I’m back!

Caitlin is here!

Caitlin is here!

So you may or may not have noticed my complete disappearing act. Many months ago I disappeared from book blogging, not because of lack of interest but lack of energy and time. I had an extremely exhausting pregnancy and just could not bring myself to do more than go to work and other necessary things in my life. I have missed reading a blogging so much!

My beautiful daughter made an early appearance on June 8th of this year and has just passed 6 weeks old. She is perfect, and I am enjoying the time with her. But, I’m also enjoying getting back to ‘me’.

Top Ten Tuesday (3)

So for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and Bookish, we have kick ass heroines that we love! Such a fun topic.

1. Kami Glass from Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan I adored Kami from the beginning of Unspoken. I was getting tired of reading books where the female main characters were absolutely walked all over. I love her spunk, and sarcasm. She was awesome (and I can’t wait for book 2!)

2. Skeeter and Aibileen from The Help by Kathryn Stockett This was such a great book, and for me Skeeter and Aibileen were a package deal. Their strength and courage, especially in the time they were living in were especially moving. I laughed and cried during this one! Love these girls.

3. Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson I think if you were to look for an over all kick ass female character, Lisbeth is it. First of all, she is not what people expect. And when your name is on her shit list? Well, if I were you I would high tail it out of there.

4. Melinda from Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson This is one of my favorite books of all time, and the reason is because of Melinda’s growth. She suffers in silence through the most traumatic event of her life, until she is finally able to find her voice and stand up for herself .She is amazing.

5. Cinder from Cinder by Marissa Meyer This was one of my first reads of the year, and I immediately loved Cinder. First of all, she’s a cyborg and what is not awesome about that? She is tough, and different and I loved that about her.

6. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins Katiniss was such a strong character, who was young and willing to sacrifice herself for her little sister. As well as fighting for her life. Was she the best decision maker in the world? Maybe not. But nobody is perfect, not even our kick ass heroines.

7. Tris Prior from The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth Oh, Tris. She made a ballsy decision to step outside of the faction that she has been raised in through her entire childhood. When she’s described you wouldn’t think of her as physically kick ass, although this changes throughout the storyline. She thinks with her heart, and acts for the well being of others. I can’t wait for the last book in the trilogy. Come on 2013!

8. Mia from If I Stay by Gayle Forman How can Mia not make this list? She is dealt a pretty crappy hand when her family is killed in a car accident. The amount of strength that it had to take to make the decision, the premise of If I Stay, to stay and fight for her life or to leave and be with her family to me is unfathomable. Now this is one of my favorite stories of all time. I loved Mia!

9. Anna from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Okay, so Anna wasn’t literally out there kicking ass. But, in my opinion, she was a kick ass heroine. She was thrust into a foreign country and is forced to go from her timid self, to learn a new language, culture, and country. And of course, the romance was just bonus points.

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (3)

Last Week’s Reads:

Reviews Posted in the Last Week:

This Week’s Reads:

  • The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larrson
  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Well, as you can see I am still lumbering through these two books. I made a good dent in The Girl Who Played With Fire, and didn’t really touch Raven Boys this week. My goal is to get both of these finished this week, and not pick up any more books until they’re done. What about you. What’s on your TBR list this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? Is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila over at Book Journey

Stacking The Shelves (1)

This is my first time participating in the weekly meme hosted by Tynga over at Tynga’s Reviews. And I am excited to participate. So I cannot lie– I am super excited about October’s book haul. It is very special to me. Today is my birthday, so you are looking at my birthday book haul. My husband treated me to a wonderful day: he made me breakfast, took me to lunch, then a movie, and took me shopping. I did buy some clothes… but I did end up with a quite a few books! Quite a few of them are new authors to me that I’ve heard great recommendations on.

