it takes is a Facebook-type profile, an e-mail address and an IM account.  Presto!  Perfect boyfriend.  Until...

At the beginning of My Invisitble Boyfriend, I felt like I walked into the middle of a conversation at a party.  I felt a little lost, but I caught up eventually.  You see, Heidi doesn't only have an imaginary boyfriend, she also has imaginary conversations with the lead character from her favorite TV show.  The question is, can Heidi give up the ghosts and have a real life? 

There was plenty of enjoyable witty banter, especially between Heidi and her fictional TV character and her made-up boyfriend.  I love the fake names she gives to people like "Bleached Eric" and "Tarty McSlutcakes".  Too funny!  But then again, Ms. Day gives us some crazy named characters - Scherezade, Etienne, Yuliya, Safak are almost as bad as Renesmee!  Maybe I only think them strange because I'm from this side of the pond. 

This was a fun read, about a girl coming into her own, gaining confidence and learning to have a little more faith in her friends.

Visit Susie Day online.


About the Book:
My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day
Reading level: Young Adult (ages 13 & up)
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Scholastic Press (April 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0545073545
ISBN-13: 978-0545073547

FTC Statement: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New Stephenie Meyer Title!!!!

Can I just say....it's about time! 

Publisher's Weekly reported (click for full article) that Stephenie Meyer (of Twilight fame, in case you're living under a rock) is coming out with The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: An Eclipse Novella on Saturday, June 5.

One dollar from every book sold from the first printing will be donated to the American Red Cross International Response Fund.

As a gift to her readers, the book will be available to read online for free from June 7 to July 5 at http://www.breetanner.com/.

I heart Stephenie Meyer.

To read the author's post to her fans, go to Stephenie Meyer's website.

More at USA Today.
Official Press Release.




Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

These zombies just won't go away!  They are standing over my computer insisting that I post the first Chapter and the book trailer for the prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.  So, here they are!  Now go away, you're oozing all over my mouse!  Ew.



Chapter 1
by Steve Hockensmith,
Author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls


Walking out in the middle of a funeral would be, of course, bad form. So attempting to walk out on one's own was beyond the pale.

When the service began, Mr. Ford was as well behaved as any corpse could be expected to be. In fact, he lay stretched out on the bier looking almost as stiff and expressionless in death as he had in life, and Oscar Bennet, gazing upon his not-so-dearly departed neighbor, could but think to himself, You lucky sod.

It was Mr. Bennet who longed to escape the church then, and the black oblivion of death seemed infinitely preferable to the torments he was suffering. At the pulpit, the Reverend Mr. Cummings was reading (and reading and reading and reading) from the Book of Common Prayer with all the verve and passion of a man mumbling in his sleep, while the pews were filled with statues -- the good people of Meryton, Hertfordshire, competing to see who could remain motionless the longest while wearing the most somber look of solemnity.

This contest had long since been forfeited by one party in particular: Mr. Bennet's. Mrs. Bennet couldn't resist sharing her (insufficiently) whispered appraisal of the casket's handles and plaque. ("Brass? For shame! Why, Mrs. Morrison had gold last week, and her people don't have two guineas to rub together.") Lydia and Kitty, the youngest of the Bennets' five daughters, were ever erupting into titters for reasons known only to themselves. Meanwhile, the middle daughter, fourteen-year-old Mary, insisted on loudly shushing her giggling sisters no matter how many times her reproaches were ignored, for she considered herself second only to the Reverend Mr. Cummings -- and perhaps Christ Himself -- as Meryton's foremost arbiter of virtue.

At least the Bennets' eldest, Jane, was as serene and sweet countenanced as ever, even if her dress was a trifle heavy on d├ęcolletage for a funeral. ("Display, my dear, display!" Mrs. Bennet had harped at her that morning. "Lord Lumpley might be there!") And, of course, Mr. Bennet knew he need fear no embarrassment from Elizabeth, second to Jane in age and beauty but first in spirit and wit. He leaned forward to look down the pew at her, his favorite -- and found her gaping at the front of the church, a look of horror on her face.

