Saturday, January 31, 2009

Best of January

I can't believe I read 13 books in January! Wow. I must not have gotten much else done this month! Although, most of my reading time is at work (lunch and breaks) and before bed, so I guess there are still a few hours in the day to get other things done! ;)

I read a lot of GREAT books this month! My favorite was probably The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I am anxiously awaiting the next book of that series! I also really enjoyed the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead. The next book in that series, Blood Promise is coming out August 20th.

I really did read a lot of great books this month...and quite a few new authors. Actually, six new authors (I only read one book by an author that I was already a fan of). I've definitely been reading books outside of my normal comfort zone, and really enjoying them!

Looking forward to another great month of reading in February!

Review: Pretties by Scott Westerfeld

If you haven't read Uglies, don't read this review! It will give too much away! Let's just say this whole review is one big SPOILER!

The book starts off with Tally as a Pretty. She doesn't remember much from the Smoke, or about David, until she goes to a party and sees a familiar face. Croy leaves her pills and a letter that she wrote to herself when she was still an Ugly -- it's the cure to the lesions in her brain. She and her new friend Zane each take one pill, and start to remember things. Then they start to plot how to get away...but they're being watched very closely.

Eventually they escape, but it's definitely not easy. But when Tally catches up with the group, both David and Zane are there. Zane's sick - they find out that the pills are not meant to be taken separately - Tally actually didn't get any of the cure, but cured herself. They realize that Zane is bugged and they are about to be found out again., and Tally decides she has to stay with him - she cured herself, and she can help him once he's Pretty again. David leaves (I wanted to cry at what she said to him!) with everyone else, and the Specials come for Tally and Zane. I don't know how I didn't see it coming, but SHAY is now a Special, and her revenge against Tally for betraying her is to also turn her into a Special...

Really liked this book too. I was torn between David and Zane, even though David wasn't really in the story until the end. I just kept thinking about him when Tally was with Zane. Peris chickened out and stayed in New Prettytown which I guess I should have expected. I liked that Tally was able to 'stay bubbly' without the cure.

I'm looking forward to finding out what happens once Tally is a Special. Will she track down David and the rest of the New Smokies?? Will she remember everything from when she was an Ugly and a Pretty? What happens to Zane now? Will Shay ever forgive her or forget what happened?

And I just realized there is also a FOURTH book in the series!

Rated: 4.5/5

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Review: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Uglies is the first book in a series by Scott Westerfeld. It's a young adult book (I'm hooked on these lately!).

Here's the synopsis, from Barnes and Noble:

Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. Not for her license -- for turning pretty. In Tally's world, your sixteenth birthday brings an operation that turns you from a repellent ugly into a stunningly attractive pretty and catapults you into a high-tech paradise where your only job is to have a really great time. In just a few weeks Tally will be there.
But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to be pretty. She'd rather risk life on the outside. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world -- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally the worst choice she can imagine: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. The choice Tally makes changes her world forever.

I had a hard time putting this book down. The whole idea of "uglies" and "pretties" was really interesting, and I had to find out what happened to Tally! I'll be starting the next book in the series today!! A quick read, lots of action and surprises!

I SO wanted Tally to tell Shay, David, and the others that she was a spy when she first got there. Every day that went by that she was there with them, I got more nervous about what was going to happen when they found out. I loved the ending, and can't wait to find out what happens when Tally becomes a Pretty! Will she find Peris and want to stay with him? Will David's mother be able to fix the brain lesions? Will David forgive her? What will happen to Shay? Can't wait!!

Rated: 4.5/5

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Review: Untamed - PC Cast & Kristin Cast

Untamed is the fourth book in the House of Night series.

Again, this one picked up right where the last one left off. Zoey isn't sure if her friends will speak to her again, or what will happen now that she has gone from having three boyfriends to zero boyfriends. What happened to Stevie Rae and Aphrodite? Will the vampyres really go to war with humans?

I really liked this one, there were lots of twists and new developments. A lot to process with the ravens/Kalona and Zoey's Grandma. I'm liking Aphrodite more and more, and glad that Erik's back. Wondering what will happen with Stark. And are Stevie Rae and the other 'red' fledglings good...or not? I'm really curious what will happen in the next book (out in March), since they left it really wide open at the end!

