30 December 2009

My Favorites of 2009

Once again, it's time for my favorite books of the year roundup. As I did last year, this list is comprised of books I have read in 2009, not necessarily book published in 2009. These books made the top of my list this year and I want to give you some times when these books may be just what you're looking for.

5. Shut Up by Marilyn Reynolds
When you're too afraid to tell . . .
4.Wake by Lisa McMann
When your dreams are not really your own. . .
3.Bait by Alex Sanchez
 When you need help finding the courage inside oneself to face the past and strive toward a better future. Even when you have to make hard decisions to get there.
2. Impossible: a Novel by Nancy Werlin
 When you find out that you are faced with the combination of a family curse, a folk song, three very impossible tasks and need help to find the will to beat the odds.

and finally, my #1 Favorite read of 2009 is. ..

1. Th1rteen R3asons Why By Jay Asher
When you're the one left behind and you really want answers. . .

Th1rteen R3asons Why really spoke to me and made me feel a little bit of closure from a very similar incident in my life.

Hope you had a great year of reading and I can't wait until 2010 to start and to see what awesome books I'm going to find. Happy New Year and of course, Happy Reading!

14 December 2009

Bait by Alex Sanchez

In this new novel by Alex Sanchez, we are introduced to Diego MacMann, a troubled teenage boy who is meeting his new probation officer for the first time-- right before his court date. Besides having a temper, Diego appears to be a model student, a hard worker and great big brother. But Diego is hiding a few secrets underneath his anger. With the help of Mr. Vidas, his probation officer, Diego begins to deal with the source of his anger and begins to allow himself to trust and rely on other people.
I have read some of Alex Sanchez's other books and must say that with this one, once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down. I felt myself falling into Diego's despair at points and understanding his anger at others. With each page I turned, I felt myself wanting to wrap Diego up in the hug I felt he desperately needed at the time.
I have to admit, I didn't like some of the things the mother in the book put Diego through. I didn't like the way the mother constantly lied to make things seem better instead of actually dealing with the truth. I felt that she needed to grow up and deal with things instead of placing the blame elsewhere.
All in all, I must say I really liked this book. I really liked the growth Diego had to accomplish in the book and I really liked the way Alex Sanchez used the ocean and sharks throughout the novel.

18 November 2009

Pretty Little Liars Challenge hosted by Trisha's Book Blog

I have been meaning to read the Pretty Little Liars series for some time now, and just haven't gotten around to it. Well, Trisha at Trisha's Book Blog has come up with a challenge to read all the books by 31 December 2010. I'm going to try to do it! I hope you will join me.

Go to Trisha's blog to find out all about the challenge and sign up. This should be fun.

*** Update: This was an EPIC FAIL for me. I still need to finish the first one. . . and I'm already a full session behind on the show.***

17 November 2009

Books that Have Changed Your Life. . . I want to Hear from You.

Okay, my faithful followers and newcomers to my part of the world, I have a question for you and I hope you will answer me back. I want to know some of the books that have changed your life, or have helped shape you into the man or woman you are today (or are hoping to become). These books can be anything from a picture book to a novel like War and Peace (you're amazing if you've read that!).
You don't have to blog about the book(s), just leave a comment on the page and we'll see where this goes.

One book that has changed my life is Jay Asher's Th1rteen R3asons Why. As a person who was very much in Clay's shoes at one time, I found great comfort in the novel and a slight understanding of what "my Hannah" (who was a boy) may have gone through. The book also helped me realize that sometimes, it's not just one thing that causes someone to snap, but a slow progression of events or attitudes that can bury someone.

Well, that's one of mine. Let me hear yours.

25 September 2009

Dr. Lindsey Warren

For the first time on this blog, I am posting about a non-book issue. A great man in the field of Communications passed away yesterday and my heart is a little heavier. Dr. Lindsey Warren was my Great Speeches professor in University and he will be missed. Looking back at my time as his pupil, I realize that he helped shape me to become the woman I am today. Everytime I said, "But how can I know who I am?", he would try to help me figure it out. Dr. Warren was a brilliant man, an amazing professor and most of all a devot Christian and I know that he is enjoying Heaven with God and the angels above and I hope that one day, I will meet him again in Heaven.

And know we will get back to posting about books. . .

15 September 2009

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In a society where abortion is totally illegal, parents have few options when dealing with an unplanned child. They can choose to "dump" the baby on a strangers doorstep after it's born (and that family would HAVE to raise the child), they can drop the kid off in a state home (StaHo) where the child basically has to compete for the right to live' or raise the child until they are 13 and then have them unwound.