Mr. Bennet followed her line of sight. What he saw was a luxury, hard won and now so easily taken for granted: a man about to be buried with his head still on his shoulders.


That head, though -- wasn't there more of a loll to the left to it now? Weren't the lips drawn more taut, and the eyelids less so? In fact, weren't those eyes even now beginning to --


Yes. Yes, they were.

Mr. Bennet felt an icy cold inside him where there should have been fire, and his tingling fingers fumbled for the hilt of a sword that wasn't there.


Mr. Ford sat up and opened his eyes.


The first person to leap into action was Mrs. Bennet. Unfortunately, the action she leapt to was shrieking loud enough to wake the dead (presuming any in the vicinity were still sleeping) and wrapping herself around her husband with force sufficient to snap a man with less back-bone in two.


"Get a hold of yourself, woman!" Mr. Bennet said.


She merely maintained her hold on him, though, her redoubled howls sparking Kitty and Lydia to similar hysterics.


At the front of the church, Mrs. Ford staggered to her feet and started toward the bier.


"Martin!" she cried. "Martin, my beloved, you're alive!"


"I think not, Madam!" Mr. Bennet called out (while placing a firm hand over his wife's mouth)."If someone would restrain the lady, please!" Most of the congregation was busy screeching or fleeing or both at once, yet a few hardy souls managed to grab Mrs. Ford before she could shower her newly returned husband with kisses.

"Thank you!" Mr. Bennet said. He spent the next moments trying to disentangle himself from his wife's clutches. When he found he couldn't, he simply stepped sideways into the aisle, dragging her with him.


"I will be walking that way, Mrs. Bennet." He jerked his head at Mr. Ford, who was struggling to haul himself out of his casket. "If you choose to join me, so be it."


Mrs. Bennet let go and, after carefully checking to make sure Jane was still behind her, swooned backward into her eldest daughter's arms.


"Get her out of here," Mr. Bennet told Jane. "Lydia and Kitty, as well."


He turned his attention then to the next two girls down the pew: Elizabeth and Mary. The latter was deep in conversation with her younger sisters.

"The dreadfuls have returned!" Kitty screamed.

"Calm yourself, sister," Mary said, her voice dead. She was either keeping a cool head or had retreated into catatonia, it was hard to tell which. "We should not be hasty in our judgments."

"Hasty? Hasty?" Lydia pointed at the very undead Mr. Ford. "He's sitting up in his coffin!"


Mary stared back at her blankly. "We don't know he's a dreadful, though.

But Elizabeth did know. Mr. Bennet could see it in her eyes -- because now she was staring at him.

She didn't grasp the whole truth of it. How could she, when he'd been forced to keep it from her for so long? Yet this much would be obvious to a clear-thinking, level-headed girl like her: The dreadfuls had returned, and there was more to be done about it than scream. More her father intended to do.


What she couldn't have guessed -- couldn't have possibly dreamed -- was that she herself would be part of the doing.


"Elizabeth," Mr. Bennet said. "Mary. If you would come with me, please."

And he turned away and started toward the altar. Toward the zombie.

The above is an excerpt from the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Steve Hockensmith, author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Author Bio
Steve Hockensmith is an award-winning novelist and reporter. His debut mystery, Holmes on the Range, was a finalist for the Edgar, Shamus, and Anthony awards. Critics have hailed the novel and its sequels as "hilarious" (Entertainment Weekly), "dazzling" (The Boston Globe), "clever" (The New York Times), "uproarious" (Publisher's Weekly), "wonderfully entertaining" (Booklist), and "quirky and original" (The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette). He lives in Alameda, California, with his wife and two children.

For more information, please visit www.QuirkClassics.com.

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Are You Reading?


Today is Monday, March 29, 2010...and welcome to this week's edition of It's Monday, What Are You Reading?  hosted by the lovely and talented Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.

