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How to Save a Life, by Sara Zarr

14 Jun

Coming October 18, 2011 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Is it possible to give a book six stars?

This book…this book, you guys. I don’t really know where to begin about it. I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian novels lately, among other plot-driven novels, and novels with paranormal elements to them. It was refreshing to read a novel that was straight-up contemporary. But, by “refreshing,” I do not mean refreshing like a trip to the spa, or a day at the beach, or something else lighthearted and fun.

By “refreshing,” I mean this book made me feel, moved me to compassion and understanding in ways I haven’t felt in a long time (if ever, possibly). Sara Zarr has this utterly incredible talent for writing about the world in ways that are just so real, ways that shine light on life—even the most common, mundane things—in a way you’ve never noticed before.

My favorite books are always the ones that tend to rock my world in some way. The Hunger Games trilogy did that—after Mockingjay, sad as it was, I felt hope. Across the Universe helped me appreciate sunlight, Earth, stars, fresh air, freedom. The Harry Potter books, due to—how do you sum THAT up? Their magical epicness, I guess—were the books that pushed me over the edge toward “I want to write my own novel,” something that has changed my day-to-day life in a very real way. Divergent was an adrenaline rush that made me think about human nature, about the impossibility of perfectionism, the prevalence of flaws in humanity, and the importance of bravery.

How to Save a Life reminded me to assume the best in everyone, and hammered home the notion that there are a lot of broken people in the world who would give anything for a hug, or someone who will listen to them, someone who won’t break their word. Also, it strengthened my appreciation for my amazing parents, wonderful husband, the baby I’ll give birth to in September, and all the little things I tend to take for granted.

Here’s a link to the Goodreads page, where you can read the blurb for this book and put it on your to-read lists.

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Massive Update Like Whoa!

31 Jan

Dear Blogosphere (and Twitterverse, while I’m at it)—

I’m so not ignoring you. I know it must look that way, as it’s been FOR.EV.ER since I last posted. But, seriously: I have a good reason.

It’s called morning sickness. I’ll spare you the details.

Since I’m feeling well enough to type out a little update this morning, here goes. Yes, it’ll be mostly pictures, but whatevs—who doesn’t love pictures, right?

The past two weeks have been full of things like the following:

 

Thanks to the lovely Liza Kane—and the rest of the Internet, who simultaneously and inexplicably exploded their love for Veronica Mars one day last week—I proceeded to get myself hooked on the series. I am only, like, seven episodes in to the series, and I know I’m ridiculously behind the rest of the world. That said? DO NOT SPOIL IT FOR ME. Or else.

I have joined the ranks of e-reader readers. Thanks to this post by the fabulous Natalie Whipple, I decided to devote a good chunk of my birthday money to a sleek gray Kindle like the one you see here. Before Natalie’s post, I wasn’t sold on how useful it would be to me, but since I do a fair amount of beta reading (and, let’s face it, regular reading) I decided to take the plunge. The verdict? AMAZING.

These Jamba Juice Sorbet & Yogurt Bars are INCREDIBLE. I’ve been eating the Vanilla Strawberry Jubilation flavor, but while looking for a photo to use—the one pictured above—I stumbled across a whole blog post that informed me of four other incredibly incredible looking flavors. Want…neeeeeeeeed…

And, finally, we have Seryn. This band is fantastic. I posted a shout-out about them on Twitter last week, and I’ll say it again—check out their music. They’re wicked talented and their sound is chill in a really refreshing way. PS: I am not just saying that because I’m friends with three-fifths of the band. (The bass player, the awesome dread-headed girl, and the one with the banjo, FYI.) They just released their first album last week—it’s called This is Where We Are, and you can find it on iTunes or listen to a sample here. [UPDATE! Paste Magazine posted a video of the title track from Seryn’s new ablum—you can watch it here.]

