The Year in Review: 2012

Although this year didn’t lend as much time as I would have liked to blogging, I was able to do quite a bit of reading and other literary activities. Below you will find my year in review, from the blogs I created for my classes to the 80 some books that I devoured.

Although I did not reach my goal of 100 books for the year, I did read 80 books in 2012! (Check out which specific titles here.)

Check out the breakdown of the books here:

Genna's 2012 Goodreads Challenge

Genna’s 2012 Goodreads Challenge

 

I also made a few blogs for my LIS classes:

 

Conquer College Website

Conquer College Website

Conquer College –> “Your guide to a seamless transition from high school into college,” this website is for teens entering college and is still a work in process!

 

 

The Harlem Renaissance –> “Your One-Stop Guide to the Best Sources Available,” this is a site devoted to tween and teens interested in learning more about the Harlem Renaissance. This is a great place to start research.

 

This year also found me on Pinterest, with both a library board and a “Smile” inspiration board.

 Here’s to a healthy and happy 2013, everyone!

Happy reading, writing, and blogging! :)

Gary Paulsen quote on books

**What were your favorite reads of 2012?!**

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Book That’s Keeping Me Up Tonight: Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor

Hooray for Days of Blood & Starlight by the amazing Laini Taylor

I cannot WAIT to start my copy of Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor! This is one of those titles that I have been desperately waiting to read ever since I closed the cover of the last book. 

To hear my thoughts on the fist book, please read my review of Daughter of Smoke and BoneHopefully, school work permitting, I will be able to update you soon with my thoughts on this exciting sequel!

Also, Laini is having a book trailer contest on her blog, where the grand prize is $1000! Deadline is February 15, 2013. 

Connect with Laini Taylor:

On her Blog / On Twitter

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Book Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day by Gayle Forman Book: Just One Day
Author: Gayle Forman
Pages: 320
To be Published: January 8, 2013 by Dutton Juvenile (an imprint of Penguin Group USA)
The first line: “What if Shakespeare had it wrong?”

Copy provided by: Publisher 

[This review quotes from a galley, which is uncorrected text.]
 

In the summer before going to college, Allyson Healy and her best friend, Melanie are on an educational whirlwind teen tour of Europe. While Melanie soaks up every second of the trip, going out drinking every night with the new people she’s met from the trip, Allyson is more comfortable playing the “good girl” role, seeing the sights by day and going back to her hotel at night to watch movies. She doesn’t want to go out and pretend she is someone she isn’t; she just wants to go home. 

Which is why, on the last night of their trip in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, Melanie is so surprised when Allyson suggests that they should ditch the production of Hamlet they’re about to see with their tour to experience an outdoor Guerrilla production of Twelfth Night instead. Allyson is persuaded to go on a whim because of a tall boy with dark eyes and a slight accent who tells her that the night is too great to “waste on tragedy.” The production of Twelfth Night clicks for Allyson in a way that no other Shakespeare play ever has before: she truly feels the story, and not to mention, is fixated on the charming Dutch actor who enticed her there. When the play ends, she cannot help but feel charged and connected to something outside of herself.

The next day on the train to London, Allyson runs into the actor with the lazy smile and sharp eyes, who introduces himself as Willem.

Lulu in Hollywood

Photo from http://tinyurl.com/b7rhdw2

When Willem tells Allyson that she resembles silent film star Louise Brooks, and begins calling her “Lulu,” she revels in the chance to be someone new, if only for a moment. As Lulu, she can be everything Allyson is not: straightforward, bold, even outright daring. 

Upon arriving in London, she laments to Willem and Melanie that she never got to see Paris. “So go,” Willem says, as though it were nothing. When Allyson tries to protest, giving reasons why it’s impossible, he offers to take her there, for just one day. Despite playing by the rules her entire life, Allyson steps into the shoes of Lulu in that moment and decides to go for it, to say “yes” to life for once. She begs Melanie to cover for her while she goes to Paris with a virtual stranger. 

What follows is an entertaining and heart-wrenching exploration at what happens when two people with an undeniable chemistry embark on a journey together for a very limited time. In Paris, Willem and Lulu take a boat-ride down the canal, share the back of a borrowed bicycle, get lost on purpose on the Metro. They talk about the stains of love, the pains of loss, and the fluidity of time. They spend the day and night together and Allyson begins to wonder how much of Willem is enjoying her company versus Lulu’s. Is there even a difference?  

But when Allyson awakes the next morning, she finds the 20-year-old actor gone, and in his place, there’s only an aching feeling of being used. She is forced to admit defeat and return home, licking her wounds.

