Monday, December 31, 2012

December 2012 Recap

December was super busy, with both Ally and Melissa celebrating their birthdays, plus Christmas. Most of our spare time this month was spent on making Christmas gifts, which didn't leave a whole lot of time for reading and blogging.

We hope that you're all having a wonderful holiday season, and best wishes to everyone for a very happy 2013!

Ally Read:

  • Entwined by Heather Dixon
  • The Goddess Test by Aimée Carter
  • Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson
  • The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara
  • The Peculiars by Maureen Doyle McQuerry
  • Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
  • Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard
  • Persephone by Kaitlin Bevis

Lee Read:

  • Dance with the Devil by Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Reached by Ally Condie
  • Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
  • The Diviners by Libba Bray
  • The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

Reviews Posted:

Featured Posts:


Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cousinly Conversation Vlog: Our Thoughts on Les Misérables

Ally and I went to see Les Misérables and gush about it in this vlog. Melissa was kind enough to hold the camera for us and makes an audio-only appearance towards the end.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lee's 2012 Rewind

2012 was a whirlwind of a book year for me. I don’t think I’ve ever read more than thirty books in a year, let alone one hundred. I’m not trying to sound boastful or anything; it’s just that I’m still in a bit of disbelief because I never pictured myself reading that number of books over twelve months. Looking back, it seems like the timing was right to go on a reading spree. Joining Goodreads last December provided an endless list of books to read. After nearly four years of living in a new city, I finally started going to my local library; it has since become like a second home to me. Like Ally said in her rewind post, this was the year that I ventured outside of my usual paranormal reads and discovered a host of amazing books in a variety of genres.

I confess to kicking off 2012 with one of my go-to subjects, vampires. For the longest time, I put off reading Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. By the time I’d heard of it, I thought that I’d read my share of books about anything with fangs. Plus, the covers didn’t appeal to me. At all. The series came up as one of my first Goodreads recommendations, though, so I finally gave in, borrowed the first book from the library, and subsequently had my mind blown by how amazing it was. I instantly loved Rose Hathaway’s fiery personality and razor-sharp wit. I couldn’t devour the series fast enough, and once I had finished it, I had to get my hands on the spin-off series, Bloodlines. I’ll never be able to thank Richelle Mead enough for including Adrian Ivashkov in it!

Before this year, I hadn’t read contemporaries in quite some time. In fact, I’d sort of given up on the genre after reading a succession of lackluster Adult titles. Seeing rave reviews of Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss convinced me to try delving into contemporary again, and it turned out to be the perfect choice. If it hadn’t been for Anna and its companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, I might never have taken a chance on Gayle Forman’s If I Stay and Where She Went and Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road. These books were not only outstanding contemporary reads but some of my favorite reads from 2012, period.

Narrowing down my list of favorite books that I read in 2012 is really difficult, so I’m going to have to borrow a page from Ally’s rewind and include some honorable mentions at the end. And now for the actual list . . . . I’ve already mentioned Vampire Academy, Bloodlines, If I Stay, Where She Went, and Jellicoe Road. I also fell in love with Cynthia Hand’s Unearthly and Hallowed; at last, a series about angels that didn’t disappoint! Another favorite book from this year was a bit unexpected—Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys. I almost didn’t pick this up because I trudged through another of her novels, The Scorpio Races, earlier in the year, but the storyline, which partly revolves around the search for a sleeping Welsh king who is supposed to grant a wish to whoever finds him and wakes him, proved to be too irresistible of a draw. For weeks after reading it, I couldn’t stop thinking about The Raven Boys and its gorgeous prose. I hounded Ally until she read it, and then both of us hounded Melissa until she read it. It’s that good!

One of my most anticipated reads of 2012 was the fifth installment in Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments series, City of Lost Souls, and it was as epic as I’d hoped it would be. I was particularly interested in any references to The Infernal Devices, and City of Lost Souls contained plenty of them, not that clever Cassandra Clare gave anything away about how TID will end. I already know that Clockwork Princess is going to 1) be my favorite book of 2013 and 2) leave me an emotional wreck for days, if not weeks, and possibly months, after reading it.

