In My Mailbox [12]

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

So I stole, borrowed my Mom's library card and got these two pretties:

Bought from Amazon:

From the lovely Becky at The Bookette:

1. Fallen by Lauren Kate: So I'm not ashamed to say that most of the reason I wanted to read this is because of the cover. Definitely one of the coolest covers I've ever seen and hopefully this will break the reading slump I've been having with paranormal romances.

2. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: Again, another one of those crazy bestselling hyped books. I feel left out not having read it yet, haha. Again, hoping to break the paranormal romance slump.

3. Sweethearts by Sara Zarr: I love this cover. So, so cute. And I'm proud of myself because this definitely falls under the reading more contemporary resolution.

4. The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh: From the book description, this sounds like exactly the sort of middle grade novel I'd love. Also, the great review from The Bookette convinced me of it's amazing-ness so I can't wait to read it!


Vote for your top ten favorite middle grade books of all time!

Elizabeth Bird over at the School Library Journal is conducting a poll on the Top 100 Children's Fictional Chapter Books. And she's asking everyone to go on over and shoot her an email with your vote by January 30th.

The rules are below, but check out this link for the official post.


The Top 100 Children's Fictional Chapter Books Poll

Here are the rules:


Vote for your top ten middle grade books of all time (not just this year or last year) by 11:59 Eastern on January 31, 2010. This will NOT include young adult books (for kids 13 and up) or early readers (like Mr. Putter and Tabby or Frog and Toad Are Friends). How do you determine if a book is middle grade? Well, I'm very fond of Powell's, so why don't you use their site if you're uncertain. These are books for kids who can read full chapters on their own and who are under the age of 13. You may, of course, write a justification for a book if you feel it really does belong on your list. I have the final right of refusal, however.


List these books in your order of preference. I cannot stress this enough. Your #1 chapter book would be the one you feel is the most important, so I will give it 10 points. Your #2 choice will be only 9 points. And so on and such. So be very careful how you order your books. During the picture book poll people would just list their ten willy-nilly, but that haphazard order led to a more creative final result than some would have liked.


Submit these books to me at Fusenumber8@gmail.com. Write "Chapter Book Poll" in the subject line. I'd rather you didn't leave your votes in my comment feature on this site since it's finicky and difficult to use (plus I want everyone's votes to be a surprise).


If you like, you can submit what you like about each title. At the beginning of February I will tally up the totals and I will pull from the submitted pieces why one reader or another liked a particular book (naming the reader, of course). That way we'll be able to hear from a whole mess of people why they love one book or another. I will then count down from 100 to 1 the top choices of what folks feel the best children's chapter books of all time are.


So here's what I'm thinking of off the top of my head, I might edit or change it if I think of any new books! :D Not necessarily in order of favorites, I kept remembering more and more.

1. Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
2. The Witches by Roald Dahl
3. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
4. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
5. Fly by Night by Frances Hardinge
6. Half Magic by Edward Eager
7. The BFG by Roald Dahl
8. Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
9. The Little Princess by Frances Burnett
10. The Windsinger by William Nicholson
11. A Wrinkle In Time by Madeline L’Engle.
12. Matilda by Roald Dahl
13. Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield
14. The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards
15. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
16. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
17. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
18. The Blue Sword by Robin Mckinley
19. Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine
20. The Moffats by Eleaonor Estes
21. The Nine Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones
22. The Akhenaten Adventure by P.B. Kerr
23. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
24. The High King by Lloyd Alexander
25. Charlotte's Web by E. B. White
26. The Secret Garden by Frances Burnett
27. The Pinhoe Egg by Diana Wynne Jones
28. The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas
29. Erec Rex: Dragon's Eye by Kaza Kingsley
30. Which Witch? by Eva Ibbotson
31. Island of the Aunts by Eva Ibbotson
32. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
33. The Magicians of Caprona by Diana Wynne Jones
34. The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
35. The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Okay. I'm stopping, I'm stopping...RIGHT NOW*. I keep thinking of more and more and more, which shouldn't be surprising since I love middle grade fiction (shh, but I actually like it more than YA, DON'T TELL ANYONE!). Hopefully this list refreshed your memory a bit?

Wait. Wait...how am I EVER going to pick just 10?! ::::heartbreaks::::

But while I deliberate and hesitate, get your votes in! IT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT DECISION OF YOUR LIFE!**

* I'm not really, but I've stopped listing them here, haha.
**not guaranteed, some conditions such as choice of college, spouse, religion, or career may make this statement void.


RIP J.D. Salinger

"Boy, when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you're dead? Nobody."

J.D. Salinger passed away yesterday, but it made headlines today. He was 91 years old.

The J.D. Salinger of Catcher in the Rye fame. Of the seclude-myself-and-not-publish-a-book-for-40-years fame.