Rated: 4/5

Friday, January 23, 2009

Review: Chosen by PC Cast & Kristin Cast

Chosen is the third book in the House of Night series...and yeah...I'm hooked! Not my favorite vampire (or vampyre) series, but still enjoying these books...maybe even more than I thought I would.

There was a lot going on in this one...Zoey is juggling three guys and trying to keep secrets from her friend (for good reasons!). Lots of action and surprises.

I really can't say much about it without giving things away from the first two books, so don't read anything else if you haven't read them or this one yet!

Ok...I thought there was something slimy about Loren Blake, but still didn't really see it coming! I was surprised Zoey slept with him so easily and knew then that something was up! I felt bad for Erik and hope he'll make a comeback somehow. Not sure if Heath is gone for good now or what, or what will happen with Stevie Rae and Aphrodite! Definitely some surprises in this one! Hopefully Zoey's friends will realize why she lied to them and forgive her. Can't wait to see where the story goes next. War between the humans and vampyres?? Will Neferet ever be caught for what she's doing??

Rated: 4/5

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Review: Betrayed by PC Cast & Kristin Cast

This is the second book in the House of Night series. I liked this one more than the first book - I think because book one covered all the character introductions and explanations - this one had more action, and a few surprises.

The book picks up right where the first one left off. Zoey is now the leader of the Dark Daughters. She's 'sort of' dating Erik, but Heath is still around. Her group of friends remain close-knit. But, Zoey finds that things aren't always what they seem...

It was a little weird that Erik didn't appear in this book until more than halfway through (although he is talked about before that. I was sad about Stevie Rae..and interested to see what will happen with that! Heath just won't go away. And now there's ANOTHER guy? This girl has her hands full! And with the way they write the scenes with the guys, I find myself liking all of them, so I'm not really sure who to 'root' for! I was very surprised about Neferet once I realized something was up with her...and wonder how that will be resolved, since she knows that Zoey knows something...

A good, quick read...I'm on to book three!

Rated: 4/5

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review: Marked by PC Cast & Kristin Cast

Marked is the first book in the House of Night series by PC Cast and her daugher Kristin Cast. It's a young adult novel (which I seem to be addicted to lately!)

Here's a synopsis from Barnes and Noble

Enter the dark, magical world of The House of Night, a world very much like our own, except here vampyres have always existed. Sixteen-year-old Zoey Redbird has just been Marked as a fledgling vampyre and joins the House of Night, a school where she will train to become an adult vampire. That is, if she makes it through the Change--and not all of those who are Marked do. It sucks to begin a new life, especially away from her friends, and on top of that, Zoey is no average fledgling. She has been chosen as special by the vampyre Goddess Nyx. Zoey discovers she has amazing powers, but along with her powers come bloodlust and an unfortunate ability to Imprint her human ex-boyfriend. To add to her stress, she is not the only fledgling at the House of Night with special powers: When she discovers that the leader of the Dark Daughters, the school's most elite group, is misusing her Goddess-given gifts, Zoey must look deep within herself for the courage to embrace her destiny--with a little help from her new vampyre friends.

I have to admit that a couple things bothered me about this book right away. The spelling of 'vampyre' was one. The other was more major - the style of the writing. It's written with a very stereotypical 'teen' style.

But otherwise, once I got into the book and got used to the style (I did roll my eyes a few times), I found that I was once again, hooked. This is much different than the other vampire stories I've been reading. Most of the first half of the book was spent explaining things, but once I got about halfway through, it got a lot more interesting, and I'm looking forward to reading the next books (which I picked up today!) and getting into some more action!

I'm interested to see what happens with Erik in the next books. I'm not sure if I believe that he's really a good guy. Also will be interesting to see what Aphrodite's roll is in the next book.

Rated: 3.5/5 (I expect these books to get better, and I expect to get more used to the writing style, so don't count this one out yet!)

I need to get to the bookstore!!