As much as I loved all of these books, top honors for my read of 2012 go to Melina Marchetta’s Finnikin of the Rock. When I wrote my review for this must-read YA fantasy, I couldn’t find adequate words to describe how brilliant it is. I still can’t. This was the first Melina Marchetta book that I read, and I was mesmerized from page one. The characters, the dialogue, the world-building, and the writing in general are all phenomenal. I could go on forever about Marchetta’s genius, but I’ll spare you my fangirling and just exhort you to check out her books if you haven’t already. And now for the . . .

Honorable Mentions:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, and Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

Stacking the Shelves (21)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. It's an opportunity for everyone to share the books which we've added to our shelves.

We hope that everyone had a great Christmas! Santa was very good to us this year, and Ally and Melissa were doubly lucky this month because their birthdays were right before Christmas.

Ally's Books:


The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder
Clockwork Angel pendant
The Infernal Devices bookmark
(It was a little difficult to get a clear photo of the quote, which is from the parabatai oath, Until aught but death part thee and me.

Lee's Books:


Easy by Tammara Webber


Clockwork Angel pendant


Breathe by Sarah Crossan
Thanks to Goodreads and HarperTeen!

Melissa's Books:


Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

What did you add to your shelves this week? Please link us up!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Melissa's 2012 Rewind

What a crazy year it has been, filled with books, reviews, vlogs, various guest blogger stuff, and more books. I’ve read my fair share of mediocre books, but I got pretty lucky with the abundance of good books this year.

The first books I started out with this year put me off to a great start. The Hollow series by Jessica Verday was fantastic, and a definite reread. I loved Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, and the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead was amazing. I was also so glad that Lee forced me to read Unearthly and Hallowed by Cynthia Hand.

I tried some contemporary YA, too, and really liked it, my favorites being Stephanie Perkins’s Anna and the French Kiss and the companion novel, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Paper Towns. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake and its sequel, Girl of Nightmares, also make my list of top books for the year. I have to say, though, that Cassandra Clare’s The Infernal Devices was my favorite of the favorites.

I can’t wait to continue reading next year. I can only hope it will bring equal quality, if not better, books.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ally's 2012 Rewind

This year has been a rather peculiar year for me in the book world. I emerged from my vampire cave and into the other realms of Young Adult categories. It was hard for me, going out into the vast unknown and all. But once I got going, devouring the miscellaneous topics that fall under YA, I found it hard to stop. I guess you can say my book affliction only grew.

Some of the new themes that I have come to know and love include zombies, steampunk, and, dare I say it, contemporaries. Before I was introduced to the magnificent John Green books, I held a strong and quite prejudiced belief that no contemporary book could or would be as a good as a paranormal or fantasy read. Looking back now, I couldn’t disagree more! I wince at my own simple-minded nature and encourage anyone who might even think that way to think again! The Fault in Our Stars says it all.

Now zombies have taken Young Adult books by storm. I find this brilliant! I have read so many zombie titles this year, and it amazes me to see the plethora of twists put onto this one thought. I am currently reading Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, and I absolutely adore it! On the front cover it quite explicitly says, “If you enjoyed Clockwork Angel, you’ll love this.” At first I was a little annoyed. How can anyone compare a book to my heart and soul, The Infernal Devices?! Expectedly, I went into the book snickering and already biased. Three quarters of the way through and I . . . love it! The blurb was correct. Something Strange and Deadly is amazing, and it does remind me of the Shadowhunters and their world. But at the same time, it is completely different.

Another revolutionary idea that seemed to hit me in the head this year was the concept of steampunk. Steampunk. Is. Amazing. It’s just a really roguish and bad-arse idea. The air that surrounds this theme just seems to grab my attention. My third favorite book I have read this year is actually the Leviathan series by Scott Westerfeld. This series is drenched in steampunk!

