Tag Archives: maureen johnson

Most Anticipated Books of 2011

I have set my reading goals for 2011; now it’s time to start choosing the books! Below are seven books that I eagerly anticipate reading this year as I aim to complete my goal.

The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia AhernFirst up for release is The Book of Tomorrow by Cecelia Ahern. The January 25th release date is right around the corner. Ahern’s novels are a refreshing change from the ordinary, due to the setting of the books. Her plots seem to take place in a world very similar to our own, with an extra magical layer to them. This fantasy world has worked in all of her books except her last. I hope her newest release is more successful at maintaining the balance between reality and extraordinary.

Delirium by Lauren OliverI named Lauren Oliver’s debut release Before I Fall my favorite read of 2010. I was excited when Oliver announced her next book, Delirium. This book is the first in a trilogy scheduled to be released over the next three years. I usually wait until all of the books have been released to start a series. I plan on breaking this trend with Delirium. The first reason is the book’s description. It reminds me of one of my favorite books, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. The second reason is that my love for Before I Fall has me very eager to has me very eager to read more from Oliver.(Bad Pun Alert!) I am delirious to get my hands on a copy of this book!

Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love by matt logelinOver two years ago I started reading a blog by new dad Matt Logelin. The blog was very different than those by other new fathers. Matt lost his wife less than forty-eight hours after welcoming his daughter into the world. The words on his blog were honest and emotional. I was quickly enthralled by his story. Even though the man was a stranger, I found myself rooting for him as tried to move past the tragedy in his life. He is now telling his story in Two Kisses for Maddy: A Memoir of Loss & Love. The memoir will be released April 14th. I plan to have a box of tissues available for this read; it’s going to be a real tearjerker.

Abandon by Meg CabotMeg Cabot has two books being released in 2011. The first up is Abandon, due out April 26th. This book is the first in a new series she is writing. Her second story–Overbite–is the follow up to her 2010 release Insatiable. I am a bit apprehensive about both stories. Insatiable started strong, but I felt that it got a bit “out there” at the end. I’m hoping this is not the case in Overbite. The description of Abandon gives me the same concern. This is upsetting because I have loved her earlier works. I hope to be able to enjoy her Supernatural releases as well.

The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson Abandon is not the only story I’m excited about being released on the 26th of April. That is also the publication date of the long-awaited sequel to 13 Little Blue Envelopes. I have been eager to get my hands on The Last Little Blue Envelope since Maureen Johnson announced it over a year ago. The original is one of my favorite works by Johnson; I hope the same is true for its sequel. Johnson is also releasing The Name of the Star in September of this year. This book is the first in her “Shades of London” series. I loved her submission in Zombies vs. Unicorns because it was a bit darker than her usual work. I am hoping that this latest series is more of that darker tone. If so I feel it will be one of her more enjoyable novels.

There are two other notable releases I want to mention. On June 21st Ally Carter will release the second book in her Heist Society series. I can’t wait to find out what hi-jinks Kat and crew encounter in Uncommon Criminals. Jen Lancaster is releasing her first work of fiction on May 3rd of this year. I have found her previous memoirs to be hysterical and can’t wait to see what If You Were Here is about.

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Zombies vs. Unicorns by Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier

I loved Geektastic; a YA anthology containing stories from some of my favorite authors. I was excited to check out Zombies vs. Unicorns as it contained short stories by many of the same authors. I hoped that I would enjoy this book as much as Geektastic.

From goodreads.com

Zombies vs. Unicorns book coverIt’s a question as old as time itself: which is better, the zombie or the unicorn? In this anthology, edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier (unicorn and zombie, respectively), strong arguments are made for both sides in the form of short stories. Half of the stories portray the strengths—for good and evil—of unicorns and half show the good (and really, really bad-ass) side of zombies. Contributors include many bestselling teen authors, including Cassandra Clare, Libba Bray, Maureen Johnson, Meg Cabot, Scott Westerfeld, and Margo Lanagan. This anthology will have everyone asking: Team Zombie or Team Unicorn?