Unwinding is only an option for children between the ages of 13 and 18 and when the Unwind orders are finalized, the child is taken to a special center where they await their bodies being harvested piece by piece while they are still awake.
For 3 kids, the Unwind orders are signed, sealed and they are being delivered to the harvest. Lev is the 10th child of 10 children and he is being offered as a tithe to God. Risa, who grew up in a StaHo is being Unwound to make room for the babies because she's not special enough to live whole. And Connor finds tickets for his parents and brother to go on a vacation and finds his unwind orders for the day before the vacation.
A chance meeting binds these three children together and their survival becomes interdependent on each other.
This book was what I like to call a mind-trip in a book. I will admit that reading this book angered me a bit and caused me to think about it for days. The thought of dismembering teenagers haunted my dreams for at least a week, but I think that's exactly what Neal Shusterman wanted. This book really did make me think about where I stand on certain issues and made me realize that maybe everything is a simple issue. . .

07 August 2009

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Lucy Scarborough has a hideous family secret. The women in her family are all cursed to become pregnant at age 17, give birth at 18 and then slip into madness. And unfortunately, Lucy is not an exception. While visits from her birth mother are sporadic, they are filled with trouble and strife, and a weird old folksong.
Lucy's journey begins with an ill-fated prom date ending in her being raped to conceiving her child (even after taking emergency contraception). Once her mother's journal is found by her friend Zach pieces begin to fall into place and the folksong takes on a new haunting and horrible meaning. . .
Lucy has to figure out the song and how to perform the tasks that are in it, all before her baby is born. If she doesn't, she and her unborn daughter will be forced to follow the footsteps of the other women in their family history.
Let me just say this: I LOVED this story. I found myself researching Scarborough Fair and The Elfin Knight to try to piece the puzzle together at the same time Lucy, Zach and their family tried to. I know for one, I will never be able to listen to Scarborough Fair the same way again. I never realized how haunting that song could be.

04 August 2009

I've joined a reading challenge!

I have joined my first official challenge! The Green Bean Teen Queen has issued a Georgia Nicolson reading challenge. All you have to do is read all 10 books by June 18, 2010. That gives me a little over 10 months. So, each time I read one, I'll post about it here and hopefully I will get through the series in time. I'm so excited!!!! Find out about the challenge here: http://www.greenbeanteenqueen.com/2009/06/georgia-nicolson-reading-challenge.html

Nothing by Robin Friedman

Parker Rabinowitz has a problem. More than one actually. Between trying to do his best in school, meeting with his college consultant and trying to keep up with his father's ridiculous standards, he just can't do everything. With all sorts of pressure on him from every side, Parker strives to control the one thing he can. . . his food intake.
As Parker struggles to keep his food down or to not overeat, he finds his control slipping. While others watch without really seeing, only his little sister Danielle realizes something is seriously wrong with Parker. But even she has her own problems. . . namely that when her brother is around, she's invisible, silent and borderline non-existent.
I was hesitant to read this book once I realized part of it was in verse, but I'm glad I did. Too often, books are published with serious issues and most of them are about girls. I was encouraged to find another book (similar to Target by Kathleen Jeffries Johnson) that brought a so-called Girl issue and showed that boys can suffer from it too.
Looking back, I'm actually glad that Danielle's portion of the book is in verse form because it tended to be more powerful than if it had been in a regular story form. I was able to appreciate the feelings behind her words and feel the suffication she must have felt being Parker's little sister.
This book has an interesting way of dealing with eating disorders, but in a not too graphic way and stresses that there is no such thing as a "girls only" issue. . . eating disorders and diseases can affect both.

27 June 2009

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Fifteen year old Jane Arrowood's life changes drastically when she is attacked by a shark during a routine trip to the beach. When Jane wakes up from her 10 day coma, she finds the doctors had to remove her right arm from her elbow down. Now Jane has the task of getting on with her life and attempting to do what she was able to do before. Jane has to learn how to live without her dominate hand and learn to draw again.
Told through a series of poems in three parts, Jane chronicles her new school, new relationships and getting to know her new body.
I really liked the way Kelly Bingham brought Jane to life. I was able to see her struggle with a normal everyday routine. I liked how Jane seemed to be very realistic. She struggled with losing her arm, struggled with learning how to wash dishes again adn struggled to not be defined by what she lost.

09 May 2009

2009-2010 Sunshine State Reader List for Grades 6-8

The 2009-2010 Sunshine State Reader's Award Program list is out now and the new titles look interesting. Some of them are definitely for younger teens while others will be great for the older ones. Drum roll please. . .

Wing Nut by Mary Auch
The Misadventures of Maude March by Audrey Couloumbis
Into the Wild by Sarah Beth Durst
Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
All the Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn
Airball: My Life in Briefs by Lisa Hakrader
Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart
Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs
La Linea by Ann Jaramillo
Schooled by Gordon Korman
Hot, Sour, Salty, Sweet by Sherri L. Smith
First Light by Rebecca Stead
Runaway by Wendy VanDraanen

It will be interesting to see how the middle schoolers will vote at the end of the next school year.

