It’s the weekend, I’m bored: what do I read?!

Hey hey! So it’s the weekend; you’re bored. What are you going to read?! Ellen and I plus the fantastic Rebecca from Crunchings and Munchings book blog are having a book pow-wow this weekend and in honor of all the fun books we’re going to be reading, I thought I’d pass along a list of the top books in YA and NA right now that you should have read and if you haven’t, stock up! They’re all less than $5! So get ’em, read ’em, and tell us what you think!

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Readers’ Choice Best YA/NA Books of 2012, part 1

We asked, you answered and the response was overwhelming to say the least!

Gotta hand it to you: YOUR list of the best Young Adult and New Adult from 2012 is amazing! A lot of these are on my TBR and a lot I’ve read (and totally agree with you by the way. You all have superb taste in books). If we reviewed it, I’ve also included a link to the review and the # of stars.

Now I must tell you. You gave us so many awesome reads that I had to break this list up! I’m giving you 25 at a time until we’re done and hope you can keep up!

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March 15th: What the heck is Judith reading?!

What’s running through my mind right this moment: oh crap! Yet again I have to come up with some amusing and vaguely unique name for our readers. There’s only so many times I can call them “peeps” or “people” or “dear readers”. What else can I use?! <wracks brain> Crap, I’m out of ideas. So I guess it will have to be…

Hello, all! Judith here and it’s time for “What the heck is Judith reading?!” Now, I’m sure we’ve been over this before but you’ll have to contain yourselves because I am just one small woman and there’s only so much of me to go around. Oh and also, this weeks reading list hasn’t changed much from last week’s because hubby has got me hooked on Downton Abbey and I’ve had to forsake a bit of reading for a whole lot of Mary and Matthew if you know what I’m saying.  Hubby seems to have taken his spectating to a whole new level when a week ago he stuck out his leg and asked for help in putting on his socks. You laugh but I’m not joking. This is my life, people.

1.  Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak: I’m really loving this one! It’s so refreshing to have a male protagonist and no lovey dovey crap. I’m almost done with this and think the review should be up soon.

2.  A Strange Fire by LH Cosway: This is one of the books that an author approached me about reviewing. I love being thought of as some serious reviewer so I must admit that I gave an adament, “yes!” when asked to read it.  I might not have checked out the blurb about it yet but am really digging that cover. It reminds me a lot of John Green’s Looking for Alaska cover but hopefully there will be a lot less tears.

3. The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle: Hello naked cover! I love covers with half-naked men on them, granted this “man” appears a little more pubescent than man. Frankly I prefer a beefcake but beggars can’t be choosers, here. Irish myth and a lot of skin? Sign me up! Not the biggest fan of prose written in accent though…we’ll see how it goes.

4. Fix by Leslie Margolis: Who can say no to teens and plastic surgery? This is fascinating stuff and I can’t wait to read this one.

 There you are. Enjoy! And let me know if you read any and your verdict. I trust you, dear readers. (Seriously, I gotta be able to think up a better appellation than that!)

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March 8th: What The Heck Is Judith Reading?

Hey, girl! Happy Thursday! I’m on way out the door to–that’s right, you guessed it–go skiing! Hubby and I decided that this is our year, the year we become proficient at winter sports and while at my end, it’s still a pipe dream, he is now doing jumps and rails and other things with lingo I don’t really comprehend or care much about. No joke, after one season he’s already that good while I’ve been comfortably sipping mochas at the ski lodge. Oh, the unfairness of it all! Sigh. At least I understand how a ski lift chair works now. It certainly was embarrassing asking my instructor where the foot rest was and finding out it’s attached to the safety bar I had forgotten to pull down.  But I’m back to give it the old college try ten years too late.

Now while you’re waiting breathless for news of my breaking a leg or sliding right into a tree, I’ll give you something to entertain you: a glimpse of this week’s reading list.  It’s actually so fun! I have two books on my list that were submitted directly by the authors and the first one, by Lisa Nowak, is proving extremely promising. It’s reminiscent of Sarah Dessen only less focused on feelings and love and more geared towards what are traditionally considered male subjects like racing, stock cars, and eating copious amounts of fast food. So without further ado:

1. Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak: I’m really loving this one! It’s so refreshing to have a male protagonist and no lovey dovey crap. I think I’ll miss the romance here soon though which may prove a good thing for Book 2.

2. The Lure of Shapinsay by Krista Holle: Hello there! I love covers with half-naked men on them, granted this “man” appears a little more pubescent than I’d like. Frankly I want a beefcake but beggars can’t be choosers, here. Irish myth and a lot of skin? Sign me up! Not the biggest fan of prose written in accent though…we’ll see how it goes.

3. The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen: No clue about the premise really but like many women, am a sucker for the obviously teen-inspired cover.