Okay, that’s it for now. Must get back to watching Veronica Mars. I’ll post again soon, but disclaimer: my MWF posting schedule may be a bit erratic for a while.

Want to Win (the FABULOUS) Across the Universe?

10 Jan

Last week, I wrote a (very long) blog post about three of the best books I read last year.  One of them—Beth Revis’s fabulous debut, Across the Universe—comes out TOMORROW, 1-11-11!

If you’re still unsure about this book, no matter how much people have hyped it—or, possibly, because people have hyped it—I have ideas for you.

one:

First, you might want to learn a little bit more about it.  If so, here is a link to The League of Extraordinary Writers, a blog featuring posts by five debut authors who write YA dystopians.  The link above will take you to a post with a gorgeous trailer for the book, a summary about it, ISBN numbers for both hardcover and audio versions, and a list of other noteworthy links you might want to check out.

two:

After you check that out, and you’re STILL not convinced you want to run out to the store tomorrow, buy it, and read for the rest of the day, you can enter to win it on Liza Kane’s blog!  In honor of her birthday (and mine, really, since it IS Birthday Season this month), she’s holding her first contest—and, yes, it’s open internationally—so, go check it out here! (Contest open until January 17, 2011)

three:

If you already plan to buy the book in stores, and haven’t heard of Beth Revis’s Epic Launch Giveaway Extravaganza (not its official title, but it totally should be…), you must check it out.  There are a TON of chances to win, and the prizes are awesome—sweet looking water bottles, signed hardcover copies of the book, buttons, an iPod touch nano, for example.  For official information on how to win, click here.  (Contest open until January 25, 2011)

Good luck and happy reading to you all!

I ♥ Books

5 Jan

The holidays are over, and the New Year is here.  What does that mean?¹

Well, many of you are writerly types.  Which, by necessity, means you are also readerly types.  And, being writerly-readerly types, your stockings may have been filled with gift cards to Barnes and Noble (because they’re cheaper than the infinitely more dreamy MacBook Air, which—not coincidentally—wouldn’t fit into a stocking, anyway).

So, what is a writer/reader to DO with all those gift cards?

Buy AWESOME books.  Like these:

Anna and the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins

This book came out in December.  I had HUGE expectations (and slight hesitation), because everyone was buzzing on Twitter about how much they adored it.

Well…it lived up to the hype.  This story—about Anna, who attends boarding school in Paris and meets the übercharming Étienne St. Clair—looks simple on the surface.  BUT.  Stephanie Perkins is a fabulous writer.  Her work is so subtly woven together, and it has depth.

I am a fan of depth.  And charm.

This has both.  Read it, love it.

Across the Universeby Beth Revis

(out in LESS THAN A WEEEEEEK!) (Specifically, out on 1-11-11)

I read this book back in October, around the time I wrote this post (the one with my cover of the Beatles’ song of the same name).

OH MY WORD.  It’s finally, finally, FINALLY (almost) in bookstores.

This book was so good, it inspired me to scour Goodreads for a few hours just to track down a copy for Melissa to read.

Why was it so good, you ask?

Well.  First of all, the entire story intrigued me.  Cryogenically frozen people?  Check.  Spaceship?  Check.  Girl unfrozen and woken up fifty years early—before her parents, and before they land on the new planet?  Check.  As if those elements weren’t enough to make me go, “Huh.  This seems different…and interesting…and awesome…” Beth‘s first chapter was online.  It’s amazing, and it hooked me, and I read the whole book as soon as I could get my hands on it.

Also, I loved the way this book was written.  Even now, three months after I read it, it STILL resonates with me.  It was a beautiful, satisfying read, from the first page to the last.  It made me look at life, and the world in which we live, with newfound appreciation.

 

Happy reading!

¹OTHER than the fact that it is Birthday Season, I mean. (FYI, Birthday Season = January. My grandmother and I have always celebrated the whole month, and now, I’m including lovelies Liza Kane and Anna Caro in this celebration, too…)