Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Question of the Week: Bookshelves

Everyone has a different way of organizing their bookshelf. Some like putting them in alphabetical order, others arrange them by color, size, or even genre. Whichever way a book nerd organizes their books is specific to them.

How do you organize your bookshelf? Is there any particular reason you organize it that way?

Hannah: I organize my bookshelf by placing them in alphabetical order, based on the author's last name. I also separate my books based on the ones I've already read and the ones I still have yet to read. First, I have all my books I've read in alphabetical order, and then I have the ones I have yet to read in order by which ones I want to read least to the ones I want to read most. It's helpful for when I finish a book and am going to start another one because I can just pick up the last book on my shelf.

Emily: My shelf is primarily organized by author, and within that, the books in a series are grouped together. Otherwise, I have become so pressed for space that I have to place books where they will actually fit. I try to keep things grouped together, but sometimes it isn't possible. My bookshelf already is two deep, and books are even stacked sideways to get them to fit. Hopefully, though, I should be getting another bookshelf for Christmas, which is much needed! I also organize by what books I have yet to read. The books that need to be read are on the very bottom shelf in the very front.

Jessica: I organize my bookshelf by author. I like placing my books in alphabetical order because that's how a library organizes their books. There's nothing more satisfying than a well-organized bookshelf with each book placed in its proper spot. Also, when books are organized by author, it gives more credit to the writer.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Young Adult Lit Class Visit

Hannah and I paid a little visit to Mr. Sispera's Young Adult Literature class today and got to talk about what we love most... BOOKS! :D Needless to say, we had a blast talking to people and showing them a few of our books. (Yes, a FEW. We had a ton more at home!) Here are some pictures from today.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Book Giveaway! Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

That's right everyone! This is our very first book giveaway! Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares was released June 14, 2011. Here is a synopsis of the book:

"Return to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants... ten years later. From #1 New York Times bestselling author Ann Brashares comes the welcome return of the characters whose friendship became a touchstone for a generation. Now Tibby, Lena, Carmen, and Bridget have grown up, starting their lives on their own. And though the jeans they shared are long gone, the sisterhood is everlasting. Despite having jobs and men that they love, each knows that something is missing: the closeness that once sustained them. Carmen is a successful actress in New York, engaged to be married, but misses her friends. Lena finds solace in her art, teaching in Rhode Island, but still thinks of Kostos and the road she didn’t take. Bridget lives with her longtime boyfriend, Eric, in San Francisco, and though a part of her wants to settle down, a bigger part can’t seem to shed her old restlessness. Then Tibby reaches out to bridge the distance, sending the others plane tickets for a reunion that they all breathlessly await. And indeed, it will change their lives forever—but in ways that none of them could ever have expected. As moving and life-changing as an encounter with long-lost best friends, Sisterhood Everlasting is a powerful story about growing up, losing your way, and finding the courage to create a new one."

Entering to win is easy! All you have to do is become a follower of our blog and then comment below on this blog post to be entered to win. Good luck!

Contest ends Thursday, October 20, 2011. The winner will be notified Friday, October 21, 2011.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Question of the Week: Favorite genre?

For any reader there is always one genre they gravitate to more than others. Be it high fantasy, contemporary fiction, or paranormal romance, each genre preference can tell a lot about a person.

What is your favorite genre and why?

Hannah: My favorite genre is dystopian. Some dystopian novels you may be familiar with are: Divergent by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. All books I thoroughly enjoyed! Dystopian novels are set in a post-apocalyptic futuristic world that is controlled by a morally corrupt government to give an illusion of a perfect society, though the society is anything but perfect. The idea of a world that could potentially exist in our society's own future is what makes this genre both scary and intriguing at the same time. Though I love fantasy and contemporary fiction like no other as well, dystopian novels are the ones I have always and will continue to grab for.