The rest of the book follows Allyson’s self-discovery as she goes to college and deals with the new person she has become since Paris. Can she forget Willem, and is that what she wants? And who is she now, Allyson or Lulu? Can she ever go back to being plain old Allyson, or is she forever changed in the wake of being Lulu for just one day? 

Forman masterfully crafts this story which is ultimately about self-acceptance and discovery, about how small changes in life can make huge impacts. While there is the underlying love story that many readers will race to uncover, Just One Day is also about transformations, making decisions for yourself, and learning that identities are fluid, like time. 

This is sure to please fans of Forman’s earlier works, as well as new readers. It would also make a great pairing with Shakespeare classics mentioned throughout the novel (especially visual productions of the plays), especially As You Like It and Twelfth NightWithout a doubt, upon completion, readers will anxiously await the next book, Just One Year (expected in the fall of 2013) to hear Willem’s story and find out what happens.  

Audience: Shakespeare fans, thespians, anyone who has ever wondered who they are and if they are living the life they are supposed to be living, travelers (or those who wish they could travel), high school grads about to go to college, both teens and adults

Themes: love lost and found, identity, altered identities (in disguise), search for home and self, questioning love, serendipity and fate, traveling abroad, summer before college, how friendships change, re (discovering) Shakespeare, first loves, love at first sight, trust, self-discovery and acceptance

Readalikes (If you love this, you will also like): 

√ The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith 
√ Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (a little bit “cuter” than this book, but it has some similar themes)
√ As You Like It and Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare (these are the plays mentioned most heavily in the book)
√ One Day by David Nicholls (an adult book, but it has lots of crossover teen appeal with many similar themes)
√ 13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson (might be a stretch, not sure about this one)

Connect with Gayle Forman:

On her Website / On her Blog / On Twitter / On Goodreads / On Facebook 

Any other readalike suggestions or thoughts on the book? Please comment below!

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Graphic Novel Book Review: a + e 4ever by ilike merey

a + e 4ever by ilike mereyBook: a + e 4ever
Author: ilike merey 
Pages: 214
Published: September 15, 2011 by Lethe Press
The first line: “Aphenphosmphobia, also known as haphephobia, is an extreme aversion to being touched or touching other people.”
Copy Provided By: Publisher

Asher Machnik is a shy, effeminate soul who just wants his junior year at his new high school to go by quickly, painlessly. Terrified of being physically touched (with a real phobia that makes him break down and sweat), Asher throws himself whole-heartedly into his sketchbook, escaping within his drawings. 

Unfortunately for him, Asher’s soft features and androgynous look make him a target for the school’s ignorant bullies. But it’s this same delicacy, this fragility, that draws Eulalie to Asher as well. He’s different from anyone she’s ever met before, in a good, but unexplainable way. 

Eulalie (Eu for short) is seriously mad at the world–and she’s not afraid to show it. Labeled as a dyke and a freak by her fellow classmates, Eu doesn’t take crap from anyone. But she also understands what it feels like to be alone. When she defends Asher in the lunchroom, the two strike up a fast-forming friendship. They’re both outsiders, they’re both artists, they’re both Jewish, they’re both music fans, but most of all, they’re both in desperate need of a best friend. They need each other. 

As the two get to know each other better, Eu develops a crush on Asher, while he, meanwhile, explores his sexuality and tries to overcome his fear of being touched. But will Asher ever recognize that the person who understands him most isn’t in some bar, it’s in Eu? Or will E and A never get to realize what might have been between them? 

This graphic gorgeous black-and-white novel perfectly captures the whirlwind blur that is high school. From going to darkened bars that make you feel empty, to concert halls with pounding walls, Merey vividly portrays the challenges and emotional roller-coasters that being a teen is all about.

The art is impressive, with great detail and attention paid to bodies and faces, specifically eyes and lips. Sometimes the backgrounds are blurred, sometimes there are large chunks of text. It is a slightly varied graphic novel experience than the one I’ve experienced before, although no less enjoyable. I love that the story works on so many levels, too. This is a book where readers can read into the book however they like.

And while there are some scenes (and subjects) that are hard to swallow and digest, the book is ultimately uplifting, in my opinion, and it leaves a good taste in your mouth. I was sad when it was over and haven’t been able to get it out of my head for days. In fact, I inhaled the book and stayed awake after I’d finished just staring off into space. It’s been haunting me for reasons that I cannot articulate. It’s certainly not for everyone, though.

a + e 4ever is a highly entertaining and worthwhile read, where readers can lose, and find, themselves all on the same page.