I'm not going to say I'm bawling my eyes out or something because I didn't know the guy. I just knew the book and all. Knew Holden. So maybe I did know him, just a bit. Because every author's main character has a bit of them in them. So Holden is a bit of Salinger, maybe more. Holden Caulfield, who's the greatest antihero I've ever read, who wanders around New York after being expelled from prep school, who's the champion of teenage angst and rebellion. Who has this amazing, voice--like boy, it really is amazing. So amazing that it's rang true since the book's publication in 1951.

Catcher in the Rye has been censored and banned all over the place but it's still managed to sell 65 million copies since it's just so great. Not phony at all. I mean, I'm sure it's a lot of people's favorite book. For what it's worth, I loved it. And thank you Salinger for writing it.

Anyway, people are already getting into a frenzy and speculating about all the possible books Salinger kept locked around in his safe. Because even though he didn't publish anything since the 1960s, he still wrote everyday. He wrote for himself. Which I think is the greatest form of writing. When you don't do it for anybody else, but just because you love it.

Maybe we'll be seeing some more books by Salinger in bookstores in the upcoming years. Maybe not.

But, RIP Salinger. You were eccentric, sure. You have a very interesting bio on wikipedia, that I still remember reading from a couple months ago and just going, "Boy, that was fascinating."

But you were brilliant and I loved Catcher in the Rye when I read it last summer.

Loved it.

Still do.

"I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all… I'm standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff - I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye."

quotes from Catcher in the Rye

Read more about it here:



Waiting on Wednesday [11]

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

This week's pick: The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan (SQUEE!):


Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane.

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives.

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set--has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.



Okay, Rick Riordan is awesomness. He's the author of the Percy Jackson series. You know, THAT SERIES. The series of lovely books about Poseidon's son that are amazingly voicey, that have been on the NYT Bestselling List for months on end, and that have about the coolest chapter titles ever.

And I love Egyptian myth. I love London. I love traveling. I love museums, and I'd give my arm to get to got to the BRITISH MUSEUM.


And I am so proud of myself for not getting all fangirlish because I WAS SERIOUSLY TEMPTED JUST TO CAP EVERYTHING AND GO EXCLAMATION MARK CRAZY, LIKE EVERYWHERE!!!!!! (<---- sort of like that).

Because I'm so excited. So, so excited.

I'm smiling even thinking of reading this book, haha.


Release Date: May 04, 2010


Extra: Percy Jackson movie trailer. I can't wait!


I'll be needing a cane anyday now....

Sorry I've been AWOL, school's been pretty crazy lately.

But to distract you from my bad blogging habits I will posts pictures of cake.



Oh yeah, I turned 16 today. Birthday's normally aren't my favorite days. But at least it gives me an excuse to post pictures of cake. Mmm.

And now I'm off to purchase a cane and some dentures. *hobbles away*


Magic Under Glass Cover to be changed!

I'm following up on the discussion about the cover of MAGIC UNDER GLASS I posted yesterday, with some good news. Taken from the Bloomsbury website:

Bloomsbury is ceasing to supply copies of the US edition of Magic Under Glass. The jacket design has caused offense and we apologize for our mistake. Copies of the book with a new jacket design will be available shortly.

Frankly, I'm amazed. From what I could tell, the uproar started on Saturday. It's Thursday now, and they've already decided to change the cover. Wow. The wonderful posts by other bloggers really made a difference!

To tell the truth, I'm sort of wincing for Bloomsbury, because I don't even want to imagine how much extra money it's going to cost to do this. At least they won't have to reprint the books, only the dust covers.

But this is awesome! I don't think we'll ever know if the cover was whitewashed due to marketing purposes or a miscommuncation to the cover artist. Such a quick response has me wanting to believe it was a mistake. Maybe it's wishful thinking...Anyhow, a company willing to admit they did wrong just scores about a gazillion brownie points for me. Not only are the admitting wrong, they're coming up with a new cover.

I'm just glad that they recognized this was a real issue, and all I have to say is, GO BLOOMSBURY :D

And I can't wait to read MAGIC UNDER GLASS; seriously, this book sounds AWESOME!


Magic Under Glass controversy and some thoughts on whitewashing and diversity in a broader arena

So, it's happened again. Many of you've heard about the controversy surrounding the cover of Magic Under Glass. It was first brought to my attention on Saturday after an eye-opening post by Ah Yuan of Gal Novelty. A flurry of posts around the blogosphere followed; and I attempted to read all the ones I came across. Other bloggers have been more articulate and passionate with their posts than I ever could be. Some bloggers were outraged, some much calmer. There have been wonderful posts with many different viewpoints on the subject by Reading in Color , I was a teenage book geek, Black-Eyed Susan's, Good Books & Good Wine, The Story Siren, The Bloody Bookaholic, and many others.