I have found reading anthologies to bring mixed results. I generally like the stories by authors I know and struggle through the rest. Sometimes I’ll luck out and find a marvelous story by an author I’d not previously read. This often leads to the discovery of some great new books. When this does not happen, I just end up feeling like I bought a book to only enjoy 25% of it.

Short stories–unlike their longer counterparts–are often unable to focus on anything other than the main plot. Anthologies usually focus on one main plot. If it is a theme I am only slightly interested in, it can lead to the book feeling unnecessarily long. When this happens I find myself having to take a break in between stories in order to finish the book. This is another negative I sometimes find when reading anthologies.

This book suffers a bit from both of these negatives. The main issue I had was that I will never be “Team Zombie.” I realized right after I ordered this book that I dislike most things zombie. Why then did I decide to read a book where I hated the topic of 50% of the book? I hoped that some of my favorite YA authors would be able to change my mind. Some authors were able to write stories about zombies that I enjoyed. For the most part, though, I struggled to get through these pages. Eventually I also started to tire of the “Team Unicorn” stories. The theme of this book was not enough to hold my interest. I found myself taking long breaks between the stories. It took me so long to finish this book that my husband actually made a comment about it.

That being said, there were a few great stories in this book. I found the short story by Maureen Johnson to be fantastic. I thought it might even be her best work that I have read to date. I think the darker topic really allowed her to branch out in terms of story-telling. The result was something much more interesting than her usual “girl meets boy” story. I also enjoyed the tales by two of my favorite authors; Meg Cabot and Scott Westerfeld. A story by an author I had not previously read–Libba Bray–inspired me to add some of her books to my “to-read” shelf.

Review: I hesitate to give this book a rating. I did not find much of the book enjoyable due to the fact it was about a topic I don’t really like. This is not the book’s fault. It clearly states it is about zombies, and yet I still decided to read it. I do feel many of my fellow YA fans would read this book and rate it much higher than I have as they would like the topic subject matter. I do recommend this book as there are some great submissions from some of my favorite YA authors. I would suggest this book as a “borrow” instead of a buy.

Banned Books To Read

Banned Books IconEver since signing up for Banned Books Month, I have been trying to decided which books to read. While I decided fairly quickly to read four books to celebrate the cause–one a week–it has been harder for me to select which four to read. Thanks to links from Steph Su Reads, I’ve been able to find great resources to find banned & challenged books.

The first thing I noticed when browsing the lists is how many of these books I had already read. For example both Looking For Alaska by John Green and The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson have been banned or challenged. I was not surprised to find the Harry Potter series on the list of top 100 challenged books of the decade. The number of banned or challenged books I had previously read as required reading was unexpected. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous–which I read in middle school English–was listed. Also on the list was The Color Purple by Alice Walker, which I read in AP English my senior year of High School. After seeing so many books that I had read, I began to worry that I would have trouble finding new ones to enjoy.

Book Cover of Coraline by Neil Gaiman Eventually I began to find some possibilities that would make interesting blogs for Banned Books Month . I was excited when I noticed Coraline by Neil Gaiman was listed as challenged. This book has been sitting on my “to-read” list for months, waiting for me to purchase it. This challenge would be a great opportunity for me to finally read it.

Book Cover of Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan Boy Meets Boy The second book I added to my list is Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan. While I have read and enjoyed several of the books he has co-written–most recently Will Grayson, Will Grayson–I have yet to read any of his solo efforts. Reading this book for Banned Books month allows me to read a challenged book while checking out some more of his great work.

Book Cover of Twisted by Laurie Halse AndersonLaurie Halse Anderson is an author whose books I have frequently seen mentioned on banned or challenged book lists. Many of my friends have talked about how much they have enjoyed her books. I figured this would be a great chance to check out her work while also reading a banned book. I looked up several of her banned or challenged books on goodreads.com in an attempt to help choose which to read. I decided to add Twisted to my to-read list.

