December 30, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #1

My #1 favorite book of 2011 is: 

The Lover's Dictionary by David Levithan

Oh, how I love this book!
Read my review

Description from Goodreads

"basis, n.

There has to be a moment at the beginning when you wonder whether you’re in love with the person or in love with the feeling of love itself.

If the moment doesn’t pass, that’s it—you’re done. And if the moment
does pass, it never goes that far. It stands in the distance, ready for whenever you want it back. Sometimes it’s even there when you thought you were searching for something else, like an escape route, or your lover’s face.
How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s Dictionary has constructed the story of his relationship as a dictionary. Through these short entries, he provides an intimate window into the great events and quotidian trifles of being within a couple, giving us an indelible and deeply moving portrait of love in our time."

December 29, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #2

My #2 favorite book of 2011 is: 

Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This book kept me up all night! I couldn't stop reading. 

Description from Goodreads

"It's been three years since the devastating accident . . .
 three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.

Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance."

December 28, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #3

My #3 favorite book of 2011 is: 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

This is definitely a swoonworthy read! 

Description from Goodreads

"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."

December 27, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #4

My #4 favorite book of 2011 is: 

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Read my review

Description from Goodreads

"Amber’s life is spinning out of control. All she wants is to turn up the volume on her iPod until all of the demands of family and friends fade away. So she sneaks off to the beach to spend a day by herself.
Then Amber meets Cade. Their attraction is instant, and Amber can tell he’s also looking for an escape. Together they decide to share a perfect day: no pasts, no fears, no regrets.
The more time that Amber spends with Cade, the more she’s drawn to him. And the more she’s troubled by his darkness. Because Cade’s not just living in the now—he’s living each moment like it’s his last."

December 26, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #5

My #5 favorite book of 2011 is: 

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Description from Goodreads

"Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 

In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out. When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?"

Top 11 of 2011 - #6

My #6 favorite book of 2011 is: 

Bossypants by Tina Fey

Read my review

Description from Goodreads
"Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin" — Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV.
She has seen both these dreams come true.
At last, Tina Fey's story can be told. From her youthful days as a vicious nerd to her tour of duty on Saturday Night Live; from her passionately half-hearted pursuit of physical beauty to her life as a mother eating things off the floor; from her one-sided college romance to her nearly fatal honeymoon — from the beginning of this paragraph to this final sentence.
Tina Fey reveals all, and proves what we've all suspected: you're no one until someone calls you bossy." 

December 24, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #7

My #7 favorite book of 2011: 

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

This book made me laugh so much. And the audio version is excellent. It's read by the author, and she does some hilarious, spot-on accents. 

Description from Goodreads:

"The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.

What's a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program - or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan - or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

Welcome to the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Your tour guide? None other than Libba Bray, the hilarious, sensational, Printz Award-winning author of A Great and Terrible Beauty and Going Bovine. The result is a novel that will make you laugh, make you think, and make you never see beauty the same way again."

December 23, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #8

My #8 favorite book of 2011 is: 

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill

I reviewed this book for VOYA in August. It's not one I would have initially picked up on my own, but I'm glad that I did! It's a really great middle grade read. 

Description from Goodreads

"When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his crazy aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for a long time. . . .

When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends-not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack's imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It's up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible.

The Mostly True Story of Jack is a tale of magic, friendship, and sacrifice. It's about things broken and things put back together. Above all, it's about finding a place to belong."

Friday Five (3)

It's been awhile since I shared a Friday Five. Here we go...

1. My husband has to work on Christmas, so we exchanged gifts early. He got 3/4 of my gifts from Barnes and Noble. He is trained very well. ;)

2. Speaking of Barnes and Noble, my parents gave me the gift of a Nook upgrade! If you bring in your 1st generation Nook and purchase one of the newer versions, you get $50 Barnes and Noble gift card. I think this deal is only good through Christmas Eve. I ended up choosing the Nook Simple Touch and I love it. I'll post pictures of all my bookish gifts soon.

3.It's been a pretty rough month at work. My library is in the midst of a financial crisis, and we've already gone through a couple rounds of layoffs. We'll be reducing operating hours soon. I still have a job (thankfully!) but I'm going to have some schedule changes and reduced benefits. I'm happy with the sacrifices if it means I get to keep working at the library I love, though.

4. This week I saw a new doctor about a long list of seemingly random symptoms I've been experiencing for quite some time which have worsened lately with stress/anxiety. She was really patient and listened to all my concerns, and she gave me some options for managing the different symptoms. I feel positive that I'll see some improvements soon. It's just nice to know I'm not crazy, and that these symptoms are actually related chronic conditions that can be managed with medication and lifestyle changes.

5. I've almost reached my reading goal for the year (111). I need to finish the 2 books I'm reading now, and then read 2 more by December 31st. I think I can do it!