I haven't read the book; Magic Under Glass was one of my WoWs and I'd still love to read it, despite the cover. The cover is not something an author gets any say in, and no matter how angry you are, I AM URGING YOU TO NOT boycott this book. An author works so hard to publish a novel; Ms. Dolamore is a debut novelist and after working towards this moment for a long time it must not be pleasant to have Magic Under Glass embroiled in a controversy.Here's the cover that started it all:

Although the main character Nimira is loosely described as "dark-skinned", which can be interpreted in a variety of ways, the book trailer clearly shows she is black. Compare the girl in the book trailer to the one of the cover, and there's a noticeable disparity. The girl on the cover of Magic Under Glass, although cleverly concealed in shadow, seems white to me. I know this is all relative; but for someone who lives in a very diverse community where over 80-90% of the students I go to school with are NOT white, she is not dark-skinned in the least. If she went to my school, she'd be one of the lightest skinned people there. So for me, the girl in the cover isn't be any stretch of imagination dark-skinned. You may disagree with me, but that's my interpretation. This cover is whitewashing, pure and simple.

Ah, whitewashing.

What a terrible thing.

This controversy has brought other, more troubling thoughts to mind. While the YA genre is doing well in diversifying it's characters, there is still a noticeable lack of diversity in books.

Even more troubling to me is the psychology of a reader. I don't know about you, but if the race of the main character is not specified, what do you automatically imagine them as?

Let's do a test run. Brief description without any allusion to race, try to picture the character and what race immediately jumps to mind?

"He was a brown haired-kid, skinny, and his glasses were always sliding down his nose."

Be honest.

I'm ashamed to say that I imagine the characters are white, unless the author describes them otherwise.

Did I just say that?


I don't know why. As I mentioned before, I live in a diverse community. There are barely any white people here. Heck, I'm half Asian, half white. But why is it that my subconscious dreams up unspecified characters as white?

It's not just the readers who face this; chats with some unpublished writers reveal that many of them did NOT envision there character cast as diverse. It's certainly nothing to be proud of, but it's there. There's a reason for it, as the old "write what you know," applies. Writers who live in predominantly white communities may have trouble incorporating characters of different ethnicities. And there is also the fear of getting it wrong, of giving into stereotypes. Many writers don't want to risk getting race wrong; if it's done incorrectly and with blatant generalizations, it can be the end of a career. Even with books that have a minority character or two, it's not convincing some of the time. One of the top YA cliches is the "token minority character." Joelle Anthony included it on her list of Top 25 most overused things in YA:

"A token black friend among a group of white friends - usually it’s a girl, and she’s always gorgeous."

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It's not only books that have this cliche; TV shows and movies do as well.

Also, to think of it in terms of main characters, how many minority main characters can you think of for bestselling YA books? Maybe I've been reading the wrong books, I don't know. But it seems to me that minor characters are much more likely to be minorities; it's much easier pen this cliche-ridden description:

"A girl next to me has almond eyes and coffee-colored skin,"

Then it is to set up a whole family dynamic for a main character that isn't white and who's parents put a lot of stock in cultural values. It would be more difficult for me to write a book with a main character that's say--Indian, rather than white. I don't know enough about Indian culture; I would have to do research, while white is something that is readily available.

The thing about having a diverse cast is that it's the author's responsibility to portray it accurately. Many minorities don't give up their cultural values and assimilate into American culture; thus the values of a minority main character and their family life will be different than that of a white character and their family.

So it's easier to assign a unspecified character who's just plain "American" as white. Without the culture of minorities fully described, I envision unspecified characters as white.

It's my default. And I'm definitely not proud of it.

This is definitely something I'm aware of now, and is something I'm trying to change about myself as both a reader and an aspiring writer.

What do you think of this whole cover controversy? About whitewashing in general and it's broader implications? What do you envision unspecified characters as?


Survey Results Part Two: (Free Response)

Onto the free responses, my reaction in blue once again, overall in red. Sorry to be posting twice in a row, but I split the posts so it wouldn't be too long.

Q: What do you like/dislike about my reviews?

Let's hear from a few fives:

A: "They're extremely thorough, and I love how your personality shines through. I can easily relate to them, and they don't even feel like I'm reading a review! Very emotionally based, but I like it that way. :)"

A: "What I like about your reviews is that they are very detailed. You really go in depth about what you like and dislike about a book. I get a good feel about a book based on your reviews."

I'm so glad that you guys like them and find them relatable and detailed! Other 5s also mentioned that they liked how in-depth I go as well as that they're fun to read.

From a few fours:

A: "I like that you have a synopsis, then your opinion, then a rating. I also really, really like that you include who you would recommend this book to. I haven't seen this on anyone else's blog and so I really like you including it."

A: "They are perfect the include just the right amount of information. Just a suggestion maybe add a link or two to the authors website at the bottom."

Awesome, other 4s also mentioned that they liked the way my reviews were set up, especially the "teenage ignormaus comments" haha. I will definitely take the suggestion to include a link to the author's website, that's an awesome idea!

From a few threes:

A: "I think you give really good opinions about books but to me the reviews are a bit long.

A: "I honestly haven't read one of your reviews recently, so I wouldn't be able to say."

Haha, I do write long reviews, (especially for Literature Week, I'm sorry!). I'll keep that in mind and try to not get to carried away. And a few other 3s mentioned not having read my reviews lately or having just started following.

