Monday, January 31, 2011

Julie & Julia

On the near eve of my 30th birthday I was watching the movie Julie & Julia. It seemed ironic hearing Julie Powell talk about surviving her 30th birthday while I was still wondering how I felt about mine. In fact, I still am...sort of.

For some reason we valorize some birthdays and fear others. Why is that?

Julie Powell was trying to escape...through cooking and yet through that escape she found herself. Through Julia Child's story and recipes, Julie Powell felt she had come to know a good friend, a confidant, someone else in the struggle.

Isn't this what books do for us as readers? We feel we really do know the characters whether real or fictional and we escape through their stories? When these stories feel parallel to our own personal struggles, there is a certain staying power they have on us. I'm sure we can all rattle off the names of books where this has happened because we carry them along with us wherever we go.

I think this is one of the truly powerful aspects of young adult literature in particular because teens are growing, finding themselves, struggling to fit in and feel wanted and just...figure out life. Sure we're always doing that and we have our own moment of crises of struggles of "oh my God is that what age I am" and "where did I think I'd be at this point in my life" but it's so much more magnified when we are young. That's one thing I'm happy about with turning 30 as compared to when I was younger, I certainly know who I am so much more fully now.

And for all the teens who are still taking this journey and asking the big questions and envisioning what might be in the future, take hold of all that literature out there to help you find it because that will help you in the struggle and when you find those characters or those stories that give you peace of mind that you're not alone, hold on to them and carry them with you. They'll serve you well over the years and one day you'll realize you're not lost but totally and perfectly and utterly on track. You're exactly where you need to be and exactly who you should be. You're perfect.

What books or characters have made you feel that way?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Books of Essays

When I was selecting what to include in my birthday book bash giveaway contest I came across Sand in my Bra and Other Misadventures. I received this book from a friend a while back and decided to pay it forward. I loved it and, in fact, it reminded me how much I adore books of essays.

It's so great to be immersed into a new world, to travel on an adventure with character friends in short digestible bites especially if you're reading during a morning commute like I often do. You can easily consume an entire story in one sitting. What's also unique about short stories is given their length you're thrown into the action straight away.

Here's the book's description:

Button your blouse, here comes a sandstorm of laughs!

Travel isn't always what we dream it will be, but oh, the stories that follow. Share in the hilarious, bizarre, and unforgettable misadventures of 29 women whose trips went comically awry. From Australia to Zambia, up Nepal's mountains and along Mexico's beaches, the true stories in this collection will make you laugh, groan, and sympathize with these travelers who took a trip on the lighter side.

* Lose your panties on a city street in Abu Dhabi with Christie Eckardt

* Dodge beer bottles and punches with Alison Wright as she serves up brew at a wild pub in Australia

* Enjoy the nutty nitty-gritty of Burning Man in the Nevada desert with Christine Nielsen

* Feel the delicious freedom to be fat in Tahiti with Sandra Tsing Loh

* Turn beet red with Kate Crawford in Paris, locked out of her boyfriend's apartment in a t-shirt and nothing more

* Toss your cookies with Deborah Bear as she tests alternative seasickness remedies on a Pacific voyage.

My favorite part of this book is that it's the underbelly mishaps of traveling and as a piece of nonfiction, it's all true. Forget the glamorous, romantic getaways where a character meets a dark, mysterious, dreamy stranger and they fall in love a la many a fiction storyline. I love those fiction stories but I also equally love these.

These are like the Bridget Jones-version of travel stories. And what I adore about Bridget Jones is that on days when things are going awry, Bridget makes me feel like I'm not alone.

The hope too is that the next time your train is heading in the wrong direction and you get off at a different stop or your friends con you into taking an unexpected road trip with no real plans and no map, maybe you'll embrace it or at the very least have good fodder for a story that you can laugh at if not in the moment then at least in retrospect.

Have you had any crazy trip misadventures?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Birthday Bash Book Giveaway!

Well I can't believe it, I am officially standing on the precipice between my 20s and 30s and by February 2nd I will officially be over that edge and the big *gasp* 3-0.

In a strange twist I'm giving away presents on my birthday and the best kind too--books!

Up for grabs include the following:

1. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (and which I discussed here and here)

3. Lucky by Alice Sebold (author of The Lovely Bones)

4. Sand in My Bra and Other Misadventures edited by Jennifer L. Leo (a collection of short stories written by various authors)

5. A softcover of one of my top book club reads from here OR one of the books I listed as my favorite 2010 reads/most anticipated 2011 reads listed here OR one of the dystopian novels I listed here. (Note, if you select one of the 2011 yet-to-be-released books then it will be pre-ordered for you.)

Contest rules:
1. Contest is open nationally and internationally
2. To enter you must be a blog follower
3. Extra entries if you tweet, blog, or Facebook comment about this blog. (Two extra entries if you include a full blog post on this contest.) Be sure to let me know if you do any of the following.
4. To enter the contest simply email me at with the subject line "birthday book contest."
5. Contest closes at 11:59 EST on February 2nd. Winners will be announced in my February 4th blog post.

Good luck and happy reading!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Because Memorable Speeches Live Forever...

This week I've been discussing speechmaking as both storytelling and historical artifacts.