Emily: My favorite genre has to be fantasy, and more often than not, romance and historical fiction will be tied into those books. There is something about the mix of fantasy with romance and history, whether it be Elizabethan, medieval, or a completely new world like Middle Earth and Alagaesia, that I cannot seem to resist. I have always read these books, and I will always gravitate towards them. The Inheritance Cycle, The Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter Series, and Graceling and Fire by Kristin Cashore are some examples, to name a few. I will almost always read any book as long as it has an appealing plot, so most of the time the genre of a book isn't terribly important to me as long as the book sounds good.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Dutton, 338 pages

"Budding designer Lola Nolan doesn't believe in fashion...she believes in costume. The more expressive the outfit--more sparkly, more fun, more wild--the better. But even though Lola's style is outrageous, she's a devoted daughter and friend with some big plans for the future. And everything is pretty perfect (right down to her hot rocker boyfriend) until the dreaded Bell twins, Calliope and Cricket, return to the neighborhood. When Cricket--a gifted inventor--steps out from his twin sister's shadow and back into Lola's life, she must finally reconcile a lifetime of feelings for the boy next door."

After reading Anna and the French Kiss I fell in love with Stephanie Perkins's writing style. I'm also a big fan of Sarah Dessen's contemporary fiction novels. When I heard there was a companion novel to Anna and the French Kiss I was ecstatic! Lola and the Boy Next Door has similar aspects to Anna and the French Kiss, but with a new fun cute story nontheless.

Lola expresses herself through clothing, and by clothing, I mean costumes. Every costume is different, crazy, and original. I loved that she expressed herself through her clothes, because I feel that is how you can represent yourself. It explains your personality. Lola is also the polar opposite of Anna. She has plenty of flaws and that's what I think a lot of people will be able to relate to. Lola has two fathers: Nathan and Andy. Lola's birth mother, Norah is actually Nathan's sister and is struggling with her own life: with drugs, alcohol, and income. Lola's dads are very protective. They want the best for Lola. This brings me to Lola's current boyfriend, Max. Lola's parents do NOT like Max. Max is in a band, has his own apartment, and is twenty years old. Max bothered me. I didn't like him, especially when compared to Cricket--Lola's neighbor next door. Cricket is honestly the sweetest guy. He's six foot four, wears pinstripe pants, is super intelligent, and a bit awkward. I loved him for all those aspects. He was just so adorable and SO nice. He respects Lola, yet he never fails to mention how much he cares about her, something Max doesn't do.

Because this is a companion novel I expected for Anna and St. Clair to make an appearance in the novel. I hoped for at least a chapter including them, and I was pleasantly surprised. Anna and St. Clair not only are featured in one chapter, they are actual side characters! Anna works with Lola at a movie theater and St. Clair is attending the same college as Cricket. St. Clair is still as cocky and charming as ever; while Anna is completely in love and involved with films.

The plot was filled with drama and filled with Lola deciding what's right for her and what she should and can do about it. Of course, with a cute story like this, I always find it predictable, but that didn't detract from how much I enjoyed it. Also, with any romantic contemporary fiction, there is a line between romantic and cheesy. Yes, there were some major cheese moments, but I loved the cheese moments. They were cute.

I don't know how Stephanie Perkins has such great pacing, but it was the easiest and quickest read. I don't have to worry about struggling through every chapter. The writing style was fun, quirky, and a signature for Stephanie Perkins. There will be a final companion novel called Isla and the Happily Ever After that will be released in the fall of 2012. I'm SO excited beyond belief. Stephanie Perkins never fails to disappoint and leaves me feeling extremely happy after turning that last page.

If you loved Anna and the French Kiss or are a fan of Sarah Dessen or contemporary fiction in general, I highly recommend Lola and the Boy Next Door. Truly a fun, amazing read.

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Little Brown Books, 563 pages

"Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she's struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever. Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town's oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them. In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything." 