Audience:
 fans of graphic novels, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning readers (LGBTQ), wallflowers, outsiders, thespians, mature teens and adults

Themes: boy/girl friendships, new kid at school, high school, LGBT relationships, questioning sexuality, love, discovering oneself, recovery/coping, bullying, religion (specifically Judaism), defining (and redefining) gender roles, art, drawing, music/concerts, school play, first love, rape, incest, virginity, phobias and fears of being touched or getting too close to people, self-identity

Readalikes (If you love this, you will also like): 

Wet Moon series by Dr. Ross Campbell (also a GN)
√ f2m: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards 
√ Circle of Change by Laney Cairo
√ Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
√ I Am J by Cris Beam 

Connect with ilike merey:

 On her Blog / On Goodreads 

 

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Young Adult Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway Hop!

Young Adult Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the official Young Adult Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway Hop! This wonderful and faery-filled hop is graciously hosted by Kathy of I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Velvet from vvb32reads.

There are currently +100 blogs signed up to participate. That means more faery giveaways, more fantasy worlds, and more chances to win!

For this hop, I am giving away…

One (US only) winner will win the 6 YA fantasy and faery books below! 

(Please note, some of these books may be ARCS and/or signed):  

[THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED]

Unearthly (Unearthly #1) by Cynthia Hand The Awakening (Darkest Powers Trilogy #2) by Kelley Armstrong The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff The Faerie Ring (The Faerie Ring, #1) by Kiki Hamilton Sirensong (Faeriewalker #3) by Jenna BlackThe Hidden (The Hollow #3) by Jessica Verday

*The rules are simple:*

1. Follow the blog via RSS or Networked Blogs and leave a comment with your name, following method, and email address for 1 entry

*For extra entries, you can:*

1. Share the giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or your blog (please supply direct links) for +1 entry
2. 
Have a confirmed email subscription to the blog for +1 entry

The giveaway is open from Friday, January 6th to Thursday, January 12th at midnight.

[THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED]

Sorry this is only for US residents only, as I’m personally paying for shipping on the books!

Once you’ve entered, please stop by all the blogs below to enter to win more amazing YA goodies! Thanks for playing along and good luck!

[Also, be sure to enter my 1 Year Blogoversary Giveaway here, where you can enter to win over 20 books!]

Celebrate awesome YA books by entering the fantastic giveaways below! 

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Celebrate My 1 Year Blogoversary with a *HUGE* Giveaway!

happy-blogoversary

I started blogging last January because I wanted a place where I could share my thoughts on reading, writing, and the general world of words. In the process, I’ve discovered some fabulous friends, a bunch of wonderful bloggers, and most of all, an encouraging and wonderful environment of avid readers and writers.

I am very thankful to you all for sticking with me all of this time and for always being so supportive. I absolutely *love* running this blog and I want to let you all know just how much by giving away some books that I think you might be interested in reading!

I am giving away:

Two (US only) winners will each win 12 of the 24 books below! 

(Please note, I’ll split the books randomly among the winners.)

Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae CarsonDivergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago RosenthaliBoy by Kevin BrooksShe Loves You, She Loves You Not... by Julie Anne PetersA Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner How to Save a Life by Sara ZarrWhat Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen Timeless (Timeless #1) by Alexandra Monir Wrapped by Jennifer BradburyThe Scorpio Races by Maggie StiefvaterThe Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle Ashfall (Ashfall #1) by Mike MullinGeek Fantasy Novel by E. Archer The Lying Game (The Lying Game #1) by Sara Shepard Legend (Legend, #1) by Marie Lu Dead Reckoning by Charlaine HarrisThe Girl Who Was on Fire: Your Favorite Authors on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games TrilogyThe Radleys by Matt HaigDear Bully: Seventy Authors Tell Their Stories Hourglass (Evernight #3) by Claudia Gray

*The rules are simple:*

1. Follow the blog via RSS or Networked Blogs

2. Leave a comment with your name, following method, number of extra entries, and your email address

*For extra entries, you can:*

1. Share the giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, or your blog (please supply direct links) for +2 entries

2. Have a confirmed email subscription to the blog for +3 entries

3. Vote for the blog on Picket Fence blogs (here) for +1 entry

The giveaway is open from Friday, January 6th to Monday, January 16th at midnight.

Sorry this is only for US residents only, as I’m personally paying for shipping on the books!

[Also, be sure to enter the Young Adult Faeries & Fantasy Giveaway Hop (here) for a chance to win another 6 awesome books!]

Thanks again to all of my loyal readers and friends. You have made my first year of blogging amazing and I look forward to many more years together! 

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Book Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium (Delirium #2) by Lauren Oliver Book: Pandemonium
Author: Lauren Oliver
Pages: 416
To be Published: March 1, 2012 by HarperCollins
The first line: “Alex and I are lying together on a blanket in the backyard of 37 Brooks.”
 