Last night I finished a book - the first book in a series -- but I don't have any of the others yet, and really want to find out what happens next! I started a new book today (I can't go long without one apparently!), but I really need to get the next few books in this series! I also realized that one of the books on my 'to be read' shelf is actually the 2nd in a series, so I need to pick up the book that comes before that one!

I think I'm going to run over to Barnes and Noble on my lunch hour. Luckily I have a coupon too! I better make a list...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Review: Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt

My first Pulitzer Prize winning book of the year! I've wanted to read this for a long time. Here's a synopsis from Barnes and Noble

Sometimes it's worth the wait. Having waited 40 years to tell his story, Frank McCourt doesn't pull any punches in his story of growing up dirt poor in Limerick, Ireland. Having emigrated to America, McCourt's family returns to Ireland after his sister dies in Brooklyn. It is there that things turn from bad to worse.
It is McCourt's contention that there is nothing worse than Irish Catholic poverty, and his book would seem to bear it out: his family moves to a row house in Limerick that is located next to the street's lavatory. However, the book is written in a lyrical style from the point of view of Frank McCourt as a boy, and it is still filled with the whimsy of growing up and the natural humor of its author.
While the book is often angry (at the Church, at his father, at his poverty, at his mother), it is also filled with forgiveness without bitterness.Covering the ages spanning three to 19, Angela's Ashes is the story of Frank McCourt's struggle to escape from poverty and a tale of Ireland still seemingly in the dark ages. Barred from the good schools because of his class, teeth falling out from malnutrition, and facing life with a shiftless alcoholic father, McCourt nevertheless survives on his wits and manages to return to America to start his life over. Again. It is a triumph of both the art of memoir writing and the author's spirit.

The story was heartbreaking at times. I had tears in my eyes quite a few times. I can't imagine going through what this family, and thousands of others in Ireland at the time, went through. I've been to Ireland twice, but haven't been to Limerick (We did go through it on bus from Galway to Cork, but didn't stop). I'd like to go there now. I think I'd look at the whole area differently after reading this book. Although most of the book was very dark, I did have to laugh at the author's perspective of things as a young boy. Also, being Catholic (and Irish!), some of what he said about the church was pretty amusing to me!

McCourt has written another book that continues where this one left off, and I'd like to read that one too.

I really liked how the story was told, and although it did get slow for me at a couple points, I thought it was really well-written, and the story definitely keeps you reading. I had to know what else might happen to this family, and now I'm interested to see what happened next.

Rated: 4/5

Friday, January 16, 2009

Books I'm Looking Forward To

I have so many books that I'm looking forward to reading that it's hard for me to focus on the book I'm actually reading right now!!

There are a couple books coming out this year that I can't wait for...

The 4th Vampire Academy book by Richelle Mead - coming out in July according to her website

The next book in the Hunger Games series, by Suzanne Collins - I THINK this should come out this year?

Besides those, I have a lot of other books that I'm interested in reading...

Marked by PC Kast (and the rest of the series, assuming I like this one)

Sookie Stackhouse/Southern Vampire Series by Charlaine Harris (I bought the paperback box set of the first 7 books!)

Blue Bloods series by Melissa De La Cruz (at least the first book)

Night World by LJ Smith, and the Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Harry, a History by Melissa Anelli

The Host by Stephenie Meyer (I've had this one for quite awhile, but haven't read it yet!)

I also want to read more of Richelle Mead's books...I just ordered one, so hopefully that will be good (if so, it's part of a series there will be MORE books to read!).

And that's just the beginning of the list! I have a bunch on my bookshelf waiting to be read, and lots on my wish list of course. I need to come up with some sort of order, so I don't have to stare at them all for an hour trying to pick out the next one to read!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


People always ask me how I have time to read so much. They also say they'd read more if they just had the time. I know that people are busy, but I think if you really want to read, you'll be able to find time to do it, just like anything else you like to do!

I get a lot of reading done at work. I almost always read on my two 15 minute breaks, and on my lunch hour. That time really adds up. I like to read before I go to bed, even if just for 10 or 15 minutes. And I slip it in other times, like when my daughter is entertaining herself, or after she goes to bed (I try really hard to get things done around the house during that time too, but sometimes the call of a good book is too much to ignore!). I also must say that I'm a fast reader, so I can get through a book pretty quickly, which helps!