Before I get into my top two books of 2012, I would like to touch on some of the books that I didn’t quite like. There were only three, and one was the famous The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. For the life of me, I wanted to love this book. Everyone else did, and it was about fairies! For some reason I just couldn’t enjoy the book. I didn’t like Ash or Meghan, and I only sort of cared for Puck. What can a girl do when she doesn’t like the main characters? I’m probably going to try and finish the rest of the series, though. Who knows, I might just change my mind. The other two books I didn’t really care for were Ten by Gretchen McNeil and Eve by Anna Carey. I didn’t like Ten because it seemed too cliché of a horror story. I also couldn’t find the “horror” in the story. It wasn’t scary for me at all; it wasn’t even that big of a mystery for me. Eve was just an impractical choice on my part. I somewhat knew that I was going to dislike the book, but I went ahead and read it anyway. Darn me and my thick head!

Now back to my top two favorites. My second favorite book, or should I say series, of 2012 was the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead (I’m also selfishly including Bloodlines and The Golden Lily). This series changed my life! I love everything about it, specifically Adrian Ivashkov! This series made me laugh and made me cry. I still think about it quite frequently. This series was just so different from any other series I have ever read. The characters truly felt real. I could easily picture Rose cracking jokes while killing Strigoi. I think that’s why I love the series so much; it’s because of the characters.

Now my favorite book that I have read this year is . . . The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater! I adore this book so much! When I first started reading it, I quickly connected the Raven Boys to the four Marauders from Harry Potter. In my mind, Gansey was James, Ronan was Sirius, Adam was Remus, and Noah was Peter. I jumped at the idea of having my image of the Marauders live through the Raven Boys. I loved the book for this. But by the end of the book, I came to love it for what it was and not what it represented in my mind. I still saw the connection, but I loved it separately. I loved the quest for the Welsh king storyline, I loved the fantasy, I loved the boys’ friendship and history, I loved Blue, her family, and her unique name, and I loved Ronan Lynch! It’s weird, though. While reading the book, I didn’t “love, love” it. I recognized and appreciated the amazingness of it all, but only after I finished the book and reflected back on it did I truly come to adore it. I think about The Raven Boys at least once a week. I’m simply dying to find out what happens. Reading The Raven Boys just really completed this book year for me. ♥

Honorable Mentions:

Those who are loved but sadly did not make the top three include: The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard, Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, The Name of The Star by Maureen Johnson, Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta, The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, and Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

We'd like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas! We hope that you all have a wonderful holiday and find a bookish gift or two waiting for you under your Christmas tree!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares
By Rachel Cohn & David Levithan
Knopf Books for Young Readers

To Sum It Up:

Dash and Lily are complete strangers to each other, but they’re about to meet in a most unusual way. Right before Christmas, Dash finds a red Moleskine notebook on a shelf in the Strand Book Store in Manhattan that contains a quest. On a whim, he accepts the mystery author’s challenge, kicking off a back and forth game of dares with the notebook’s owner, Lily. The two are sent on tasks all over the city, and with every exchange of the notebook, they seem to become a little better acquainted. Pouring your heart out to a stranger on paper is one thing, though; meeting in person is another thing entirely, with no guarantee that the person from the red Moleskine notebook is the same person outside of its pages. Both Dash and Lily realize this and wonder if it would be best to continue just knowing each other through the notebook.


Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares was such a fun read, and it’s simply perfect for Christmas. I grew up in New York City and have many fond memories of past holidays there, so the setting alone was enough to make me fall in love with this book. Rachel Cohn and David Levithan do a magnificent job of bringing the city at Christmas time to life, from the crowds at Macy’s Herald Square and FAO Schwarz to the decorated houses of Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights neighborhood. For anyone who’s never visited New York during the holiday season, reading this book is probably the next best thing to being there.

I loved the novel’s original premise and its rich cast of quirky characters. The two narrators, Dash and Lily, are brought together by a red notebook containing a dare. The scheme was concocted by Lily’s older brother, Langston, in an attempt to help push his little sister out into the world more. It’s Dash who finds the notebook on a shelf in the Strand Book Store and decides to play along. The tasks themselves are quite funny from the outset; in order to decipher the first set of clues, Dash has to find some rather eyebrow-raising titles among the Strand’s stacks. Later on, there’s a Cinderella-esque incident involving a majorette boot getting left behind that still makes me smile just thinking about it. I found this book hilarious; it perfectly suited my sense of humor. Dash’s frequent use of sarcasm was very welcome.