This week did not go as planned, but does it ever?  I had big plans of diving into the ARC of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  Alas, I caught my son's Strep and my eyes could barely focus since my whole head hurt - it's one of those illnesses adults shouldn't get.  We're too wimpy.

The computer screen is already hurting my head, but hopefully soon I'll be back to write and post reviews for the amazing books I read this week!


Books I Completed This Week:


Books I am Currently Reading:


Books I Plan to Read this Week:
(yes, only three...they're heavy, I know my limits)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Review: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

Hilarious! 

Believe the hype, jump on the band wagon, join the fan club, Diary of a Wimpy Kid taps into the hearts, minds, and funny bones of kids of all ages!

My son first read this book when he was six years old.  I admit, much of it had to have been over his head - I sure don't think that he's worried about popularity in the 1st grade.   It didn't matter...the book is genius!

If you don't know anything about the book, it's a Diary, oh, ahem, excuse me, JOURNAL, written by Greg Heffley, who uses the pages to write and draw his experiences of his first year of junior high.  

My son wanted me to take him to the movie, but he reminded me that I first had to follow my own rule - you must read the book before you see the movie!  So, I read the book, and loved every minute of it.  Yes, parts of it made me go, "Ewwww!" out loud, but as all boys know, things that gross Mom out - like boogers, and stinky cheese - are the funniest things ever! 

I think the best review of this book comes from my son.  He is 7 years old and an avid reader, but these books are different.  He waits anxiously for each book to come out, and begs me to take him to the store to pick it up.  Once he gets one of these books in his hands, the rest of the world ceases to exist.  No Legos, no Sponge Bob, not even dinner will distract him from reading the book.  He would take it in the shower with him if I let him!   My son has read the Wimpy Kid books over and over again .  The bindings are broken, the covers are peeling and the pages are dog-eared.  In an adult book, this kind of treatment of a book is wrong, but for a child's book, it means the book is well-loved.  There is nothing in the world better than that!

Books a 7 year old will love?  Bring it on! 

Book Extras:
Click here: Diary of a Wimpy Kid 5 - Pre-Order Now
Visit the Diary of a Wimpy Kid website.
About the Book:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Hardcover: 224 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books; Third Edition edition (April 1, 2007)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0810993139
ISBN-13: 978-0810993136

About the Author:
Jeff Kinney is an author of children's books including Diary of a Wimpy Kid book series. Jeff was born in College Park, Maryland, in 1971 where he created a comic strip called "Igdoof."






Wednesday, March 24, 2010

YA New Releases

The Tenners are the YA authors who are releasing their debut novels in 2010.  They have just come out with their book trailer for the upcoming releases for spring.  Check out what is coming in April, May and June.

Do you want to know why I'll never be caught up on all the books I want to read?  Right here, people!
 This is why my to-be-read pile keeps growing!! 



Review: Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick

On its own, a great book. 

Read at any other time, I would have been gushing over Hush, Hush.  Unfortunately, I read it in the same week I read Fallen by Lauren Kate, and the two were so similar they blurred together. 

I was so excited to read Hush, Hush by Tenner Becca Fitzpatrick, I nearly grabbed it out of our babysitter's hands when she brought it over to read after the boys went to bed.   A copy finally became available at the library, and I devoured it practically in one sitting.

Here is my version of the synopsis, even though I have issues with it - as outlined in my post What's a Book Lover To Do?  Hot immortal guy - Patch - meets generally plain girl - Nora Grey.  They fall in love, but his secret immortal status makes things very complicated.  We spend at least a hundred pages trying to figure out exactly what he is, until Nora enters a few words into Google and, bingo, she figures it all out.  Then we spend the next hundred pages trying to figure out if we can trust him.   Someone is trying to kill Nora, and her best friend thinks Patch is dangerous, so Nora must decide if she should follow her head or her heart.

The mom in me wanted to scream at Nora's bad judgement.  Someone is stalking her, possibly trying to kill her, ransacks her room and she's are still all swoony with the guy who can manipulate her thoughts and actions?!?  What?!?  I'm not sure I like this girl who makes such risky choices, especially since she is the only person her mom has left after her father was killed.  I know this isn't a new issue with YA fiction, but I get that it is fiction.  I'm not starting a debate.  It's my problem.  I'll deal with it and move on. 

