Friday Favorites [3]

It's that time of week again, folks. And I'm starting to think I'm really reforming myself as a actually-post-on-the-same-day-the-title-says blogger.

My name is choco, and it's been almost 2 weeks since I last posted Friday Favorites on a Monday.

*Hello, choco!*

Okay. I really am starting the review now. *drumroll*

*suspense builds*

And tooooooooooday's pick issssssssssssss....

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones!

I thought I'd keep with the DWJ-is-the-best-thing-since-sliced-cheese theme that's been going on in this blog this week! That, and I've been alerted to the fact that some of you lovely followers are have never read anything by DWJ.


I intend to remedy this forcibly nicely NOW! :D

My Ravings:

I don't remember the exact moment I picked up Howl's Moving Castle--it was years ago, in the days when I still brought lunchables to school and my now ancient dog still stirred from her doggy bed. My memory has more holes in it than cheese* but I'm still disappointed that I can't remember the details of that important day. Suffice to say, that day changed my life. From then on, I was hooked on Diana Wynne Jones. I could sing her praises forever, and Howl's Moving Castle is definitely one of the foremost reasons why she's my favorite author.

Red-haired and fierce Sophie Hatter puts far too much stock by tradition. She's convinced that since she's the eldest in the family, she's destined to failure--unlike the youngest, who is bound to end up marrying a prince or strike it rich. But when the evil Witch of the Waste sweeps into the family hat shop and mistakes Sophie for somebody else, Sophie's turned into an old woman. And since Sophie's always wanted to seek her fortune--despite her dismal odds as the oldest--she takes this as an opportunity to finally set off. She soon stumbles upon the Wizard Howl's Moving Castle--the very same wizard that is rumored to have stolen countless young woman's hearts over the years for use in dark magic.

Sophie finds herself striking a deal with his "distinctly cunning" fire demon Calcifer--who's holed up in the chimney and keeps the castle moving around the hills. If she figures out how to break his contract with Howl, Calicifer will break her curse in return. But Wizard Howl turns out to be something entirely different from what Sophie expects: Selfish? Yes. Dishonest? Yes, horribly so. But evil? Not a bit.

Much hilarity ensues, as Sophie, endowed by the righteousness of old age, manages to force Howl into making her the permanent cleaning lady. From there, Sophie practically terrorizes Howl with her relentless cleaning since she is "remorseless, but she lacked method." But old age might just catch up to her as she struggles to break her curse and save her sister from the insincere attentions of Howl. Howl is far too busy running from his own troubles--namely the Witch of the Waste--to bother to kick her out permanently.

I think the reason I love this book is the characters--Sophie is just absolutely wonderful. It's definitely something different to have a 80-year old main character, but it works perfectly in this case. Sophie is distinctly pushy and bossy--but is excused because of old age. It's brilliant how she interacts with Howl--who has pale green eyes like marbles, rather flashy dress suits in which he goes around breaking girl's hearts, and such perfectly tended hair. He is the embodiment of selfishness and vanity, a real "slither-outerer," and horribly messy. He tells Sophie, "You must admit I have a right to live in a pigsty if I want," and when she pushes him a little to far, "Yes, you are nosy. You're a dreadfully nosy, horribly bossy, appallingly clean old woman. Control yourself. You're victimizing us all."

Howl is one of my all time favorite characters. I'll never forget the scene where he drenches the castle with green slime, after Sophie meddles with his hair products and his hair turns out slightly pink. Or when he moons about after catching a slight cold. Or when he turns up drunk after he realizes the Witch of the Waste is closing in on him. One of my favorite snippets:

"Go to bed, you fool," Calcifer said sleepily. "You're drunk."
"Who, me? I assure you, my friends, I am cone sold stober." He got up and stalked upstairs, feeling for the wall as if he thought it might escape him unless he kept in touch with it. His bedroom door did escape him.
"What a lie that was!" Howl remarked as he walked into the wall. "My shining dishonesty will be the salvation of me.""

Bahahaha. I just love the voice in this book--DWJ is the master of the "British voice." The book is marvelously well-written--witty and descriptive with cleverly crafted-dialogue throughout.

Sophie's world is very inventive--wizards, bumbling apprentices, witches, curses and castles don't always add up to fairy tale. Sometimes, they add up to something different and more wonderful. And that's just what Howl's Moving Castle is. Unquestionably one of the best books out there.

Extra: Scene from the movie (which I love too):

*There goes another cheese reference. Wow. Maybe brain is telling me something. Eat cheese?


You sly followers, you!

I signed on today, and I'd already blown past 50 followers! Wahoo :DDD *does happy dance*

I have a contest brewing to celebrate. Soon, I promise :)

Love you all <33333

Anyone care for some cake?


Review: The Summer I Turned Pretty

In my never-ending, heroic quest to reform myself as a contemporary-loving reader,I picked up the Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han.

Book Description:

Some summers are just destined to be pretty

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 wonderful and terrible summer, the more everything changes, the more it all ends up just the way it should have been all along.

My Opinion:

The Summer I Turned Pretty is a quick, pleasant read. I was hesitant to get started on it--but once I did, I fair sped through it. The writing is just so smooth and easy to digest--it's one of those books that is relaxing and good for a--well,--summer day.

However, I had a hard time relating to Belly. She just came off as so childish to me. Maybe I'm being unfair--a lot of the book is related through flashbacks in which Belly is nine or eleven, and continually picked on by her older brother and the boys at the beach house. So that may be influencing my opinion of her. But ultimately, Belly did not do much for me: I thought her actions were particularly annoying at times, and as a narrator, she wasn't anything special.

Perhaps it's because of my ignorance regarding contemporary books, but I didn't think highly of the plot. I just couldn't figure out what the point of the book is--what the characters wanted, what they were doing, or why I should be interested in their lives at all. Belly is just an average girl, and I felt like there wasn't anything terribly exciting going on--there wasn't that much tension or urgency.