Lily is such a sweet, bubbly character. She exudes an optimism that is very endearing and that I would love to have. Dash, who takes a more cynical view of the world, is the perfect foil for her. Whereas Lily is sheltered by her extremely protective, extended family, Dash’s divorced parents haven’t spoken to each other in years. This story could have gone the trite, opposites attract route, but fortunately, it doesn’t. Cohn and Levithan keep the narrative fresh with an ideal balance between poignancy and lightheartedness.

I’m not big on holiday movies where at the end, everyone is standing in front of a fireplace wearing matching sweaters and huge grins while holding mugs of hot chocolate. I definitely have more of a Dash-like outlook on life, but this book really made me feel, well, happy, after reading it. There’s no need to worry that Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares is all syrup, though; there’s enough snark, especially from Dash, to prevent it from becoming schmaltzy. The novel puts you in a festive mood without giving you the sensation that you’ve indulged in eating too many holiday sweets.

All in All:

I borrowed this from the library but need to buy my own copy so that I can start a new holiday tradition of reading it every December.

Favorite Quotes:

“For me, danger might be getting out from under the protective cloak of my family and venturing into the world more on my own, even though I don’t know what—or who—awaits me.”
Lily, Chapter 12

“‘If you tell me, I will leave you alone,’ I said. ‘And if you don’t tell me, I am going to grab the nearest ghostwritten James Patterson romance novel and I am going to follow you through this store reading it out loud until you relent. Would you prefer me to read from Daphne’s Three Tender Months with Harold or Cindy and John’s House of Everlasting Love? I guarantee, your sanity and your indie street cred won’t last a chapter. And they are very, very short chapters.’”
Dash, Chapter 11

Friday, December 21, 2012

Embrace Birthday Bash & Giveaway

It’s Embrace’s Book Birthday and to celebrate the success of her debut novel Cherie Colyer is giving away a copy of her book plus swag. Before we get to that, here is a brief excerpt and some information about Embrace.

A stillness filled the air, a calm serenity that wrapped around me like the wings of an angel. A moment later, Isaac’s strong arms circled me, pinning my back to his chest. His breath smelled of spearmint. It brushed the side of my neck and sent an excited shiver through my entire body.
Embrace by Cherie Colyer
By Cherie Colyer
Omnific Publishing

How far would you go to save the people you love?


Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.

Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.

Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.

Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.

To add Embrace to your Goodreads’ lists click here and to view the book trailer click here. If you’d like to curl up with Embrace today you can download the eBook on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Find Cherie: Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter

** Giveaway **

To win a copy of Embrace or swag, all you have to do is fill out the form:

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review: Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Before I Fall
By Lauren Oliver

To Sum It Up:

Samantha Kingston is one of the most popular girls in school, and she knows it. Together with her best friends Lindsay, Elody, and Ally, the foursome rules Thomas Jefferson High School. But everything about life that Sam took for granted abruptly loses its meaning on the way home from a party one night. Forced to relive the last day of her life for a week, Sam gets an unflinching look at the kind of person she was and how she treated people. With this insight into how others perceived her, she has the chance to try and right some of the wrongs in her past, if she chooses to do so.


Having read and enjoyed Lauren Oliver’s Delirium and Pandemonium, I was very eager to check out her contemporary novel, Before I Fall. I shouldn’t have been surprised to find it every bit as intense and thought-provoking as her dystopian books, as well as written in her signature, elegant prose. To think that this was Oliver’s debut novel is staggering.

Samantha Kingston starts out as one of the most unlikable protagonists I’ve read about in recent memory. She’s shallow, self-absorbed, and stuck-up. She and her three best friends, Lindsay, Ally, and Elody, exemplify the definition of mean girls. They sneer at everyone because they can. Although Sam isn’t as outwardly aggressive as Lindsay, the ringleader of their little clique, is, guffawing at every vicious remark Lindsay cracks about someone and never speaking out against Lindsay’s bullying doesn’t make Sam much better than her friend. Sam isn’t very nice at home, either, especially to her younger sister, Izzy. The laid-back attitude of Sam’s parents toward their daughter’s behavior really bothered me. They didn’t seem to have much of a problem with her attitude, when she clearly needed a stern lecture at the very least.