A word on Patch.  I know I'm not the only one with issues on the name "Patch" and we all have our theories.  I need to know where Becca Fitzpatrick came up with this name!  It's distractingly bad.  Was this an homage to the Days of Our Lives character from 1980s?  Are you old enough to remember him?  He was the guy who was married to Kayla Brady...and wore an eye patch, imagine that.  Something tells me that not even the author is old enough to remember Patch and Kayla.  Moving on.

Speaking of names, I am also wondering about the name of the novel itself.  I'm not sure where "Hush, Hush" falls into the storyline.  Did I miss it?  Can someone enlighten me?

I am thrilled that I finally read a YA book that wasn't set up to be a part of a series.  There is something greatly satisfying about coming to the end of a book and having it all wrapped up with a nice little bow.   Oh, nevermind.  Crescendo, the sequel to Hush, Hush is due out in November 16, 2010.  At least now we know who is the good guy and who is the bad guy, so I don't have to go around wondering what kind of girl Nora Gray is that she invites dangerous mysterious men into her life.  Now that she knows who to trust, she can keep herself out of trouble (SURE she can!).

Becca Fitzpatrick can write, that I can not deny.  She had my attention and kept it while I flew through the book in just over a day.  I was engaged, I was entertained, and even though the story wasn't anything new to me, Hush Hush was suspenseful and exciting.  It works. 

If you enjoy Young Adult paranormal fiction, you can't get much better than Hush, Hush.  It really was a great book on its own, without comparing it to anything else. 

That being said, I need to take a break from the genre for a while, as per orders from my book blogger friends. 



Visit the author's website:  Becca Fitzpatrick
Visit the offical book site for Hush Hush

Watch the Trailer:



Watch the Author:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Book to Movie Trailer: Eat, Pray Love

I haven't read the book...yet.  Following my golden rule - I will read the book before I see the movie. 

If you've read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert,    talk to me.  What did you think?  Should I read it? 

Monday, March 22, 2010

What Are You Reading?


Today is Monday, March 22, 2010...and welcome to this week's edition of It's Monday, What Are You Reading, hosted by the slam dunkin', three point-shootin', master at drawing the foul, Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books.  It's March Madness, you know!

This week, I had several people give me looks, or come right out and ask me, "What the HELL are you reading?"  See below to judge for yourself - was I the crazy one, or was I surrounded by a bunch of stark raving loonies?

Books I Completed This Week: (Hey, I was busy!)


Books I am Currently Reading:



Books I Plan To Read This Week (also known as the books I know I should be reading, and will unless something else catches the interest of my ADD brain):



Yes, I saw the Wimpy Kid movie this weekend with a couple of very cool 7 year old boys - who both agreed that the book was better than the movie (I couldn't have been more proud!!!).  I'll do a movie review this week.

I am loving the Maze Runner, like you all said I would.  I'm just not quite finished with it yet.  Keep you eyes out for a review!

I'm limiting myself to three books as my goal this week, since I plan to savour every word of The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  It came on Saturday, and I can't wait to dive in! 

No, I don't usually meet my reading goals, and I'm ok with that.  Books that were on my TBR list three weeks ago are still sitting on my shelf unread.  I'll get to them, I promise, but people keep giving me really cool books to read, and I get sidetracked.   Forgive me!

Happy reading, all!

Review: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Powerful...moving...and horrific.

"My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."


So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her — her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, THE LOVELY BONES succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy. - Synopsis

It's not often I find writing so powerful that I am weeping after only the first page. 

I once read a review in which the reviewer had a hard time using words like "beautiful" or "enjoyed" and I wish I could remember who that reviewer was, because now that I am trying to put this into words, I myself am at a loss.  One does not "enjoy" a book like The Lovely Bones.  Did I turn the pages easily?  Yes.  Was I intrigued by the story?  Yes.  Did I connect with the characters?  Yes.  But, just don't ask me if I enjoyed the book.  Here's an example of why:

"And they had never understood, as they did now, what the word horror meant."


