Tuesday, May 31, 2011

2D Me at BEA!

Some of you may recall me talking about putting my face on a popsicle stick all over Twitter and having someone take it to BEA.

Well, this actually happened.

A couple of my stick friends and I (That Cover Girl and GReads!) hitched a ride with Lindsi from Books, Sweets, and Other Treats from Texas to NYC for a week of bookish festivities. And by the way, we met some pretty awesome people, as evidenced below.

of course, caffeine is vital to any busy bea week

omg hi, some of my favorites! april from good books and good wine and jamie from the perpetual page turner. i imagine we had some fantastic food and probably some really good wine & beer after this photo was taken.

tara from fiction folio, who i HAVE been in real life and is hilarious and sweet and i love her to pieces

tara from hobbitsies

anna from anna reads and carla from the crooked shelf

And some author love. You guys, I can't even tell you the magnitude of my squees when I received mentions on Twitter and these photos were attached to them.

my name on a piece of paper and libba bray amidst a smooch. by the way, can i just explain how apparently libba called me from someone's phone and left a voicemail? BUT I DIDN'T GET IT BECAUSE MY PHONE SUCKS!? yeah. that happened. but the important thing is, libba bray called me.

jeri smith-ready and myself. i may or may not have teared up just a little bit when i saw this photo, because i love JSR something fierce (not to mention her books. i love those, too <3) and she was awesome enough to take this picture with "me."

So, even though I didn't get to go to BEA, I have a fabulous group of blogger friends who made it special, regardless. I even got a SUPER FABULOUS phone call from Jamie, Carla, April, Anna, Tara, and Kristi! It made the excruciating jealousy dwindle down quite a bit to know that I got to experience a little piece of BEA from hundreds of miles away.

Thank you, Lindsi, for cutting out my head, gluing it to a stick, and taking me everywhere you went!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Why I Don't Let People Borrow My Books

This hurts me. This was not here when it left my hands. I'm extremely meticulous with my spines. I like them to be smooth and pretty. The normal wear and tear on corners happens sometimes, I get that. But straight up CRACKED like that? But now, whenever I look at the Vampire Academy section of my bookshelf, I cringe.

You know that time when you got hit in the face with a dodgeball in elementary school? You know, the time when your nose got broken and both your eyes were swollen and discolored like little black balloons (cue Goo Goo Dolls song.) And, horror of horrors, your school pictures were that same week?

And yet, your parents STILL insist on showcasing that broken, bruised, yet smiling face on the stairwell of photos that immortalizes your pre-pubescence? So whenever anyone walks past, they're like "oh, dang. What happened there?"

YOU, dear book borrower, are the mean, mean kid who launched that dodgeball. With that sh!t-eating grin on your face. WHY DID YOU DO THAT?!?!

It's kind of like that, I guess. At least in my head.

couldn't find a picture of a kid. but still.

Armchair BEA: Things I've Learned About Blogging

Well, it's the last day. Participating in Armchair BEA has been a freaking blast. I did love living vicariously through all our blogging friends via tweets and photos, but it's nice that we had our own little networking thing going on here at home :) Thanks for putting this together, Armchair BEA.

And another thank you to all my amazing blogger friends who seriously made me feel like I was there with all the photos, frequent updates, and maybe some RIDICULOUS HeyTells.

I've been blogging almost 9 months. While it doesn't feel like it's been that long, it also feels like it's been forever. Like I've been a part of this community for years. And damnit, I should've been. But I'm making up for lost time now and I can't even imagine my life without blogging at this point. When I first started out, like everyone else, I had no idea what the frick I was doing.

You kind of make it up as you go along.

Fellow bloggers will always be there with tips and tricks, but it's up to you to make it your own. I used to stress about posting everyday. Honestly, I have way too much of a life to worry about that. It's my blog and I will post when I can, if I can. It shouldn't be about the ARCs or thousands of followers (key word: shouldn't), and this is not my job. I've already got a full-time one, not to mention full-time school. It's something I do to relax myself, so I'll never make the mistake of being stressed about it again.

There are always going to be people who do things in a way that you wouldn't or that you think is wrong. I see stuff that makes me roll my eyes ALL the time. I've mentioned things that piss me off. But you know what? It's not worth the drama. Everyone blogs differently. Just ignore the person. Or hey, UNFOLLOW them. That's the beauty of the internet. In a world (wide web) where everything is accessible, you have the absolute ability to shut them out as well. It's a handy little trick.

Mostly, I've learned that blogging isn't something that I ever want to quit. It makes me happy to write and post reviews, discussions, random crap. It makes me happy to read others' random crap. So even if I post once a YEAR one day when I have 22 kids and a job that multiples the grey hairs, I'll always be a book blogger.

It's been real, you guys <3

Review: Hex by Ramona Wray

Published: CreateSpace (February 1, 2011)
Pages: 254
Format: Paperback
Series: No
Source: Received from author
Rating: 3/5

GoodReads Summary: Like most girls at Rosemound High School, seventeen-year-old Lily Crane is acutely aware of Ryder Kingscott. Hands down the cutest guy in school, Ryder is cool, mysterious, and utterly untouchable…especially for Lily. For when she touches someone, Lily instantly learns all about their lives. And while such a skill might seem nifty, in truth it is wrecking Lily’s life.

So she is shocked when Ryder asks her out — and even more shocked to discover he has a rival. Lucian Bell is the gorgeous new kid who can’t take his eyes off of Lily. Being pursued by two hotties should make a girl happy, but Lily is skeptical. The boys act as if they’ve met before, hating each other with a passion that could only be rooted in a dark, dangerous past. A past full of terrible secrets. The kind of secrets that could get a girl killed.
My Thoughts: I went into Hex not expecting much. I'll admit, I was a little off put by the exceptionally pink, cartoony color. I judge books by their cover. These things happen.

