March 2009


Part of the reason I’ve been absent from this blog is that, when I do have time for blogging, I’ve been focusing my energy on a new blog for the past few days. I’ve started a blog called “crossing the ocean” about going to Germany. Of course, because I’m not there yet, it’s mostly my thoughts about the decision and some pictures I’ve found online of Bremen and such things, but it’s to document my journey and the journey starts when the decision is made. Of course, it’ll be more interesting in August when I’m actually in Germany! Still, I think about it so much that I’ve been managing to post quite a bit, so check it out.

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I just thought I’d let you guys know I’ve made my decision. Next year, I’ll be going to Jacobs University in Bremen, Germany. If you’re interested, the school website is here and there are some cool panoramas of Bremen here. And here is a video of free hugs made in Bremen:

I quite enjoy it. And I like the song. 

Anyway, now that we’ve all seen the video, you’re wondering, what does this mean for the books and the blog? You must be interested in that, or else why would you be here? 

And the answer is: I don’t really know. 

Sometime in August, I’ll be heading to Europe. If authors/publishers are willing to send me books in Germany, I’ll still take review copies. If not, well, my parents will still be in the U.S. and I’ll be able to pick up books when I come home for Christmas/summer. I’m really not sure about access to English-language books or time to read them and I’ll work out all the details about review copies when the time comes. 

This blog will still be alive. I’ll probably have less time for recreational reading, and the reviews might not be so frequent, and the blogging might not be so frequent, but I’ll be here. And I’ll be blogging about life and Germany and such elsewhere. 

The bottom line: this blog will probably change, but I’ll still be here. And I’ll be going to Europe and I’m excited!

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I have a couple of tidbits to share with you right now. First, Liviania has nominated me for the Premio Dardos award! Apparently it means “prize darts” which is weird because the text of the award when I first got it was apparently in Portuguese (confirmed by Lenore) and what do darts have to do with anything? I think it’s a weird award, but I LOVE it. I think I might even love it as much as the gramatically incorrect award which I never received that seems to have died out (if you have no idea what I’m talking about, don’t worry about it). I rambled on about it and passed it on already here, but I wanted to thank Liviania and post her cool graphic here. I am honored to be nominated for the award. 

While we’re talking about Liviania and her great blog, In Bed With Books, I should mention what I forgot to before, when I was talking about contests. She’s running some great contests all month in celebration of her blogiversary, and you can check out the rules here, and the most recent contest here (and keep checking her blog for more). 

Thanks again, Liviania, for being awesome!

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Here are a couple of contests you might want to enter (just a couple for now, as this is an accidentally stumbled upon contest edition rather than a searching for contest to link to edition). First, 10 awesome ARCs from The Story Siren here, and then a signed copy of Beth Fantaskey’s Jessica’s Guide To Dating on the Dark Side (which I really, really want to read) from Reading Keeps You Sane here. I would say good luck, but….I want to win! Particularly the second one!

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Mary’s entire world is a tiny village surrounded by tall fences. Outside the fences is the Forest of Hands and Teeth, filled with the Unconsecrated. Zombies. Anyone they bite becomes one of them, and fear of the Unconsecrated has ruled the world since the Return. As far as the villagers know, they are the last living people in the world. The rules of their tiny society are strict, and above all, they are ruled by the Sisters, a religious order that controls every aspect of life, and hides what could be vital knowledge from the people. Their society is about order and commitment and rules, but Mary dreams of more. She dreams of the wider world, and of love, which comes second to duty and commitment in the village (if it is to be considered at all). She dreams of seeing the ocean, just like the picture her mother used to show her, a place without the Unconsecrated that reaches as far as the eye can see. 

The Forest of Hands and Teeth is a beautifully written book. From page one, I was simultaneously marveling at the gorgeous, eloquent words, wanting to slow down and savor them, and holding my breath, racing to find out what would happen, in the end, to Mary, the strong, determined heroine. My one complaint with this book is that Mary is so real, so believably conflicted and wonderful, that the other characters were eclipsed and felt largely like paper dolls characterized only by their interactions with Mary; however, this is an acceptable consequence of the consuming first-person narration. 