Just like she did in Delirium, Lauren Oliver has created another combination of fabulous writing and addictive narrative. It’s a mean and deadly combo–this book is bound to keep up at night with a flashlight under the covers! 

If you weren’t entirely convinced or enthralled with Lena’s character in the first book, the sequel will change that for sure. It’s hard to resist Lena’s resilience and unfaltering will to survive, to become a better person. Thrown into the wild (literally) and forced to find her way anew, Lena is charming and unimaginably strong–a woman turned to dust and reborn from the ashes.

The story moves back and forth from “Then,” when Lena first enters the Wilds, to “Now,” where she navigates the world as an Invalid, from an entirely new outlook. She is like a new person altogether. Hardened for sure, but still endearing and commendable. 

But there’s a strumming and uncomfortable pressure that weighs heavily on Lena’s heart: the painful memory of Alex and the sacrifice of his life for her freedom. In the midst of becoming a member of the Resistance and pulling herself back up, can Lena actually do the unthinkable and forget her former love? And is it possible that she can fall in love with someone else, someone dangerously unexpected?

At its core, the book is ultimately about grief, about the process of healing, of building, and rebuilding out of nothing. It’s about the power of love to both build, and break, one’s soul. Although set in a futuristic dystopian society, there are many great lessons to be learned here. To top it off, Oliver’s detailed and poetic writing is both beautiful and hauntingly moving. 

[And let me just express for a moment how mad (and impressed) I am with the author right now! As soon as I read the last word of the story, a chill moved through my body, from the tips of my hair down to my toenails. I grabbed the book and literally started shaking (and yelling at) it furiously! That's a pretty powerful response right there! It should seriously be illegal to write such a powerful story and then cruelly force readers to wait an entire YEAR to read the next installment!]

All joking and ranting aside, you will not want to miss this exciting read. Teens and adults alike will undoubtedly be singing its praises from some time to come.

Reader beware: you will miss sleep reading this!  

Audience: fans of dystopias, romance readers, teens and adults

Themes: love, star-crossed lovers, grieving for loved ones, resistance/revolution/uprising, war, violence, discovering oneself, recovery/coping, dystopian societies, censorship, abandonment, religion, extremists, death

Readalikes (If you love this, you will also like): 

Hana by Lauren Oliver
√ The Matched series by Allie Condie
The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins
√ The Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor (my review)
√ The Divergent series by Veronica Roth (my review)

Connect with Lauren Oliver:

On her Website / On her Blog / On Twitter / On Goodreads / On Facebook

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A Slew of 2012 Reading Challenges

happy-new-yearHappy New Year to everyone!

In 2011, I vowed to read 60 books and ended up reading 16 books over that number! Despite being in school full-time, working 20 hours a week, and doing a Teen Services internship, I was able to indulge in my favorite pastime: reading young adult and middlegrade novels!

As a result, I have high hopes for myself for this year. That being said, the below challenges are just that–challenges! It’s possible that I won’t be able to do them all, but a girl can dream, right?

On a side note, I often feel that I could spend the rest of my life reading and not get to all the books that I want to. Does anyone else ever feel that way? Anyway on to the challenges….

I am going to *try* complete the following challenges: 

2012 debut author challenge

The Story Siren‘s 4th Annual Debut Author Challenge: The objective here is to read and review a minimum of twelve young adult or middle grade debut novels between the dates of January 1, 2012–January 31, 2013. Click on the image for full DAC details. 

 

goodreads 2012 reading challenge Goodreads.com’s 2012 Reading Challenge: I am going to try read at least 100 books in 2012 (that’s 24 more books than I read last year!). You can click the image to see my progress if you’re interested.

 

Sophomore Reading Challenge!Chick Loves’s Lit awesome Sophomore Reading Challenge: This is a challenge to read at least 1o second young adult or middlegrade novels published in 2012. It can be the second in a series, a new series, or a standalone. The only requirement is that it’s published in 2012 and is the second book the author has published in the YA or MG realm.

Book Chick City‘s fun 100+ Books in a Year Reading Challenge: Pretty straightforward: read 100+ books in 2012 (any genre).

 Some other various blog goals:

  • Although I read a lot last year, I wasn’t always very good about writing reviews. This year, I want to review more of the books that I read.
  • I plan to post more booklists so that educators and fans can find readalikes for their favorite books. 
  • Include more booktalks for both middlegrade and young adult books.
  • My hope is to shorten the blog name and redesign the entire site within the next few months! I have big plans, now I just need to execute them!

 **What are your goals for 2012?**

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