4. A Strange Fire by LH Cosway: This is one of the books that an author approached me about reviewing. I love being thought of as some serious reviewer so I must admit that I gave an adament, “yes!” when asked to read it.  I might not have checked out the blurb about it yet but am really digging that cover. It reminds me a lot of John Green’s Looking for Alaska cover but hopefully there will be a lot less tears.

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March 1st: What the heck is Judith reading?!

Hello, you! You’re just in time to get all the dish on what I’m reading this week. It must have been torture waiting to find out. Now, I have to admit that after a considerably harrowing book experience (<ahem> yes, I’m pointing the naughty finger at this book), I want to stay clear of romance for the next week at the very least.  My poor brain will thank me for it later while my eyes will be thanking me this evening.

1. Running Wide Open by Lisa Nowak: okay, I just started this and have to say, I’m hooked! Her writing style is refreshing and new. Bonus points for a male protagonist and not a girl in site to turn him into a sniveling mess.

2. If I Can’t Have You by Lauren Hammond: I know, I know. This story is supposed to be lovey-dovey and all about the sexy times. Then there’s that over the top cover which will probably make my fragile eyes bleed all over again…but I couldn’t help myself. I have issues, deep seated ones.

3. Paper Towns by John Green: no idea what this is about but loved Looking for Alaska so figured that it deserved a shot.

Last week I had a few other books on my reading list that I haven’t finished (and truth be told haven’t started either). That doesn’t mean I won’t get to them. It just means other stuff got in the way.

Now dish! What are you reading on this wintery Thursday?

 

 

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It’s…ehh, Tuesday, time for Tuesday Roundup!

Guys. I’m sorry. I dropped the ball last week and well into this one. I’ve been sick so not much of an excuse, but hopefully you can understand the lack of consistent reviews and roundups and posts in general. I’m almost back to normal so hopefully we’re back on track. To that end, it’s Tuesday Roundup! A make-up for this Monday’s Roundup.

Ellen discusses (read: rants) about Melanie Marks’ books as a whole in Caveat Emptor for sure: Melanie Marks. You get some fun reviews of four separate books.

Looking For Alaska by John Green: Newbie boarder Miles falls in with Chip and Alaska at his Alabama boarding school, learning the fundamentals of friendship and love, loss and betrayal as he comes to grips with a life-changing event involving Alaska.  9.8/10 GET IT.

Singularity by William Sleator: Twins Harry and Barry move into a creepy, gothic mansion which houses a time altering portal. Through this portal they learn the true value of family and the importance of having your own identity. 10/10 Read it for the cheesy cover alone!

Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally: Female QB Jordan has to deal with the repercussions of the arrival of amazing QB Tyler and the changes it brings to her personally and amongst her team. 8/10 Ellen raves about it!

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler: Min and Ed’s disastrous relationship is told in reverse, via a letter from Min complete with pictures and all the details of why their relationship just didn’t work.  4.6 /10 It was exceptionally well written and actually very likable but I just didn’t like it.

Head Games: A PrettyTough Novel by Keri Mikulski: Female basketball star, Taylor is being pulled in far too many directions and all of the things she cares about suffer as a result.  She has to choose where to focus before everything she cares about is lost. 7.4/10

That’s it for book reviews! Bonus fun:

We did learn some very exciting news about a new series from Jennifer L Armentrout (author of Obsidian and Half-Blood)! It involves angels which we were on the fence about until she reassured us that we would most definitely enjoy it.

Knopf is having a contest centered around PD James’ latest, Death Comes to Pemberley.  Only 2 days left to enter to win a free copy of the book!  http://ow.ly/8HFrx

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Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska, by John Green

Publisher: Speak (December 28, 2006)

Format: Kindle Edition

You know how everybody has one book, a perfect book that makes you alternate between crying and laughing, thinking and zoning out, a book that you can’t wait to read and simultaneously want to put down (mainly because it’s making you cry too much)?

This is my one book.

Plot:

Miles Halter is one of those high school students who is merely floating through life–no real friends, no girlfriends, no one to notice if he stopped existing (except maybe his parents and he’s not even all that sure that they would). In an effort to change that, he transfers to a boarding school in Alabama and meets Chip, his foul-mouthed genius roommate who is from the wrong side of the trailer park and yearns to give the yuppies at the school a comeuppance. His best friend is the equally intelligent and maddeningly infuriating, Alaska. A girl who is witty, well-read, and possesses that mysterious je ne sais quoi that causes all within her orbit to love her. Chip and Alaska befriend Miles and together they teach him about living through literature, booze and cigarettes, and romance. The book is divided into two sections: Before and After and at the risk of taking away the heartbreaking surprise of the event in between, I’ll just say that the After section deals mainly with Miles and Chip and their quest to discover what happens to Alaska.