Happy holidays!

December 22, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #9

My #9 pick for 2011 is: 

Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres

This is another great audiobook read by the author. 
(I promise there will be some print books on my list eventually too!)

Description from Goodreads
"Sometimes the greatest things are the most embarrassing." Ellen Degeneres' winning, upbeat candor has made her show one of the most popular, resilient and honored daytime shows on the air. (To date, it has won no fewer than 31 Emmys.) Seriously... I'm Kidding, Degeneres' first book in eight years, brings us up to date about the life of a kindhearted woman who bowed out of American Idol because she didn't want to be mean. Lively; hilarious; often sweetly poignant."

December 21, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #10

My #10 pick for 2011 is: 
If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won't) by Betty White

I listened to the audiobook version of this book. It's read by Betty, and I highly recommend it!

Description from Goodreads

"It-girl Betty White delivers a hilarious, slyly profound take on love, life, celebrity, and everything in between. 

Drawing from a lifetime of lessons learned, seven-time Emmy winner Betty White's wit and wisdom take center stage as she tackles topics like friendship, romantic love, aging, television, fans, love for animals, and the brave new world of celebrity. If You Ask Me mixes her thoughtful observations with humorous stories from a seven- decade career in Hollywood. Longtime fans and new fans alike will relish Betty's candid take on everything from her rumored crush on Robert Redford (true) to her beauty regimen (I have no idea what color my hair is and I never intend to find out") to the Facebook campaign that helped persuade her to host Saturday Night Live despite her having declined the hosting job three times already. 

Featuring all-new material, with a focus on the past fifteen years of her life, If You Ask Me is funny, sweet, and to the point-just like Betty White."

December 20, 2011

Top 11 of 2011 - #11

I've been neglecting my blog lately (sorry!). But I'm back to share my favorite reads of the year.  On Twitter, librarians are sharing their top 11 reads of 2011 with the hashtag #libfavs2011. I thought I'd share my picks here too. 

My #11 favorite book of the year: 
Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me by Chelsea's Family, Friends & Other Victims

I listened to the audiobook version (read my review). 

If you're making a top 11 list, what's your #11 pick? 

November 16, 2011

2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

It's that time of year again - time to sign up for blog challenges! 

I've decided to only sign up for a few challenges in 2012, and this is definitely one I'm excited about! I have way too many books in my TBR pile, and it's only going to keep growing if I don't tackle it now. 

Visit Bookish to read up on all the challenge details and guidelines. 

Here is the full list of hosts:

Evie from Bookish - @SeoEvie
Nicole from All I Ever Read - @Nicoleabouttown
Bonnie from Hands and Home - @HandsHomeBlog
Donna from Book Passion For Life - @BookPforLife
Caitlin from WatchYA Reading - @caitlingss
Rie from Mission To Read - @missiontoread
Vicky from Books, Biscuits & Tea - @alouetteuette 
Christa from Hooked On Books - @ChristasBooks
Jenna from Fans Of Fiction - @fansoffiction
Angel from Mermaids Vision - @mermaidvisions

1-10 - A Firm Handshake
11-20 - A Friendly Hug
21-30 - A Sweet Kiss
31-40 - Love At First Sight
41-50 - Married With Children

I am signing up for the "Married With Children" level. Why not aim high? As of today, I have 71 print books that I own but haven't read yet. I also am a sucker for free eBooks & audiobooks, so I have 142 eBooks and 31 audiobooks on my TBR list (that's 244 total books across the three formats!). 

Here are a just few from my list:
  • Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
  • Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
  • Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Not That Kind of Girl by Siobhan Vivian
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
And the list goes on and on!  I'll post a full list as a wrap-up at the end of the challenge. :)

Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition

Young Adult Novel 
No query? No pitch? No problem!
Serendipity Literary Agency, in collaboration with Gotham Writers' Workshop, is hosting its Third Annual Young Adult Novel Discovery Competition for a chance to win a one-on-one consultation with one of New York's leading YA literary agents!   
If you've written a novel for young adults—or have an idea for one that you would like to write—we invite you to enter our contest. Simply submit only an enticing title along with the first 250 words from the opening of your original YA novel.

The Grand Prize Winner will have the opportunity to submit an entire manuscript to YA literary agent Regina Brooks and receive a free, 10-week writing course, courtesy of Gotham Writers' Workshop, plus a collection of gourmet teas from 

The Top Five Entrants (including the Grand Prize winner) will receive a 15-minute, one-on-one pitch session with Regina Brooks, one of New York’s premier literary agents for young adult books. They will also receive commentary on their submissions by editors at Scholastic, Disney, Harlequin Teen, Random House, Viking, Roaring Brook Press, Sourcebooks, and Kimani Tru and receive a one-year subscription to The Writer magazine.