I think everyone has the time to read, they just choose to do other things instead. A lot of people watch TV. Read during the commercials! Or TiVo your show, watch it later without the commercials, and use that extra time to read! If you commute to work, read on the bus/subway/streetcar/ferry/train (does that cover everything?). Bring a book to appointments - you can get a lot of reading done while waiting to get in to see the dentist or doctor! If you go on a trip, bring a book along. You might find extra time while traveling, or once you're at your destination.

I often find myself hurrying to get household chores done so I can get back to my book. It's a good way to get things done quickly I guess!!

I know some people just aren't 'readers' - and I need to learn to accept it! When I'm in the middle of a great book, I just can't fathom how people CAN'T like to read. But, I've always loved reading, so it's a mystery to me. I am hopeful that my daughter will be a book lover too! She already has a collection to rival any other 8 month old out there!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Review: Shadow Kiss by Richelle Mead

Oh My God.
Yep, I'm going to start this review with that.

I finished this book last night, and am really bummed out that I now have to wait for the fourth book. I've read it's either coming out in July or August, so my fingers are crossed for July! Either way, it's a long time to wait!!

This is the third book in the Vampire Academy series. Rose is close to graduation, and is doing her field training for becoming a guardian. She's assigned to Christian, while Eddie is assigned to Lissa. Weird things are happening. She's seeing Mason's ghost. She's feeling really upset a lot, for no apparent reason. And as Adrian tells her, her aura is really dark. She's still in love with Dimitri, but that's still forbidden.

But a lot of things start to change...
I don't want to give too much away, so stop reading now if you don't want to find out anything else!!

OMG!! I was literally saying "no!" out loud as I got towards the end. I knew something was going to happen to Dimitri. After the battle was over and he was ok, I was relieved. But not for long. I can't believe he's a Strigoi now! And that Rose is going to go kill him. They had finally come up with the perfect plan for the future. She was finally putting herself first. Well, sort of. But at least doing SOMETHING for herself. I was glad that Rose stood up to Lissa at the end when she was leaving. I'd been resentful of Lissa for awhile. I don't know what kind of plot twist there might be, but I'm looking forward to it! I think Adrian might become more involved (for some reason I have a soft spot for Adrian). Maybe Eddie? Will Victor play a role? The Queen? Will Lissa still go off to school like planned? I have so many questions about what's going to happen! She really left it wide open at the end. And now I have to wait 6+ months!! I'm going to go crazy!!

Yeah...I'm hooked. Now I'm going to go stalk the author's website and blog. I've been avoiding them because I didn't want to accidentally find out anything that happened in the books...but now I can finally check them out!

Rated: 5/5

Monday, January 12, 2009

Review: Frostbite by Richelle Mead

Frostbite is the second novel in the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, and I started it right when I put the first book down, and could hardly put this one down either!

In this installment, Rose is still battling her feelings for Dimitri (who has another possible love interest), and trying to keep her best friend Lissa safe. Lissa is dating Christian now, and Rose's friend Mason is interested in her.

After a Strigoi attack, everyone at the school is sent to a ski resort for the holiday, instead of risking travel elsewhere. We meet an interesting new character named Adrian there. Then there is another strigoi attack, and everyone is getting very nervous, and wanting to take action. Without really trying, Rose finds herself in the middle of a very dangerous situation.

I love the chemistry between Rose and Dimitri! I have a bad feeling something is going to happen to him soon, but hopefully I'm wrong. I was sad that Mason died, he seemed like a good guy. I'm interested to see what else Adrian will bring to the story. It was nice to see another side of Mia, and to also meet Rose's mom. I'm glad she and Rose were able to bond a little bit.

I started the third book, but haven't gotten too far into it yet. I know I'll be anxiously waiting for book four!!

Great read! I'm hooked!