2009-2010 Florida Teens Read List

It's that time again for the new book lists to appear!
This year's Florida Teens Read books are : (drumroll, please)

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockheart
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
Gym Candy by Carl Deuker
Homeboyz by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Last Exit to Normal by Michael B. Harmon
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
The Market by J.M. Steele
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
Shift by Jennifer Bradbury
Suck it Up by Brian Meehl
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
Three Little Words by Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Unwind by Neal Shusterman

I am so excited about this list. Some of them I've read and loved, others I am eagerly anticipating reading.

25 April 2009

Audio Book Awesomeness: Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

Okay, I have raved about Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher for weeks now and people may be getting a little tired of it, but it's AMAZING. I decided to listen to the audio book becuase I wanted to know if hearing the book would be as good. Let me tell you, it may have been better! Joel Johnstone and Debra Wiseman were amazing at bringing Clay and Hannah to life (or prior to death). When it got to Clay's tape, I couldn't stop crying. Each word was even more powerful when hearing the actors speak. Hearing the actor's voices made the book even more real and emotional. I used close to half a box of tissues reading the book and I think the other half listening to it.

I give this audiobook : 5 stars

31 March 2009

Th1rteen R3asons Why by Jay Asher

Clay Jensen was an average teenage boy until he came home one day to find a shoebox on his doorstep. Inside that shoebox were 7 cassette tapes recorded by his classmate Hannah Baker. The only problem was Hannah committed suicide 2 weeks earlier.
Suddenly Clay finds himself in the midst of a whirlwind of emotions, locations and secrets-- some of which are sweet others are very vile. According to Hannah, there are 13 sides to her story, 7 tapes with a story on 13 sides, 13 people who would receive her tapes and 13 reasons why she killed herself. There would be 13 people who would receive the tapes, each with their own role in her death-- Clay is on one of those tapes.
Jay Asher's first novel is an amazing testimony to the impact a single word, action or thought may have on someone. Mr. Asher took a really tough topic and brought a sense of dignity to being left behind.
As I was ready, I found myself completely sucked into the story and wanting to learn how Clay had a part in Hannah's death. This novel is a great book for people who have had a friend commit suicide-- it can be theraputic.

23 February 2009

Series Round-up: True Life from Hamilton High Series by Marilyn Reynolds

Telling is the book that started it all for me. I believe it was the first YA book I read and It is definitely the one I remember the best. Cassie was a typical 12 year old girl. She fought with her mom, was annoyed by her brother and loved hanging out with her friends and her cousin, Lisa. When a new family moved into the neighborhood, all that changed. Soon, the new family became a big part of Cassie's life, she hung out with them, helped around the house and even babysat their children. Then the father of the children she sits for begins molesting her, Cassie turns to her cousin instead of an adult. Cassie and Lisa soon learn to trust in the adults in their family and healing can begin.

In Shut Up, Marilyn Reynolds takes a story similar to Telling but chooses to bring to light that boys can be molested also. In this book, a ten year old boy is the victim of his mother's boyfriend. He withdraws from everyone until his older brother walks in on molestation. From that moment on, brother and brother work to stay together and finally get the help they need.

Erica was a model student. She got good grades, kept a steady job, but her boyfriend was not a good influence to her. At one point in the book a police officer warns Erica that "If she lays down with dogs, she's going to get fleas . . ." Erica ignores the warnings until her boyfriends friend rapes her and her boyfriend does nothing to stop it from happening.

Teen Pregnancy from the guy point of view. Jeff didn't mean to get his girlfriend pregnant. When the girlfriend decides to keep the baby, Jeff has to step up and be the man he has become and help take care of their daughter.

In Detour for Emmy, Emmy is a straight A student, lead soprano in choir and an all around good girl who happens to get pregnant. Emmy has to deal with the disappointment of adults, the abandonment of her boyfriend and the constant stares that accompany her growing belly.
Marilyn Reynolds really knows how to make a story so gripping that you don't want to put the book down until you have read the final word. Her True Life from Hamilton High series is emotionally gripping and wondrful. One thing that I LOVE about the series is the parents usually try to help and in the cases of molestation and rape, always believe their child.

09 February 2009

Touching Snow by M. Sindy Felin

Karina has a huge problem. Her stepfather is abusive to her and her sisters. Karina knows something should be done about him, but fears what her mother will do. Then, one day "The Daddy" goes too far and almost kills her sister Enid. However, the drama truely begins there when every adult in Karina's life gives her their opinion about what she should do. Several want her to tell the truth, while others, including her mother, beg her to lie and protect "The Daddy".
This book is very dramatic and touching. It also gives insight into how some abusive families function-- instead of protecting the victim, protect the abuser. Karina's tale is heartbreaking, but M. Sindy Felin did a wonderful job.

