November 2008

Thanksgiving is tomorrow (happy early Thanksgiving!), and in honor of what I think of as the start of the holiday season (today, when the cooking starts), I thought I’d make a nice list of books to buy for others or beg for yourself for whatever winter gift-giving holiday you celebrate (or you can just buy them for yourself, if there is no holiday). These books have no common theme except they all rock and you should read them all.

image I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone by Stephanie Kuehnert is “a painfully honest, raw, heart-wrenching story about a mother who is running from guilt and a daughter who just wants to bring her home.” I loved it. It’s great for music lovers, and just people who enjoy a good book.

image The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is, in one word, awesome. It’s got something for everyone, and is definitely one of the best and most buzzed-about books of the year. If you haven’t read it yet, what are you waiting for?!

image Graceling by Kristin Cashore is another book that’s totally worthy of the buzz. It’s a fantasy with a strong heroine, great adventure, and interesting world. Buy this for fans of Tamora Pierce or Shannon Hale.


image The Spellman Files and Curse of the Spellmans, by Lisa Lutz, are fun mysteries that are great for either adults or teens looking for a hilarious, fun, but certainly not brain-killing read. They’re crazy and quirky, but still very relatable and real.

image The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart is “is a funny, bold, and irreverent novel sure to find many fans who are themselves not content with the established social order or the way the world sees them.” It is, in a word, brilliant, and it’s been out since the beginning of 2008, so if you haven’t yet read it–what is wrong with you?! If you have, remember to give it to the smart girls in your life who will appreciate Frankie.

image Good Enough by Paula Yoo is about a girl whose Korean parents put a lot of pressure on her to be perfect. Patti is a great character who’s easy to relate to, and Paula Yoo is a wonderful writer. This is an enjoyable read for anyone with a lot of pressure on them, whether self-imposed or from another source. Or, you know, just anyone who likes great books!

image Red: Teenage Girls In America Write On What Fires Up Their Lives Today, edited by Amy Goldwasser, is a book of personal essays by teenage girls in America, as the title suggests. There’s loads of fantastic stuff in here, and, yes, full disclosure, I am a contributor. It’s now out in paperback–easier on your wallet, and I love the new cover.

image Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs By Writers Famous And Obscure is a book of six-word memoirs that will be enjoyable and relatable to just about anyone on your gift-giving list. One memoir is mine, too, so I certainly have a soft spot for this one!

And for the readers in your life, books aren’t the only appropriate gift–lots of teens would appreciate a magazine subscription to Teen Ink, too, which is a monthly magazine written by and for teens.

Which book are you buying for everyone on your list in an effort to spread the awesomeness? What are you begging for this holiday season? Leave your answers in the comments; I’m interested!


image When I first read Twilight, I loved it. I was also fourteen. Since then, I’ve found the whole series to be progressively more ridiculous, but I LOVE them. Hilarious. Edward is such a creep. The only main characters who are not stupid and/or creepy are Alice and Jacob, both of whom totally rock. Except they would rock more if they both didn’t think empty-headed Bella was so great.

Anyway, the fact that my love of the books comes with a certain amount of humor means I wasn’t totally hung up on this movie and how close to the book it was (the differences between the Harry Potter books and movies make me cringe), but I found it to be a surprisingly good adaptation. It stuck quite close to the book, even taking out some direct quotes, and even when the characters weren’t exactly how I imagined them, they weren’t complete opposites, either–they did okay (except Esme. Totally not right).

The movie itself was well made. I enjoyed it, although my friend sitting next to me did not enjoy my muffled laughter (she thinks Edward is dreamy; I think he’s creepy). I loved it, though not without some amount of sarcasm. Totally recommended.

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I’ve elected to answer the last two weeks’ questions for Booking Through Thursday today, on this lovely not-so-snowy snow day.

First, last week–Why buy books?

I do buy a lot of books, rather than borrow (though I do that, too), because I like to keep the books I love around me. I have bookshelves on one entire wall of my bedroom, plus three free-standing shelves, and stacks, boxes, and piles everywhere you look (I really need to take some of them to the used bookstore soon). I like to look up and see my stack of Harry Potter books, or my favorite book of short stories, or my shelf of Tamora Pierce books. I also like to see the books I haven’t read, to know that I have something to look forward to! I also like to be able to pull an old favorite off the shelf and read it right when the mood strikes, rather than waiting to go to the library and see if it’s even available. My money’s totally worth all these books, especially, since I get a lot of them used. These days, though, most of my new reading material comes in the form of review copies.

And the most recent question–Do you think reviewers are obligated to put up a good review of a book, even if they don’t like it? Have we come to a point where reviewers *need* to put up disclaimers to (hopefully) save themselves from being harassed by unhappy authors who get negative reviews?