Rated: 4.5/5

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Review: Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

Before reading Twilight, I probably never would have picked up a young adult book with a title like Vampire Academy. But, I've been reading quite a few young adult books lately, and really liking them, and I'd heard quite a few good things about this book (book one of a series). So, I decided to give it a try.
I'm glad I did! The vampires in this book are a lot different than in other books, and the story was really interesting.

Here's a description of the book, from Barnes and Noble

St. Vladimir's Academy isn't just any boarding school—it's a hidden place where vampires are educated in the ways of magic and half-human teens train to protect them. Rose Hathaway is a Dhampir, a bodyguard for her best friend Lissa, a Moroi Vampire Princess. They've been on the run, but now they're being dragged back to St. Vladimir's—the very place where they're most in danger. . . .

Rose and Lissa become enmeshed in forbidden romance, the Academy's ruthless social scene, and unspeakable nighttime rituals. But they must be careful lest the Strigoi—the world's fiercest and most dangerous vampires—make Lissa one of them forever.

I finished this book yesterday, but before I did, I went to the bookstore to grab the next two in the series, since I knew I'd want to keep reading! The fourth book doesn't come out until August I guess, which is a bummer!


I already started the next book in the series (I couldn't wait!), but I can't wait to see how the story continues! The relationships are interesting (the chemistry with Rose and Dimitri, wow!!) and I like the fact that through Rose we get a more personal look at Lissa's life too. I wonder if she will stay with Christian, and what role he will play as the story continues.

I enjoyed this one quite a bit, even though my husband kept making fun of the title! ;)

Rated: 4.5/5

An award!

Wow...someone gave me a blog award! How cool! It was given to me by Debbie at Debbie's World - her blog is one of the first book blogs that I checked out, and I've found some great books from her recommendations!

It's called the Premio Dardos Award, and here are the details...

This award acknowledges the values that every blogger shows in his/her effort to transmit cultural, ethical, literary and personal values every day.

The rules to follow are:

1) Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person that has granted the award and his or her blog link.

2) Pass the award to other 15 blogs that are worthy of this acknowledgment. Remember to contact each of them to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

So, I noticed that almost every blog that I read has already received this award from someone else! Apparently I read popular blogs!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Review: Body Surfing by Anita Shreve

I've read most of Anita Shreve's books, and I almost always enjoy them.

This book is about Sydney, a 29 year old woman who has been married twice - one marriage ended in a divorce, and one left her a widow. She's unsure where her life is going, and takes a job as a live-in tutor for a family living on the ocean in New Hampshire. She tutors an 18 year old girl, and helps out around the house. Eventually the family's two other children, grown men, come to visit, and she is caught up in their constant competition as they both attempt to get to know her better.

The book is written in short bursts - short paragraphs, and often not much dialogue. I wasn't sure I liked it at first, but it worked, and I ended up enjoying the style.

I was surprised with the twist about Julie, the 18 year old student. I was also surprised with how quickly Sydney fell for Jeff, although it made more sense later on.

I wasn't aware until I finished the book that the story is set in the same house as several of her other stories (all in different time periods). Although once I realized it, it seemed really obvious.

Overall, a pretty good read.

Rated: 3.5/5

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My Wish List

I logged on to my Barnes and Noble wish list today, and realized that I have SIXTY books on it! I was even able to take a few off the other day (I got some books for Christmas), and the list is still that big! Some of the books are part of a series, and I only have the first book on the list, so imagine if I had the entire series listed....

Is that ridiculous? I won't end up buying all of those, but wow...that's a lot of books that I've checked into and thought they sounded interesting!

I did notice that a lot of them are young adult books. Apparently I've become hooked on them. I've read some really great ones lately!

I have some gift cards that I got for Christmas, so I'm tempted to get some of the books, but I'm also hoping to get a coupon first. And last night when I went to grab a new book to read, I realized that I have quite a few at home that I haven't read yet either... so maybe I should hold off on getting anything else new for now! It's so tempting though!! I do have a couple at home that are the first books of a series, so I'm sure if I like those I'll be buying the rest right away!!

I really need to organize my bookshelves so that I can see the 'new' books and know what my options are! Maybe that will be my project for the week...