It is dark and captivating and ultimately hopeful (and devastating). It’s about a lot more than zombies; to me, this felt first and foremost like a survival story, but it wasn’t just about the actual survival of the characters, but also the survival of Mary’s soul. The events that set off the story have Mary deeply questioning her faith and her world and her dreams, and the struggle to hold on to her dreams is as evident and important as the struggle not to be lost to the Unconsecrated. This is very much a complex, multilayered story, and honestly, I think I’d need to read it at least once more (slowly) in order to fully soak it all in. 

There is a romance here, too, but as two corners of this love triangle are secondary characters, they are not entirely real, and while Mary’s perspective on the romance was interesting, I didn’t feel like this book really was much of a romance. The cover blurbs that say it is are a bit misleading.

The ending was open, and I hope there’s more to come. Whatever Carrie Ryan next writes will be wonderful, as the lyrical writing style that makes her debut shine would make even the most trite story into lovely reading. I still need to reread this book at some point in the future to take it all in, but I’ll say right now that it’s amazing. Also, I am going to have nightmares about the Unconsecrated. 

Five out of six windows:

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I don’t know where this came from originally, but I stole it from Chelsea

The following list of books teens love, books teens should read, and books adults who serve teens should know about was compiled IN ABSOLUTELY NO SCIENTIFIC MANNER and should be taken with a very large grain of salt.

Instructions:
Put an “X” next to the books you’ve read
Put a “+” next to the books you LOVE
Put a “#” next to the books you plan on reading
Tally your “X”s at the bottom
Share with your friends!

I’m skipping the “books I plan on reading” because that’s most of the ones I haven’t read. I plan on reading a lot, but my plans are not exactly set in stone so they aren’t worth much until they actually happen. I also skipped the books I LOVE because, well, that was a lot of them, too, too many to make the plus sign particularly meaningful.

1. Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams
2. Kit’s Wilderness / David Almond
3. Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian / Sherman Alexie 
4. Speak / Laurie Halse Anderson X
5. Feed / M.T. Anderson
6. Flowers in the Attic / V.C. Andrews
7. 13 Reasons Why / Jay Asher X
8. Am I Blue? / Marion Dane Bauer (editor)
9. Audrey Wait! / Robin Benway X
10. Weetzie Bat / Francesca Lia Block X
11. Tangerine / Edward Bloor X
12. Forever / Judy Blume
13. What I Saw and How I Lied / Judy Blundell
14. Tyrell / Coe Booth
15. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants / Ann Brashares X
16. A Great and Terrible Beauty / Libba Bray X
17. The Princess Diaries / Meg Cabot X
18. The Stranger / Albert Camus
19. Ender’s Game / Orson Scott Card X
20. Postcards from No Man’s Land / Aidan Chambers
21. Perks of Being a Wallflower / Stephen Chbosky
22. And Then There Were None / Agatha Christie
23. Gingerbread / Rachel Cohn X
24. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist / Rachel Cohn and David Levithan X
25. Artemis Fowl (series) / Eoin Colfer X
26. The Hunger Games / Suzanne Collins X
27. The Midwife’s Apprentice / Karen Cushman
28. The Truth About Forever / Sarah Dessen 
29. Little Brother / Cory Doctorow
30. A Northern Light / Jennifer Donnelly 
31. Tears of a Tiger / Sharon Draper
32. The House of the Scorpion / Nancy Farmer X
33. Breathing Underwater / Alex Flinn
34. Stardust / Neil Gaiman X
35. Annie on My Mind / Nancy Garden
36. What Happened to Cass McBride / Gail Giles
37. Fat Kid Rules the World / K.L. Going
38. Lord of the Flies / William Golding X
39. Looking for Alaska / John Green X
40. Bronx Masquerade / Nikki Grimes X
41. Out of the Dust / Karen Hesse X
42. Hoot / Carl Hiaasen X
43. The Outsiders / S.E. Hinton 
44. Crank / Ellen Hopkins
45 The First Part Last / Angela Johnson
46. Blood and Chocolate / Annette Curtis Klause
47. Arrow’s Flight / Mercedes Lackey
48. Hattie Big Sky / Kirby Larson
49. To Kill a Mockingbird / Harper Lee X
50. Boy Meets Boy / David Levithan
51. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks / E. Lockhart X
52. The Giver / Lois Lowry X
53. Number the Stars / Lois Lowry X
54. Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie / David Lubar
55. Inexcusable / Chris Lynch
56. The Earth, My Butt and Other Big, Round Things / Carolyn Mackler 
57. Dragonsong / Anne McCaffrey
58. White Darkness / Geraldine McCaughrean 
59. Sold / Patricia McCormick
60. Jellicoe Road / Melina Marchetta X
61. Wicked Lovely / Melissa Marr X
62. Twilight / Stephenie Meyer X
63. Dairy Queen / Catherine Murdock X
64. Fallen Angels / Walter Dean Myers
65. Monster / Walter Dean Myers
66. Step From Heaven / An Na
67. Mama Day / Gloria Naylor
68. The Keys to the Kingdom (series) / Garth Nix
69. Sabriel / Garth Nix
70. Airborn / Kenneth Oppel
71. Eragon / Christopher Paolini 
72. Hatchet / Gary Paulsen X
73. Life As We Knew It / Susan Beth Pfeffer X
74. The Golden Compass / Phillip PullmanX
75. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging / Louise Rennison X
76. The Lightning Thief / Rick Riordan X
77. Always Running: La Vida Loca / Luis Rodriguez
78. how i live now / Meg Rosoff X
79. Harry Potter (series) / J.K. Rowling X
80. Holes / Louis Sachar X
81. Catcher in the Rye / J. D. Salinger X
82. Push / Sapphire
83. Persepolis / Marjane Satrapi
84. Unwind / Neil Shusterman 
85. Coldest Winter Ever / Sister Souljah
86. Stargirl / Jerry Spinelli X
87. Chanda’s Secrets / Allan Stratton
88. Tale of One Bad Rat / Brian Talbot
89. Rats Saw God / Rob Thomas
90. Lord of the Rings / J.R.R. Tolkien X
91. Stuck in Neutral / Terry Trueman
92. Gossip Girl / Cecily Von Ziegesar 
93. Uglies / Scott Westerfeld X
94. Every Time a Rainbow Dies / Rita Williams-Garcia
95. Pedro and Me / Judd Winick
96. Hard Love / Ellen Wittlinger
97. American Born Chinese / Gene Luen Yang
98. Elsewhere / Gabrielle Zevin X
99. I am the Messenger / Markus Zusak
100. The Book Thief / Markus Zusak