And then there are the love interests. Belly's "boyfriend" (who she just dates to make another character jealous) is sweet, so I had a hard time sympathizing with Belly's callous attitude towards him. Similarly, Jeremiah, the younger brother, is so kind and nice to Belly--he's a great friend--but Belly doesn't treat him well either. Conrad, the brooding and secretive older brother, is instead the object of her attentions. And I can't for the life of me figure out why. I found nothing appealing about Conrad. He was decidedly unattractive and moody and harsh--all supposedly because Belly "turned pretty" this summer. Belly is like a lost puppy pining after him--which to me was quite painful to read.

Overall, Belly's actions throughout the book show that she is selfish and childish, which seem to be the main aspects of Belly's personality. Furthermore, the great "secret" in the book was easily discerned; the entirety of this book was very predictable.

But I can't deny that The Summer I Turned Pretty is relaxing and mildly enjoyable. Jenny Han certainly knows how to write--the book flowed so wonderfully, and the dialogue and interplay between Belly and the boys came off as suitably realistic. I really enjoyed the flashbacks because they were expertly done and interweaved throughout the story.

Ultimately, I'm not terribly in love with this book. But despite my problems with the characters, I really didn't mind reading it. I'm certain that many other teenage girls will revel in Belly's summers.

I give it a 7/10

Waiting on Wednesday [3]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

As a boy, he had spent fascinated hours looking at the garden through each differently coloured pane. Depending, you got a rose pink sunset garden, hushed and windless; a stormy orange garden, where it was suddenly autumn; a tropical green garden, where there seemed likely to be parrots and monkeys any second. And so on. As an adult now, Andrew valued that glass even more. Magic apart, it was old old old. The glass had all sorts of internal wrinkles and trapped bubbles, and the long-dead maker had somehow managed to make the colours both intense and misty at once."

When the magician Jocelyn Brandon Hope died he bequeathed Melstone House to his grandson Andrew. He also left his ‘field of care’: an area of strangeness surrounding the land around the house, whose boundary Andrew must walk in order to preserve its power.

Andrew had always loved the house, but he finds owning it a lot more complicated, aside from all the magic. There is Mrs Stock, the tyrannical housekeeper who won’t let him move the furniture and punishes him with her terrible cooking. Just as bad is the obsessive gardener who will only grow giant inedible vegetables. To add to his troubles, twelve year old orphan Aidan Cain suddenly arrives on the doorstep begging protection from magical stalkers, and Andrew’s sinister rich neighbour, Mr Brown, begins to encroach on the ‘field of care’. The one compensation is the gardener’s beautiful niece, Stashe. Things become stranger and stranger until all is made clear with the help of the enchanted glass itself.

Not since HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE has Diana Wynne Jones combined romance and humour so successfully as in this delightful novel with echoes of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Please allow me to participate in some craaaazy fangirl squealing:





Diana Wynne Jones is my favorite author. Words can not even describe how much I love her books (be ready for some of her books on Friday Favorites!). If I was only allowed to read one author for the rest of my life, it would be Diana Wynne Jones. She is just the best, just the absolute best if you want to read fantasy. I am the hugest fan of her work imaginable--I used to reread one of her books everyday.

So you can imagine how ecstatic, pleased, happy, excited, hyperventilatingly overjoyed I feel right now, even thinking about this new release.

Definitely my #1 read I'm looking forward to in 2010.


Please nod intelligently,while I sweep out of this blog like a very long procession of one person.

Release Date: April 6, 2010

That's only half a year from now! *begins counting seconds*


Teaser Tuesday: A Clockwork Orange

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should be Reading

Basically, the rules are:
* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall to a random page.
* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
* Share the title of the book that you're getting your teaser from... That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

I'm doing A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess:

pg 78

"I gave them the ultra-violence, the crasting, the dratsing, the old in-out in-out, the lot, right up to this night's veshch with the bugatty starry ptitsa with the mewing kots and koshkas. And I made sure my so-called droogs were in it, right up to the shiyah."


Delightfully mind-boggling? Yes. The Nadsat (slang) takes a bit getting used to, but I'm really liking A Clockwork Orange so far. I think part of the beauty of it is not knowing what half the words mean--and trying to figure them out. The Nadsat makes the violence Alex is participating in slightly more bearable.



The wonderful bloggers at B.A.M. Book Reviews have given me my first ever awards. So I'm super excited and grateful. Here they are:

Here are the rules of the "One Lovely Blog Award":
Accept the award, post it on your blog together with the name of the person who has granted the award, and his or her blog link.
Pass the award to 15 other blogs that you’ve newly discovered.
Remember to contact the bloggers to let them know they have been chosen for this award.

I'm passing this award to:
1. What We're Reading at Edge of Seventeen
2. Andrea at Buried in Books
3. Cindy at Princess Bookie
4. Allison at Read Into This!
5. Isa at Mixtures: Books...+
6. Stormi at
Books, Movies, Reviews! Oh My!
7. Kate at the Neverending Shelf
8. Tena at Crazy Book Slut
9. Dahlia at The Book Shopaholic
10. Nina at Happy Endings
11. Mimi at Platform 9 and a Bookshelf
12. Eleni at La Femme Readers
13. Catt at The Dreamer Reader
14. Misty at Book Rat
15. Rebecca at Everything to Do With Books

This award is for those followers who are the most loyal and give bloggers joy by commenting regularly and with their support. Pass it on to 3 to 7 followers who are as loyal as dragons.