OVERALL: The majority of you seemed to like my reviews, consistently calling them "honest", "real", "helpful" and "detailed." Which really makes me happy, since this is a after all a book REVIEW blog. I try to make sure my reviews are the best they can be and I'm glad that you guys are enjoying them.

Q: Why or why don't you comment? (I'm including a lot of responses here, because I think this will help ALL bloggers, just not me :))

"I usually only comment on books I'm interested in reading."

Ah, I see. Maybe I should start polling for what reviews people would be most interested in reading?

"I don't really have anything to contribute"

Oh no. I'm sure you do!

"Coz I wuv you"

Hahahaha! <333 you to :D

"No time. I have a super-slow internet connection and three other people nagging me for the computer."

I totally understand, my internet connection used to be horrible as well and then I'd be fighting my siblings and parents to get on. Thankfully those days are behind me.

"Because I want to let you know that I read and enjoy your posts. I try to comment everytime I see an update, but I occasionally miss some, sorry! (At least I think I do.)"

Awesome, this makes me very happy :)

"I definitely need to comment more on all blogs that I visit. I just have to put more of an effort to comment. Most of the books that are reviewed I haven't read them or heard of them so sometimes I just don't have anything to say."

I try to comment on most of the blogs I visit, but I agree sometimes it's hard because I don't know what to say either.

"If I don't comment it's either because I'm either too lazy or just don't have the time, usually the latter. "

Haha. I get lazy as well, and then busy-lazy :p

I'm very new to this whole blogging thing. But I'm very happy I found out about these wonderful blogs and plus I love to read. My hope is to participate and comment as much as a I can.

Awesome! And good luck with blogging :)

My words of wisdom don't seem very wise. :(

Oh no. *huggles* You don't have to be wise to comment (I wouldn't be allowed to comment on any blog if that was the case, haha).

I'm more of a lurker than a commenter. I read posts, but unless I have something new to say, or I'm the first on the scene, I don't tend to comment much.

Come out of your lurkedom! I swear it's much funner once you've delurked, I used to do A LOT of lurking.

OVERALL: I got quite a wide variety of responses here, but most people said they either didn't have enough time, or their internet/computer sucks, or they're too lazy, or they don't have anything to say. Which I totally understand, I feel the same way myself sometimes.

Q: What's the thing that you DISLIKE most about the blog?

"I am not crazy about the header. I think its a little boring and blah."

Oh no. I think you guys are split, because some people tell me they like the header and others that they don't. Hmm.

"I really can't find anything. If you insist on me finding something, I think you should review more books!"

I agree. I read way faster than I review, so I have this HUGE backlog of reviews I haven't done. I really need to catch up on them.

"A little too much in the sidebars. Maybe create a slideshow for your blog awards?"

Ooh, good idea. I think I'll try that :)

"To tell you the truth, there is really nothing that I don't like. As long as there are reviews, memes, and some contests, its a great blog."


I don't really care for memes like In My Mailbox. Sometimes there are interesting titles, but for the most part they are similar to the dozens of other blogs I read.

I sort of agree, sometimes I feel like doing so many memes get repetitive. But I think I have to keep IMM, since a lot of people enjoy it.

Um... I REALLY can't think of anything!


OVERALL: Most of you guys said that you couldn't think of anything. Which is awesome, I guess. And then most of you others either mentioned my sidebar or my header. So I definitely will think on making it more prettiful!

What do you think of my blog layout?

"I like the background, but I think your header could be a bit smaller. I LOVE the labels that are at the top, very easy to maneuver. I also LOVE that you have a rating system. All in all it's quite lovely!"


"It's bright and organized."


"HEADER MUST DIE. Jk, but I wish you had a different one."

"I really like your header!"

The above two really confuse me, lol because some of you don't like it and some of you like it. Hmm.

OVERALL: Most of you described my layout as being "easy to navigate" and "great". So that's wonderful. :)

Is there anything you're DYING to see on my blog?

"YES. Do a video blog showing off your bookcase/book collection."

I'll think about it. It's just, my room is a PIGSTY, I don't want to be sued for burning someone's eyes out. And..., my book collection is just heaps of books strategically scattered around my house, so it'd be more like a house tour, Lol. I guess it'd be interesting in the I-can't-actually-believe-she-keeps-her-books-like-that-way. Maybe :)

"What about some half naked pics of Jude Law or Mark Walburg?"

LOL! I'm afraid not at this time :)

Yeah! International contests/giveaways! And things that internationals like me... I mean, I was thinking about you guys from US and CA, who have most blogs, do something to approach the internationals bloggers.

I'll definitely try to host an international giveaway in the future. I actually feel bad about not having the current giveaway open internationally, it's just the shipping costs frightened me. But I'll hopefully hold one soon.

"Maybe you should have a blog button."

Good idea. I just don't know how to make one, haha.

"More rants/ "investigation" stuff haha. Cover reviews!"

Ooh, I quite like rants and investigation stuff so I'll do more posts on those. And definitely with the covers.