As repulsive as I found the actions of Sam and her crew, in particular Lindsay’s determination to make life a living hell for her former friend, Juliet Sykes, this story was absolutely riveting. When Sam first realizes that she’s died, she’s defiant, acknowledging that she’s done some bad things, but did she really deserve this fate because of them? Each time she relives her last day, though, she gains a clearer picture of her true self, the arrogant girl who found the public humiliation of others hilarious and just watched as it happened. Sam also opens her eyes to the type of people her friends really are. But this epiphany isn’t only about seeing Lindsay’s cruelty for what it is and not finding it funny anymore. We learn that despite her friends’ swagger, their lives aren’t as perfect as they would like people to believe they are. Oliver is very careful not to justify the girls’ behavior; she puts forward some possible reasons why they act as they do, but it’s up to the reader to decide what to make of these characters, including Sam. I liked that Oliver gave the reader this freedom and didn’t try to sway you into neatly categorizing a character as good or bad. Although I still didn’t love Sam by the end of the book, I do think that she matured a great deal and learned a huge lesson in compassion.

What I loved most about Before I Fall was how it evoked so many conflicting feelings. I couldn’t stand some of the characters, yet I couldn’t stop reading about them. I usually struggle with books featuring less than likable main characters, and Sam is definitely not your conventional YA heroine, but I was completely absorbed by her attempts to rewrite the final chapter of her life. I’d love to see Lauren Oliver write another contemporary novel; it’s sure to be another gripping read that leaves you a jumble of emotions once you’ve reached the last sentence.

All in All:

Obviously, this is a must-read for any Lauren Oliver fans. I also recommend it if you’re up for a book that challenges its readers to take a good, introspective look at the way in which our words and actions affect the people around us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Fang Girl Book Blitz & Giveaway

We're excited to participate in the Fang Girl Book Blitz, organized by Xpresso Book Tours. We have an excerpt from the book for you today, and be sure to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win an awesome Fang Girl prize pack!

Fang Girl by Helen Keeble
Fang Girl
By Helen Keeble
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository | Goodreads


Things That Are Destroying Jane Greene’s Undead Social Life Before It Can Even Begin:

1) A twelve-year-old brother who’s convinced she’s a zombie.
2) Parents who are begging her to turn them into vampires.
3) The pet goldfish she accidentally turns instead.
4) Weird superpowers that let her rip the heads off of every other vampire she meets.(Sounds cool, but it doesn’t win you many friends.)
5) A pyschotic vampire creator who’s using her to carry out a plan for world domination.

And finally:
6) A seriously ripped vampire hunter who either wants to stake her or make out with her. Not sure which.

Being an undead, eternally pasty fifteen-year-old isn’t quite the sexy, brooding, angst-fest Jane always imagined . . . .

Helen Keeble’s riotous debut novel combines the humor of Vladimir Tod with Ally Carter’s spot-on teen voice. With a one-of-a-kind vampire mythology and an irresistibly relatable undead heroine, this uproarious page-turner will leave readers bloodthirsty for more.

** Excerpt **

In which Our Heroine, Xanthe Jane Greene (unexpectedly undead vampire fangirl) makes some resolutions for her new unlife . . .

As a vampire, I solemnly swear I will not:

1) Angst
2) Suck
3) Summon a dark goddess
4) Fall in love with a vampire hunter
a) Or a werewolf
b) Or anyone evil, no matter how hot.
c) Or anyone of species not approved of by my vampire elders, because no one is worth that sort of stress
5) Accept any gifts, give any gifts, carry any messages, take part in any mysterious rituals, etc. etc.

“Here’s another one,” said Mum, sticking a Post-It into the massive tome in her lap. “Running backward while carrying a lit candle in one hand and a live tortoise in the other. Makes vampires flee in terror.”

“Thanks, Mum.” I didn’t bother to look up from my laptop. I’d given up making notes on any of her findings over an hour ago—Eastern European vampire folklore was turning out to be utterly cracktastic. “Can I remind you that we’re looking for ways to stop vampire hunters, not vampires?”