I'm passing this award to:
1. Emilia at Punk Writer Kid
2. Amna at Amna Writes
3. Raven at Of Writing and Other Wonderful Things
4. Becca at Random Musings of An Aspiring Writer
You guys have been commenting since the beginning :)


This Week in Contests (10/25-10/31)

I decided that on Sundays, I'll do a rundown of book giveaways or contests around the YA blogosphere with deadlines this week, in addition to the sidebar I have. Because wining free stuff is pretty important.

Going by deadline:

Melissa Walker is giving away signed copy of A Great and Terrible Beauty.

The Neverending Shelf is holding a Trick or Treat Contest, which includes "a surprise goodie box filled with Halloween treats, books, and anything I decide to put in."

Katie's Book Blog is giving away a copy of Intertwined by Gena Showalter and a copy of Hearts at Stake.

Fantastic Book Review Blog is giving away a signed copy of Lament by Maggie Stiefvater.

Juiciliciousss Reviews is holding a book bundle contest. (One new book added every week)

Library Lounge Lizard is giving away a signed copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.

WORD for Teens is holding a Skellington-Palooza including Nobody's Princess, Peeps & The Last Days, and some Twilight fan stuff.

Good Books and Wine is holding These are a Few of My Favorite Things! Contest, which includes an inordinate amount of books.

What Bri Reads is giving away a copy of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott.

The Book Scout is giving away a copy of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick along with swag and a poster.

Oh, and Princess Bookie is finishing up with all the fantastic contests she held this week. Some are still open, like the Surprise Mini Challenges so hurry on over there!


Wow, some really great contests this week. I'm guessing it's the whole "It's Halloween!" thing--pretty cool to have the deadline then. Feel free to add any contests I missed in the comments--I'll revise the post accordingly.


I'm curious, which one would you like to win the most?

In My Mailbox [3]

This is a weekly meme hosted by Story Siren.

1. The Summer I turned Pretty by Jenny Han.Pretty cover!
2. Well Witched by Frances Hardinge. I'm pretty excited about this one because I absolutely adored Fly by Night.
3. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. I figured I'd get some classics reading in :)




Okay, so I'm holding a giveaway! I'm pretty excited because this is my first contest and all. It's for Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year.

Book Description:
Hell hath no fury...

Jenny Green is a spoiled teen "princess" and the newest junior at Montreal's Molson Academy. Jenny wants a fresh start in her new school, and she's curious to see what Montreal has to offer, most especially in the boy department. Beautiful, charming, and sharp-witted, Jenny has no trouble getting the boys to fall for her.

But when she discovers just how despicable the male gender can be -- with the lying, the cheating, and the utter disrespect -- she decides to make them pay...with their lives.

Prize: One lucky winner will receive a copy of Jenny Green's Killer Junior Year

Requirements: You must be a follower to enter, and this contest is only open in the US (sorry!) . Please leave your email in the comment. If you really feel uncomfortable about it, you don't have to. Just make sure there's a way to contact you, or that you email me (within 3 days) if you win!

+1 Follower
+1 If you add me to your blog roll
+2 Every time you blog about this (sidebar or post) or twitter about it. Link to it in the comment, please.
+5 each time you refer someone to be a follower at this blog. Come back and leave their name in the comment please!

Ends: 11/13 at 11:00 AM EST. Ooh, unlucky Friday the 13th. But one of you will be lucky that day, since that's when I'll announce the winners!

So go forth and spread the word! And enter, of course :D

Mini Challenge (Princess Bookie)

This for the mini challenge over at Princess Bookie.

Name 8 Of Your Favorite Things (not all books either LOL):
1.The smell of old books (preferably mine)
2.Fall leaves, fluttering to the ground
3.My family
4.Rain, both the afterwards-musty-smell and the sound of it hitting the window
5.Chocolate. Lots of it.
6.Memories of Europe
8.My computer, especially when the keyboard is being tapped away on.

Not really "things" things.But they're favorites all the same :)

Review: The Shifter

Book Description:
Nya is an orphan struggling for survival in a city crippled by war. She is also a Taker—with her touch, she can heal injuries, pulling pain from another person into her own body. But unlike her sister, Tali, and the other Takers who become Healers' League apprentices, Nya's skill is flawed: She can't push that pain into pynvium, the enchanted metal used to store it. All she can do is shift it into another person, a dangerous skill that she must keep hidden from forces occupying her city. If discovered, she'd be used as a human weapon against her own people.

Rumors of another war make Nya's life harder, forcing her to take desperate risks just to find work and food. She pushes her luck too far and exposes her secret to a pain merchant eager to use her shifting ability for his own sinister purposes. At first Nya refuses, but when Tali and other League Healers mysteriously disappear, she's faced with some difficult choices. As her father used to say, principles are a bargain at any price; but how many will Nya have to sell to get Tali back alive?

My Opinion:
From the very first page, The Shifter draws you in--the scene opens with Nya discussing the best way to steal chicken eggs. Which to me is pure brilliance.

The first thing I thought? Boy, does Nya have a voice. A great voice. Within the first pages alone, by dint of wonderful dialogue, voice, and action, The Shifter promises to be a great read--and the rest of the book certainly lives up to and even exceeds this expectation.

I really liked the premise, since it is something fresh in fantasy. The idea of a girl with the power to take and give pain is just plain fascinating--and the decision she faces of whether to use her power for good or evil is equally intriguing. But Nya is desperate to hide her gift from people who might use her talent to hurt others. Even though Nya could easily have become heartless and uncaring because of the situation she's in, she isn't. Nya is just absolutely wonderful, with her humorous, charismatic voice and caring nature--helping anyone from her sister, a boy she meets, or people in need. She is definitely a strong female protagonist, which is something I admire.

I love the world that Hardy created--I thought it was well fleshed out, and the conflict between the occupying Baseeri and the Gevegians is very believable. Nya herself is Gevegian; a war orphan that has fallen on hard times since the Baseeri took over.