"I just love reading your entries, so I'm always dying for a new post--lol!"

This makes me smile :)

"Reviews on more current books. Like books that JUST come out. If possible. Please. =]"

I'll try, but a lot of the times the book I read aren't recent releases. But I get what you mean, lately I've haven't done that many reviews in the way of new releases.

"author interviews. maybe you could solicit some questions from your followers."

Yep, I'll definitely try author interviews. And soliciting questions from followers...that'd be pretty cool! So they get some input :)

Q: Any further suggestions, complaints, concerns, etc. or ANYTHING you'd like me to know? Any burning questions about the blog or something else?

I want to know where your header is from. Is it a famous painting or is it you?

This makes me LAUGH because so many of you guys asked me if the header was me. No, it isn't, I just found it by googling.

Do you look like that girl in the header? What do you look like?

No, not at all. She's blonde, I'm a brunette. Er...I don't know what I look like. Maybe I'll put up a pic some day. This makes me laugh as well because a few of you guys asked me what I looked like as well. I PROMISE I'M NOT A SPAM BOT OR A FIFTY YEAR OLD MAN. Pinky promise.

When did you start blogging and why? Do you look at it as a chore or a pleasure? How do you fit it into your schedule?

I started blogging in late August, but not seriously until September-October. It's definitely a pleasure, I love doing it. I guess it's a bit of a strain on my schedule with school and all, but it makes me happy. I usually come home and spend a few hours commenting on or writing blog posts (while doing other things online or my homework), because I've decided blogging is important to me. Once I've decided I want to focus on something I dedicate a lot of time to it. Of course, when things in real life get too hectic I take a break or I let up on the frequency of my posts a bit. I wish I had more time! When I don't have time for the blog, book reviews are the first things that suffer because they take up the most time to write.

"I would like to be able to receive your posts by email."

Awesome idea, I'll definitely look into it :)

"Nope, you do a great job! I quit really following the book blogging world awhile ago, but yours is one of the blogs good enough for me to continue to read, anyway."

Awesome, this makes me happy :)

I like the footnotes =D

I'm quite fond of them myself. :D

"I just noticed your Daily Puppy and think it's cute! Um. Seriously, I really really like how your sidebars are set up. "

Haha, I lurve puppies. And once again, the differing opinions strike! Several people told me they didn't like my sidebars.

"where do you get the time to post so regulalry? :P"

I don't know really. Blogging does take up A LOT of the time I spend on things other than school--I guess it's like I said earlier because I decided I want to spend a lot of my extra time on blogging. But I do feel the need for more time.

"Your top commenter thing hates me. HAHAHA Ok I'll stop complaining about that now."

Lol. I'm really, really sorry to everyone who comments regularly on this blog and is not on the top commenters widget as they should be. I've noticed people have like 20 comments, and then they just drop out of sight after a week or so, or the number of comments they have goes down significantly. I don't know why this is. I've tried fixing it, but I think the widget is just a BIG MEANIE.

Your blog is very informative and I appreciated bloggers that take their time to make surveys and then read them. :)

Thanks! I'm glad you like the survey.

That I love you and want you to be my blogging friend forever?! If you can guess who I am, super props to you. :D

Aww, thanks <333 you to :) I'm pretty sure I know who you are :p

I love the fact that you have a questionaire. Very forward thinking.

Thanks. I figured it'd be pretty helpful for improvements. I saw a few other blogs do it within the last month or so and thought it was a great idea :)

Keep up the great work! Yours is one of the best blogs I've subscribed to!

Thanks a lot!

And that concludes the survey posts! Hope it was interesting, and perhaps it'll help you with your blog as well. I'm really glad I did this, I got some wonderful feedback and suggestions and now I can improve the blog.

I know I only picked a few of the questions/comments to include here so if I didn't answer your question, I'm sorry. If you'd still like an answer comment below and I'll respond. :)

Survey Results Part One: (Statistics)

So it's been a little over a week since I put the survey up, and I think now's a good time to do a post about the results. I'm thinking being open about them is a good idea, as I'm a pretty open person in some aspects this does not include confessing that I ate the last cookie. Hopefully this will be interesting and from it you guys will know what direction the blog is heading in :)

My thoughts on the polls in blue, and then I'll delve into the free respons after the statistics, otherwise this post would be monstrously long. I got about 50 responses, which is awesome!

How often do you visit In Which a Girl Reads?

Looks like most of the people who take the survey visit regularly! That's awesome :D
Almost daily
A few times a week
A few times a month
Very rarely
What are your favorite features on the the blog, or why do you visit?

Your favorite features were the book reviews and giveaways , followed by IMM and WoW. Your least favorite were Daily Dose (I don't know if this is because I've only participated in it once so far) and Literature Week.
Events like Literature Week
Waiting on Wednesday
Book Reviews
In My Mailbox
Daily Dose
Miscallenous posts
Discussion Posts
Friday Favorites

Rank the quality of my reviews (1 being the worst, 5 being the best)
Whoo, no 1s or 2s! Majority 4s or 5s, a few 3s. Awesome!