Definitely not! Reviewers lose credibility if they’re not honest, and they’re cheating the people who buy books based on their reviews. You don’t have to post bad reviews–I do think it’s okay to only review the books you enjoy. Honesty is best with any book you do choose to review, though, and I don’t think that reviewers should feel obligated to review every book sent to them, either. We should feel obligated to give it a fair chance. If you know it’s not worth your time to finish, don’t finish it. For every not-so-great book we finish, there are millions of books that we’re not reading out there in the world, and surely at least a few of them are great. And, I think it goes without saying, that we should only review books we finish reading. Also, I don’t know that I’d think of it as a “disclaimer,” but having a clear review policy posted on your site is always a good idea (do you guarantee a review, for example), so that there are no misunderstandings.

If you want to know where I’ve been for the past few weeks, check out this post.

And now, for a reading update. I will probably review these titles fully soon, but I just wanted to mention some of the Cybils books I’ve read recently and share a few thoughts. All of these books are worth reading, if you need something to add to your holiday wishlist!

imageAmor and Summer Secrets was a light, fun read. I read it awhile ago (I guess it really doesn’t fall under the category of recent), and had loads of fun while doing so. I haven’t felt particularly compelled to pick up the next book in the series, though. It was an appropriate summer read, but not too memorable.

image The Death of Jayson Porter started out less than great for me–while Jayson certainly has reason to feel sorry for himself, characters who just whine about how much they hate life are not particularly interesting to me. It got to be a really intense read, though, and I ended up really liking it as we got to know Jayson better.

imageI quite enjoyed Everything You Want. It’s about a girl figuring out who she is and her place in the world after her family wins the lottery. It’s funny and real (despite the lottery winnings), and I loved the characters. I really liked Barbara Shoup’s writing style, too.

image Fact of Life #31 is not a particularly recent read, either, but I haven’t reviewed it yet. I loved Kat, and this was definitely an engaging story, certainly worth reading, but it didn’t quite wow me.


image Despite being fed up with How Not To Be Popular and its annoying main character after about 50 pages, I kept reading and was glad that I did. Maggie develops into a much more likeable character, and the story really started to grab me. I ended up loving the colorful cast of characters here, but it was certainly slow to get into.

image I loved Christine Fletcher’s first book, so it was no surprise to me that I completely fell in love with Ten Cents A Dance. I loved the premise, the setting, the characters, the writing–everything. It’s a wonderful historical fiction in a year that seems a little light on historical fiction.

Love Is Hell by Scott Westerfeld, Melissa Marr, Justine Larbalestier, Gabrielle Zevin, and Laurie Faria Stolarz

11.25.08 from HarperTeen

Sure, love is hell. But it’s totally worth it.

In these supernatural stories by five of today’s hottest writers—Melissa Marr (Wicked Lovely), Scott Westerfeld (Specials), Justine Larbalestier (Magic or Madness), Gabrielle Zevin (Elsewhere), and Laurie Faria Stolarz (Blue is for Nightmares)—love may be twisted and turned around, but it’s more potent than ever on its quest to conquer all.

From two students who let the power of attraction guide them to break the hard-and-fast rules of their world to the girl who falls hard for a good-looking ghost with a score to settle, the clever, quirky characters in this exciting collection will break your heart, then leave you believing in love more than ever.

Great stories from some of my favorite authors–what’s not to love? I absolutely can’t wait to read this.

Our government is theoretically based on certain principles. Representative government is a big one. Surely you’ve heard the phrase “taxation without representation”–basically meaning, the government controlled people (in this case, their taxes) without giving them a voice in the government.

While every citizen over the age of 18 can now vote, there are a lot of people who still don’t have a voice, and we have to remember them. When you step into the voting booth, you’re not just deciding on the future of yourself and your fellow voters, but also of the millions of people all over the world who are affected by our government.

Children can’t vote (I’m not saying they should, it’s just an observation). Yet the government certainly affects them, through education, through what benefits their parents can receive, through healthcare (kids get sick, too!)–all of their lives are affected by the government. When you cast your vote, you have a responsibility to think about them.

Non-citizens who live in this country can’t vote. The road to citizenship is a long and difficult process. There are people who are very devoted to this country but can’t vote for themselves. There are people who have raised their families here. People who have lived here for decades. All unable to vote. Keep them in mind when you’re filling in bubbles, pressing buttons, or punching holes in a card.

People all over the world are affected by the actions of the American government. For an extreme example, take the citizens of Iraq. They’ve been as affected as anyone here by the actions of the Bush administration. When you step into the voting booth, the lives and freedoms of people across the globe are at stake. Unlike most of them, you have the ability to affect what happens in this election. Make the most of it.

This post is part of Blog The Vote. Check out the master list at Chasing Ray. All interesting thoughts, and all worth a read!