What I got was a pleasant surprise. Sure, there was a big time insta-love. But aside from that, Hex was actually quite an interesting little book. About halfway through, I found myself surprisingly invested in Lily’s story.

Though I would've loved to find out more about her witchy background, I liked Lily. This girl was legitimately funny. I could have done without the NUMEROUS pop culture references, but honestly I liked her voice. She was sarcastic and there were a few moments where I cracked a smile. Lily finds herself torn between seemingly perfect yummy loner boy Ryder (no, not Ryder Strong, 90s children. Though I pictured him in my head THE WHOLE TIME) and new student Lucian who not-so-shockingly has a strange stalkery magnetic interest in Lily. We have all the special ingredients for a dramatic, guilty pleasure love triangle. DANGER ENSUES.

Also, there was an ABUNDANCE of the word "baby" in this book. I don't mind it when someone like, say, Danny Zuko uses this word. But reading it in a book too much makes my eyelids twitch.

But you guys, despite these YA cliches, I enjoyed this book. I have a soft spot for the dangerous love triangles and paranormal. It's a fast, relatively engrossing read that has an interesting turn of events. Did I forsee them? Maybe some. But that doesn't mean it wasn't fun to read about them anyway. I even found myself a little heartsick and had a couple "aww" moments at the end. I’ll definitely be passing this along to a blogger friend who LOVES to read about kissing, paranormal, and love triangulation. I’m interested to see what Ramona Wray comes out with in the future, because she has a fresh voice and a knack for fun storytelling.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Review: A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Published: Balzer & Bray (June 21, 2011)
Pages: 272
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1
Source: Publisher

Rating: 5/5

GoodReads Summary:
We all want to be remembered. Charlotte's destiny is to be Forgotten...
Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

But Charlotte never wanted this responsibility. What she wants is to help her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend's arms forever. But as the Need grows stronger, it begins to take a dangerous toll on Charlotte. And who she was, is, and will become--her mark on this earth, her very existence--is in jeopardy of disappearing completely.

Charlotte will be forced to choose: Should she embrace her fate as a Forgotten, a fate that promises to rip her from the lives of those she loves forever? Or is she willing to fight against her destiny--no matter how dark the consequences.
My Thoughts: I have no idea how I'm going to write this review. I just finished this book, tears still fresh in my eyes and mascara down my cheeks. I have to ask myself: how have I never read anything by Suzanne Young before? It's borderline criminal. But hey, if there's a way to be introduced to an author, this is it. A Need So Beautiful is hands down one of the best, most gorgeously written books I've read in 2011. It's been awhile since I've had the internal "one more chapter" argument with myself at 2am, but this one did it.

Charlotte was a magnificent MC. I want to make her my best friend. She's so full of life and love and kindness (and sarcasm. BONUS!) Her friendship with Sarah is so genuine and portrayed so realistically. We've all got that friend who makes stupid decision, rebels, and loves the boys a little too much. Sure, she has a horrible reputation, but we love the shizz out of her anyway. Young perfectly captured that friendship and made me fall in love with everything about this protagonist.

There is a sense of impending doom that followed me through this book. I knew what was coming. I knew it every freaking step of the way. Then just when I thought there was a shred of hope, Young ripped my heart out of my chest and then taunted me with it. SHE DID. Dangled it right in front of me and said "NO, YOU CANNOT HAVE BOOK TWO YET." Because holy effing shizz heck crap cliffhanger. Still, I love Suzanne Young and I will be anxiously awaiting the continuance of this story.

Um, there's not much to say about Harlin except now I have a seriously creepy book crush on him, because he's RIDICULOUSLY perfect. Go ahead, see for yourself. I dare you to disagree with me.

All in all, beautiful book, original plot (SO FAB!), breathtaking cover. I still wanna cry some more after that ending. Holy shizz, HOW will I wait for the next book? I will tell you right here and right now that this is a book that I will add to my list of pimping projects. I will pimp this book until every single one of you has read it. Be on the lookout, because you do NOT want to miss the release of this incredible book.

Armchair BEA: In Which I Get a Little Sentimental

Today's topic of Armchair BEA is "Nurturing Book Blogger Relationships."

Really, this is the easiest part of book blogging for me. I'm a people person. You might counteract that statement with "but you're always b*tching about how much you hate your customer service job!" And yes, it's true. I do hate customer service. But book blogging? This is a community where all of us come together to discuss our passion and adoration of books. (You don't do that in customer service. Unless you know of a place? DO YOU? TELL ME NOW!!!) When you combine passion + adoration + books + tendency to fangirl, it equals a constant ear-to-ear smile.

I can't even lie to you when I tell you that I seriously talk to book bloggers more than I talk to my actual friends. You guys are always on Twitter. Always posting AMAZING, quality reviews that makes it impossible for my TBR to avoid a daily growth spurt. You guys compile interesting discussion posts which get the noggin working. You guys get my adrenaline racing with your incessant fangirling over this book or that book, to the point where I HAVE to log on to my Borders account to make that purchase IMMEDIATELY. You guys provide insight on EVERYTHING via Twitter. (By the way, brief moment to BOW to Twitter.) You guys gift books to others who randomly squee about them. You guys have become my friends. Not just people I talk to online, but I've developed friendships with some that are completely irreplaceable in my eyes. There are times I come to you before I come to anyone else.

Have you guys seen any bad in all of that? That's right, you haven't. BECAUSE THERE IS NONE. Well.. book blogging is not without its drama. That's easy to stay out of, though. (I try not to ride the drama llama, but it's fun to visit the petting zoo.)