What do you think about my posting habits?

Great, nearly everyone seems to like how often I post!
You post way too much!
You post a bit too often
You post just the right amount
You post way too little
What new features would you like to see?

Looks like people want to see author interviews the most. I wholeheartedly I agree, I really need to start interviewing authors, it's one of my New Year resolutions. And you guys also seem pretty interested with interviewing aspiring teen authors, which is something I can definitely do, yay! I will also try to incorporate some posts about book covers and wishlist posts as well as some advice/discussions about blogging.
Author Interviews
Aspiring Teen Authors Interviews
Blogger Interviews/ Blogger Spotlights
Discussion posts
Posts on Music
Advice/ discussions about blogging
Posts about book covers
Posts about what books I'm coveting
Posts on chocolate/food
Posts about traveling
Random stuff!
More shiny widgets!

Would you like to see some posts on writing and the publishing process?
So the majority of you would like to see some writing-related posts. I'll do a test-run with a few and see how it goes!


Do you like personal content?
Most of you like personal content, which is cool if I ever want to talk about myself! Haha :)

Would you like to see more personal content?

And most of you would like to see more personal content. Probably because I have next to none at this point. I'll keep that in mind!

Would types of books should I review?

Awesome, most of you like the books I review now. And a surprising amount like my Friday Favorites! I haven't done a Friday Favorite for a while now, so I'll definitely try to do those more regularly. I'll also try to keep up the other-genres-then-fantasy resolution and maybe sprinkle in some literature
or middle grade reviews occasionally :)

I'd like to see more reviews on literature
I'd like to see more reviews for middle grade
I'd like to see more reviews of your favorite books (Friday Favorites)
I would like to see review-rants on study books
You need to review books from other genres than fantasy!
I like the types of books you review now

How often do you comment?

Not as many regular commenters. Which is sort of sad because I LOVE
comments more than anything, they're the best part of blogging.
But in the free responses most of you had good reasons.
I'll get to them in the next post :)

Every post
Every few posts
Once in a while

Very interesting, I'm glad I did this survey! It's definitely given me a clear direction and lots of thoughts for improvements.


In My Mailbox [11] - Fangirl Version-

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren.

WARNING: much crazy, exclamatory fangirl squealing in the post below. Read at your own risk.


becausebecausebecause SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! I got FOUR books I was DYING to read. OMG!!!1!!!!!!!11!!!!!1!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1!11!!!


*calms down*

*gets excited again*


*does happy dance*

This is the most excited I've ever been for books in a while *hyperventilates*


The Newest Diana Wynne Jones book:

Lolita!!!! *dies*

Newest Courtney Summers book:

Been recommended a MILLION times:

1. Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones: *DIES AGAIN*



As you may or may not know, I'm sort of obsessed with anything DWJ writes. She's just so amazing, her books are the best thing since chocolate bars, and I love everything she writes with all my heart. She's probably my favorite author if you asked me to pick one. AND OMG I HAVE HER LATEST BOOK AND I'M READING IT RIGHT NOW NOW NOW. SQUEEEE!!!!!!!!!

*is unashamed of fangirlism*

*says in creepy Gollum voice*


Also, I'm even more excited because I got it four months before the actual US release date, which is in April, not January as it is in the UK. *huggles Book Depository* *showers Book Depository with chocolate* *huggles book* So I might have to hold off on the review for a bit :(

2. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: So, I'm been trying to read this book for HALF A YEAR, no joke *gnashes teeth*. Every time I went to the library, it was always "DUE" "OVERDUE" or "IN PROCESSING", whatever the heck that means. And the outrage, the horror, the digrace! The local bookstore didn't even have it when I went. So finally I got fed up and bought it online. And I'm nearly done and it's so beautiful and amazing and quite possibly one of the best books I've ever read and I only have a bit left but I put it down to read Enchanted Glass and this is when FOUR EYES would come in handy so I could read two books at once. *wants four eyes*

3. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers: *dies* OMG. Okay, so Summer's Cracked Up to Be was amazing, I loved it and reviewed it but mostly loved it and reread it. I've been waiting very impatiently for this to arrive and I got it this morning and read it...and OMG. *dies* Amazing :) Review coming soon!

4. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian by Sherman Alexie: Love the title, love the book blurb. And this is another one of those I've been meaning to read for months. I've been recommended it a couple million times and I'd always been meaning to get it but finally I bought it real cheap at a bookstore! Whooo! Can't wait to read it to see if it lives up to the hype (which I'm pretty sure it will).

-end of fangirlism-

Wait...just one more time...



Review: Smack

Book Description:

Gemma: "My parents are incompetent. They haven't got a clue..."

Tar: "I know it sounds stupid, but it was like the flowers had come out for Gemma..."

Lily: "They did everything they could to pin me down...my mum, my dad, school..."

