Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Before You Go

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:

Before You Go
by James Preller
Published by Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: July 17th 2012 

The summer before his senior year, Jude (yes, he’s named after the Beatles song) gets his first job, falls in love for the first time, and starts to break away from his parents. Jude’s house is kept dark; no one talks much—it’s been that way since his little sister drowned in a swimming pool when Jude was supposed to be watching her.

He was watching her. He looked away for just a moment. He was only nine years old. And he’s never truly grieved for her, or for the emotional deaths of his parents, who refuse to talk about what happened. Seven years later, Jude is finally, finally starting to live. Really live. And then life spins out of control. Again.

Acclaimed author James Preller explores life, death, love, faith, and resilience in a story that will grip readers from the book’s dramatic first few pages to its emotional end.
(from Goodreads)

At my latest book club meeting I was telling my friends about how most of the books I like to read are so different from the books we read in the book club. I told them that I like books that are sad, books that make my heart ache, books that make me cry. Those don't always make for great recommendations. People aren't easily swayed to read books that make them hurt a little bit. But I want to read those kinds of books. My bookshelves are full of them. I seek them out which is why I want to read Before You Go. It sounds like it will be an extremely emotional read. 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Book Club Discussion: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Not yet, but there will be spoilers. You have been warned.

Provisions and Paperbacks, my IRL book club, read Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs a few weeks ago. As I mentioned in my previous post (you can read it here), I want to share some thoughts and ideas brought up during the book club and bring my blog readers into the discussion.

A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs.

It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

There will be spoilers. You have been warned.

Here are some thoughts shared during out book club discussion after reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children:

"L" says: I loved the pictures in this book, they really took me back in time and gave me a visual to put with the words. However, I had my own idea of the setting and sometimes the photos didn't come close the ideas I imagined. This is a fantastical story but I could almost see being caught up in this time warp in real life. I could visualize myself as a character in the book and wanted to. It was strange but I almost wanted it to be more creepy. There is a yearning to know what happens now...where do the children go from here? My favorite photo was of Horace

"R" says: I think that when you start reading the book the Grandfather's stories have a fairy tale quality to them and as you read you discover the hidden meanings and truths of his stores perhaps he used what he thought his grandson could understand at a young age but as he aged he should have been more honest with his history.  Toward the end of the Grandfather's life he was haunted by his monsters and his family thought he was slipping into dementia it made me wonder if his carrying the secrets and fighting the monsters drove him into insanity?  I enjoyed the book because there were surprises you would think the story was leading in one direction and then you realized your assumptions were wrong.

Other thoughts:
  • we were all impressed with the use of the photographs in the storytelling. Every picture fit in the telling and they didn't seem forced into the story just because the author wanted to include them.
  • we each envisioned the portal from the current day to 1940 very differently. Personally I had trouble envisioning altogether
  • One of my favorite scenes was when the children were on lockdown and a few of them decided to sneak out of the house to return to the modern day and Olive is floating by the window waiting to help Jacob and Emma
  • My Audible Gasp Moment: when Jacob discovers the true identity of his therapist - totally didn't see that coming at all!
  • Didn't fall for idea as Emma as a love interest - maybe if the relationship with Jacob's grandfather had been different, but it wasn't so that was a whole lot of eww. 
  • One of the creepiest photos - the bus driver - so sinister
Half of the group are excited about how the story ended leaving it open to more adventures of the Peculiar Children and the other half are happy to end the story as it is - rowing into the sunset.

I'd like to invite anyone to join in on the discussion and share your thoughts on Miss Peregrine's Home to Peculiar Children BUT I do ask that you only make comments on this specific book in the series and that you don't reveal any spoilers for future books in the series. Please and Thank you!

Up next: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver!! 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Guest Post by Mary Lowry author of The Earthquake Machine

I’m excited to be guest posting for Actin’ Up with Books. I think Joli’s blog is really unique; and it’s awesome she supports indie bookstores with her Love My Indie feature.

I’m also inspired by the blog name Actin’ Up with Books. As a young girl, books allowed me to vicariously experience what it would be like to “act up” and challenge expectations for how women and girls “should” live their lives and be in the world. As soon as I was old enough, I started having adventures of my own. I’ve done all sorts of things that women aren’t “supposed” to do, like work as a forest firefighter, an apprentice carpenter and a Hollywood screenwriter. (Women make up just 10% of each of those professions!)

I never would have found the courage to take on such challenges if I hadn’t read many books featuring strong female protagonists. And now I’m “actin’ up” by publishing an edgy debut novel about a girl who runs away from home to avoid having to fit into the mold society makes for girls. She travels deep into Mexico on a lush, fantastical journey to find her family’s yardman Jésus. The book is a wild ride perfect for any woman or girl eager to act up with books.