Simply stated: Book blogger relationships nurture themselves. You have a bunch of people, be they like-minded or polar opposites, all brought together by the same unhinged, mental patient love for books. Books are read, shared, discussed, raved or ranted about, and relationships are formed. Sometimes non-bookish talk gets thrown in and you learn more about these awesome people with whom you spend your daily virtual existence. Friendships are forged. Then it's "YOU + ME = OMGBFFZ4LYFE!" and we're out buying best friend keychains and making up a secret handshake.

Sure, it's all online. But these peeps are real, too. I've met some of them (ahem, Anna) and we hugged like we've known each other since we were two and used to throw rocks at one another at the park and pushed one another off the swings accidentally on purpose. And then point and laugh. (She's like that!)

It's that easy. There are so many different personalities out there with so many different tastes in books. I dare you to become a part of this incredible community and not make at least one amazing friend.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Armchair BEA: My Favorite Bloggers (aka Bookish BFFs)

This is gonna be a rough one. There are so many bloggers that I love and read daily, but I guess I'll go with the group of girls who made me immediately feel at home once I started blogging. I still talk to these ladies most days and have had the amazing opportunity to meet some of them. I hope to meet all of them someday! So, in alphabetical order, here are my favorite bloggers and best blogging friends.

Sorry for the lack of photos... I ran out of time before work!

Anna - Anna Reads
This is one person I CAN say I've met. And what a meeting it was! When Anna and I first saw each other, it was like one of those slow-motion moments where I squeed and ran into the restaurant booth and hugged her for like 2 seconds longer than was socially acceptable. But it wasn't creepy, because it was the best hug ever. Anna has also been retweeted by THE Richelle Mead, thanks to her Vampire Academy stick figure review. GO NOW.

April - Good Books and Good Wine
Have you read her reviews? Or talked to her on Twitter? If you have, then you already know she's definitely one of the most hilarious and entertaining bloggers out there. She was probably THE first person to talk to me when I started my blog and was a total loner. She rocks.

Capillya - That Cover Girl
First things first: this girl can SING. For real. Second, if you want hours upon hours of entertainment, go follow her blog and follow her on Twitter. I swear, it's like her job to say witty things that bring the lulz. Her blog is a special kind of blog. The kind that we cover whores LOVE: it's devoted entirely to those beautiful, beautiful book covers.

Carla - The Crooked Shelf
Oh, Carla. She shares my passion for CAPS LOCK and exclamation points. This. Girl. Is. HILARIOUS. If you haven't checked her out already... please, please do. For your own good. And sometimes she does vlogs and displays her fabulous British accent and dances around, lip syncing into a bottle of hair product. If you're lucky.

Ginger - GReads!
Take a nice look at my blog layout. You see that? SHE DID IT. And I am ever so grateful. Ginger is your one stop shop for all things bookish and musical. She's got her recommendation gun locked and loaded and you can better believe it's set to stun. EVERY book she's told me to check out, I've absolutely loved. Same goes with music, which she features weekly in Tune in Tuesdays.

Jacinda & Jasmine - The Reading Housewives of Indiana
These ladies are particularly special, because I've known one of them the majority of my life. Jacinda and I graduated high school together and go all the way back to kindergarten. I think we were even "BFFs" for a day or two in elementary school (you know how that changes, though :) Her sister, Jasmine, is equally fabulous. These girls love them some YA and have such a beautiful, fun blog.

Jamie - The Perpetual Page Turner
Not a day goes by when I don't talk to this girl. We're both complete weirdos and it shows. You know how when you get frustrated with all things bookish and blogging and you just need someone to whom you can unleash the fury (instead of passive aggressively venting on Twitter?) This is my person. Not to mention she writes incredibly concise, insightful reviews and REEKS of general awesomeness.

Kristi- The Story Siren
Yeah, yeah. I know she's pretty much everyone's blogging idol. But I did have a chance to meet her and she is one of the nicest, sweetest people ever. Not to mention hilarious. She was one of the very first people who gave me blogging advice and to this day, her help and guidance is priceless. And she's a wonderful person to vent to! :)

Lindsi - Books, Sweets, and Other Treats
I think Lindsi and I actually started out talking before either of us were bloggers. We were on GoodReads together and shared a mutual fondness for Melissa Marr's Wicked Lovely series (ahem, Irial) and Jeri Smith-Ready's Shade. (We like to refer to ourselves as JSR's personal cheerleaders, The Shady Ladies.) This girl has GREAT taste in books and is so passionate about reading. And she is hilarious.

Lynn - Bringing the Epic
This girl right here actually IS my BFF in real life. Another person I graduated and grew up with, Lynn and I have always bonded over our completely ridiculous adoration of all things mushy and romantic. I can't tell you how many times we've watched Titanic as 13 year olds and bawled our eyes out. Well, what better place in the blogosphere for both of us to reside than in the YA genre?

Melanie - Reclusive Bibliophile
DUDE, I wish I could write reviews like Melanie. She has a way with words that just makes you feel like she is 100000x smarter than you, so when you read what she writes you're all slack-jawed and wide-eyed. How can ANYONE write so awesomely? She's a complete blast to talk to and she has a Wiki. Go find out what that is, because it's featured every Wednesday.

Pam - Bookalicious
You know the person that says what everyone else is thinking? That's Pam. And that's one of the things I absolutely adore about her. This girl is top notch. Her reviews, her sense of humor, her discussion posts. I met Pam a little later in my blogging game, but that hasn't stopped her from becoming one of my favorites.

Tara - Fiction Folio
Yet another blogger I've had the pleasure of meeting in real life and one of the first bloggers I bonded with straightaway. I think it was our love of cats that brought us together. Tara sent me The DUFF by Kody Keplinger and I knew it was the beginning of a beautiful bloggership. Our meeting in person and constant laughter only solidified this.