The only book that I did not buy today from this book haul is To Kill a Mockingbird. I entered a giveaway during Banned Books Week, and won a copy from Julia. I was so excited for this giveaway. A few years ago I lent my copy of To Kill a Mockingbird to a co-worker and never saw it again. And, of course I don’t work there any more. So happy to have a copy of this so that I am able to re-read this awesome classic. For those of you who have been living a closet for the last, oh… I don’t know, fifty years or so. Here’s the synopsis, courtesy of Goodreads:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it, To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior – to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story by a young Alabama woman claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Then there is the book that I purposely went to Barnes and Noble for. I have been stalking my library’s website to see if they were going to get this in, and haven’t seen anything yet. So I told my husband that the one book that I really wanted to pick up was Every Day, and that I was sure Target wouldn’t have it. So, he drove me to B&N. Score! I cannot wait to read this book. I have heard awesome reviews, and the synopsis makes it sound amazing.

In his New York Times bestselling novel, David Levithan introduces readers to what Entertainment Weekly calls a “wise, wildly unique” love story about A, a teen who wakes up every morning in a different body, living a different life.

Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl. 

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day.

With his new novel, David Levithan, bestselling co-author of Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, has pushed himself to new creative heights. He has written a captivating story that will fascinate readers as they begin to comprehend the complexities of life and love in A’s world, as A and Rhiannon seek to discover if you can truly love someone who is destined to change every day.

And, since we are already on the topic of David Levithan, I also picked up one of the books that he co-authored with Rachel Cohn: Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares. I’ve heard that Cohn and Levithan together are magic. I am really looking forward to this one, too (well, all of them, actually!). There is a local Teen Book Fair in May that both Rachel Cohn and David Levithan will be attending, and I would really love to be familiar with their books. And I hope that I am in love with their writing as everyone else seems to be!

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors ofNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

I just finished reading If I Stay earlier this week, after reading some great feedback on it from another blogger, I think that it was Jamie over at The Perpetual Pager Turner. What an amazing recommendation and book. If you have not read this book by Forman, go pick it up! I picked this up during the readathon, but it was 1:30 in the morning and too tired to read it. I finished it a day or two later. I had to pick this book up, because I knew that I would be re-reading it. I loved the story that much. Read my review of If I Stay here.

In a single moment, everything changes. Seventeen-year-old Mia has no memory of the accident; she can only recall riding along the snow-wet Oregon road with her family. Then, in a blink, she finds herself watching as her own damaged body is taken from the wreck…

A sophisticated, layered, and heart-achingly beautiful story about the power of family and friends, the choices we all make, and the ultimate choice Mia commands.

And, of course because I loved If I Stay so much, I also picked up its sequel, Where She Went. I’m not quite halfway through, and it is amazing. Maybe even better than If I Stay… I won’t be able to say for sure until I’ve finished.

If you haven’t read If I Stay yet, and you don’t like spoilers… you might not want to read the synopsis below, mkay?

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future-and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I StayWhere She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

This next book I have actually not heard any hype about on any blogs. I’ve never read anything by Lisa Scottoline. She is an adult contemporary author, and a lot of the blogs I frequent are predominantly ya blogs. This storyline sounds promising, something that seems very much along the lines of what Jodi Picoult, my favorite Adult Contemp authors writes.

Rose McKenna volunteers as a lunch mom in her daughter Melly’s school in order to keep an eye on Amanda, a mean girl who’s been bullying her daughter. Her fears come true when the bullying begins, sending Melly to the bathroom in tears. Just as Rose is about to follow after her daughter, a massive explosion goes off in the kitchen, sending the room into chaos. Rose finds herself faced with the horrifying decision of whether or not to run to the bathroom to rescue her daughter or usher Amanda to safety. She believes she has accomplished both, only to discover that Amanda, for an unknown reason, ran back into the school once out of Rose’s sight. In an instance, Rose goes from hero to villain as the small community blames Amanda’s injuries on her. In the days that follow, Rose’s life starts to fall to pieces, Amanda’s mother decides to sue, her marriage is put to the test, and worse, when her daughter returns to school, the bullying only intensifies. Rose must take matters into her own hands and get down to the truth of what really happened that fateful day in order to save herself, her marriage and her family.

Speechless by Hannah Harrington is a book that went onto my TBR list as soon as I read the synopsis. I know that this will be a book that I enjoy, and I have seen some really great reviews out there for this one.

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can’t keep a secret

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed.

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she’s ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse.