Rob: "We stood for a while breathing big long breaths of air. It was cold and pure...You could feel it inside you, doing you good."

How do these teens come to run away from home? To be users? Addicts? As their stories intertwine and build, SMACK never lets up the pace. It is a book about people, families--real and those constructed by young people with no one to turn to but each other. SMACK is a book about a drug and the hold it can have. Written directly for its audience of young people and unflinching in its honesty, SMACK is the teen book of the year.

My Opinion:

SMACK is perhaps one of the most harrowing novels I've ever read. Raw, uncensored, and utterly believable, SMACK is both scandalous and brilliant. Author Melvin Burgess holds back nothing in his depiction of squatter life in 1980's Bristol; drug use, prostitution, theft, anarchy, and abortion are fully expounded upon. Since it's publication in 1996, SMACK has faced public outcries from horrified parents. I can certainly see why, but as someone who is wholeheartedly opposed to censorship* it only makes it more necessary that this book is read.

SMACK begins when 14-year old Tar makes desperate plans to run away from his dysfunctional family: an alcoholic father who beats him regularly and an manipulative, also alcoholic mother. After spending a few weeks in Bristol by himself and barely scraping by, he manages to convince his girlfriend Gemma to run away as well. While Tar had just reason to take off, Gemma is motivated by more petty reasons: stifling parents that impose restrictions that only encourage her to rebel more. The two teens are soon living together with a group of slightly older anarchists in a abandoned house. Although they smoke pot and commit vandalism, at this point the reader still has hope that everything will turn out alright for the wayward teens.

But from there, a quick series of events leads Gemma and Tar into a downward spiral of self-destruction. When Gemma meets Lily and Rob, two unflinchingly immoral teens, it provides the spark for the next few years of utter depravity. Lily and Rob are heroin users and Gemma and Tar are soon living with them and using heroin as well.

The pages fly by in a haze of one terrifying event after another: the four teens turn into hopeless addicts, characterized by a lack of reasoning and gross dependency on drugs to survive. While the characters convince themselves that they're happy, readers will be afforded a more clear-cut view of their lives which prove to be little more than a series of bad decisions. It is in this area that SMACK is most triumphant--Burgess brilliantly renders the complete psychology of a drug user. The teens are in denial about their drug habits and the extent to which they can deceive themselves is remarkable. Yet Burgess manages to convey a tale that rings true. He navigates the most sordid situations with skill--unwanted pregnancies, abortion, prostitution in order to finance drug habits, failed attempts to give up heroin, and jail time are all part of this book.

SMACK is narrated by alternating points of views, but while this technique provides insight into characters emotions, it's a bit distracting stylistically. I really couldn't tell the difference between the voices of the characters--they sounded the same to me.

But after reading this, I was devastated. This book is unforgettable, and it certainly makes you think. It's jaw-dropping and it's shocking and it's terrible but I'm glad that I read it.

Throughout the book, Burgress's tone is carefully nonjudgmental, but this has the same effect of distancing the reader. However, for me, this distance was necessary--I wouldn't have been able to read it otherwise. The characters in this book definitely hit rock bottom, and this is why SMACK serves as a cautionary tale. All in all, SMACK is an edgy, hard-hitting novel that certainly warrants much praise and legions of readers. It's as addicting as it's namesake. **

My Rating: 8.5/10. If you don't mind edginess, I can't recommend this enough!

*at the risk of this review turning into a rant, I'll just say that book banning infuriates me beyond measure. It's more a case of people trying to suppress opinions that differ from their own than anything else. [insert inflammatory judgment of book censors here]. Actually...I think I'll do a discussion post about this in the future!

**Okay, prolly not. But I read it in one sitting and I was ENTHRALLED, I tell you.


Waiting on Wednesday

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

This week's pick: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.

One cold night, in a most unlikely corner of Chicago, two teens—both named Will Grayson—are about to cross paths. As their worlds collide and intertwine, the Will Graysons find their lives going in new and unexpected directions, building toward romantic turns-of-heart and the epic production of history’s most fabulous high school musical.

Hilarious, poignant, and deeply insightful, John Green and David Levithan’s collaborative novel is brimming with a double helping of the heart and humor that have won both them legions of faithful fans.



John Green's (of Looking of Alaska fame) newest book . David Levithan's (of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist fame) newest book. .


This book is going to be mind-boggingly amazing, I can just tell.

I'm sort of curious how it works out with co-writing for this particular novel; from the summary I'm guessing each Will Grayson will be written by one author and the book will be narrated by alternating point of views? Or maybe not, I honestly have no idea.

The premise sounds very fun and promising--the whole double names and becoming linked could lead so many interesting ways. And who doesn't like musicals in a book?

I. Want. This. Book.

But I'll have to wait until:

Release Date: April 6, 2010


Allow me to express my doubts, and why you can't trust all the reviews you read (Discussion post)

I was browsing through new releases on Amazon the other day. In particular, I looked up a few books that I'd seen around the blogosphere that had peaked my interest.

I read a few reviews on Amazon, looked at the ratings.