Book synopsis:

The Earthquake Machine

The book every girl should read,
and every girl’s parents hope she’ll never read.

The Earthquake Machine tells the story of 14 year-old Rhonda. On the outside, everything looks perfect in Rhonda’s world, but at home Rhonda has to deal with a manipulative father who keeps her mentally ill mother hooked on pharmaceuticals. The only reliable person in Rhonda’s life is her family’s Mexican yardman, Jesús. But when the INS deports Jesús back to his home state of Oaxaca, Rhonda is left alone with her increasingly painful family situation.

Determined to find her friend Jésus, Rhonda seizes an opportunity to run away during a camping trip with friends to Big Bend National Park. She swims to the Mexican side of the Rio Grande and makes her way to the border town of Milagros, Mexico. There a peyote- addled bartender convinces her she won’t be safe traveling alone into the country’s interior. So with the bartender’s help, Rhonda cuts her hair and assumes the identity of a Mexican boy named Angel. She then sets off on a burro across the desert to look for Jesús. Thus begins a wild adventure that fulfills the longing of readers eager for a brave and brazen female protagonist.

Author bio:

Mary Pauline Lowry has worked as a forest firefighter, screenwriter, open water lifeguard, construction worker, and advocate in the movement to end violence against women. Due to no fault of her sweet parents, at 15 she ran away from home and made it all the way to Matamoros, Mexico. She believes girls should make art, have adventures, and read books that show them the way.

Visit Mary's website at or follow her on Twitter @MaryPLowry

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin

by Nancy Werlin
Published by Dial Books
Published by September 7, 2010
Pages: 393
Source: Purchased

Phoebe finds herself drawn to Mallory, the strange and secretive new kid in school. Soon the two girls are as close as sisters . . . until Mallory’s magnetic older brother, Ryland, appears. Ryland has an immediate, exciting hold on Phoebe—but a dangerous hold, for she begins to question her feelings about her best friend and, worse, about herself.

Soon she’ll discover the shocking, fantastical truth about Ryland and Mallory, and about an age-old debt they expect Phoebe to pay. Will she be strong enough to resist? Will she be special enough to save herself?
(from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

This was a book club selection chosen after having read Nancy Werlin's Impossible. Extraordinary is the retelling of Mayer Rothschild's family (which I know nothing about and will be looking up later). The story involves friendships, fairies, family curses, and betrayals. It was a bit lengthy for the story that was told involving a lot of internal conflict but also choosing to make the right decision when the options seem so limited or predetermined.

I would suggest reading this one with an open mind because it is easy think the story is simply about one thing, but it really is about so much more. I would recommend this book to someone who likes to read historical  retellings and reimaginations.

The review is based on the paperback publication.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Love My Indie with author Meredith Zeitlin

Love My Indie is a feature where fellow bloggers, readers, and authors tell me about their favorite independent bookstores. I love the feeling I get when I go into an independent bookstore - like it is filled with hidden treasures just waiting for me to find them.

Showing some Indie Love today is:
  Meredith Zeitlin
author of Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters

My favorite indie bookstore in my neighborhood – and there are quite a few – is BOOK COURT on Court Street in Brooklyn, NY

 It's quiet, bright, neat as a pin, and has a fantastic selection of new and old books. Up front is the children's reading section, and there's a beautifully expanded back area with all the new releases. 


I usually head downstairs to the lower level, though; for a bargain-hunter, it's a great place to find discounted books (all new, by the way, and often hardcovers, too). Look at all these good ones - and let's not forget the Dollar Book Section. Just a buck for an afternoon of reading? Pretty sweet deal.

So the next time you're in Carroll Gardens, go say hi to the Book Court folks. Support brick and mortar stores and independent booksellers! Oh, and by the way - here's where you'll find my book... !

Meredith's debut YA novel Freshman Year and Other Unnatural Disasters will be released on March 1, 2012 by G.P. Putnam's Sons.

FRESHMAN YEAR follows the ups and downs of a witty, sometimes wild heroine as she navigates the uncharted waters of crushes, friendships, enemies, mysterious photographers, and horrifying school plays.(from Press Release)

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Girl Meets Boy by various authors, ed. by Kelly Milner Halls

Girl Meets Boy
ed. by Kelly Milner Halls
Stories by:
Source:  Publisher

 What do guys and girls really think? Twelve of the most dynamic and engaging YA authors writing today team up for this one-of-a-kind collection of he said/she said stories he tells it from the guy's point of view, she tells it from the girl's. These are stories of love and heartbreak. There's the good-looking jock who falls for a dangerous girl, and the flipside, the toxic girl who never learned to be loved; the basketball star and the artistic (and shorter) boy she never knew she wanted; the gay boy looking for love online and the girl who could help make it happen. Each story in this unforgettable collection teaches us that relationships are complicated because there are two sides to every story.