The First 50 Entrants will receive a copy of Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina Brooks.
Enter to win at   Hurry, contest ends November 30, 2011

November 8, 2011

Bad blogger...

I'm a bad blogger recently! I've been reading a ton but haven't felt like blogging or reviewing. Hopefully soon I'll get out of my blogging funk! 

November 1, 2011

October in Review

October was a busy month! My husband and I are all settled into our new house, and this week we are getting our back yard fenced in. They put the posts up yesterday, so hopefully the fence will be completed soon! 

Work has been busy - we are hosting another series of author visits and write-ins for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). We started with a kick-off event last week to get everyone signed up and ready. Also, we just had Zombie Fest (an after hours teen event). 

Zombie librarian
Last week I attended two book club meetings. I lead the staff book club discussion on Hate List by Jennifer Brown. I also attended the Forever YA Book Club Indianapolis meeting. We met at Barcelona Tapas (my new favorite restaurant downtown) and discussed The Book Thief by Markuz Zusak. 

We have the Teen Film Festival coming up, and I'm also preparing for a Day of the Dead craft program and a cake pop-decorating program! Our teen-hosted events have been going really well too - Teen Advisory Board (TAB) members host after school games, crafts, or tech programs. 

I read quite bit in October! 

The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality by Donald Miller 
UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters by David Kinnaman
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll 
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen Degeneres
Tales of Terror by Edgar Allan Poe
I'm almost finished with Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach - it's a great audiobook!

Print books & eBooks:
Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal
Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer & Peter Lerangis (ARC reviewed for VOYA)
Croak by Gina Damico (ARC reviewed for VOYA
Hate List by Jennifer Brown
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
I'm almost finished with Something Blue by Emily Giffin, and I'm about 1/3 of the way into The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. 
It was a productive reading month for me. I'm at 95 books read so far with a goal of 111 by the end of the year. 
How was your October? 

October 24, 2011

Musing Mondays - Audiobooks

Musing Mondays is hosted by Should Be Reading
This week's question is: Do you listen to audiobooks? Why or why not? 

Yes! I absolutely love audiobooks. I used to listen to poetry and short stories in audio form, but I never really tried listening to a full length audiobook until about a year ago. I was looking for ways to pass the time on my long commute to work, and I needed to finish a book for a grad school class but was stressed because I didn't think I'd finish it in time. Someone suggested I check out the audiobook version and listen to it on my commute - something I had surprisingly never considered before. I enjoyed it so much that I kept checking out audiobooks and I still do! (If you're wondering which was my first audiobook - it was Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd.)

I love audiobooks because they entertain me when I'm doing something boring like cleaning, working out, or driving to and from work. I love how a great narrator can really bring the story to life. A lot of people say they have trouble concentrating on audiobooks, but I don't have that problem. I actually have trouble concentrating when reading in print most of the time - my eyes glaze over and I tend to reread the same pages several times or forget where I was on the page...sometimes I even fall asleep while reading in print! So I like to switch it up and listen to audiobooks in addition to reading print books and eBooks. 

I check out audiobooks on CD but sometimes those still skip (even though I know my library cleans every single disc when they are returned - the ladies in Multimedia are awesome!). Lately I've been downloading a lot of MP3 library audiobooks through my phone's Overdrive app. I even signed up for a free trial of Audible, and I will probably stick with it. 

Here are some of my favorite audiobooks: 

 - The Help by Kathryn Stockett
 - Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman 
 - The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
 - The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
 - The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 
 - Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling

I could go on, but I'll stop gushing now! I rarely meet an audiobook I don't enjoy. 

October 23, 2011

Virals by Kathy Reichs (audiobook)

Tory Brennan is the niece of forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (the main character of the Bones novels and the television show based on them). Tory, 14, is the daughter of a marine biologist. She has lived with him ever since her mother died, but she barely knew him before. They live on a secluded island on the South Carolina coastline. She and her friends decide to rescue a dog from a research lab on a nearby island. They don’t know that the dog is infected with a new, experimental strain of parvovirus that is able to transmit to humans. Tory and her friends soon start to experience strange symptoms and heightened senses as well as superhuman powers. When they discover human remains on the island, they find themselves in the middle of a murder mystery—and someone out will do anything to prevent them from solving it. 

Virals is an action-packed read with mystery, suspense, and adventure. It’s refreshing to read about teen characters who are so interested in science(and who also know how to use the library!). Tory is a strong heroine. I enjoyed listening to the audiobook and thought the narrator did a great job of capturing Tory’s personality. There were also some sound effects (which I’m not used to hearing in audiobooks), and they added an interesting element to the listening experience. I recommend this book for fans of Bones or anyone looking for a fast-paced mystery. 

October 21, 2011

Friday Five (2)

1. There are tons of cool things coming up at the library that I'm looking forward to. Next week is our annual Zombie Fest lock-in for teens. I'll be manning the Thriller dance station again. I need to get my costume ready! We also have the Teen Film Festival soon and NaNoWriMo author visits/write-ins to look forward to. It will be a busy but fun fall. 