Tara - Hobbitsies
All I have to do is look at the banner for her blog and it makes me want to quit my job, read, and drink coffee all day. Tara is definitely one of the nicest people I've met in my 9 months of blogging. Not to mention I have a special place in my heart for her, because she sent me an ARC of Darkest Mercy when she won it, because she knew my extent of lahve for the WL series. Love this girl.


I suggest you go check out all of the above ladies, because they'll make YOU feel at home in this crazy blogosphere, too :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Armchair BEA: Best of 2011 (So Far!)

Just when I think LAST year's books were completely unbeatable, 2011 comes along and raises the bar. There have been so many INCREDIBLE books released this year, and 2011 isn't even half over yet. Can you handle it?! Because I don't think I can, truly. Here's a list of the best books I've read this year to date.

1. Shift by Jeri Smith-Ready (My Review)
I don't think anyone's really surprised by this. And if you don't know, now you know. I am obsessed with this series. You should be, too! Go read Shade first, then Shift. Then come back and tell me how right I was!

2. Darkest Mercy by Melissa Marr (My Review)
This may potentially be my favorite series of all time. Melissa Marr is an extremely gifted writer who creates characters that you LOVE and LOATHE. The best part? Irial. Obviously.

3. A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young
If you've not already preordered this, I suggest you do so immediately. I was so enamored by this book and Young's writing. What a beautiful and heartbreaking story. The characters are so real and relatable. I need more.

4. Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton (My Review)
I'm a girl who loves romantic tension and action scenes, so this book was like a freaking playground for me. I blasted through this book in a matter of days and could not get enough of Ellie and Will, whose on-page chemistry was ON FIYAH.

5. Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (My Review)
I had heard some early hype about this one and it was totally justified. I have been waiting for an angel book that wasn't all dangerous, creepy obsession... so glad I found that in Unearthly! Not to mention this cover is wicked sweet.

6. Wither by Lauren DeStefano (My Review)
Did this book make anyone else feel completely helpless? All I wanted to do was jump into these pages and save Rhine (and Linden) from the evils that surrounded them. This was a beautiful book, full of desperation and despair.

7. Delirium by Lauren Oliver (My Review)
I had already been an Oliver fan with Before I Fall. I swear... every freaking time I opened that book, I cried. This book was no different, except that it was BETTER. The beautiful writing and that crazy emotional ending has me praying for an early Pandemonium release.

8. Starcrossed by Josephine Angelini
I just finished this one a couple days ago, so I don't have a review yet. But WOW. This is one debut author who knows her shizz. It's full of kickass females and om nom male characters, but the lore is what really got me. I loved learning about all the different characters and their past.

9. Clarity by Kim Harrington (My Review)
This book was short, sweet, and action packed. I loved Clare's personality. She was so far from a doormat and was feisty as shizz. I loved it. This story has so much potential to expands upon its kickassness, and I cannot wait to see where it goes!

10. Divergent by Veronica Roth (My Review)
Need I even say anything about this book? I'm sure you've all read and loved it by now, so we can just leave it at that. It was amazing.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Armchair BEA: Why, Hello There.

Allow me to be frank: I am extremely jealous of everyone who is at BEA. I'd do just about anything to get there, but unfortunately when you work for the man, there's this little complication called "vacation time." So the fact that I'll be in Vegas for over a week this August is pretty much bogarting any and all vacation time that I have available. Hence, no BEA for me. But I am definitely making the best of it and am super excited to participate in Armchair BEA and I cannot wait to meet some amazing fellow bloggers.

Anyway, let's get down to business.

Salutations, I'm Jen. I started Makeshift Bookmark last September because I had been stalking blogs since January 2010. Let's face it, I don't have many people with whom I can gush about YA in my preferred manner: unbridled, relentless fangirling. I love reading any type of YA. Paranormal, of course (thanks, Twilight!) but I've also developed a fondness forcontemporary and those YA books that deal with difficult topics. There's just something indescribable about reading a book that really makes you FEEL. Not only that, but it's a bonus if a book can make you feel an insane amount of joy, hurt, or make you cry. Am I a literary masochist? Maybe. But that's how I like my books.

About me personally? I'm just a gal on the wrong side of my 20s who loves to laugh and be laughed at. I'll be married 2 years in August to my husband (affectionately referred to as "Mr. Jen") who is the greatest thing in my life. No kiddos just yet, because I am trying to finish nursing school before I think about anything crazy like that. We do, however, have two feline children, Bo and Bella. Seriously, I love them as if they were my own children. I work full-time as a call center representative and am convinced I speak to the craziest people on earth 40 hours a week.

I love to sing. I love to read, duh. I have THE best family anyone could ask for. I'm seriously ridiculous and will do anything for a laugh. And I can't wait to meet all of you!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Review: Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Published: Chicken House Ltd (May 4, 2009)
Pages: 301
Format: Hardcover
Series: No
Source: I purchased this book

Rating: 5/5

GoodReads Summary: Sixteen year old Gemma is kidnapped from Bangkok airport and taken to the Australian Outback. This wild and desolate landscape becomes almost a character in the book, so vividly is it described. Ty, her captor, is no stereotype. He is young, fit and completely gorgeous. This new life in the wilderness has been years in the planning. He loves only her, wants only her. Under the hot glare of the Australian sun, cut off from the world outside, can the force of his love make Gemma love him back? The story takes the form of a letter, written by Gemma to Ty, reflecting on those strange and disturbing months in the outback. Months when the lines between love and obsession, and love and dependency, blur until they don't exist - almost.
My Thoughts: Stolen is a book that I've wanted to read for awhile. Call me a weirdo, but I love reading books about difficult subjects. Never have I ever read about Stockholm Syndrome. Nor did I know much about Stockholm Syndrome, except that it's one of my favorite Muse songs. I knew this book would be special though. Angsty, even. I don't know if you guys know this about me, but I love me some angst.