The Shifter presents some serious moral decisions: Nya is faced with many hard choices throughout the book--wealth and everything she wants versus using her power in a way that she knows isn't right. Of course, this is all expertly intertwined into a fast-paced, action-packed fantasy that had me flipping pages feverishly. And there was some cute-maybe-romance to accompany Nya's adventurous exploits.

I couldn't get enough--I wanted more Nya, more of her wittiness and charm, more of the world portrayed in The Shifter. This book is just pure enjoyment--it will transport you to a whole other, wondrous world filled with Takers, Shifters, and magic of more than one kind.

I give it a 9/10

Green Background! Err...I mean, blue! I mean, err....wait a second....

Yes? No? Maybe so?
I tried out light blue, light purple, and a pinkish grapefruit color as well. I settled on the green because it is sort of soothing to me. Did you guys like the white better?

Or maybe I should try a different color or do a background template?

Ooh now I've gotten a new UPDATE: newer UPDATE: newestUPDATE: NEWESTEST background.

I can be indecisive, as you might gather. So whaddya think?


Friday Favorites [2]

Oh boy. Aren't you guys proud of me? I'm actually doing a Friday Favorite on a...*gasp* FRIDAY! Wahoo!

So I decided on this Friday's pick: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. Now, you might've heard of Dodie Smith, you might not have. You've certainly (I hope) seen A Hundred and One Dalmations (if you haven't what is wrong with you?) and Dodie Smith is the genius that wrote that book. So it's no surprise that I Capture the Castle, her young adult-ish first novel, is absolutely fantastic.


Book Description:

I Capture the Castle tells the story of seventeen-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. Here she strives, over six turbulent months, to hone her writing skills. She fills three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries. Her journals candidly chronicle the great changes that take place within the castle's walls, and her own first descent into love. By the time she pens her final entry, she has "captured the castle"-- and the heart of the reader-- in one of literature's most enchanting entertainments.

My Ravings:

I Capture the Castle is a heartwarming, coming-of-age tale that has one of the most realistic narrators I've ever read. When I found a tattered copy of this book at an used book sale, I never expected it to be quite so wonderful.

After reading I Capture the Castle, I really can believe that if I happened upon a moldering, leased out castle in England, I'd find Cassandra sitting on top of the kitchen sink with her diary, scribbling along in her cryptic shorthand . Or find her sister Rose, who "looks particularly fetching by firelight because she is a pinkish person; her skin has a pink glow and her hair is a pinkish gold, very light and feathery." Or even Topaz, Cassandra's flighty stepmother and former model. Topaz has a habit of communing with nature at night, minus clothes--and according to Cassandra, she is a great beauty. She married Cassandra's Father in his "one spasm of sociability." Father might just have the worst temper imaginable in a character--evidence found in a rib-cracking cake-knife brandishing incident related within the first few pages.

The characters are just so real, and alive. Cassandra is perhaps the most unforgettable narrator I've ever come across--witty, insightful, and altogether lovable. The voice throughout this novel is so strong and wonderful--I could read the lines penned by Cassandra over and over again. Actually, I have. And upon each re-reading, the greatness of this novel never ceases to amaze me.

Perhaps it's because I can relate so much to Cassandra. She's an aspiring writer too, and the diary is her attempt to improve her writing. This is classic-coming-of-age story; Cassandra is seventeen, ready to do something with her life, and tired of being referred to as the "kid". Her sister Rose is determined to marry herself off to the richest suitor possible--an attitude as archaic as one found in 19th century novels, which the two sisters spend their time reading. Their father is delightfully unsociable, "as far as we know, he does nothing but read detective novels from the library." Add a castle into the mix, and the girls have come to have a rather romantic take on life. Let me assure you, the castle mentioned in the title will not disappoint. *

When two rich, young Americans turn up, it seems that Rose might just get her way, as she always does. Cassandra is caught up with trying to coax her father into sociability again. So when she falls in love for the first time, it's somewhat unexpected--but ultimately endearing. The ending will not dissappoint--it stays true to Cassandra. How I wish there had been a sequel!

This book is just...just...I've run out of suitable compliments. I don't think I even have the strength to put into words how much I adore this book. I laughed, I cried **, I smiled. I rooted for Cassandra the whole time, while I savored each beautiful word, each sentence filled with a poignant, unforgettable voice.

Do me a favor. Do yourself a favor.


*(I will not drool over the setting. I. WILL. NOT. Okay, maybe I will. I've always harbored a love for castles. So can you imagine how much I love the setting of this book? Two words: CASTLE. CRUMBLING. My gawd, Dodie Smith is a genius. I'm pretty sure I Capture the Castle has had a profound effect on my life--when you find me at 50, sitting in a ramshackle castle, blame this book. Or praise it.)

**It was the onions, I swear.


Waiting on Wednesday [2]

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases. It's hosted by Breaking the Spine.

This week's pick: Deadly Little Lies by Laurie Faria Stolarz

Last fall, sixteen-year-old Camelia fell for Ben, the mysterious new boy at school who turned out to have a very mysterious gift--pyschometry, the ability to sense the future through touch. But just as Camelia and Ben's romance began to heat up, he abruptly left town. Brokenhearted, Camelia has spent the last few months studying everything she can about psychometry, and experiencing her own strange brushes with premonition. Camelia wonders if Ben's abilities have somehow rubbed off on her. Can the power of psychometry be transferred?

Even once Ben returns to school, Camelia can't get close enough to share her secret with him. Despite the romantic tension between them, Ben remains aloof, avoiding contact. Then when an unexpected kiss leads to a frightening argument, Camelia makes the painful decision to let Ben go and move on. Adam, the hot new guy at work, seems good for her in ways Ben wasn't. Adam is easygoing, and seems to really care about her.
But when Camelia and Adam start dating, a surprising love triangle results. A chilling sequence of events upturns secrets from Ben's past--and Adam's. Someone is lying, and it's up to Camelia to figure out who-before it's too late.