But there’s strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she’s done. If only she can forgive herself.

And lastly: The Perks of Being a Wallflower! Oh, it was quite the struggle to get this book. I looked in the Fiction & Literature section at Barnes and Noble several times and couldn’t find it. I checked their computer system and that’s where it said it would be. Hm. So, I found a lady that worked there and asked her.  She told me that it was actually downstairs one the Paperback Bestsellers display. I walk around for at least five minutes and can’t find it. So, I find another woman who works there, and ask her if she can direct me to it. She directs me to a display for Hardcover New Fiction. Um. No. So, after another ten minutes of wandering I finally found it. Ugh! I’ve generally ordered online, so I haven’t run into this before. I guess I know for next time!

Standing on the fringes of life… offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

This haunting novel about the dilemma of passivity vs. passion marks the stunning debut of a provocative new voice in contemporary fiction: The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

This is the story of what it’s like to grow up in high school. More intimate than a diary, Charlie’s letters are singular and unique, hilarious and devastating. We may not know where he lives. We may not know to whom he is writing. All we know is the world he shares. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it puts him on a strange course through uncharted territory. The world of first dates and mixed tapes, family dramas and new friends. The world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

Through Charlie, Stephen Chbosky has created a deeply affecting coming-of-age story, a powerful novel that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller coaster days known as growing up.

Have you read any of the books from my birthday book haul? Did it leave a lasting impression? I also plan on having a few Sarah Dessen novels in my posession very, very soon. Fingers crossed for that!

If You Come Softly by Jacqueline Woodson

If You Come Softly is a young adult/middle grade story about two teenagers, Ellie and Miah. They meet at Percy Academy, the private school that they are both unwillingly attending. They know that they have something special upon to meet each other, and they can remember each moment they sneak off together. Their first kiss. But time is fragile, and so is life. They realize how hard it will be: Miah is black, and Ellie is Jewish.

Carlton stood up and tucked the ball under his arm. “Sounds like love, man.”

“But she’s white.”

Carlton raised an eyebrow. “Hello, Miah. Look who you talking to, man. It happens. And you know what? It ain’t the worst thing in the world.”

It is a hard realization for both of them, as they take the bus or train and draw the stares of others, some asking Ellie if she is okay. My heart broke for them, because young love should not be tainted by hate or discrimination. There were very few people in their lives who seemed to understand. I really liked Miah’s best friend, Carlton. He was down to earth, and he seemed to understand– maybe because he was biracial, or maybe he just didn’t see people in color. He saw them as being the people they were.

Miah has this great support system in Carlton, and in his mother. But Ellie has been afraid to tell her family. She wants them to know the boy that she has fallen in love with, not the color of his skin. So, finally, she makes the decision that she will tell them. And she becomes excited. They will finally know Miah. But what happens next is astonishing– do they accept Miah? Forbid Ellie from seeing him? This was a re-read for me, and so I knew what was going to happen the second time around. Have a kleenex or two handy.

If you come as softly

as the wind beneath the trees.

You may hear what I hear.

See what sorrow sees.

If you come as lightly

as threading dew,

I will take you gladly,

not ask more of you.

I think that if I were able to assign reading to teens in classrooms, this would be one of those books. It is meaningful and relevant. If you had to choose at least one book that was mandatory reading for teens in schools, what would it be, and why? Maybe that will be a future post– I will put together what I would choose as required reading for the school year.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is the story of Mia, a seventeen year old cello player. She is blessed with an amazing family, two parents who are absolutely not cookie cutter– they were both in a rock band, and they are anything but boring. They have a wonderful relationship with Mia and her younger brother, Teddy.  However, a perfect family roadtrip on a snowy day is instantly altered. Mia does not remember the accident, she remembers riding with her family down the snowy road in Oregon. And then nothing.

The next thing she knows, she is watching her body being pulled from the car’s wreckage. Guys, I had to emotionally prepare myself for this one. I have heard from several bloggers out there what a great book this is, but they all also said they cried during this book. They were not lying… if you do not want to cry at least once, do not read this book. If you want to read a book that you will become completely invested in– with happy moments and the sad– read this book. I will admit that my ugly cry reared its head this afternoon. But I found this book to be heartbreaking, funny… a novel about family, and about friends.