Well, I got it.

This book is beautiful. The way that the author paints a crystal frickin' clear picture of this desert wasteland is indicative that she packs a serious amount of literary talent. But who am I to judge? See for yourself. And it's eerie how a man who is described as so beautiful and tender becomes this violent and unstable villain. Is it terrible that I still didn't hate him? Is it?! Even after all he's put Gemma through? Stole her away from her family and her life and made her his own little not-quite-but-pretty-much prisoner? I STILL LOVED TY. I am conflicted about this.

I completely understood Gemma's frustration. The way she went back and forth between feeling for Ty and wanting to rip his head off is exactly what I was going through in my head. I love it when I find and author who submerges me so deeply into the story that I BECOME that character. What happens to her, happens to me. Her memories become my memories. THIS IS THAT BOOK.

Two weeks later, as I write this review, I am still reeling from the absolute heartbreak of that ending. I am so angry about it, but I feel a sense of resolution. I never wanted this book to end, but I had to. And it ended the way it had to. I literally chuckled to myself when I read reviews of how others claimed to have Stockholm Syndrome after reading Stolen. I am no longer laughing.

Also, there's a scene with a camel that smashed my heart under a semi over and over and over.

I want--no, NEED--more gut-wrenching melodrama and difficult subjects from this author.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Peek at My TBR (10)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like thosedeserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.

Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber
Published: November 1, 2011
EFFING. SHIZZ. This book sounds like straight up paperback magic. I can't tell you how many times I've seen a scary portrait or statue of somebody and I SWEAR they're looking at me. Can you imagine if that actually happened? Except instead of trying to kill you, they were in lahve with you and you were an integral part of their ploy to regain their soul? Count me in for this one. And it's the first in a series. I LOVE SERIESES. Also, that's totally Emmy Rossum's doppelganger on the cover.

The Season by Sarah MacLean
Published: March 1, 2009
It's been a long, long time since I read a QUALITY historical romance. (Looking at YOU, Gemma Doyle trilogy!) I've heard that Sarah MacLean is the master of her craft and I have intentions of paying a call to this book. It's on my shelf, so I do hope that it won't pass on my attempts at woo. I obviously suck at 19th century-speak, but whatever. Please teach me, Sarah MacLean.

Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
Published: April 14, 2009
I have a friend who refused to watch the season finale of The OC: Season Three, because she heard SOMEBODY died and if she didn't watch it, they'd continue to live. I'm adopting her flawed and naive logic and applying it to one of the most genius series upon which I've ever feasted my peepers. If I don't read this book, IT WILL NOT END. Don't try and convince me otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, I'm still anxiously awaiting the release of the final book in Jessica Darling's epic tale. Pay no attention to the pink spined book on my shelf, peeking out from behind the rest of the books. You're obviously hallucinating.


So maybe I haven't read them yet, but maybe you have! Do these books need to be bumped up on the TBR? Thoughts, please!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Review: It's Not Summer WIthout You by Jenny Han

Published: Simon & Schuster (April 27, 2010)
Pages: 288
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 2 of 3
Source: I purchased this book

Rating: 4.5/5

GoodReads Summary: Can summer be truly summer without Cousins Beach?
It used to be that Belly counted the days until summer, until she was back at Cousins Beach with Conrad and Jeremiah. But not this year. Not after Susannah got sick again and Conrad stopped caring. Everything that was right and good has fallen apart, leaving Belly wishing summer would never come.

But when Jeremiah calls saying Conrad has disappeared, Belly knows what she must do to make things right again. And it can only happen back at the beach house, the three of them together, the way things used to be. If this summer really and truly is the last summer, it should end the way it started--at Cousins Beach.
My Thoughts: Well, other than the enormous, gigantic, all-encompassing sadface that I wore throughout every single page (YOU KNOW WHY!), I enjoyed this book more than the first one.

Belly and the boys are growing up and dealing with something that was forshadowed and inevitable. It's hard. I hated reading about it and my soul felt a little bit empty after that first paragraph of the entire book. Way to drop a freaking bomb, Jenny Han. But, as morbid as it sounds, some of my favorite books contain characters adjusting to and healing from grief. And holy heck, I can't think of a more massive kind of grief than this.

Belly stays true to her annoying, yet lovable, self as she tries to adjust without 2 of the major focal points of her affection. But she's womaned up a little bit in this book and I am a lover of quality character development. Similar to The Summer I Turned Pretty, Belly tells her story in real time and flashbacks. Her heartbreak feels so real, you cannot help but want to reach into the pages and hug her as everything is seemingly being ripped away from her.

One of my favorite parts of this novel is that we finally get to see more of Laurel and the relationship that she has with Belly, Conrad, and Jeremiah. (By the way, I totally missed Steven in this book!) They were a legit family, even though tragedy and growing up and apart has put a damper on the idea of summer at Cousins.

The end, though not ENTIRELY shocking, was a pleasant surprise. I couldn't believe how accepting I was of this new development and how eager I was to find out what happens next. The more time that passes, the more I love this series.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Your Makeshift Bookmarks (5)

Your Makeshift Bookmarks is derived from two things: a) my obvious blog name and tendency to use inane objects to mark my pages. And b) Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner's inspiration (and suggestion!) to start a blog feature where you all can show off the awesome, random crap you use for bookmarks.