Monday, January 5, 2009

Review - The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I received this book for Christmas - it had been on my wish list for awhile, and I decided to jump right into it. Lately I've seen tons of great reviews, and I was looking forward to checking it out myself.

I was NOT disappointed. I was hooked almost immediately, and didn't want to put it down! The book takes place in what remains of North America - now a nation called Panem. The country is split into districts (12 of them), and ruled over cruelly by the Capital. Every year, each district is forced to send one girl and one boy to battle in "The Hunger Games" which is a televised fight to the death - only one will remain alive and 'win' the game. Katniss Everdeen, a 16 year old girl from District 12 is the narrator of the story. When her 12 year old sister's name is drawn as the female participant from their district, Katniss volunteers herself instead, although she knows she is likely volunteering for her own death. We see her travel to the capital, train for the game, and the game itself. Along the way, we learn about her struggles at home, and see her relationships with the male participant from her district, as well as the participants from the other districts.

-I loved the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, and that she was so confused about how she really felt about him, and how he really felt about her.
-I was happy that Rue was a great competitor and that she and Katniss teamed up for awhile. I was sad when she died, but glad that Katniss didn't have to kill her.
-I figured that Katniss would probably win, but I really didn't know how it was going to end. When the announcement came that only one could win after all, my heart dropped! I was so happy with how they managed to both win though!
-I can't believe how it ended, and I can't WAIT for the next book. I need to know what happens! Will there be consequences for the way the games ended? Will she figure out how she really feels about Peeta? What will Gale think? How will the district view the two of them when they get home?? I hate waiting for sequels!

A fantastic book, that I would definitely recommend!!

Rated: 5/5

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Review: The Devil Wears Prada - Lauren Weisberger

My first book of 2009! This had been on my shelf for about a year. I'd wanted to see the movie when it came out, but never got around to it.

I liked the book right away. It was very descriptive, funny, and gossipy. Anyone that knows me knows that I know nothing about fashion, so I definitely identified with the main character, Andrea. Fresh out of college, and looking for a career in writing, she ends up landing in a job as a personal assistant for a fashion editor at a major fashion magazine, and not quite knowing how it happened. It turns out to be a nightmare, with an insane boss (Miranda), ridiculous hours, and basically no life outside of work. Her basic job description is 'slave' - doing whatever Miranda says. She doesn't fit in, with her Gap clothing (what, Gap isn't high fashion?? That's the most fashionable I've ever been!), and the fact that she doesn't think her boss is the amazing woman that everyone else seems to think she is. The stories of things she is expected to do made me laugh (having 2 copies of the new Harry Potter book flown on a private jet to Paris for Miranda's daughters a day before they were supposed to be released, being just one!), and I wondered how long I would have been able to handle the same situations. The relationships that she has were typical 'just out of college' relationships - parents, boyfriend, best friend - easy to relate to.

Even though I wasn't sure WHY she stayed with the job, I found myself rooting for her, and hoping that it would somehow all work out for her.

I'll be adding the movie to my Netflix list. I've heard it's pretty good, and I enjoy both Anne Hathaway and Meryl Streep.

I have to say, I was happy that the story didn't end with Miranda turning out to be a good person, or changing her personality. I really would have hated that. I was also happy that Andrea FINALLY quit! And in such a great way! I loved the ending. I'm not sure the book needed to be as long as it was (about 430 pages), but it did hold my interest, and I was happy with how things turned out (although would be interested to see if she ever ran into Christian again... )

Overall, a good book!

Rated: 3.5/5

Friday, January 2, 2009

Book Reviews

I have such a hard time reviewing books. I hate giving any of the plot away for people that haven't read the book, and I often have a hard time pinpointing exactly what I liked or disliked about a book.

But, I'm going to attempt to do a little better at reviewing in 2009!

If I'm giving away any key info, I'll make sure to put it in a paragraph titled "SPOILERS!" so you don't accidentally read too much if you don't want to!

Also I'm going to give ratings.

5 - loved it!!
4 - great book, I'd recommend it
3 - good, kept me reading
2 - it was ok
1 - not worth it

I'll attempt to write at least a little bit about each book that I read. I know reviews can be really helpful in picking out books to read!