I re-read this book for my book club, having first read it seven years ago.  What was the difference between reading it now and reading then?  Motherhood.  There are some great books on my shelf that are worth revisiting for numerous reasons, but this is one of those books that took on a whole new meaning the second time around. 

There are a lot of people who have already read The Lovely Bones, and many more who have seen the movie.  Still, there is no way to spoil this book by talking about it.  You know right from the start that Susie Salmon is dead and you know who her killer is, even if her family doesn't.  This is not a murder-mystery.  A girl went missing one day.  This is her story and it's the story of the family and friends she left behind to deal with the horror of losing her.  What makes this story unique is that it's Susie's story, from her point of view as she watched her family after her own death.

"I saw the chances of Mr. Harvey's capture diminish as I watched the end of my family as I had known it ignite." 

Susie's family is broken.  Her father and mother, especially, are broken.  Sebold's writing paints a picture of grief like none that I've read before or since.  All of this being said, while the content and scenes are heavy, there are a few lighter moments that help to move the storyline along, especially those with Susie's grandmother, whose primary goal is to give the family back some semblance of normalcy. 

Susie's life may be over, but we do hear this story from her point of view, from her new existence in her heaven.  If there is anything light I take out of this story, it's the idea that everyone's heaven is of their own making.  I remember loving this notion the first time I read the book, and some of only levity the reader gets while reading it.

Movie Trailer (haven't seen it yet...so don't throw tomatoes at me!)


About the Author:
Alice Sebold is the bestselling author of the novels The Lovely Bones and The Almost Moon, and Lucky, a memoir. She lives in California with her husband, the novelist Glen David Gold.
Complete Bio for Alice Sebold
Visit the author's website: Alice Sebold

About the Book:
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: Little Brown and Company (January 1, 2002)
ISBN-13: 9780316168816
ISBN: 0316168815


Friday, March 19, 2010

Review: Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Such a beautiful cover, and original premise, I had high hopes for Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.  The bottom line?  It wasn't for me.

Synopsis from Harper Collins

An ambitious and startling debut novel that follows the lives of four women at a resort popular among slaveholders who bring their enslaved mistresses.

Tawawa House in many respects is like any other American resort before the Civil War. Situated in Ohio, this idyllic retreat is particularly nice in the summer when the Southern humidity is too much to bear. The main building, with its luxurious finishes, is loftier than the white cottages that flank it, but then again, the smaller structures are better positioned to catch any breeze that may come off the pond. And they provide more privacy, which best suits the needs of the Southern white men who vacation there every summer with their black, enslaved mistresses. It's their open secret.


Lizzie, Reenie, and Sweet are regulars at Tawawa House. They have become friends over the years as they reunite and share developments in their own lives and on their respective plantations. They don't bother too much with questions of freedom, though the resort is situated in free territory–but when truth-telling Mawu comes to the resort and starts talking of running away, things change.


To run is to leave behind everything these women value most–friends and families still down South–and for some it also means escaping from the emotional and psychological bonds that bind them to their masters. When a fire on the resort sets off a string of tragedies, the women of Tawawa House soon learn that triumph and dehumanization are inseparable and that love exists even in the most inhuman, brutal of circumstances–all while they are bearing witness to the end of an era.


An engaging, page-turning, and wholly original novel, Wench explores, with an unflinching eye, the moral complexities of slavery.

I gave this novel four solid days and 75 pages.  While the writing was honest and original, the harsh realities of slavery are tough to swallow.  I was touched by the plight of the four women slaves, and became enraged at their situation, but I found myself often too horrified to pick the book back up, which is why I had to abandon it.

I always say that if a book makes you FEEL, it has succeeded in connecting to its readers.  In this sense, yes, Perkins-Valdez reached her mark.  This book made me feel, unfortunately, it was guilt and horror of a time of which I was not in the right frame to read.  Not for me, not right now. 