Today I welcome the wonderful, the amazing Ginger from GReads! You may know her from Tune-In Tuesday, where she regales us with massive amounts of awesome music. The girl has good taste in music, guys. Or maybe you know her from TGIF where she gets our brains working with one of the tons of questions she's got. Either way, I love this girl. She introduced me to one of the most heart-exploding series, The Summer Trilogy by Jenny Han, and she continues to bring the kick ass book recs. I'm so happy she decided to take part in my silly little feature <3

Um, there's definitely nothing wrong with using ACTUAL bookmarks! I have a bunch of them, but honestly... they're never around when I need them. Luckily, I usually have a vast collection of straw wrappers or some crap like that floating around in my bag. Thanks for stopping by, Ginger. If you guys don't know her yet, you need to. Her blog is one of my favorite and she is ALWAYS posting quality reviews, memes, MUSIC... you name it. Love this girl to death. Go to GReads! now.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

In My Mailbox (26)

IMM is hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren.

Awesome book week. Nuff said.

For Review
Cold Kiss by Amy Garvey
A Beautiful Dark by Jocelyn Davies
A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

(HUGE thanks to HarperTeen and Balzer + Bray!)

Wake Unto Me by Lisa Cach
Abandon by Meg Cabot
But I Love Him by Amanda Grace

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Graveminder by Melissa Marr

Published: William Morrow (May 17, 2011)
Pages: 336
Format: Hardcover
Series: Book 1 of 2
Source: ARC Tour provided by author

Rating: 4.5/5

GoodReads Summary: Rebekkah Barrow never forgot the tender attention her grandmother, Maylene, bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: three sips from a small silver flask followed by the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."

Now Maylene is dead and Bek must go back to the place--and the man--she left a decade ago. But what she soon discovers is that Maylene was murdered and that there was good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in placid Claysville, the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected. Beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D--a place from which the dead will return if their graves are not properly minded. Only the Graveminder, a Barrow woman, and the current Undertaker, Byron, can set things to right once the dead begin to walk.
My Thoughts: Anyone who knows me knows that I am a ridiculous Melissa Marr fan. If we've ever talked in real life or on Twitter, it's likely I've raved about her Wicked Lovely series to you at least twice. I can honestly say that I didn't know what to expect from Marr's adult book, Graveminder, other than pure awesomeness. A departure from YA AND a departure from fey?! I'm not good with accepting change and this was something I was honestly wary about.

Guys, I love being wrong. I'm not afraid to admit it either. First off, I love every single cover of Marr's and this is no exception. The creepy barn, the sepia-tone, the oddly placed flowers. But it's so much more than just the cover. Marr has taken the morbid duty of undertaker (and gravesite keeper-upper) and made them magical. The depth--OH, THE DEPTH--of the characters makes my spine tingle with joy. Rebekkah, the protag, is a broken girl who runs from all the problems in her life. However, the small town of Claysville keeps beckoning her to return. She resists until her grandmother, Maylene, is brutally murdered. Which leads to more sadness and brokenness.

Bek's grief is palpable. Her counterpart, Byron, is her crutch. No matter how much Rebekkah resists him, she always finds herself back with him. The banter between the two was very sweet, though I do with Rebekkah would have a bit more of a spark to her. Her personality was reminiscent of Leslie from Ink Exchange, who I loved. She was so strong and pushed forward, regardless of the fact that the world around her was deteriorating.

The lore was FASCINATING. I loved the idea of Undertaker and Graveminder and their duties. I don't want to say too much on the roles for fear of spoilers, but Marr's forte is her gifted storytelling and her unwavering excellence at depicting angst and darkness.

Speaking of angst and darkness, wait until you guys meet Charlie. JUST YOU WAIT. While I do wish Charlie would've gotten more pagetime, I do have high hopes to see a lot more of him in future books. This tale is nowhere near over and I, for one, cannot wait to get my hands on the next installment.

Note: while this is marketed as an adult book and has adult themes in it, I do think (save for one romantic scene) that it'd be appropriate for most YAs to read.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tune in Tuesday (1)

Tune in Tuesday is hosted by the amazing, the wonderful Ginger from GReads!

I've apparently been feeling musically nostalgic lately, because I've dug out my old Dave Matthews CDs. Not that they were really hidden much, they're pretty accessible... especially when the weather gets warmer. NOTHING is better than blasting DMB with the windows down.

These guys are one of my favorite bands. I've seen then four times live (NOT NEARLY ENOUGH!) and I'm so sad they're not touring this year. I was in high school when Everyday came out and there was seriously an uproar about how this album wasn't "Dave" enough. I don't quite share that idea, but I do think it's a departure from their usual material.

Seriously, the songs on this album don't get nearly the attention they deserve. Namely, "Fool to Think." And this acoustic version is freaking phenomenal. Also, I love that he's such a weird dude with the rambling and Davespeak.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Playing Hurt Blog Tour

Hey all! I've had the complete pleasure of interviewing Holly Schindler, author of both A Blue So Dark and Playing Hurt. Holly is a fascinating writer, as well as a very sweet person. I had lots of fun thinking up all kinds of questions to ask Holly, so let's get started!


1. In A BLUE SO DARK, Aura’s mother suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and frightening hallucinations. What kind of research did you perform to be able to convey such a scarily accurate insight into the mental illness?
“Scarily accurate insight” is an incredible compliment! Actually, I read everything I could find on the subject—including all the books on schizophrenia in the YA section of my library (I wanted to know how the illness had been presented factually to a teen audience). Once I’d read everything I could, I put it all away and started to write. I wanted the characters to drive the book—I wanted it to read as a novel, not as a factual representation of psychiatric disorder. Or a psych textbook.

2. If A BLUE SO DARK became a movie and you were in charge of casting, which actress—past or present—would you choose to play Aura? Aura’s mother?
I really like the idea of Marisa Tomei as Grace. Aura I go back and forth about…Victoria Justice, maybe? (There are times I think she looks like a young Vanessa Marcil…and that appeals to me, since I’ve been a GENERAL HOSPITAL viewer since the ‘80s…Anybody else remember the Bucket of Blood?)