There was not a single character in this book that I didn’t feel was unique. They were all multi-layered, and I have to say that one of my favorite characters was Mia’s best friend, Kim. Honestly, I think that everyone deserves to have at least one friend in their lifetime like Kim. She is blatantly honest, strong, independent, and hilarious. She is there for Mia without hesitation. In a lot of young adult fiction, friendships are so highly superficial. About stabbing each other in the back, or stealing each other’s boyfriends. I’ve only read a few young adult books where the best friends are just that… best friends. And this was one of them.

It I Stay is told from Mia’s point-of-view, reflecting back to pivotal moments throughout her life. And, watching her family and friends at the hospital in the day following her accident. And Forman brings up a difficult question… what if you had to decide whether to fight for your life and stay alive, or give up the fight and brave the unknown?

Top Ten Tuesday (2)

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and Bookish So, today’s Top Ten Tuesday is a fun one: Favorite Authors in X Genre.For this I have chosen YA Contemporary as the genre. Here’s the thing: I’ve only been reading YA Contemps for less than a year now. So. I’m going to include five favorites, and then five that I want to read in the next few months.

  1. John Green. Sadly, I had not read anything by him until earlier this year, which is insane. And my first read by him was A Fault in our Stars, which was unbelievably amazing and heart breaking, the characters were quirky and fragile and… awesome. I actually picked up Will Grayson, Will Grayson from the library and will be reading that soon. It’s one that he co-wrote with David Levithan and I am really looking forward to reading it.
  2. Kirsten Hubbard. She is another new favorite, she has only had two books published so far. I read Wanderlove a few months ago and was blown away by how beautiful it was. So, I also picked up her 2011 debut, Like Mandarin from the library. I haven’t had the chance yet to read it. But that will be another book I read soon!
  3. Stephanie Perkins. I literally JUST read Anna and the French Kiss. This weekend. It was a perfect light, contemporary read. I will be searching out the sequel book soon. It was just so well written– the voice in which it was told was so honest, and believable. Loved. It. And I am sure that I will enjoy other books by Perkins. I wish I hadn’t fought reading this for so long!
  4. Ellen Hopkins. She is the well known author of Crank, Glass and several others written in verse. She has the ability to write about such deep and ugly issues– but she writes about them so beautifully. I’ve read two of her novels so far, and definitely plan to read more of them.
  5. Laurie Halse Anderson. She is the author of the well-known Speak, as well as Wintergirls,  and Twisted. I have read a few of her books, and Speak is one of my all-time favorites. It was one of the first books that deeply touched me, back when I was still in high school. I did a re-read of Speak for Banned Books Week and it reminded me of how much I love her writing. I hope to get through all of the books that she has written, too.

And the five YA Contemp Authors I want to try (in the next six months!):

  1. Rachel Cohn. I have heard some great things about her writing, and really want to read Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Plus, she will be coming to my local book fair in May, and I would really prefer to have read some of her books!
  2. David Levithan. He has co-wrote with John Green, and Rachel Cohn. And he’s also got several books out. My birthday is this weekend and I will be picking up Every Day. I have read the synopsis and I think that it’s going to be amazing!
  3. Sarah Dessen. I seriously feel like I am the only person alive who has not read anything by her. She seems like she is a very popular YA Contemp author, so I think that I must read something by her.
  4. Gayle Forman.  Okay, the truth is that I am reading If I Stay right now, and it’s amazing. I am not finished with it, and I haven’t read anything else by Forman so I really can’t put her on my favorite YA Contemps list until I’ve at least finished a book by her. It is amazing so far. I can’t wait to finish it and start Where She Went.
  5. Jennifer Castle. I haven’t really heard much about her as an author yet, but I stumbled across The Beginning of After at the library and think that it sounds pretty amazing. So, it’s sitting on the huge stack of books I have checked out from the library. I was going to pick it up during the readathon, but it’s a fairly long book. Soon, I hope!

So, all of you YA Contemp readers out there… are any of these your favorite authors? Who else do I need to add to this list?