When Mum had said she’d gone to work to get research materials, she wasn’t kidding. Every surface in the living room was piled high with books. This was not unusual, but the familiar physics journals and academic monographs had vanished. In their place: Interview with a Vampire, Dracula, The Vampire in Romanian Legend, Vampire Nation. The Encyclopedia of the Undead, Love Bites, Fourteen Essays on Vampirism, Twilight, Undead and Unwed, Vampires of Stage and Screen, In Search of Dracula. . . everything from huge, leather-bound library reference volumes with cracked spines to shiny new paperbacks with luridly embossed covers. Mum must have checked out every book about vampirism from every library in a thirty-mile radius. I wasn’t quite sure what she was expecting to learn from texts like Marxism and the Vampire, but at least it was keeping her occupied.

About Helen Keeble

Author Helen Keeble
Helen Keeble is not, and never has been, a vampire. She has however been a teenager. She grew up partly in America and partly in England, which has left her with an unidentifiable accent and a fondness for peanut butter crackers washed down with a nice cup of tea. She now lives in West Sussex, England, with her husband, daughter, two cats, and a variable number of fish. To the best of her knowledge, none of the fish are undead.

Her first novel, a YA vampire comedy called FANG GIRL, is out 11th Sept 2012, from HarperTeen.

She also has another YA paranormal comedy novel (provisionally titled NO ANGEL) scheduled for Sept 2013.

You can find Helen on her website, Goodreads, and Twitter.

** Giveaway **

Open internationally and ends on December 25, 2012.
Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska
By John Green
Dutton Books

To Sum It Up:

Miles Halter is looking for something beyond what his public school in Florida can offer. He’s in search of, as François Rabelais phrased it, the “Great Perhaps.” This determined journey of discovery leads Miles to Culver Creek, the Alabama boarding school that his father also attended. His new roommate is a scholarship kid who prefers to be called the Colonel and gives Miles his very own nickname, too ("Pudge"). But the center of Miles’s universe at Culver Creek is the smart, beautiful, and one-of-a-kind Alaska Young, whom he’s instantly smitten with. Under the guidance of the Colonel and Alaska, Pudge is pushed out of the safe confines of his old life and into whatever awaits him beyond it.

Lee's Review:

When I decided to check out one of John Green’s books at last, I figured that I’d start from the beginning, with Looking for Alaska. I had a rather odd journey reading this book. After reading a few chapters, I just couldn’t get into it and set it aside for almost two weeks. With the library due date looming, I somewhat reluctantly picked it back up. The hiatus ended up being a wise idea because when I resumed reading, I became a lot more interested in the story.

Even as I write this review, I still can’t precisely describe why I found this book so difficult to warm up to. Green is certainly an exceptionally talented writer. I get why he’s so popular. If I’d read Looking for Alaska when I was sixteen, I’d be worshipping him as a god, too. The thing is, I’ve been out of high school a long time, and looking back, I feel quite inadequate, bordering on ashamed, for not having read Rabelais or even having heard of Rabelais as a teenager. I also don’t recall pondering some of the profound topics that the teenage characters in this novel sometimes do, further making me question if I spent my adolescent years doing anything useful at all. There were times when I thought that Miles, Alaska, and the Colonel would have felt right at home among post-collegiate hipsters. Green’s writing has this mega-cerebral quality to it, and it didn’t always click with me.

Another contributing factor to the rocky start that I had with the book was that it seemed like nothing was happening. Contemporary, character-driven novels can be hit or miss with me, and this one was looking like a big miss. Miles sets off for Culver Creek. Miles meets the Colonel. The Colonel dubs Miles “Pudge.” Miles meets Alaska and can’t stop thinking about her . . . and so forth. I kept waiting for all of the talk about bufriedos (deep-fried burritos) and Weekday Warriors (the local rich kids who go home on the weekends to their rich families) to lead up to something momentous. And I kept waiting. Perhaps it was taking a break from the book that gave me some time to digest its pacing, so that when I began reading it again, I just went with the flow of the narrative. If I’d taken that approach from the get-go, I might not have gotten so frustrated with it in the beginning.