That’s forty-one books. Hmm. Less than half.  However, I am familiar with most of them (for example, even though I have never read Gossip Girl, I can tell you it is a book series about overly wealthy Upper East Side teenagers), and plan on reading most of those (not including Gossip Girl). I still feel unaccomplished, though. Feel free to make your own list, and link to it–I’d love to see it. 

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Alyssa and Karin were kind enough to nominate me for the Your Blog Is Fabulous Award. Thanks, guys!

The rules: List five things you are obsessed with/addicted to and then nominate five other fabulous blogs to pass on this award on to!

My obsessions, in no particular order….

1. Books. Duh! I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention books. I don’t really need to elaborate here, I don’t think, since this entire blog is an elaboration of my book obsession. I also tend to be obsessed with specific types of books–lately, the Animorphs. Although now that I’ve reread them all I have to move on. Sigh.

2. Television. I watch way too much TV! Some shows I love include Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel, Boy Meets World, Fringe, Pushing Daisies, Heroes, Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill…Okay, I’m stopping now.

3. The internet. Again, not a lot of elaboration necessary. I blog. I read blogs (not just book-related). I check my email. I check websites. I talk to friends. I do all kind of things and before I know it, the day is half gone and I’ve spent it all online. 

4. Diet Pepsi. I drink way too much of the stuff. It’s so tasty. Diet Coke will suffice if I’m someplace without Pepsi products. 

5. Music. When my TV’s not on, I’m not sitting here in silence. I’m listening to music! I like all kinds of things. Some recent favorites? Donora and the RENT movie soundtrack. 

And the five blogs I’ll nominate…I know for a fact that some of these people have already been nominated, but apparently I’m too lazy (and sick) to search through my blogroll and find the people who haven’t been nominated (though if you haven’t been nominated and you want this award, feel free to consider yourself nominated because all my readers are of course fabulous), also do not feel obligated to post this, but I’m nominating ten cent notes, Reviewer X, Miss Erin, Persnickety Snark, and Wondrous Reads. You’re all fabulous. 

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