Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Oh-My-Word Readathon: 2012 Edition

Hello, readers!

I am participating yet again in Squeaky Books' annual year-end readathon: the Oh-My-Word-The-Year-Is-Over-And-I-Haven't-Reached-My-Goal Readathon. Last year I actually had reached my goal at this time so I was causally readathoning, but this year I have been speeding through books for the last few days to try to reach my goal of 200 books by January 1st.

Although I've been readathoning on my own for a few days, at the official start of this readathon, I have 6 books to go in order to reach my goal, and 5 days in which to read. I'm going to be crazy busy and/or out of town until New Year's Eve, but if I can time it right, I just might be able to make this happen.

Because it is going to be such a close shot to finish enough books in time for New Year's, I am extending the readathon an extra two days, until December 31.

Reading List:
  • Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
  • Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
  • Renegade Magic by Stephanie Burgis (Read 26 Dec)
  • Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (Read 26 Dec)
  • Instead of Three Wishes by Megan Whalen Turner (Read 27 Dec)
  • Book of Enchantments by Patricia C. Wrede (Read 30-31 Dec)
  • Tales from the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird by Vivian Vande Velde
  • Fathomless by Jackson Pearce (Read 28-29 Dec)

I tried to choose a mix of long and short books, and included three short story anthologies because they're both fun and quick. I am especially looking forward to Seraphina, Iron Hearted Violet, and Fathomless.

december 27
Yesterday I read Renegade Magic, which was fun and light and exactly as I expected it to be. I really liked it but preferred Kat, Incorrigible. I still would like to see what comes next for Kat. Then I read Stargirl which was amazing and totally surprised me; I had read it on a friend's recommendation, which next to no idea what I was getting myself into. I absolutely loved it.

Today I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to read, but managed to finish Instead of Three Wishes, which I'd forgotten how much I liked. I really enjoyed it and it certainly made me excited to reread some of MWT's other works. I'll have to revisit Gen next year.

december 28
I meant to read a lot more than I did today. I had time to read during the day but did not have a book with me until the evening, when I read the first 200 pages of Fathomless. I wanted to read much more, but unfortunately didn't have the time. Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

december 29
Today was a really good reading day. I finished Fathomless, which ended up being very exciting, and also started two more books. I visited a bookstore and found a fantastic gift for my English teacher: The Annotated Alice. This particular teacher is my favorite English teacher I've ever had, and he taught a semester of Through the Looking Glass two years ago (which I took, and loved) so I thought he would enjoy this annotated edition. And I'm hoping he won't mind if I take a peek at it first, since the annotations are actually quite interesting. I've read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass many times (I have a well-loved copy on my shelves) and the notes in this addition add a whole new layer to a story I already love. I finished Alice in Wonderland tonight, and will read Through the Looking Glass tomorrow. I also read the first two stories in Book of Enchantments, both of which I enjoyed quite a bit. As with Instead of Three Wishes, I'd forgotten how much I liked these stories.

december 30
Today I visited the bookstore where I bought my beloved copy of Howl's Moving Castle, and found a copy of Robot Dreams, a graphic novel that I read nearly two years ago and was never able to find again. I reread it in the store along with Sarah Varon's new book Bake Sale, which brings me so close to finishing my 200-book goal. I also read a few more chapters in The Annotated Alice and a bit in Book of Enchantments, but overall did not read much. Tomorrow I am going to finish my challenge, and it will be New Year's Eve Day!

december 31
Today I finished Book of Enchantments and The Annotated Alice, and finished my challenge. Happy New Year!

Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Unravel Me

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am eagerly waiting on...
Unravel Me, by Tahareh Mafi

Summary (from Goodreads):
tick, tick, tick, tick, tick
it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

In this exhilarating sequel to Shatter Me, Juliette has to make life-changing decisions between what she wants and what she thinks is right. Decisions that might involve choosing between her heart—and Adam's life.

Unravel Me will be released February 5th 2013 by HarperCollins.

What are you guys waiting for this week? Leave thoughts and links in the comments!

P.S. Signups for the Graphic Novel Readathon are still going on! Join in the fun January 3-6! Click here to sign up.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 10 Graphic Novels

In honor of the upcoming Graphic Novel Readathon, I decided to make a list of my 10 favorite graphic novels. This list was not as difficult to make as I thought it would be, as I had room for most of my favorites. Although the list is a "top ten," the books are not strictly in order of how much I like them. The first three definitely deserve their place at the top, but other than that, I love them all.

So, without further ado:

1. Rapunzel's Revenge / Calamity Jack, by Shannon, Dean and Nathan Hale
These are my absolute favorite graphic novels. As I say in my review, these are the books I will turn to again and again. I'll never tire of them, and I recommend them to young and old alike.