So why am I giving the book four stars? I did take an immediate liking to the Colonel because he radiated snark, and he was my favorite character until the end. I mean, I have to love a guy who attends basketball games just to heckle the other team and get ejected. The “After” part of the novel is riveting; it’s heartbreaking and poignant, yet filled with enough of Green’s inimitable brand of humor to prevent the book’s tone from becoming too melancholy. Finally, I cannot deny that John Green is a genius. The writing here is brilliant, even if it’s not exactly the type that speaks to me the way that it does to other readers.

All in All:

In the hands of the right reader, there’s a lot to love about Looking for Alaska. When it comes to contemporary, YA, Printz Award-winning novels set in boarding schools, though, Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road remains my top pick.

Ally's Review:

Did I suspect that this book would be amazing? Yes! I was right; John Green can deliver nothing less than amazing! Looking for Alaska is the second John Green book I have ever read. Even though it wasn't my favorite Green book, I still enjoyed it.

The thing about Green's books that is so appealing to me, besides the humor, is the characters. Pudge was a great young lad, and I loved his obsession with famous last words. After reading this, I Googled some famous last words to sate my own curiosity. This leads me to another thing about Green—his characters are relatable. They aren't cardboard relatable either, where the characters are so bland that anyone can put himself or herself in the characters' shoes. I felt for Pudge. He was trying to become adventurous any way that he could. Alaska was also pretty cool. To me she was the epitome of teenage rebellion. Sure, she had her problems, but hey, nobody's perfect. The last character that I really want to mention is the Colonel. I loved this guy! He was this short little prankster/mastermind, and the book wouldn't have been the same without him!

The storyline was very interesting. You're pretty much following Pudge's life, watching as he truly begins to live. The relationship between him and his friends was quite moving. The end really caught me off guard. It wasn't a big old mystery, but I just couldn't believe it was happening!

The only thing that I can even think of that might have bothered me about this book was the sadness. But as every Nerdfighter must know, most of John Green's books come with a good dose of misery. He just has a knack for writing deep, depressing, memorable stories. I think that's secretly why I like 'em so much.

All in All:

It's a John Green book—go and read this amazing piece of literature.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Melissa!

A very Happy 17th Birthday to our guest blogger, Melissa! We know how much you wanted a pet llama as a present, but for some reason, we didn't think your parents (or the dog) would be cool with that. We're still confident that you'll be really happy with your gifts, though.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cover Reveal: Timespell by Diana Paz

We're excited to be taking part in the cover reveal for Diana Paz's Timespell, organized by Xpresso Book Tours.

Timespell by Diana Paz
By Diana Paz
Rhemalda Publishing Publication Date: April 1, 2013


In TIMESPELL, the brash and impulsive Julia must team up with her sweet and straight-laced best friend, Angie, and the malicious and power-hungry Kaitlyn in order to keep the witch-like powers of her inheritance. But these powers come at a cost. The girls are bound to serve the Fates, and their first mission sends them back in time to Marie Antoinette’s Paris and eventually, into the chaos and war of the French Revolution.

** Timespell Trailer **

About Diana Paz

Author Diana Paz
Diana Paz writes books about magic, adventure, and romance. She was born in Costa Rica, grew up on Miami Beach, moved to Los Angeles in high school, and went to college in San Diego. Basically, she’s a beach bum. Diana graduated from California State University, San Marcos with a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Arts. She loves old movies, epic fantasy, all kinds of music, and heading to the beach with a good book. Preferably sipping a highly sweetened iced coffee.

You can find Diana on her website, blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Feature & Follow Friday (19)

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Parajunkee's View and
Alison Can Read. It's a great way to meet other book bloggers!

This week's question is:
What is the last book that made you cry? Tell us about the scene . . .