My Thoughts: 

I was so excited when I first found out about Girl Meets Boy. The title immediately drew me in because it clearly was going to be about relationships. Collaborating authors telling stories from alternating perspectives. Another plus in my book. And yes, a cover that I really like. 

Each story was unique in its own way telling the stories of girls and boys as they build new relationships, reveal crushes, reveal secrets and allow others to see who they really are. Just as in life, not all of the characters are perfect. 

In the first story collection by Chris Crutcher and Kelly Milner Halls, we meet Johnny who wants to learn how to find a girlfriend who isn't so needy or insecure or need a boyfriend who takes care of her. So he approaches one of the toughest girls in school, Wanda Wickam. She appears to have it all together,  but he finds that she needs to be cared for just as much as all of the others. But he needs to learn how to start taking care of himself too.

One of my favorite stories is the collaboration by James Howe/Ellen Wittlinger "Want to Meet"/"Meeting for Real" - the characters of these stories come together because of the need for hope and the possibility of friendship. Alex isn't exactly who she says she is when she introduces herself to Max, but she wants him to be exactly who he says he is to help strengthen her belief in the goodness of people. It ironic that she must present herself as a lie, in order to truth in others. But I don't dislike her because of it. She is actually one of my favorite characters in this collection.

Another story that I liked was "Launchpad to Neptune" by Sara Ryan and Randy Powell. This story is told differently because both perspectives are intertwined to tell Stephanie and Gavin's story. They share a long history of friendship that changes after one rejected kiss. One moment of misunderstanding that isn't reconciled until several years later. This is when we meet Stephanie and Gavin. I love the opening lines to this story:

"The hardest decision the day I was going to meet Gavin: what to wear. 'Your prom dress of course sweetie,' said Dean. 'Shut up,' I said. Then I said the hell with it and wore what I always wear these days. It didn't matter." (pg. 171) 

This is so telling in how this story is going to play out and it made me want to read it quickly to see how it is going to affect the future relationship between the friends and if their friendship will even continue.

I connected with some of the stories more than the others, but they were all filled with characters that I would want to read about again. I want to know what the future holds for Kerry and Rafi from "Mouths of the Granges"/"Mars at Night" after they finally admit to truth of their relationship to their parents.

I also enjoyed Girl Meets Boy because it introduced me to a lot of new authors whose works I'd never read before.  I will be reading their writing in the future, that is a given. I'd recommend this book to anyone who likes reading stories told from alternating perspectives, and stories about realistic relationships between girls and boys.

I received Girl Meets Boy from the publisher and author Kelly Milner Halls in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, February 20, 2012

No More Us for You by David Hernandez

No More Us for You
by David Hernandez
Published by: Harper Teen
Publication Date: January 27, 2009
Pages: 281
Source: Library

For a life to come together, sometimes it first has to fall completely apart. 

Isabel is a regular seventeen-year-old girl, still reeling from the pain of her boyfriend's tragic death exactly one year ago. 

Carlos is a regular seventeen-year-old guy, loves red licorice and his friends, and works at a fancy art museum for some extra cash. 

The two have no connection until they both meet Vanessa, an intriguing new transfer student with a mysterious past. While Vanessa is the link that brings these two very different lives together, will she be the one that can also tear them apart? (from Goodreads)

My Thoughts:

Lately it is very rare that I will select a book to read without knowing anything about it. I find most of my books from author sites, blogs, or bookstore sites that I visit. Or I select books by authors who I have read before. And sometimes I find something great that I wasn't even looking for. No More Us for You is one such book. I went to the library to check out a different book, and I spent a few moments seeing if there were any other books I might want to read. The title snagged me immediately. I just knew it was a book about relationships, obviously, but contemporary and with a title like that, it was going to be smart, clever, entertaining. The copy I have doesn't have the cover art, and honestly it may have made me hesitate just a little bit to read it. While the cover does tie in the with story, I don't think that it captures what the story is about at all.

Told from alternating perspectives (you know how I love this technique), I learned about the lives of Isobel and Carlos. Both guarded coming from broken relationships, they hesitate in beginning a friendship (and possibly more). They both are vulnerable and likable, but smart in knowing that, because of their pasts, a friendship may be the best thing for them. I also got to see the lives of their friends and how their choices and experiences affected Isobel and Carlos.

No More Us for You is filled with teen angst, tenderness, and moments that will rip your heart out and moments that will make your heart feel full. I was happy to meet these characters, see a glimpse into their lives and wish for them to have a bright future.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

In My Mailbox (61)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme run by Kristi at The Story Siren which showcases the books that have been delivered to our mailbox or doorstep or directly into our hot little hands.

 Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
Getting Somewhere by Beth Neff
The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison
Breathing by Cheryl Renee Herbsman
Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson
Split by Swati Avasthi

Life as It Comes by Anne-Laure Bondoux

Paperback Swap

Centauriad #1: Daughter of the Centaurs

from Random Buzzers twitter contest

Audition by Stasia Ward Kehoe 
and swag
from Gabrielle Carolina of The Mod Podge Bookshelf

Thank you to Random House RandomBuzzers, Gabrielle Carolina, and my husband for making this another wonderful week in books!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

And the Winners Are . . .

I held two contest over the past few weeks and both of them ended on Tuesday. Here are the winners:
catherine c

She has won a signed copy of Girl Meets Boy ed. Kelly Milner Halls 
from the Girl Meets Boy blog tour

There were 73 entries and using, number 49 was selected. Congratulations! 
#649 Krystle

She has won a book valued up to $15.00 from B&

#625 Primrose

She has won a book valued up to $15.00 from The Book Depository
There were 672 entries and the winners were selected using
Thank you to everyone who stopped by my blog to enter these contests and to all of my new followers! 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In My Mailbox (60)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme run by Kristi at The Story Siren which showcases the books that have been delivered to our mailbox or doorstep or directly into our hot little hands.


For Review:

Thank you Amanda!
Fangirl buttons from Laurie Boyle Crompton

This week, like pretty much every other week, I treated myself to some books. After reading The Disenchantments for the Southern Book Bloggers arc tours, I loved the book so much that I wanted to have my own copy. You can read my fangirlish review here. I became a fan of Jennifer Hubbard after reading The Secret Year and just had to get her latest, Try Not to Breathe, for my library. 

I also received Amplified as a Random Act of Kindness from Amanda at Letters Inside Out. Amanda was so nice to pass along this ARC to me. Thank you! And author Laurie Crompton sent me some buttons for her upcoming novel Fangirl. I featured Fangirl a couple of weeks ago as my Waiting on Wednesday. It doesn't come out until August, but Laurie was willing to share these fun buttons with me now. Maybe I'll pass one along too.

For review, I received Vampire's Kiss from Penguin. This one just showed up. It is the second in the The Watchers series by Veronica Wolff. I've yet to read the first, Isle of Night - I don't even have it to read. If anyone knows about the series, please share your thoughts. 

I didn't comment on IMMs last week because I went on vacation and had limited computer access, but thanks to everyone who stopped by and left a comment. I plan to check out a lot of IMMs this week. February is filled with some great new releases and I am interested to see what everyone got in their mailboxes!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday: Live Through This

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

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


Live Through This 
by Mindi Scott
Published by: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: October 2, 2012

Sometimes hiding the truth requires more than a lie . . .

From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her from the annoying drama. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a stepdad and mom who would stop at nothing to keep her and her siblings happy and safe.

But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted façade. That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now, Coley and Reece are getting closer, and as Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling.
(from Goodreads)

I'm completely going to have a fangirl moment. I just love Mindi Scott! Her book Freefall was my absolute favorite book of 2010 and immediately wanted to read her next book. Only problem was, it wasn't finished yet. So when Mindi tweeted about the release and cover reveal last week, I admit I was seriously giddy. Live Through This doesn't come out until October, but I can wait. I always have Freefall to read again (and again).

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Follower Love Giveaway Hop

Welcome to the Follower Love Giveaway Hop hosted by I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Rachael Renee Anderson. I've joined this hop to thank all of my blog followers and readers for stopping by blog, reading, commenting and sharing their love of books with me.

I've decided to giveaway a few prizes this time and I am offering some choices. There are some books that I've read this year that I would like others to read to, but I also know from past hops that you guys like choices, so I'm including both! And I've decided there will be TWO WINNERS! One US and one International (as long as The Book Depository ships to you)

For U.S. Winner
The Prize
a choice of these 3 Books


a book valued up to $15.00 from B&

For International Winner
The Prize
a book valued up to $15.00 from The Book Depository

Giveaway Rules:
Must be at least 13 yrs or older
Open to U.S. and International
Following is NOT required
To Enter fill out the form below

Contest ends February 14th 2012 11:59 EST
Winners will be selected using


And while your here, check out my giveaway for Girl Meets Boy.

Now go to I'm a Reader, Not a Writer to see the many participating blogs!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

In My Mailbox (59)

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme run by Kristi at The Story Siren which showcases the books that have been delivered to our mailbox or doorstep or directly into our hot little hands.



Oldsoul by Dan Haring signed (not pictured)
from Dan and Lenore at Presenting Lenore - part of the Apocalypsies Giveaway

and other goodies!
 from Holly for her DBAW Launch

Thank you Lenore, Dan, Holly, Jodi and Mary for making this a fantastic week in books for me. Thanks Shauna for sharing your collection of short stories for FREE! 

And I want to give the stink-eye, yes I said it, to my mail carrier who has once again taken the opportunity to damage some of my books.


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