I was pretty successful at picking my first three books. Picking a fourth book has not been as easy. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a possibility. Out of all the books I read during my time in school, I somehow missed this classic. I could read it now and cross it off my “to-read” list, while also reading a banned book. I Was a Teenage Fairy by Francesca Lia Block is another option. This book caught my eye several times as I read different banned/challenged book lists and inspired me to put it on my list. Another alternative is the ttyl Internet Girls Series by Lauren Myracle. The series caught my attention due to the fact it is among the top 10 challenged books of the past few years.

So while I am pretty solid on three of my choices, I’m still wavering on my fourth. I would love some suggestions of what banned books people think I should check out. I know you guys have some great banned book recommendations for me!

Great Book Recommendations

When I make a book recommendation to a friend I am always a tad worried. There is always a fear in the back of my mind that although I loved a book, they could hate it. The same is also true when I pick up a book on the recommendation of a friend. How am I supposed to respond if I hated a book they highly praised? While this has yet to happen, I always get a bit nervous when starting a book plugged by a friend.

My experiences with the Harry Potter series helped me find some great friends. The passion we share for the Harry Potter series often translates to a general love of reading. As that feeling is shared with this great series, I often find many of us to have similar tastes in books. When a love of books and shared interest combine, great book recommendations are often the result.

I credit my discovery of the fantastic world of Young Adult (YA) literature to recommendations from friends. In some cases, the book suggestions come inadvertently. After noticing a few friends commenting on a book on twitter, I will look to get more information about it. Often–as was the case with John Green’s novels– I’ll find myself heading to the bookstore to pick up the book. A love of YA books was born.

My friends are not the only people who recommend books to me via Twitter. I mentioned previously that there are a few fantastic authors that I follow on the site. These authors can also be a great source for recommendations. A while back, Maureen Johnson tweeted how she had written a blurb for Heist Society by Ally Carter. This mention put the book on my radar, and I purchased it on my next bookstore run. I enjoyed the story so much I ended up picking up the author’s Gallagher Girls series. Another successful recommendation!

Sometimes I pick up books based on their covers. Other times I pick up a book based on a suggestion by a friend. While the book cover route has had mixed results, a recommendation from a friend has never let me down. Keep those great book reviews coming, guys!

Authors are all aTwitter

Twitter is a fantastic place to get information out quickly. Many authors have realized this, and they are using Twitter to quickly spread the word about their work. This practice helps authors in reaching their existing readers, communicating with them, and giving them updates about their books. In addition authors are also using Twitter to reach out to new readers. I love using Twitter to find new authors and to keep up with my favorite authors.

An example of an author whose books I started reading after I found them on Twitter is Maureen Johnson (@maureenjohnson). I met Maureen at LeakyCon 2009. After the conference I decided to check out Maureen on Twitter. What I found was a stream of hysterical tweets that inspired me to check out her books. I have since read and ejoyed all of her currently published works. Now I use Twitter to keep up with the status of her next book, The Last Little Blue Envelope, due out May 2011.

I follow my favorite authors on Twitter to find out about their newest projects. When an author announces a new book, Twitter is often the fastest way to find out about it. Jane Green (@JaneGreen) tweeted about possible title choices for her upcoming book. Other authors like Ally Carter (@officiallyally) sometimes tweet excerpts from the works they are editing. Looking for a cover or release date for a book? Check out an author’s Twitter account!

Authors don’t only tweet about books while they are writing them. Authors use Twitter to get the word out about their soon-to-be release books. Meg Cabot (@megcabot) recently tweeted about a book giveaway for her upcoming book release. John Green (@realjohngreen) recently posted his tour dates on Twitter for for his upcoming tour.

I find the best way to keep track of my favorite authors on Twitter is using lists. I have created a Twitter list of some of my favorite authors. Feel free to check it out, and hopefully find a great new author! Have an great author I’m not following? Let me know so I can check them out!