2. Speaking of work, my library is participating in Geek the Library. It's fun, and our patrons love telling us what they "geek"!  

I've been making weekly Geek of the Week displays to highlight different staff members and library supporters. The first one featured me (yes, it was weird to make a display with my own picture on it, but I was encouraged to go first). I geek music. I didn't choose books because that's what you'd expect a librarian to say!
3. I joined the Biggest Loser competition at work, but I'm not doing very well. I lost 3 pounds but then I gained a pound back. I'm going to the gym regularly, so why am I gaining weight? Mostly I blame my lack of willpower and desserts like this (I mean, how can you resist?): 
Pumpkin break frozen yogurt with graham cracker crumbs, pumpkin spice, and candy corns (from Orange Leaf)
Yummy Applebees dessert split with friends
4. I'm getting a haircut tonight! It's about time. My mom is a hairdresser, and she's always been the one to cut my hair - I don't go anywhere else. But she lives two hours away, and I have to schedule an "appointment" with her that's outside her regular work hours since I'm not a paying customer. So after work I'm driving down  to get a much needed cut plus hopefully some color and a Keratin treatment. I don't really have a plan...we usually just wing it. Sometimes she surprises me. She knows I don't want any really dramatic changes though, so I trust her!

5. I haven't used in quite a while, but I logged back on this week and was impressed with all the updates and improvements. I can now upload photos directly from my phone or import them from Facebook albums in addition to uploading from my hard drive. (I'm sure you can do this on other photo sites as well, but I have a ton already on Kodak Gallery and don't feel like switching to a new site). I think I'll back up all my photos on there and then order archive DVDs as an extra backup. Then I can delete all my photos from my laptop and free up space. More space means I will finally be able to back up my mobile devices and then upgrade them to iOS 5. Woo! This nerd is excited. 

Happy Friday!

October 20, 2011

Our first home!

The other day I took some pictures of our new house since our friends and family have been asking for them. (I skipped the garage and one of the spare bedrooms since those have yet to be organized!) There are a few pictures of my bookshelves - I had fun reorganizing them after the move. My collection is starting to outgrow them, though. I would love to get another tall bookcase, but I'm not sure where to put it. 

I love our house and the big backyard. We are getting it fenced in soon, and I'm sure our dog will appreciate all the space to run. She makes a few appearances in the slideshow too. :)

October 19, 2011

Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

Twenty-eight-year-old Justin found himself living at home with his seventy-three-year-old dad, Sam, after being dumped by his long-term girlfriend. Justin started a Twitter feed where he shared his no nonsense, foul-mouthed dad’s best sayings. This book expands on those hilarious quotations and gives insight into the father-son relationship between Justin and Sam. While Sam’s choice of words can sometimes seem harsh, he genuinely loves his son and wants the best for him. If you’re not offended by foul language, you’ll find this to be a laugh-out-loud read. It’s comedy with heart.

This is one of the many books my husband bought me for Christmas last year, and I wish I hadn't waited so long to read it. It was a quick read, so I will probably end up re-reading it at some point! I’ll end by sharing one of my favorite quotes (and one of the few that is blog-appropriate!): 

"The worst thing you can be is a liar. . . . Okay, fine, yes, the worst thing you can be is a Nazi, but then number two is liar. Nazi one, liar two." 

October 17, 2011

Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent

Colton went through a remarkable experience when he was only four years old. As he underwent emergency surgery, he also went on a journey—to heaven. His parents were astonished when Colton was able to tell them what they had been doing in the waiting room during his surgery. Over time, Colton slowly revealed details of what he saw and who he met while he was in heaven. He also spoke of meeting a sister in heaven (although his parents had never told them about their previous miscarriage), and he met a grandfather who had passed away 30 years before Colton was born. As months passed, Colton gave many more vivid descriptions of what heaven, Jesus, and the angels were like. In this book, Colton’s father, a small town pastor, tells the story of his son’s experience. 

While this book may not appeal to skeptics, I found it to be an inspiring read not only because of the religious elements, but also because of the story of how Colton’s parents dealt with his illness and recovery. It provides a picture of a family that went through a difficult situation and came out of it full of hope. 

It's Monday: What Are You Reading? (40)

What Are You Reading? is a weekly meme hosted over at Book Journey where bloggers gather to share what we have recently read and what we are currently reading. 

I finished: 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Somebody, Please Tell Me Who I Am by Harry Mazer and Peter Lerangis (ARC)

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (audiobook)

I am currently reading: 

Croak by Gina Damico (ARC)

Something Blue by Emily Giffin 

The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K Rowling (re-read, trying the audio version this time!)

Next up: 

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

What are you reading? 


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