And I got to one book's page and I was just like, "What is this?"

I won't mention the book name or author name because I don't think that'd be quite right, but something struck me as a bit off about the reviews for a particular book. I shall hence forth refer to it as FISHY BOOK (FB).

  • This FISHY BOOK has only been out for a 2 months or less.
  • It already has around thirty reviews.
  • All of the reviews are five star ratings. Not a single 4-star, 3-star, 2-star, 1-star review in sight.
  • All of the reviews are by "REAL NAMES" reviewers.
  • And yet, comparably, FB it was ranked around 550,000 in sales.

Okay, so maybe I'm weird, but I notice things like this. And maybe I'm boring you but this thing is GNAWING at me and I don't do well with gnawing and I have to get this off of my chest.

It just doesn't add up.

At least when you compare it to stats for other books. The bolded stuff is what's important, you can skip to that if your bored by the stats.

Take Book #1:

  • Release Date: August 2009
  • Sales rank: ~ 42, 000
  • Number of reviews: 22 (5 star=7 ratings 4 star=6 ratings, 3 star=3 ratings, 2 star=4 ratings, 1 star=2 ratings.)

This Book #1 has perfectly legitimate statistics. It's exactly what I'd expect from a book that's selling pretty well (42,000 isn't too shabby), has been out for 5 months or so, and has merits.

This Book #1 is ranked about....500,000 HIGHER than the Fishy Book (FB) in sales, has been out 2 months LONGER, and yet has much less reviews.

This is the case for pretty much any book you look over and compare to FB.

If you don't believe me, just start digging around Amazon. Get a feel for how the number of reviews, the sales ranking, and the release date correlates for a book.

Take Book #2:

  • Release Date: October 2009
  • Sales Rank: 30,000
  • Number of reviews: 15 (five star=12, 4 star= 2, 1 star= 1)

So Book #2 was released at a similar time to FB, has nearly half the reviews, and about half a million better in sales ranking.

Only 15 reviews.

Obviously people like this book, the reviews are pretty much favorable.

The point is, I've NEVER in my life seen a book with double digit reviews that had every single one a 5-star rating. It just doesn't happen.

Take Book #3:

I found one that has around the same amount of reviews:

  • 33 reviewers for Book #3.
  • ~30 reviewers for FB

Out of 33 reviewers, only THREE had included their real name (9%). On the other hand, this Fishy Book (FB) had 100% reviewers with "real names"

So that doesn't add up either.

And finally, the most fishy thing of all: 97% of the reviewers for FB have never reviewed anything else. The only book they've ever reviewed is FB. Compare this to Book #3 where only TWO, or 6% of the reviewers had never reviewed anything else.

So, I don't know if my stats helped to show what's gnawing at me. I always, always, always, without fail look at sales ranks, number of reviews, and release date when I look up a book on Amazon. So I'm pretty attuned to what a book's stats should look like.

What I've been getting at this whole post:

I think there's something not right here with these reviews.

But I don't know if this is just a giant fluke. I could be completely and utterly wrong. I mean, Amazon does have some safeguards: you have to purchase an item before you can register for a reviewer account.

But to be honest, what I suspect is that the majority of reviews for FB were written by one person, or people that were specifically told to give five-star ratings. Also, once I'd read some of the reviews, it seemed like someone was trying FAR too hard to make them seem different--spelling errors, triple exclamation points. But the tone and sentence structure seemed very similar to me.

So the point of this post is that you need to be careful about reviews you read online by anonymous people. Any kind of review, just not book reviews.

I'm not saying book blogger reviews--that's a different matter. It's one thing to read a review on a reputable book blog and another thing to read a review by an anonymous person on Amazon or Ebay.

The other point is that I do very badly with gnawing suspicions.

Boring post? Probably, haha. Sorry about that.

But if you made it through, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this: do you think there's something fishy going on here? Or is it just a fluke?

And lastly, do you trust all the reviews you read? Why or why not?

In My Mailbox [10]

This is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren

So, I've still been getting TONS of books from my after-Christmas book-buying spree. I feel like such a book-glutton, haha. All recieved in the mail.

Rosoff Mania:

1. Willow by Julia Hoban: So I'd seen some glowing reviews of this book around the blogosphere and the premise sounded interesting. And it fits nicely into my resolution to read more contemporary.

2. Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta: I read a review by a writer friend that said this book was AMAZING so I took her word for it and bought it!


4. Smack by Melvin Burgess: Figured I'd venture for some edgy YA. I've seen this book recced practically everywhere, so I'm pretty curious to see if it's as great as everyone says.

5. What I Was by Meg Rosoff: *dies* Boarding school. Britain. That's all I needed to know before I bought it.

6. Just in Case by Meg Rosoff: So the premise sounds awesome. Trying to escape fate? Renaming yourself Justin Case? Haha. Can't wait to read this one :)

7. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff: All I have to say is this won the PRINTZ and the main character moves to ENGLAND. It better be mind-bogglingy amazing!