Review:

I’m not gonna lie: this book had me bawling like a baby. I didn’t read any plot summaries of it before diving in (sometimes it’s best to go into a book without any preconceived notions, you know?) but the event that the book is centered around knocked me on my butt. I didn’t see it coming at all. When it happened, I freaked: I cried, I texted Ellen while crying, cried to anyone who would listen really (that lady on the plane thought I was just plain nutso, FYI), and in the end, had to put the book down for a day before I was able to continue.

But wait, I’m getting ahead of myself here. When we first meet Miles he is just plain pathetic. So bland and vanilla that I knew he couldn’t stay like that for much longer before offing himself. Seriously. And then he decides to change his life completely, to start anew, and that’s where things go from bland and boring to funny and enthralling. Moving from Florida to boarding school in Birmingham, AL is the best thing that could ever happen to him. It forces him to take chances, to risk opening himself up to hurt, yes, but also to love and to friendship, aspects sadly lacking from his young life. Chip and Alaska are two larger than life characters who are pedants (normally so annoying when 16 year olds spout off like college professors) but taper their intelligence with the usual teenage vices of drugs and alcohol. They didn’t seem forced as characters, their dialogue natural and flowing. With the addition of Miles, their little group is complete. Miles is the quiet, stable one who normally wouldn’t rock the boat and he tempers their zest for life while they in turn, infuse him with some of their own joie de vivre (you know it’s good when I bring out the french). The three make it through the first few months of school with zany antics and witty dialogue until The Incident happens (again I’m not going to tell you what happens because the shock of it all is what really gets you. I mean, I’m sure you can guess and I’m being so mysterious that you’ll more than likely read a more detailed blurb elsewhere but if you really want a shock, just don’t, ok?

Hand . GONE-INSTANTLY prescription cough medicine by mail it is alone lotion discount prescription store dry fine bag my.

Also, stop reading my review right here.). Afterward, Miles and Chip are left to pick up their lives without Alaska and it’s a difficult process. She lingers even though she isn’t there physically. The fact that Miles has unresolved feelings for her makes it all the more heartbreaking. This is one of those quintessential teen books that feels like it should be more angst-ridden but in fact is a book about life and living that life to the fullest of your abilities. It’s about not waiting for things to happen to you but actively seeking them regardless if the end result is pain and hurt. This is a book that teaches you how fragile young life can be and how we should cherish the moments we have with people, not drift through those moments allowing them to be meaningless. The characters actually grow and mature and we watch it happen. It’s beautiful and funny and sad in a way that lingers but like its message about life, this book is not one you will easily forget.

So based on the following criteria:

How much did I like the hero: 10. A boy as the main character and I like it?! Wha…? Doesn’t usually happen but this book is practically perfect and having a girl in the role of Miles wouldn’t have been the same. It probably would have been much more flighty and sappy so Miles really works here. He’s low key and unassuming, yes, but we actually watch him mature and open himself through his friendships with Chip and Alaska. It’s a beautiful thing to read.

How much did I like the love interest: 9. While Alaska annoyed me at first (girlfriend is not only brilliant and well read, but she’s also gorgeous and so full of life that I wanted to smack her. Also, her parents let her pick her own name and what she chose was Alaska–come on!), her attitude toward living is one I wish I had now. She’s so care free and believes in doing what feels right to her no matter the consequences. She did lose a point however for the fact that she never really cared how her actions affected others, especially Miles.

How believable is the plot: 10. Do boarding schools really exist in Alabama? Do people really have names nowadays like Chip or Miles? You know, little details like that I pushed aside because this story is so freaking believable. You can really see some kid like Miles going off to boarding school as a means to escape his boring life and you can really see people like Chip and Alaska existing and dragging everybody into their orbit.

How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 10. John Green is a master of the tightly written book. Everything is seamless. It flows well, the dialogue is 100% believable, the characters are just normal enough to seem heartbreakingly real, and the pacing before The Incident is great. After The Incident, things feel like they slow down a bit but it’s normal that the writing style reflect the mood of what’s happening in a story so no points lost there.

How much did I want to keep reading: Would you believe it if I said I alternate between a 1 and a 10? I mean, this book is fantastic no doubt but The Incident made me stop reading for an entire day because honestly, it made me so sad. But I wanted to know what happened to Alaska, was practically burning to hear the whys of it so I guess that earns it a final 10.

Final Score: 9.8 / 10. Men writing YA fiction is usually a turn off for me, especially when there is a bit of romance thrown in. With Looking For Alaska you will not be disappointed: it’s a coming of age story that is at the same time a romance and guidebook for friendship. Read it, read it, read it. You won’t be disappointed.

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