Wow. Doesn't this sound great? I mean, what's not to like about pyschometry? Or a love triangle? I'm certainly looking forward to this one!

Release Date: November 10, 2009


Teaser Tuesday: Wings

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should be Reading

Basically, the rules are:
* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall to a random page.
* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
* Share the title of the book that you're getting your teaser from... That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

I'm doing Wings by Aprilynne Pike today:

pg. 150

She met his eyes and for a moment couldn't look away. His bright green eyes held onto hers. He looked mostly human, but there was something--she couldn't quite put her finger on it--that seemed to indicate that he was more than he appeared to be.

Ooh. Doesn't he sound nice? What's not to like about bright green eyes? I'm having a good time reading Wings so far :D


Friday Favorites [1]

I know, it's not exactly Friday. Days are a state of mind anyways, aren't they? Haha, maybe not.

Anyhoo, I've decided I'm starting a weekly thing on Friday (or on this case Monday) where I'll review a book that I absolutely love, that's been a favorite for a while. A book that I'd give a 11/10. A book that I'd be happy to spend the rest of my days on a deserted island reading. A book that I've reread and reread and reread because I love it to death so much. Heck, a book that is the
reason I love reading.

Be prepared for muchos gushing. And proclamations that if you haven't read a pick for Friday Favorites, you're living an unfulfilled life.

oday's pick is The Book Thief. Let me tell you, this is one of the best books I've ever read in my life. Words can't even describe it's brilliance. And if you haven't read it yet, you'd better get yourself to a bookstore like there's a lion chasing after you or something. (Okay, I'm bad a similes). But I thought I'd attempt to talk about the greatness of this book anyways:

To take a quote from the Book Thief directly, it's about:

It’s a small story really, about, among other things:

  • A girl
  • Some words
  • An accordionist
  • Some fanatical Germans
  • A Jewish fist fighter
  • And quite a lot of thievery
My Ravings:

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak is a beautiful novel. Upon reading it, it’s no surprise that it is has garnered numerous accolades including New York Times Bestseller and the Michael L. Printz award. The Book Thief is a novel that stands out from all others, with wonderful writing, lovable characters, and a heart-wrenching story.

The novel is narrated by Death himself, who proves to be more afraid of humans then we are of him. It’s wartime, and Death is busier than ever carting off souls to heaven. But he’s inexplicably fascinated by one Liesel Meminger, a young girl living with foster parents in Nazi Germany. From the night Liesel picks up The Grave Digger’s Handbook, she harbors a love for words and books. It’s no surprise that she takes books where she can get them—stolen anywhere from book burnings to the mayor’s house.

Haunted by nightmares of her dead brother, Liesel finds comfort in her Papa, a silver-eyed man who might just be the most endearing character in the book. He is always there for Liesel—teaching her to read every night, keeping her secrets, and playing accordion for her. The Book Thief has a whole host of lovable characters: Mama, who is a
a "small wardrobe with a coat hung over it" and insults Liesel at every turn despite having the biggest heart imaginable; and Rudy, Liesel’s best friend who is hopelessly in love with her. Rudy is at his most memorable when he paints himself black to be like Jesse Jackson, or when he asks Liesel—as he does many times throughout the book, “How about a kiss, Saumensch?”

As the World War II rages on, Liesel’s family falls on hard times. When her Papa takes in a feather-haired Jew named Max and hides him from the Nazis, Liesel finds another friend who encourages her love of words. But the war and the Nazi regime create danger for Liesel and her family—and they may not be able to live through it unharmed.

The Book Thief has the kind of brilliant writing that readers can only marvel at—the kind where you go back over what you’ve just read and read it over again. Zusak’s writing is intensely lyrical and poetic, and each page of the novel holds a beautiful description.

Some of my favorites:

"The secret sat in her mouth. It made itself comfortable. It crossed its legs."

”'The last time I saw her was red. The sky was like soup, boiling and stirring. In some places it was burned. There were black crumbs, and pepper, streaked among the redness.”

“I am haunted by humans.”

"The sky was dripping. Like a tap that a child has tried its hardest to turn off but hasn't quite managed."

"Papa's eyes started corroding"

"His tie is a pendulum, long dead in its clock."

"By the time I was finished, the sky was yellow, like burning newspaper. If I looked closely, I could see the words, reporting the headlines, commentating on the process of the war and so forth. How I'd have loved to pull oit all down, to screw up the newspaper sky and toss it away."

Really, I could go on forever. I could quote the whole book, since it's entirety is so wonderfully worded.

The ending is devastating, but once read, The Book Thief is unforgettable due to its haunting beauty.



This Week in Contests (10/18-10/24)

I decided that on Sundays, I'll do a rundown of book giveaways or contests around the YA blogsophere with deadlines this week, in addition to the sidebar I have. Because wining free stuff is pretty important.


Going by deadline:

Jen Nadol is giving away a ARC of The Mark, plus some bookmarks, notepad, and a choice of hardback.

Pure Imagination is giving away a copy of The Everafter by Amy Huntler.

Library Lounge Lizard is giving away a Nancy Holder Bundle, which includes five books from the Wicked Series, delish mints, Pretty Little Devil, and Possessions. Each book is signed.

The Book Scout is giving away a copy of Lady Macbeth's Daughter.

Reverie Book Reviews is holding a Bday/Blogaversary Extravaganza which includes an inordinate amount of books. There's five winners, and I think the grand prize winner gets something like 6 books.


Not as many contests as last week, but there are whole lot of them with deadlines on 10/30 or 10/31, and the prizes this week are pretty awesome. So get ready and good luck to those of you entering!

I'm curious, which one would you want to win the most?


In My Mailbox [2]

A weekly meme hosted by Story Siren.