2. Bone, by Jeff Smith
A fantastic and epic tale. I have read this at least four times in the last three years, and I love it more every time. It's quite long, but the length simply adds to how much I enjoy it.

3. Amulet, by Kazu Kibuishi
One of my favorite graphic novel series. I look forward to the release of each volume (there are 5 so far) and the story continues to get better with each one.

4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret is not strictly a graphic novel, but it is absolutely amazing, and I am counting it in this list because the images are just as important as the text. A fantastic read.

5. Robot Dreams, by Sara Varon
A sweet and simple story with a powerful message. I loved this book, and cannot wait to revisit it.

6. Anya's Ghost, by Vera Brosgol
Subtle and enjoyable, Anya's Ghost is a great read for all ages. The illustrations are excellent, and the story is entrancing.

7. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword / Hereville: How Mirka Met a Meteorite, by Barry Deustch
A great story about "Yet another troll-fighting 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl." Deutsch makes the most of the graphic novel format, and teaches the readers a bit too in this lovely coming-of-age tale.

8. Smile, by Raina Telgemeier
A fantastic coming-of-age story with great illustrations, a strong voice, relatable protagonist, and engaging story. I'd happily hand this to any middle school girl.

9. Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales, by Nathan Hale
A fun and fact-filled historical series for middle graders. I loved them and am eagerly awaiting the next volume.

10. The Adventures of Tintin, by Hergé
I haven't yet read all 24 volumes of the Tintin series, but I've loved those I have read. They have a timeless quality and are pure fun. I am excited both to reread my old favorites and to discover the rest of the books.

And there you have it: my ten favorite graphic novels! I could go on and on and on with honorary mentions, but suffice it to say that there are many excellent graphic novels that didn't make it onto this list. I hope to revist them as well during the readathon.

I find it interesting that all of the books on this list are middle grade graphic novel. It's not as if GNs for older readers don't exist - they do, and I've read them - but I prefer my GNs for the younger set. I get more out of the story if I am not cringing from R-rated content. Plus, middle grade graphic novels are awesome, so there's nothing more to say.

Don't forget to sign up for the Graphic Novel readathon, going on right here at Pica Reads, on January 3-6! Read some of the books on this list, or come up with your own list of favorites!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

My Reviews of The False Prince and A Curse Dark as Gold featured on Bookshop Talk

Bookshop Talk, a fantastic blog run by Jessica Day George, Amy Finnegan, and Kim Thacker, features reviews that people send in of their favorite books.

Last week, they posted my review of The False Prince, along with a review from my fellow blogger Debz. Today, they posted my review of A Curse Dark as Gold. Click here to read them!

Check it out! Links lead to my reviews on Bookshop Talk.

P.S. Signups for the Graphic Novel Readathon are still going on! Join in the fun January 3-6! Click here to sign up.

Waiting on Wednesday: Asunder

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am eagerly waiting on...
Asunder, by Jodi Meadows

Summary (from Goodreads):
Ana has always been the only one. Asunder. Apart. But after Templedark, when many residents of Heart were lost forever, some hold Ana responsible for the darksouls–and the newsouls who may be born in their place.

Many are afraid of Ana’s presence, a constant reminder of unstoppable changes and the unknown. When sylph begin behaving differently toward her and people turn violent, Ana must learn to stand up not only for herself but for those who cannot stand up for themselves.

Ana was told that nosouls can’t love. But newsouls? More than anything, she wants to live and love as an equal among the citizens of Heart, but even when Sam professes his deepest feelings, it seems impossible to overcome a lifetime of rejection.

In this second book in the Incarnate trilogy, Ana discovers the truth about reincarnation and will have to find a way to embrace love and make her young life meaningful. Once again, Jodi Meadows explores the extraordinary beauty and shadowed depths of the soul in a story equal parts epic romance and captivating fantasy.

Asunder will be released January 29th 2013 by Katherine Tegen Books.

What are you guys waiting for this week? Leave thoughts and links in the comments!

P.S. Signups for the Graphic Novel Readathon are still going on! Join in the fun January 3-6! Click here to sign up.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Announcing the Graphic Novel Readathon

I am happy to announce an event I've been hoping to host for a while: The Graphic Novel Readathon! This January, I will be hosting four days full of the wonderfulness that is the graphic novel.

I will be hosting mini-challenges and giveaways, and gushing about my favorite graphic novels, AND we will be having a fantastic interview with one of my very favorite author/illustrators. Sound good?

Please fill in this form if you are interested in hosting a mini-challenge or writing a guest post.

To sign up for the readathon (whether or not you want to host), use the linky below:

And don't forget to comment with your favorite graphic novels! I will be posting a list soon of some of my favorites, and I am always excited to learn about new ones.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Prodigy

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am eagerly waiting on...
Prodigy, by Marie Lu

Summary (from Goodreads):
June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—-June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

Prodigy will be released January 29th 2013 by Putnam Juvenile.

