Friday, January 8, 2010

My Top Books of 2009 Part 2

I posted my top books of 2009 shortly before the new year. In that post, I promised that I would also give my thoughts on each title, but I ran out of time. Today I wanted to fulfill that promise! I hope you enjoy my thoughts on all of my favorites of 2009.

Here it goes:

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
What is not to love about Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games series? It has action, excitment and a love story. My favorite part? A strong female character that isn't afraid to do anything. Catching Fire starts right where The Hunger Games leaves off. I enjoyed both books more than words could explain and can't wait until the 3rd in the series comes out. This is one series I would stand in line for hours to buy on release day.

Warning: If you haven't read The Hunger Games, SHAME ON YOU! Make sure to read it before you read Catching Fire.

Ballads of Suburbia by Stephanie Kuehnert
I have yet to read Stephanie's first book, I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone, (but I finally did find it at a Barnes and Noble by my parent's house and it is on top of my TBR list) so I didn't know what to expect with this one. I heard such great thing about it on review blogs and Twitter so I had high expectations. Boy, did it not let me down.

When I started to make a list of my favorite books of 2009, I knew instantly Ballads would be on it. It's smart, funny and heart tearing all at the same time. The characters jump off the page with each word, making you care about each and everyone one of them. The premise is harsh and edgy, but don't let that scare you. I would recommend this to anyone, even the faint of heart.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
This was the first book of 2009 that I read and adored. From the first page to the last, I was hooked, so much so I passed it off to my husband who only reads YA after I read them to see if he'd like it. The cover pulled me in from the moment I saw it online. Mary's world is small, but her dreams are not. You don't need to be a zombie fan to love this one. There are so many elements to it and so much meaning. Once you read The Forest of Hands and Teeth, you'll be on Carrie's website to find out when the next one comes out in the series, The Dead-Tossed Waves (and for those of you already wondering, March 9, 2010).

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
The premise is so wacky for Going Bovine, I didn't know what to expect. Laughs, for sure, but this book is so much more. I laugh, I cried and I fell in love. The story isn't just a crazy set up about a boy who has mad cow disease, it is about teens finding out who they are and what they're made of. This is defintely a long book, but I didn't want it to end.

This was the first book by Libba Bray that I've read, and it makes me want to pick up her series. The writing is poetic and beautiful, making you get lost in the world of Going Bovine.

Hate List by Jennifer Brown
There is so much violence in the world today, I could see where people might shy away from a book about a school shooting. I don't know how many of you were old enough to remember the Columbine High School shootings back in 1999, or the many that came after it, but I definitely was. It's haunting to think about a place as safe as a school should be, under attack. This book goes way beyond the act of a shooting, it deals with the period after the shooting and what led up to it. In an interesting style, author Jennifer Brown shows us how each person dealt with the tragedy through the eyes of the shooters girlfriend. Hate List sent shivers down my spine, but also showed how people can change and how others aren't what you might think. Don't just look/read this book and think violence, think about human growth and survival.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
When I read the premise of The Maze Runner, I knew I had to have it. I ran out to B&N the day it came out and devoured it quickly. Hoping it would wet my appetite while waiting for more from The Hunger Games, it did not disappoint. For fans of Suzanne Collins' series, this is a must. I know it has been compared to her series a lot, but it also has an identify of it's own. Fans of adventure and sci-fi books, this is a story for you. What I loved was I wasn't sure where it was going until I turned the last page. I cared about the characters and struggled when they did. I wasn't sure if the fact that the character doesn't remember who he is or where he's from would bother me. I loved how you learned as the character learned. I would recommend this book to everyone and for the record, this is one I passed on to my husband! I can't wait until book 2 comes out!

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
LOVED this book. Again, this is the first book I've read by Neal Shusterman and after I finished it, I purchased two more. His writing sucked me in from teh beginning and the premise was amazing. What if parents could decide to get rid of their children after a certain age. There is so many things so morally wrong about it, and yet this book got me think about the ligistics of it. Not only do you love the three main characters you follow, it's so amazing to follow their journey to becoming or not becomnig unwound. I'm sure there are a lot of parents (sadly) out there they would love for the government to pass this law and see it become a reality. Each character has a heart bigger than the words that created them, whether they were "good" kids or "bad". This was another book that is now on my husband's TBR list. You know it's good when I pass it on to him as a must read!

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

Books about a character's death and afterlife have always held my interest. I'm not sure what I find so fascinating about these books but I'm always drawn to them. I've read The Lovely Bones, Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin and many more along those lines. There was something different about If I Stay. There was hope and happiness through the main character, Mia's memories just like the books I just mentioned, and heartache. But there was something else, a choice. I did I cry reading this book. I think the only book I've cried harder was My Sister's Keeper by Jodi Picoult (man oh man did I bawl my eyes out on that one). This book was amazing and a fast read. I loved every page, every memory Mia shared. It's beautifully written and one of those books that I put down at the end and thought 'I sure wish I had written this one.'

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

And the Winner of Liar is....

And the winner is...Shelley/Book Fanatic!

Congrats! Please email us your address at to claim your prize! Please make sure to contact us before Wednesday, January 13th. If we don't hear from the winner by that date, I will be picking a new winner. I will be making a trip to the post office this Saturday, so if you send me your info before then, I'll be able to send it out right away.

This is how I picked the winner: I picked a random number using a number generator and then counted out the followers of the blog.

Don't forget, we will be giving away another book when we hit 60 followers! Make sure to tell your friends to follow the blog!

Thanks again to all of our loyal readers/followers.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year. New Stories. Skinny Jeans.

Tami's post on New Years resolutions was the kick in the butt I needed to get back into my usual writing and workout schedule. The last half of 2009 I was immersed in edits for Under My Skin and establishing all the social networking profiles a newbie author needs to promote their debut novel. Most prominently, my time and effort spent as co-president for the Class of 2K10. Now that the Class has officially launched and most of the initial background / grunt work is over - I simply HAVE to get back into writing and treadmilling it daily. My characters and my thighs won't stand for another day of neglect.

Sure, time will still be a hot commodity considering all the promotional stuff my publisher, publicist and 2k10 have planned, and yeah, I have a full time day job, a husband and two hyper labs to care for...but I also have about four WIPs in various stages of disarray, all demanding their stories be told - and a pair of skinny jeans that haven't been out of the closet for six months.

So here's to 2010. A year of shameless self-promotion, wonderful camaraderie and my skinny jeans - but most importantly - a year of writing and critiquing with the bestest crit group in the world. Tami and Kitty - you rock!!!