This book is paranormal, romantic, historical, and even a little bit "mean girl," all wrapped into one. The paranormal aspects are added in slowly throughout the entire book, so the reader never has too much to swallow at once. I personally thought that this was great because I didn't get confused with new terms and ideas that were being introduced, so I better understood the book. History also played a prominent role throughout the book, which surprised me because I was expecting pure paranormal romance. However, the setting is in the South, and so the rich historical aspects really added a lot to the book. Parts of Beautiful Creatures actually reminded me a little of the movie, "Mean Girls." This is brought in when Savannah and Emily, who might as well be the princesses of Gatlin Country, enter the story. Their opinions matter to everyone, and they hate Lena from the start. As a result, the whole school turns against her, much like what happens in "Mean Girls."

The romance between Lena and Ethan was more maturely founded than in most paranormal romance stories, I thought. Lena and Ethan work into their relationship slowly, whereas most characters of the genre tend to jump into things without thinking. They didn't start saying "I love you," right away, but waited until they had actually been through a lot together and meant a lot to each other, so the reader knows that they mean it. They also share a strong connection: they dream about each other before they even meet. They can even speak to each other without talking, because they can hear each other's thoughts.

There are so many valuable lessons throughout Beautiful Creatures, which is part of what makes it a truly worthy read. In the book, there are situations that require both acceptance and bravery. Everyone in the town is turned against Lena and her family based purely on the fact that they are different from everyone else. In the midst of all the judgement, Ethan is brave enough to accept and stand up for Lena, even though it was a certain social suicide for him. Accepting Lena was only the start, however. He had to brave the danger that went along with being with her, which was sometimes risking his life.

Beautiful Creatures is a really great read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys paranormal romance. I, personally, ordered the second book and pre-ordered the third the second I got done reading Beautiful Creatures.

Rating: 4 stars - I really liked it. Worth buying.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing, 464 pages

"Mara Dyer doesn't think life can get any stranger than waking up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there. It can. She believes there must be more to the accident she can't remember that killed her friends and left her mysteriously unharmed. There is. She doesn't believe that after everything she's been through, she can fall in love. She's wrong."

Besides, the stunning cover art, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer has a synopsis that will intrigue anyone. As soon as I read that synopsis I was completely sold. A girl who wakes up in a hospital, doesn't know how or why she's there and is just finding out all her good friends died? Hooked from the first chapter. I became so enveloped in the plot, the romance, and the mysteries that were gradually uncovered.

The storyline is just so interesting. Mara doesn't know what happened, even though she was supposedly there, and she is trying her best to remember. But who wants to remember something so tragic? The pacing was absolutely terrific! There was just enough incidents and romance to keep reading. I had started this book just to read a few chapters, but ended up getting half way through the novel and then finishing it!

The characters are wonderful. Mara Dyer is dealing with her life. Having PTSD, putting up with nightmares, attending a new school, and trying to gain control over her own life. I enjoyed reading more about her past life and her new one as well. Another character anyone would love is Noah Shaw. First of all, he has a British accent! I mean, seriously, I just get swoony over an accent. Noah's also one of the two friends Mara makes at school. He's kind, caring, and interesting. Mara and her brother Daniel share a close relationship, which was admirable. Mara's mother is watchful of Mara, which is burdening to her. While Mara's father is a lawyer and heavily involved with work.

Like I already noted, the pacing was so well done. Michelle Hodkin seemingly bounces back and forth with two interests: Mara's romance with Noah and how Mara's life is such a mystery to herself. Each subplot sufficiently kept me intrigued. I literally had to keep reading, I found it difficult to put down.

Everything that was happening to Mara left me trying to solve the mystery even Mara couldn't solve. From Mara's hallucinations to what was actually real and happening felt foggy, but not in a bad way. I think this was what Michelle Hodkin wanted; for her readers to try and determine which hallucinations were only in Mara's mind and which were really happening.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a gripping story that has both romance and supernatural aspects. I would recommend this book to anyone because it's such a unique story that ends with the biggest cliff hanger! Seriously, I'm dying for the sequel. If you can get your hands on a copy, then do it right now!!

Rating: 5 stars - I loved it! Buy a copy!