Not really new releases, since I'm getting library books (using my mom's card because I have library fines it's convenient)

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
Eon by Alison Goodman


Friday Night...

I sweep into Barnes and Noble with 3 hours, 47 minutes and 22 seconds till closing. And nearly swoon at the sight of a multitude of pages: ink pressed firmly into snow-white once-trees, spines bound both thick and thin, clovers gleaming.


Shiny, new books.

I head straight for the YA section. Stroke a few titles, eye the covers, skim the blurbs. Marvel at the newness and wonder if they're...if they're...I wonder if in between those straight papers and smeared black lines, there's magic waiting to be discovered. Every time I pick up a book, I have this hope that it will turn out to be that book. The book that I won't be able to stop thinking about. The book that I'm awed to read. The book that I wish I could read again and again and again.

So many choices. Rows of teeming novels, stacked haphazardly, all promising something, whispering their stories that they itch to tell. But I have to choose. My hand hovers over a few I wish I could pick up, but I tell myself, next time...the very next...

When I've loaded myself up with one-to-many books to carry, the sides and the corners poke into my arms. Me, staggering under the weight of thousands of words, as I toddle off in search of a seat. Pages of stories. Death, love, happiness, magic, angst, everything. A whole world. Waiting.

Further sidling. Comfy chair number 1 taken. Comfy chair number 2 taken. Comfy chair number 3 taken. I begin to despair.

But eventually, I find a secluded corner. The music is distracting at first; the elevator kind that jangles and encroaches. The sounds of people chattering and the low hum of blenders at the cafe envelops me.

I pick up a book. Open it, so that it lays flat, the spine crunching ever so slightly since it's been the first time anyone's read it. The cramped words sprawl over the pages, exhibiting a bizarre sort of beauty. And I begin.



Waiting On Wednesday [1]

This is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that spotlights eagerly awaited upcoming releases!

This week's pick: Splendor: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen.

New beginnings.

Shocking revelations.

Unexpected endings.

As spring turns into summer, Elizabeth relishes her new role as a young wife, while her sister, Diana, searches for adventure abroad. But when a surprising clue about their father's death comes to light, the Holland girls wonder at what cost a life of splendor comes.

Carolina Broad, society's newest darling, fans a flame from her past, oblivious to how it might burn her future. Penelope Schoonmaker is finally Manhattan royalty—but when a real prince visits the city, she covets a title that comes with a crown. Her husband, Henry, bravely went to war, only to discover that his father's rule extends well beyond New York's shores and that fighting for love may prove a losing battle.

In the dramatic conclusion to the bestselling Luxe series, New York's most dazzling socialites chase dreams, cling to promises, and tempt fate. As society watches what will become of the city's oldest families and newest fortunes, one question remains: Will its stars fade away or will they shine ever brighter?


I really enjoyed Luxe and Rumors, the two previous books in this series, so I'm really excited for Splendor's release. Doesn't the dress on the cover look just gorgeous? This is the last book, so I'm anxious to find out how it's all going to end!

Release Date: October 27, 2009


Teaser Tuesday: Leviathan

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly book meme hosted by Should be Reading

Basically, the rules are:
* Grab your current read.
* Let the book fall to a random page.
* Share two (2) "teaser" sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
* Share the title of the book that you're getting your teaser from... That way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you've given!
* Please avoid spoilers!

And I'm doing Leviathan by Scott Westerfield.

Page 60

Deryn Sharp smelled the hydrogen spilling in the air, the scent like bitter almonds. She was falling..."


Review: Devil's Kiss

Devil's Kiss by Sarwat Chadda

Reading level: Young Adult
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Hyperion Book CH (September 1, 2009)
Price: $17.99

Book Description:
As the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar, Bilquis SanGreal grew up knowing she wasn't normal. Instead of hanging out at the mall or going on dates, she spends her time training as a soldier in her order's ancient battle against the Unholy.

Billi's cloistered life is blasted apart when her childhood friend, Kay, returns from Jerusalem, gorgeous and with a dangerous chip on his shoulder. He's ready to reclaim his place in Billi's life, but she's met someone new: amber-eyed Michael, who seems to understand her like no one else, effortlessly claiming a stake in her heart.

But the Templars are called to duty before Billi can enjoy the pleasant new twist to her life. One of the order's ancient enemies has resurfaced, searching for a treasure that the Templars have protected for hundreds of years -- a cursed mirror powerful enough to kill all of London's firstborn. To save her city from catastrophe, Billi will have to put her heart aside and make sacrifices greater than any of the Templars could have imagined.

My Opinion:
I don't know why, but I didn't really have high expectations for Devil's Kiss. So I was surprised and excited when this book managed to hold my attention from the first page to the last. Actually, it did more than hold my attention. I was totally and utterly absorbed into Billi's world from the minute I picked it up.

Billi is a strong female heroine. She can hold her own in fights, and she doesn't let anyone push her around. Actually, she reminded me a bit of Buffy--she's got the whole tough female out to save the world thing going on. Billi has run-ins with the whole host of chilling, evil creatures: corrupt archangels, ghosts, devils, vampires, and even Satan himself. And I have to admit it, she handles herself pretty well.

I loved the mythology and the religion intertwined in this novel. I'm a complete sucker for history so I thought it was really fascinating how all the ancient texts and beliefs from different religions and cultures combined in this book. I also thought it was a very intriguing concept to have a near-destitute Knights Templar soldiering on in modern-day London, whose goal is to fight the Unholy. Actually, Knights Templar has fallen on hard times--there's only nine members left in the book, and Billi herself is reluctant to be a part of it. But her strict father, who happens to be the Master of the Knights Templar, has forced her to train constantly for the last five years and join the Knights.