3. In PLAYING HURT, Chelsea Keyes is a crazy awesome basketball player. Were you also dunking on fools in your high school days? If not, how did you occupy your time?
Uh, no. I’m fairly klutzy, actually—pretty sure I could fall around corners!

I took a ton of art classes in high school, and was big into writing in high school as well. (Aura’s poems in A BLUE SO DARK were all poems I wrote in high school—tweaked a bit to fit the situations in the novel, of course.)

I also was big into my music—I spent a lot of time chasing down the big musicians who played Springfield in the ‘90s…I got to meet quite a few of the hair bands.

I also took guitar lessons with one of the members of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils…Truly, he was the most talented person I’ve ever met. Bar none.

4. Let’s say you had to set each of your books to music, because let’s face it: books and music should go hand-in-hand. Which song(s) sum up A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT, respectively?
In A BLUE SO DARK, I’d have to pick Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” or Janis Joplin’s “Me and Bobby McGee,” which are both in Grace’s vinyl collection.

For PLAYING HURT? I’d have to pick “Waiting on a Friend,” by the Stones, since Chelsea and Clint dance to it…

Another song that makes me think of PLAYING HURT is “Collide,” by Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow. The storyline of the song’s quite a bit different, but at core, it’s about two people with pasts coming together to find love…

5. What was the biggest difference between writing A BLUE SO DARK and PLAYING HURT?A BLUE SO DARK wrote really quickly—the first draft was completed in just about two months! PLAYING HURT was much slower—and changed the most, from first draft to final published version.
The actual process didn’t feel any different, though…What I mean is, I don’t have to be in a darker place mentally to write something darker, like A BLUE SO DARK, nor do I have to be in the midst of a love affair to write a romance…

6. On your bio at your website, I see that you taught guitar lessons after college. How do I sign up and when can we start?!
Love this! I really do have my students to thank for turning toward children’s lit. I was ONLY drafting adult work, when I first started seeking that first book deal. After interacting with teens and tweens, I decided to give YA a try!

7. Seriously, though, do you still play the guitar and piano frequently? What are your favorite songs to play on each?
Of course! On the piano, I love to play anything by Elton John (especially “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down On Me”). On the guitar, I’m pretty all over the place…Kelly Willis has a lower voice—pretty close to my register—and I really like playing her songs…(I think Willis’s “Getting to Me” is the perfect theme song for any writer on a long, long path to publication. Google the lyrics, and you’ll see what I mean…)

8. If you could pick any book in which to live, which one would it be?
Actually, I already live in both A BLUE SO DARK (which takes place in my lifelong hometown of Springfield) and PLAYING HURT (which takes place, in part, in Fair Grove, which is very close to Springfield, and the area where my grandfather grew up).
If I could live in another author’s book, I’d live in Zevin’s ELSEWHERE…Isn’t aging backward TRULY the perfect heaven?

9. Finally, do you have any words of encouragement to light a fire under the butts of aspiring authors?
Really, there are no shortcuts: you’ve just got to put your butt in the chair and write. It’s not easy work—and there are plenty of distractions! Here’s a short video I filmed on avoiding such distractions:


Holly, thank you SO much for stopping by! You guys, feel free to visit Holly's Website, Blog, and follow her on Twitter!

Your Makeshift Bookmarks (4)

Your Makeshift Bookmarks is derived from two things: a) my obvious blog name and tendency to use inane objects to mark my pages. And b) Jamie from The Perpetual Page Turner's inspiration (and suggestion!) to start a blog feature where you all can show off the awesome, random crap you use for bookmarks.

Today I welcome my very closest, very bestest friend that I've ever, ever had. Lynn from Bringing the Epic. This girl and I literally grew up together and have been like THIS *crosses fingers* since we were 12. That's more than half my life. It's that serious. Anyway, she decided to start up a blog, Bringing the Epic, after I begged and pleaded with her. I love that we both can discuss our insane love for books now. She's a wonderful person and you all need to know her.

Don't you just love her? She has an awesome amount of enthusiasm for reading and blogging and life in general. Yes, I'm biased, but she rocks my face off. Thanks so much for stopping by, Lynn! LOVE YOU FO LYFE. Go check out her blog now and tell me she's not one of the most passionate people you've ever seen.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Soundtracking (4): The Summer I Turned Pretty

huge thanks to ginger from greads! for this awesome graphic <3

Soundtracking is something I pretty much do subconsciously. I listen to a TON of music and I read a TON of books. Somehow, the two just end up colliding. Movies have soundtracks, TV shows have soundtracks... why not books? I probably won't do this consistently... I guess whenever inspiration strikes :) Just a disclaimer that Soundtracking is potentially spoilery... but they're going to be pretty obvious spoilers, not big brain-busting spoilers. I probably wouldn't read this unless you've read the book.

I thought it'd be appropriate to soundtrack The Summer I Turned Pretty. After all, my review was posted yesterday, and it's almost summer and stuff. Why not give you guys a little something to listen to for both the summer series AND something to listen to when you're enjoying the nice, warm weather?

I'd like to introduce you to a little someone called Chase Coy. Take a look at that face. That hair. And he plays guitar. And it just so happens he wrote a song about Summer. As Anna Reads said to me when I told her about this song, "ARE WE SURE THAT'S NOT ACTUALLY CONRAD?"

All right, if you've read even the first book... you'll see the OBVIOUS connections between Summer's Song and the end of the first book, as if from Conrad's point of view. I invite you right here, right now, to enjoy the crap out of this sweet song.

credit to Terrinlwg236 on Youtube!

Notable Lyrics


The Summer I Turned Pretty Quotes

"On the way out Jeremiah turned around and danced a quick jig for me and i couldn't help it, I laughed. Over his shoulder Conrad said, 'Good night Belly.' And that was it. I was in love."