I'm fielding this week's question solo because 1) it's Ally's birthday today and I can't possibly ask her to do work on it, and 2) I don't remember her ever crying over a book. Books don't often make me cry, either, but one of the biggest exceptions ever was If I Stay by Gayle Forman. That book made me want to sob from the beginning to the end. There are a lot of highly emotional scenes, but the one that really sticks with me is the scene in the hospital where the main character, Mia, who is unconscious after a car accident, is being asked by her boyfriend, Adam, to wake up and stay with him and her family and friends. Absolutely. Gut. Wrenching.

If you're a new follower, be sure to let me know so that I can follow you back. Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Birthday Ally!

A very Happy Sweet Sixteen to Ally! May you receive some awesome bookish presents! We're pretty sure that you're getting at least one—you know that long, cardboard box in your living room that says "Bookshelf" on it that you've pointed out to us and told us is your new bookshelf? Now if you only had some new books to go with it . . . .

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: The Infects by Sean Beaudoin

The Infects by Sean Beaudoin
The Infects
By Sean Beaudoin

To Sum It Up:

Nick/Nero, a regular teenage boy turned delinquent, is sent into the wilderness with a handful of other troubled teens. All is going pleasantly well until the first morning into their hike. Nero and his "friends" wake to find their counselors have turned into contagious flesh eating monsters. Nero and the rest of his group must use their prior zombie survival knowledge to form a plan for survival.


I have to say, this book was rather . . . twisted. So, me being the deranged person I am, genuinely enjoyed this epic tale of horror. But, it is definitely not for the squeamish. Well, for some reason, I ended up reading a majority of this at night. I'll leave it to your imagination to picture my reaction to reading a surprise-full-on-zombie-attack at 2 in the morning.

The Infects was a really weird book, and I was able to really appreciate it as a horror movie lover. The start of the zombie apocalypse was like my worst nightmare come true. If you've read this already, you know what I'm talking about! But, if you haven't, when you do, you'll understand. All I have to say is, if I'm not immune, I would be in the first batch of zombies.

I thought Nick/Nero and his fellow delinquents had a hilariously sick sense of humor. The dialogue made the entire book for me. I found myself chuckling out loud quite a few times (awkward).

All in All:

The Infects really filled my need for a horror-induced adrenaline rush. It was much better than a cheesy SyFy movie! While this book is not for everyone, if you love twisted horror stories, this book is for you!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday (14): Favorite New-To-Us Authors We Read In 2012

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is:
Top Ten Favorite New-To-Us Authors We Read In 2012

Thanks to joining Goodreads a year ago this month and the book blogging community earlier this year, we both discovered so many incredible authors in 2012. Once again, it was tough narrowing down the list to just ten choices.

  1. Richelle Mead: We finally decided to read Vampire Academy after putting it off for ages, and we were blown away. Just when we thought we'd read enough vampire books, VA and Bloodlines gave us a fresh start with that subject.
  2. Maggie Stiefvater: She excels at writing male characters, especially with The Raven Boys. We're both still thinking and talking about this book and will be for some time.
  3. Melina Marchetta: Whether it's contemporary or fantasy, she creates characters that you'll be thinking about long after you've finished reading one of her books.
  4. John Green: He was Ally's first real introduction to contemporary. She never thought that she would be able to lose herself in a book with no fantasy or paranormal element, but Green's humorous writing truly captures the reader.
  5. Cynthia Hand: An angel series (Unearthly) finally delivers! As two girls originally from Brooklyn, NY, we never thought we'd fall for a cowboy, but we love Tucker!
  6. Gayle Forman: If I Stay and Where She Went are perfect examples of how to write about loss and grief without clichés and mawkishness. Lee can't wait to read Just One Day!
  7. Scott Westerfeld: Ally has never read anything as cool or as intricately detailed as Westerfeld's Leviathan series. The world in which his story takes place is otherworldly yet strangely familiar.
  8. Stephanie Perkins: Lee loves her breezy, engaging writing style and fantastic sense of humor.
  9. Cinda Williams Chima: The Demon King, the only book of hers that Ally has read so far, was perfect! The characters weren't completely good or completely bad, and the story just seemed to tell itself.
  10. Maureen Johnson: We both loved The Name of the Star, a mesmerizing thriller that also manages to showcase some light moments among the dark theme.

Who were your favorite new-to-you authors from 2012? Please link us up!

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