Devil's Kiss is chock-full of action and is extremely fast-paced. One minute Billi's battling monsters, the next minute she's saving the world, and the next she's going out on a date. There's a ton of blood and gore and death. And there's lots of tension. Billi literally has the weight of a couple million lives on her shoulders, and her actions determine whether those people will live.

Billi came across to me as a solid character, and I really liked her friend-maybe-more-than-friend, Kay. She has a rocky relationship with her father, which provides a lot of conflict throughout the story. However, I didn't feel like the villain acted suitably scary. I mean, I don't want to give away any spoilers, but the villain in this book should've been immensely powerful and wise--which wasn't reflected so much in his dialogue. Other than that, I can't complain about anything else. The plot has twists and turns that left me reeling, and a devastating but powerful ending. Devil's Kiss is extremely well written and full of lovely descriptive passages.

If you're looking for a fast-paced action novel with a strong female heroine, Devil's Kiss is your best bet. I had a great time reading it! If you enjoyed City of Bones, Rampant, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you'll fall in love with this book.

I give it a 8.5/10


This Week In Contests (10/11-10/17)

I decided that on Sundays, I'll do a rundown of book giveaways or contests around the YA blogsophere with deadlines this week, in addition to the sidebar I have. Because wining free stuff is pretty important.

Going by deadline:

Book Reviews by Jess is holding a contest for a signed ARC of Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick.

In honor of having 800+ followers, Story Siren is giving away 3 ARCs: Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland; The Dark Divine by Bree Despain; and Darklight by Lesley Livingston

The Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia is giving away away a copy of Leviathan by Scott Westerfield

The Hiding Spot is giving away a copy of How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford.

The Book Scout is giving away a signed copy of The Ex Games by Jennifer Echols.

Fantastic Book Review is giving away a signed copy of Soulless by Gail Carriger


Rebecca's Book Blog is giving away a copy of Ice by Sarah Beth Durst

I was a teenage book geek is giving away a copy of Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

And that wraps up the freebie contests this week!

Feeling Lucky? I'm not really, but one can always practice voodoo hope.

I'm curious, which one would you like to win the most?

Now, I'm off to do incantations in the moonlight and wish upon my lucky four-leaf clover my homework.

Good luck everybody :)


Wanted: Dead or Alive

I'm about to enter my local library


A brown, tattered paper floats gently down and comes to rest at my feet.

I snatch at it.

And read it.

Read it yourselves.

Wow. I wonder who the Book Bandit is. There's rumors flying around that she was last seen wearing a blue shirt.

*tucks away blue shirt in clothes hamper*

Hahahaha. What a coincidence! Plenty of other people wear blue shirts.

*laughs nervously*

And then this one guy came up and told me I kinda looked like the person in the picture.

Those claims are UNSUBSTANTIATED, I tell you. He's clearly mad.

It is so not not not not not not me.

It's definitely not me. Yep.

I don't think I'll go to the library for a while...not that there's any reason for that. I can go to the library anytime I want and I can check out books, actually I can't. I don't have any library fines at all. I'm just being cautious and conscientious of my welfare. I mean, it's best to avoid the library because....because....the Book Bandit is on the loose! And no one knows when she'll strike next!

I'm just doing my duty here, warning everybody about this criminal because it's my mastermind plot so that no one will expect me if I'm the one who's publicizing it to keep everyone safe.

review policy

Revised: 6/15/10

in which a girl reads is first and foremost a book review blog. I accept both middle grade and young adult literature for review and promotion.

What interests me in a book?

In YA, my favorite genres are literary (think The Book Thief, Jellicoe Road, Wintergirls, Looking for Alaska, and The Absolutely True Diary), contemporary (think Cracked Up to Be, the Year of Secret Assignments, If I Stay), fantasy (think Sabriel, The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray, Graceling, any thing Tamora Pierce) and dystopian (think the Hunger Games). In middle grade fiction, I'm absolutely in love with children's fantasy (think anything by Diana Wynne Jones or Frances Hardinge). Of course, I'm open to other genres as well, and there's no telling what I'll fall in love with.

I'm particularly interested books that have one (or more) of the following: coming-of-age storylines, character-driven plots, strong female protagonists, magical realism, steampunk, books set in a boarding school/castle/ Europe/ road trip, quirky characters, a humorous tone, and a unique voice. I'm in love with all things historical fantasy. And most of all, I love words. Beautiful ones. I'll fangirl over lyrical prose any day.

Based off of my track record with reviews and my general dislikes in fiction, it would not be in the best interest of your book promotion if your book contains/falls into the following categories: run-of-the-mill paranormal romance, or a one that has a main character whose every waking moment of their life is filled with pain and misery. It is unlikely that I'll write a positive review for a book dominated by either of those elements.

I do not review nonfiction, ebooks, adult genre books, or self-published books.

So, what's a review like?

A review usually consists of:

1) Summary--typically the blurb found on the book.
2) An image of the book cover.
3) My Opinion: At least 4-5 paragraph review that shares my opinion of the book regarding things such as plot, setting, characters, description, cover, general writing, or anything else I take notice of.
4) Rating : I rate it on a scale from 1-10, 1 being the lowest score and 10 being the highest.

I post my reviews on the blog, Goodreads, and upon request, Amazon.

I can't guarantee a positive review since I strive to be honest in my assessment of the book. I do tend to have a more critical view of books and won't hesitate to point out things I do and don't like.

On promotion:

Lately I've been getting a lot of emails about participating in book tours, giveaways, etc. However, due to a busy schedule, I am limiting my participation in book tours. I also MUCH prefer to promote books I've read already. It's sort of ineffective/strange to be promoting a book I know nothing about.

That said, I really like to do author interviews. So if that's of interest to you, email me! I'm also all for holding giveaways of books as well.

For teen writer interviews, please don't email me asking to be featured. I only feature writers whose writing I'm familiar with.