I am grateful, though, to Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to read this book.  Wench may not have been for me, but for my readers who are interested in reading a full review, feel free to visit some of my book blogging friends' reviews. (Found through Book Blogs Search Engine)

Bookin' With Bingo
S. Krishna's Books
All About{n}
The Book Studio (review and giveaway)

Wench at Harper Collins
Wench:  Reading Guide

About the Author:
Dolen Perkins-Valdez's fiction and essays have appeared in Robert Olen Butler Prize Stories 2009 , The Kenyon Review , PMS: PoemMemoirStory , North Carolina Literary Review , and the Richard Wright Newsletter . She is a former University of California postdoctoral fellow and graduate of Harvard. Dolen lives in the Pacific Northwest with her family.



About the Book:
Wench: A Novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Amistad (January 5, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006170654X
ISBN-13: 978-0061706547


FTC Statement: A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Review: The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris

I've been struggling with this review since I finished The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris a few weeks ago.  I'm torn.  I can not point to any one scene or part of this book I loved, yet when I reflect on the feeling of this book as a whole, good or bad, I feel like I could write for hours.  Don't worry, I won't!  At least, I'll try not to.

The Unnamed centers on the story of Tim Farnsworth - husband, father, attorney.  From the outside looking in, he's a man living the dream of a perfect family, beautiful wife, and successful career.  Underneath the facade is a tortured man who suffers from an unnamed illness.  He walks.  And he can't stop.  He will literally walk until he collapses miles away in the freezing cold with nothing more than the clothes on his back and a "survival pack" his wife made up for him to carry everywhere just in case the urge to walk seizes him.  Is it mental?  Is it physical?  His condition is so unique, he appears in a medical journal.  He wants validation that he's not suffering from a mental illness.  His wife, Jane, lives in a constant state of worry, since she's the one who worries when he's late coming from work, and then has to go and rescue him from wherever his body lands when it is too exhausted to continue walking.  The partners at his law firm think it's Jane who is sick when he walks out of a client meeting.  His teenage daughter, Becka, just thinks he's mental.

Tim Farnsworth is human.  He's selfish, and proud, and stubborn.  He has relapses of this illness, never knowing what sets him off, never knowing when it's going to stop.  Still, in between it all, he seems to ignore the fact that it turns his wife and his daughter's life upside down.  He wants to find a name for his illness, not necessarily so he can cure it, but so he can validate his situation.  This character is flawed and human, but I had a hard time empathizing with him, which left a gap where there could have been a connection.

Despite not finding a connection with the main character, Tim and Jane's marriage was the only thing I could connect with, particularly from Jane's perspective.  Her sacrifice for the love of her life, the man with whom she vowed to stay with for better or worse, in sickness and in health, kept me turning the pages.  Here's an example of why. When Tim disappeared on one of his walking fits, it was a full time job looking for him, going to pick him up, or simply dropping everything to follow him:
That was always the impulse when she finally located him:  I have to go get him.  And when she got to him:  never let him go. 
Jane's character was well developed, accessible, and as human and real as Tim's, but it was her growth that kept me interested.  I think if not for Jane, the book, and Tim himself, would have fallen apart at the seams.

The Unnamed was a tough read and most definitely out of my comfort zone.  I would not have picked this book up on my own, so many thanks to Reagan Arthur Books and the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge for putting this book in my hands.  It wasn't one of my favorites, but I am glad I read it. 

If you would like to read more reviews of The Unnamed:

Stephanie's Written Word
The Book Lady's Blog
Booking Mama
Trish/Hey Lady



About the Author:
Joshua Ferris’s first novel, Then We Came to the End, was a National Book Award finalist, Barnes & Noble Discover Award winner and New York Times bestseller. He lives in New York To find out more information and see his tour schedule, visit him on http://www.joshuaferris.com/

About the Book:
The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris
Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books; 1 edition (January 18, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0316034010
ISBN-13: 978-0316034012

The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris is one of the books I read for the Reagan Arthur Challenge, hosted by Kathy/Bermuda Onion & Julie/Booking Mama. If you would like to know more about the Reagan Arthur Books Challenge, please click on any of these links, or the image on my left sidebar, and join in!