"I say, 'I can't believe you're really here.'
He sounds almost shy when he says, 'Me neither.' And then he hesitates. 'Are you still coming with me?'
I cant believe he even has to ask. I would go anywhere. 'Yes,' I tell him. It feels like nothing else exists outside of that word, this moment. There's just us. Everything that happened this past summer and every summer before it, has all led up to this. To now."

"He pulled my foot, drawing me closer. Being this close to him was making me feel dizzy and nervous. I said it again, one last time, even though I didn't mean it. 'Conrad let go of me.'
He did. And then he dunked me. It didn't matter. I was already holding my breath."

So what do you think? Is this the PERFECT song for The Summer I Turned Pretty? Do you have a better one in mind? I'd LOVE to hear about it!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

Published: Simon & Schuster (May 5, 2009)
Pages: 276
Format: Paperback
Series: Book 1 of 3
Source: The amazing Ginger from G Reads!

Rating: 4/5

GoodReads Summary: Belly measures her life in summers. Everything good, everything magical happens between the months of June and August. Winters are simply a time to count the weeks until the next summer, a place away from the beach house, away from Susannah, and most importantly, away from Jeremiah and Conrad. They are the boys that Belly has known since her very first summer--they have been her brother figures, her crushes, and everything in between. But one summer, one terrible and wonderful summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

My Thoughts:

Sweet days of summer, the jasmine's in bloom
July is dressed up and playing her tune
When I come home from a hard day's work
And you're waiting there, not a care in the world
Summer breeze, makes me feel fine
Blowing through the jasmine in my mind

(This song pretty much played in my head the whole time.)

I. Am. So. There.

This book makes me want a beach, a beach house, an ocean, some sandcastles, a pina colada, and a Susannah. I am all about some atmospheric writing and this book has so much of that and more. I went in with insanely high expectations for this book. When you've got blogger friends pushing you (GINGER!) to read a series (and even those who BUY them for you! GINGER!) it's hard to resist. Plus, the weather's getting warmer and I needed something to get me in the mood for summer.


Belly's stories of her current summer and those of her childhood completely enchanted me. I felt as if I was reading this story in a beach chair and floppy hat, with the waves rolling in around my feet and basking in a perpetual sunset. I loved hearing about the warm, fuzzy TOGETHERNESS that Belly, Steven, Conrad, and Jeremiah had. Each of them were so wonderfully unique, I felt like they were my BFFs and kept waiting for them to ask me to come hang out. I can see how Belly was attracted to both of the brothers, despite their being polar opposites. They each have their pros and their cons, but their flawed and attributes make them both appealing and honestly, I haven't chosen a team.

And Susannah. Oh my goodness. If there is ever a "type" of mom that I want to be, it's her. She, herself, was like a ball of sunlight. It made me smile just to read about her and her interactions with her sons and Belly. The connection between her and Belly's mother is one that I'd just die to have. That everlasting friendship that knows no bounds. Susannah shattered my soul into a million billion pieces as the novel went on.

Though Belly got on my nerves more often than not, I still liked her. She was relatable. It was easy to identify with her. Her tag-along ways, self-concerned actions and thoughts were believable. After all, she's a little sister and "the baby." Even though I'm not a little sister, I can imagine that all the things that went on in Belly's head also went through my sisters. I guess that's maybe why I loved her so much. She reminds me of my own!

My blogging friends didn't steer me wrong and for this, I thank them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Peek at My TBR (9)

Disclaimer: these are books that I WANT to read and are on my TBR list, not books that I necessarily own (unfortunately!) And if I do have any of them on my shelf, I'll specify :)

A Peek At My TBR is a feature inspired by Waiting on Wednesday by Jill at Breaking the Spine and Books To Pine For by The Story Siren. I did WoW for awhile, but honestly, there's never only one book I'm "waiting" on. And a lot of the books that I "pine for" aren't just up-and-coming books. There's still a ton of oldies but goodies that I'm just now discovering or want to read soon, and I feel like those deserve some recognition as well as the fresh meat.

Unleashed by Nancy Holder and Debbie Viguie
Published: December 13, 2011
Let's not even pretend that I'm over werewolves. I'm not. Though I've been exceedingly underwhelmed by the majority of the werewolf books I've read lately, I haven't lost hope that one of them will pull me back into the whirlwind romance with the moon and the shifting and what is it about werewolves in YA that make such good boyfriends? This is going to be book one in the Wolf Spring Chronicles and I get ever so happy when I see a new series that looks promising. Long wait for this one, though.

Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber
Published: December 23, 2010
I know, I know. I've read some horrible reviews on this one. I've always been pretty bookishly adventurous, though, and if it's a book I really want to read, it won't matter if it has less than glowing reviews. I like to form my own opinion. (I'd been told not to read Wicked Lovely too, and you see how that turned out!) There are a couple of my favorite bloggers, Lynn and Susan, who absolutely LOVED this book, so I'm still holding out hope that maybe I'll be among their ranks! Plus, I had the honor of meeting Ellen at Dark Days and she was such a sweet lady.

Mistwood by Leah Cypess
Published: April 27, 2010
Again, with the werewolves. Do you see a theme? Do you!? With Mistwood, we have a mixture of Shifters and ROYALTY. Since royalty is kind of the hot topic these days (I think a prince got married recently or something?) I've been enamored with the idea of princes and princesses and all that goes with them. There's a companion novel coming out soon, Nightspell, and I really love the cover for it (ahem... cover whore) and I do have this one in my reading pile, so I need to step it up! By the way, I was totally kidding. Yes, I know that Prince William got married. I hope you guys didn't throw rotten fruit at your screen already <3