17 January 2009

Awesome Contest at Reviewer X

Hey guys!
While it is getting closer to tomorrow, I wanted to let you know about something I stumbled across today while I was visiting one of my favorite blogs. . .
Reviewer X has an awesome contest this week to give away Laurie Halse Anderson's newest book Wintergirls! check it out: http://reviewerx.blogspot.com/. Enter to win the book, and then check out her blog. It's pretty cool. :O)

13 January 2009

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

"I am the living dead girl because I am to weak to die." Alice, who really isn't named Alice, lives those words. Abducted by a sociopath when she was 10, Alice is a survivor in every sense of the word. Her sadistic keeper Ray likes his girls young and once they get "old" (around 15) they have to leave and he finds a new Alice.
Our Alice is 15 now, and she awaits the day of her death with eager anticipation. She longs for Ray's knife to rip through her body, but Ray has other ideas. Before he will let Alice go, she has to find her replacement. Alice has to find the next girl, the one Ray will name Annabel, and train her for Ray's twisted needs. The question is, when Annabel gets there, will Alice finally be released to her family or will her death come as she hopes. . .
This book is AMAZING! Elizabeth Scott has done a masterful job keeping the suspence growing with this novel. As I read each page, I found myself hoping that she could get away. The book jacket says it all Living Dead Girl really is unlike any I have read before and I doubt I will ever read one like it again. Living Dead Girl made me think. At times Alice seemed really cold and vicious, but then I stopped to think, if I was in her place, would I react the same way? Would I be so desperate to be safe again that I would willingly find a replacement? Would I be different from Alice?
This book will make you think and it will take you out of your comfort zone, but that is what any great work of fiction will do.

06 January 2009

Audio Book Awesomeness : The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin

The first audio books for this blog has to be The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin, read by Daniel Passer. I am not one who really enjoys listening to audio books because in my mind the reader can never match what I've imagined. HOWEVER, I must say in the case of The Rules of Survival was a very pleasant surprise. Daniel Passer was almost exactly how I imagined Matthew's voice. I could hear and feel the anxiety and the resolution in his voice and felt as if I was there with him the entire time.

I love the paper copy of this book and I enjoyed the audio version as well. Both versions of the novel are amazing and show how damaging psychological abuse is and how it can progress into something more physical. The mother in the novel is a psychopath, but there are people who truly care about the children and try to help even though everyone fears the mother.

01 January 2009

Planet Pregnancy by Linda Oatman High

In this new novel by Linda Oatman High, we find a teenage girl waiting for a simple test result. As she sit there begging for the test to turn blue and not pink she begins to moan and groan about her predicament. When that little test betrays her and turns pink, Sahara feels her world drop away from her. Sahara refuses to acknowledge the baby as a baby and gives it random nicknames. She goes to a psycic to find out the baby's gender and when the psycic lysps that she's having a boy, Sahara declares that penises should be illegal. Months pass and she refuses to tell anyone she's pregnant until Christmas when she tells her friend. Sahara goes to great lengths to not tell her mom she was pregnant by making up a story of date rape and declaring that she was NOT pregnant when her mother asked if she had any tests after the supposed rape. Eventually, Sahara admits the pregnancy and that she wasn't raped and begins to take care of herself and the baby.
*************** *************** ******************** ************
While I am not usually a fan of Novels in Verse, this was a good one. I like that this book doesn't glorify teen pregnancy like movies such as Juno. Planet Pregancy take the view of a young woman who is really just a kid herself and the typical fear of disappointing her parent and her priest. Underneath it all, she's just a kid who isn't ready for the responsibility. In this book, you hear about the morning sickness, the getting bigger, the fear of hurting the baby, nothing is glorified.

Safe by Susan Shaw

When thirteen-year-old Tracy, whose mother died when she was three years old, is raped and beaten on the last day of school, all her feelings of security disappear and she does not know how to cope with the fear and dread that engulf her.
I absolutely loved this book. The attack on Tracy is not graphically detailed, but the emotions and trauma she feels after are very vivid. You can feel the anxiety she has when left alone, the desire to cling to her father and the despair she lives in now that she can no longer feel her mother's presence. Tracy has a long road ahead of her, one that she will not have to walk alone. Her father refuses to allow her to wallow in fear and pity. Tracy also finds comfort in her weekly piano lessons, lessons she used to dread and attempt to get out of, now bring her peace and help her find a new life. Tracy's expreience in the orange car causes her to try to pull away from her friends and it almost succeeds. A frightening event will bring her back to her friends, her father and even back to the mother she lost so many years before.


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