Next up in the challenge: Black Hills by Dan Simmons


FTC Statement:  A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher


Shop Indie Bookstores


My Favorite Book Shop!!


In today's Shelf Awareness, my favorite bookstore, Clinton Book Shop, had a very nice write-up.  Those of you who read Alison's Book Marks regularly know how much I love the staff at CBS.  See, there's a reason why it's my favorite.  I say it all the time, Harvey is the book whisperer, Rob is my Obi-Wan of books, and Cindy is the go-to gal when I need a great book for book club.  I have yet to walk out of that shop without a great book in my hands.  I walked out with 3 great books just yesterday!

You can visit their website and check out the Staff Picks

Did I mention Josh Berk (The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin) will be there Saturday, March 27, 2010?

Hats off to you, Clinton Book Shop!

"We get to know people. People get to know us." That was how Harvey Finkel, owner of the Clinton Book Shop, Clinton, N.J., explained the secret of the store's 35-year run to the Hunterdon County Democrat.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New Books!

Tuesday is my favorite day of the week.  Why?  NEW BOOKS!!!

A special congratulations going out to Kimberly Derting, on her very successful release of The Body Finder.  The winner of The Body Finder swag contest will be announced later today.  (Here is my Review: The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting). 


Here are a few new releases for today, Tuesday, March 16, 2010:


My apologies -- this post was scheduled to appear this morning, but I put PM instead of AM on my post time.  DOH.

What's a book lover to do?


They all look the same!

Maybe I read too much - if there is such a thing.

In the last 12 months, I have read a lot of Young Adult fiction, most of which has had supernatural or mythic characters.  What happens when they all start to sound the same?

Each of the first books that I read which took on a mythic character - vampire, werewolf, fallen angel or immortal - got my rave reviews.  The subsequent reads got a lower rating, but only because I couldn't help but compare it to the first and questioning its uniqueness.  But, really, was the second, or even the third, book I read about a love affair with a fallen angel any better or worse than the first?  It's all formulaic, maybe that's my problem.

Here's the formula: 
-  Generally plain girl meets mysterious new boy (unless she transferred to a new school). 
-  We don't know who or what the boy is, and whether we can trust him.
-  Girl and boy fall in love.
-  Enter mythic object or event which sets off girl's curiosity.
-  Girl does super Google Search and discovers what he is (enter mythic creature here). 
-  We get a full rundown on the legend behind mythic creature. (with or without past lives' experience)
-  Then girl finds out why boy and girl can not be together.
-  The last 100 pages is reserved for a battle of some kind, usually leaving us with a cliffhanger for the next in the series to solve.


I feel like there was a writers' workshop and everyone was given the same assignment, told to follow the formula and see what each author could come up with.  A few months later, bang!  We have a dozen books that are all the same.

If you like them, super!  Go forth and read!

I went forth and read.  Here's my dilemma.  How am I supposed to review these books??  Not just as a book blogger, but as a reader!  I see genuine talent in the authors, and I'm still captivated by said formula, but it's actually starting to make me angry.  Predictability is not something I look for in a novel.

Bring me something new!

Hello.  My name is Alison, and I read Young Adult novels - point me to the support group!  I am not a Young Adult, so I am not the target audience, I get that.   I am an avid reader who enjoys Young Adult fiction.  Is that so wrong?   Maybe these books are simply not meant for me, and I should shut up.  Then again, maybe the YA readers - both the Y and not-so Y - deserve more than "the formula" in a novel. 

I don't want to take out my frustration on any one author - which I was about to do since I read both Hush, Hush and Fallen this week.  And before their books I read Alyson Noel, Lisa Mangum, Rachel Hawkins and Stephenie Meyer.  It's not their fault.  They are all talented authors who happen to publish their books in a genre that is far too saturated.