What are you guys waiting for this week? Leave thoughts and links in the comments!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Judge a Book by Its Cover: Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

In Judge a Book by Its Cover posts, I compare different covers for the same book, and judge which cover, in my opinion, best fits the book, either because it is the cover I'd be most likely to pick off the shelf or because it fits the style, mood, or plot of the book. I'd love to hear your opinions on these covers.

This edition of Judge a Book by Its Cover will compare the different covers of Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. I reviewed this great MG last week, and thought that its covers would be fun to compare. See what you think...

Cover No. 1
US (and most other places)

This is my favorite cover because it best captures the whimsy of the novel. I love the image of Peter's silhouette sneaking across the rooftops and the crows in the background. The illustration style is very fitting for this story, and the colors are both eye-cathching and complementary.  I really like the title font, especially that the I in Nimble is a keyhole: very fitting for this story. 

Cover No. 2
Ladrão de Olhos - Portuguese Edition

This cover has most of the same elements as the US cover, but I don't like it nearly as much. Without the small touches such as the keyhole I and the blindfold around Peter's head as he walks across the roof, the cover seems much more stock. It also seems much more a children's book rather than an MG. That said, I still do like this cover:  I just prefer the other. 

Cover No. 3
Питър Нимбъл и неговите фантастични очи - Bulgarian Edition

This image is so different from the other covers. Although the scene is rather perilous, the cover says "fun" to  me. I like that it shows Peter on his actual journey, and features the floating jars. However, I don't think it quite represents the story inside as well, and I wouldn't be nearly as likely to pick it up off the shelf.

My Favorite: I will stick to the good old US cover. As much as I do like the other covers, there's nothing like the original.

Which is your favorite? Judge this book by its cover!

Want to suggest a book for Judge A Book by Its Cover? Click Here for the form!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Shades of Earth

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I am eagerly waiting on...
Shades of Earth, by Beth Revis

Summary (from Goodreads):
Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.


Shades of Earth will be released January 15th 2013 by Razorbill.

What are you guys waiting for this week? Leave thoughts and links in the comments!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Review: Yearbook

by Ally Condie
Series: Yearbook #1
Paperback, 231 pages
Published September 15th 2006 by Shadow Mountain
Age Recommendation: Young Adult

Summary (from Goodreads):
It was the first day of school at Lakeview High, and everyone was afraid of something. Michaela Choi was afraid that Ethan Back was never going to ask her out on a date. Andrea Beck was afraid that someone would find her weak spot, the chink in her armor. She was afraid of knowing what it was herself. Principal Downing was afraid she was going to die. Julie Reid was afraid that no one would notice her. She was also afraid that someone would. And there was a deeper, unnamed fear inside her that she couldn't escape - a fear that she was nothing and no one . . . Yearbook is a captivating story about relationships and heartaches and fears and ideas and doubts and testimonies and everything that a teenage mind and a backpack can contain. But most important, Yearbook is a novel about how everyone has something to offer and something to learn.

I bought Yearbook at an Ally Condie signing last year with no idea what it was about. I am glad that in this case I dove in blind, because I definitely enjoyed this book that I normally would stay far away from. I didn't know that the book had an LDS element, and as someone with very little exposure to those beliefs, it was a totally new experience for me to read about a belief system new to me and different from my own.

Mostly, I enjoyed the beautiful writing - one of the quotes still sticks in my head even though I read the book more than a year ago:
"The doors to the school swung open once, twice, a thousand times, and all the students came in, bumping into each other and walking down the hall together and passing one another. They brought backpacks and watches and notebooks and ideas and heartbreaks and earphones and aspirin and makeup and mirrors and memories and testimonies and doubts and questions. Stories were everywhere. The bell rang, and the school year begun."
The story switches perspectives between a number of different characters (7, I believe) who all attend the same school and follows the ebb and flow of each of their journeys. In any other book, 7 POVs would be too much (looking at you, Rick Riordan), but in Yearbook, it seemed perfectly balanced. Every character (amazingly) had a distinct voice and no one seemed lost in the jumble.

I really enjoyed stepping out of my comfort zone with this books and reading something very different than the usual. I appreciated that while Yearbooks had a religious element, it was not the ultimate solution to all problems. One character especially found solace in religion, but I was able to read (and enjoy) the story without feeling like the characters' values were being preached or shoved at me. For this gentle touch, I thank you, Ally Condie. (A side note: I personally did not find this element be too much for me, but I bear in mind that everyone has their own comfort level.)

Overall Thoughts:
Even as a person who doesn't read contemporary as a rule, I have to say, Yearbook was a beautifully written story that engaged me with its lovely prose and complex characters. Recommended for anyone willing to take a chance on something new.


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