Any further questions, book recommendations, comments, concerns?

Email me!

Email: chocowrites@gmail.com

Note: I do not respond to all emails. Feel free to re-email me after a few weeks if you would like a response and haven't gotten one.


In My Mailbox [1]

My first ever In My Mailbox, a weekly meme hosted by Story Siren. Looking forward to reading these!

Review: The Hollow

Book Description:
When Abbey's best friend, Kristen, vanishes at the bridge near Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, everyone else is all too quick to accept that Kristen is dead?and rumors fly that her death was no accident. Abbey goes through the motions of mourning her best friend, but privately, she refuses to believe that Kristen is really gone. Then she meets Caspian, the gorgeous and mysterious boy who shows up out of nowhere at Kristen's funeral, and keeps reappearing in Abbey's life. Caspian clearly has secrets of his own, but he's the only person who makes Abbey feel normal again...but also special.

Just when Abbey starts to feel that she might survive all this, she learns a secret that makes her question everything she thought she knew about her best friend. How could Kristen have kept silent about so much? And could this secret have led to her death? As Abbey struggles to understand Kristen's betrayal, she uncovers a frightening truth that nearly unravels her—one that will challenge her emerging love for Caspian, as well as her own sanity.

My Opinion:

Would you look at that cover? It's got to be one the best covers I've ever seen. Beautiful. As soon as I saw it, I had to read it.

I loved the setting and therefore the feel of The Hollow. This book portrayed a town with the romantic, small-town feel that made me want to pack up my bags and move to Sleepy Hollow-- the abode of the legendary Headless Horseman. I thought that was a very intriguing setting choice. I mean, the main character Abby gets to hang around graveyards (no, she's not a vampire or vampire slayer), talk to Washington Irving's grave, and learn about The Legend of Sleepy Hollow while the leaves turn on the New England trees and town celebrates it's historical importance. I don't think a setting can get better than that.

But truthfully, I'm afraid that The Hollow didn't really live up to its gorgeous cover. I had trouble finishing it. It was an extremely long book--about 550 pages. I felt like not that much happened in those pages. A lot of the book was just Abby's day-to-day happenings. There wasn't a real sense of urgency throughout the book, and although there were some nice descriptions I was a bit irked by the over usage of gerunds. However, I felt like there characters were realistic: Abby was a bit whiny but I thought she was fleshed out well. And her hobby of perfume-making was absolutely fascinating. I had no idea people actually made perfume for fun! I also thought that it was great that Verday created a character that had ambition in their life--in Abby's case, she wanted to open a perfume shop.

I wasn't a huge fan of Abby and Caspian's relationship (which by the way is what the book is really about--Kristen's death is a subplot, not the main conflict in the book) because the dialogue between them was a bit cheesy. I've never heard any teenagers talk to each other like that, but perhaps it just came across that way to me. The book really didn't pick up the pace until the last fifty pages or so, but the ending was so abrupt that it left me feeling confused. But I suppose I can chalk that up to the fact that there's two more sequels coming up.

I really wish I could've enjoyed The Hollow more. I was disappointed with some aspects of the book, but the cover is gorgeous and it has a lovely setting.

I give it a 4/10

The Excommunication of the Blog (partly)

This is henceforth In Which a Girl Reads. Without the Writes (or Eats. Well only when I'm distracted). Because I've been thinking about it for a while: I like doing book reviews. And I thought I'd start focusing on that more.

What brought this on? I dunno. I'm in the midst of a categorization mood (which unfortunately does not extend to cleaning my bedroom). I like books. I like writing book reviews.

I now start afresh, and go out in the world to commence book reviews! And Waiting on Wednesday and In my Mailbox and all the goodly stuff they have in the YA book blogosphere. (that's a word, right?)



Er. I don't really know what else to say. Except...BRACE YOURSELVES!


Review: Hush, Hush

Taken down until I can get my stance straight with girl falls in love with [insert paranormal creature]


Review: Shiver

Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater, has been getting a whole lot of buzz lately- NY Times Bestseller and movie rights sold within a few weeks of it's release. I thought I'd check it out.

Book Description:

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf--her wolf--is a chilling presence she can't seem to live without. Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human . . . until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It's her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human--or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

My Opinion

I think Maggie Stiefvater is a wonderful writer. She's particularly strong in descriptions--some of them in the book were just plain beautiful, the kinds that you go back over to read again and marvel at.

I also thought it was really interesting to have the werewolves change due to temperature. It's something I've never heard before; a refreshing take on werewolf mythology.

However, I felt like the book was a bit slow moving. I don't know why--it's just that I've never been one for pages and pages of pure romance. And while I was reading Shiver, I kept getting this tingly feeling down my spine that I'd read this story before. It's plotline is remarkably similar to Twilight-- girl falls in love with supernatural being that ,stalks, ahem, protects her. But Shiver is certainly a work within it's own right--and an impressive one at that. I can certainly understand why it's becoming so popular.

Sam, with his yellow eyes and penchant for composing song lyrics, is adorable. Grace is a suitably strong heroine and isn't one to be swept off of her feet. She's no blubbering weakling, that's for certain. The first time she and Sam kiss, she asks "Is that all you got?" Which is a nice change from all the fainting romance heroines have been doing lately.

I loved how the story was narrated from two points of view--Grace and Sam. But I found myself having to flip back every chapter to find out which one was narrating. Both accounts had the exact same voice, even though one was told by a teenage girl and the other by a werewolf boy.

But I can forgive that since Shiver was a great read. I'm not as crazy about it as many of the people who've read it, I think it's more a case of personal taste. Upon reflection, I can certainly see it's merits and I'm not surprised at all that many readers are in love with it. And I'm sure it's going to be the next big series, so get ready for the ride. I wonder who's going to star as Sam in the movie...

I give it a 8/10