 Maybe this is why I jumped out of my chair when I read The Body Finder, Shiver, Marked and Once a Witch.  Of course, I must give proper respect to the woman who opened this door back up to me - Stephenie Meyer.  (Five years ago, I used to hide my Twilight behind InStyle magazine.) These authors entered into this YA supernatural genre and put their own stamp on it. 

Am I alone here?

Can someone give me suggestions for a fresh take on such a popular genre? 

Please tell me Beautiful Creatures isn't more of the same!!  I'm looking forward to reading it, and I would be crushed if I had to add it to my pity party.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A new favorite!!  Oh, how I loved this book. 

A novel presented as a collection of letters, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, artfully pieces together the story of a small Channel Island town during the German Occupation of WWII, and the creation of what we now refer to as a book club.  

It all started when Miss Juliet Dawson, an author living in London, received a letter from Mr. Dawsey Adams of Guernsey.  He had in his possession an old book of hers, which had her name and address written inside the front cover. Dawsey loved the book so much he felt compelled to write to Juliet to find out more about the author.   What started out as a single request turned into a correspondence and a life of something else I can't quite explain. 

Juliet writes back to Dawsey:  "I wonder how the book got to Guernsey?  Perhaps there is some sort of homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers.  how delightful if that were true." 

Don't you just love that? 

Juliet and Dawsey were quickly joined in their correspondence by other members of the Guernsey Literary Society, among many others, writing letters over the course of nine months. Somewhere I have seen the number of characters introduced in this book, and it seemed overwhelming to me at first, but rest assured there really are only 4 or 5 main characters, with the supporting characters adding their own bit of insight, humor and levity.   Then there is Elizabeth, who holds the whole book together.   I can't talk about Elizabeth, though, because doing so might spoil this book for someone and I wouldn't dare do that.   Oh, she feels so real to me! 

Sprinkled throughout the letters, in between the stories of the Occupation and the goings-on of Guernsey, are the letter-writers' love of books (or lack thereof), which both touched me and often made me laugh aloud.  Too many to quote all of them, but here is one of my favorites:


"We clung to books and to our friends; they reminded us that we had another part to us."

 Imagine finding a dusty old box of letters from 1946 in your grandmother's attic.  This is how I felt reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  These characters were so real to me.  I laughed with them, I cried with them, and I absolutely fell head over heels in love with them.   I would read a letter, stick my bookmark in the page and just live with these people, dream about them.  A day has not gone by where I haven't thought about this book.  I have been carrying these characters around with me since I turned the last page. 

In this day of e-mails, text messages, and skyping, reading this epistolary novel made me want to dig into my rarely used engraved stationary and write a nice long letter. 


Book Extras:
Check out Random House's Guernsey Page for excerpts, readers guides, and more.
Annie Barrow's website.

Watch co-author Annie Barrows talk about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society:


About the Book:
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Random House Reader's Circle)
Paperback: 290 pages
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback; 1st Thus. edition (May 5, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385341008
ISBN-13: 978-0385341004




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What Are You Reading?


Today is Monday, March 15, 2010...beware the Ides of March!

Good morning and thank you to Sheila at One Person's Journey Through a World of Books, who is the Madam behind this brothel of book bloggers each Monday.   We're a sassy bunch!

Even though I was unfocused on my reading list, (so sorry that I once again did not get to Black Hills) I had a good reading week. 

I am still STUCK on the 3rd book in The Chronicles of Narnia - my boys tell me that I need to do more voices.  I set the bar high with The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe!  Maybe it's a blessing the acting thing never worked out - my English accent is starting to sound Australian. ??

I am sad to say, I have ABANDONED my very first book, which I will post about later in the week.  I gave it four days, and could only get 75 pages in.  Very sad, but not a waste of time.  You'll see.

I also discovered my next FAVORITE book this week in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a book worthy of its lengthy title), so there is balance in my universe.  Look for that review later this morning.


Books I Completed:



Books I am Currently Reading


Books I Plan to Read This Week:


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