There are so many speeches I could discuss but those that seem truly memorable are not only superior in prose but also delivery. Obama's speech at the 2008 Democratic Convention is one such example. It was amazing to see a not well-known Illinois Senator captivate a room so fully. I believe people on all sides of the political spectrum would find it hard to deny that when he delivers an address, there is a kind of infectious charisma.

My all-time favorite speech, however, is by another president: Theodore Roosevelt. He's not the first person or even probably the second that comes to mind when flipping through the mental filing cabinet of memorable speeches. Perhaps that's because the speech was delivered in 1910 or perhaps because it's birth may not be recognized.

It may in some minds be associated with President Nixon, who quoted it twice or with Nelson Mandela who gave a copy of it to the South African Rugby Team before the start of the 1995 World Cup.

And that speech is Roosevelt's "Citizen in a Republic" (sometimes called "Man in the Arena") and which he gave on April 23, 1910 at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. What I love about this speech is not only its call to action--to be better people, to be better citizens, to strive for more for our republics but Roosevelt's vision of our country and its governance.

We sometimes forget that creating a government by, of, and for the people "represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments." But Roosevelt reminds us that it is us, average citizens, that truly drive the direction of this country. Yes we have that much power if we exercise it, if we're proactive, if we choose to be not on the sidelines of life and government but engaged or, as Roosevelt would say, "in the arena."

Below are a few memorable passages, the most famous section in bold though if you'd like to read it in its entirety, it can be found here.

Today I shall speak to you on the subject of individual citizenship, the one subject of vital importance to you, my hearers, and to me and my countrymen, because you and we are citizens of great democratic republics. A democratic republic such as each of ours—an effort to realize in its full sense government by, of, and for the people—represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments, the one fraught with greatest possibilities alike for good and for evil. The success of republics like yours and like ours means the glory, and our failure the despair, of mankind; and for you and for us the question of the quality of the individual citizen is supreme. Under other forms of government, under the rule of one man or of a very few men, the quality of the rulers is all-important. If, under such governments, the quality of the rulers is high enough, then the nation may for generations lead a brilliant career, and add substantially to the sum of world achievement, no matter how low the quality of the average citizen; because the average citizen is an almost negligible quantity in working out the final results of that type of national greatness.

But with you and with us the case is different. With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average woman, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional crises which call for the heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average can not be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher....

[Roosevelt goes on to juxtapose those of high wealth who sit around and criticize work they've never or never dared to do, with this, the kind of citizen we need to make--and keep--our country great:]

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

Doesn't this last part make you feel motivated...captivated, even?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Speechmaking as Storytelling

I took a "Persuasion: Analyzing Political Texts" class in college. We examined some of the most infamous speeches made during times of crises and unrest, at times when our nation was at a tipping point, sometimes the direction still unknown.

Though most speeches we read, analyzed, deconstructed, and put back together were from presidents, there were a rare few from other public figures--people who were instrumental in shaping politics even if they weren't elected to a political seat because they were still serving their political promise, exercising their right to peacefully assemble, to protest, to speak.

And their words held just as much weight as a president's and just as much promise. What bound all these speakers together whether George W. Bush after September 11 or JFK's inaugural address or MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech is hope. Hope that tomorrow will be better than today and that the vision of this country isn't a mirage but a reality which we seek out and make true.

As writers--and readers--we often forget about the speech-maker but they are storytellers in their own right. Read a speech and it grounds you in time. Hear the powerful delivery and it's like a poetry reading, the words both beautiful and inspiring.

After the explosion of the Challenger, Ronald Reagan gave a speech that's long been tied to his legacy. From the Oval Office he reaffirmed his dedication to continue space exploration in honor of the seven Challenger victims. He said, "We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for their journey and waved goodbye and 'slipped the surly bonds of earth' to 'touch the face of God."

I read words like this and there's nothing I can do but stop and re-read and admire. "Slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God." It combines imagery of space exploration with death and resurrection to heaven in one breadth. It reminds me of the Sistine Chapel, of man reaching out to touch the hand of God. It's both sad and hopeful. It's perfect.

Have any speeches re-defined the way you think of storytelling?

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Honor of MLK

It's difficult to think of Martin Luther King Jr. without thinking of his powerful "I Have a Dream" speech.

I've been to the National Mall for various rallies, protests, and speeches but it's still hard to imagine having experienced first-hand this very important and moving event. And to also feel the emotions all around.

The closest, I suppose, was during Obama's inauguration. I went down there hours beforehand and froze my bottom off just like everyone else. I did, however, have the benefit of meeting a woman who heard Dr. King talk in front of the Lincoln memorial on that hot summer day in 1963. She said coming to watch Obama become president was like witnessing MLK's dream for America: that anything is possible regardless of color, religion, or creed.

She was there for inauguration with her kids and grandkids, wrapped in a blanket and a big smile. She had only been to DC on those two occasions but she said, "Now I've seen it all. That's why I had to bring all my kids." But this made me wonder, maybe this is just a new beginning...and if so, what other dreams do we have for our country, for our children, and for ourselves?

MLK wasn't just a speaker or a leader or a reverend, for us writers he was also a storyteller and, in my opinion, a motivational speaker in its truest sense. You can't hear his words and not want to be better, to do better, to want more...for all of us.

In his honor, I examine speeches as storytelling this week and thank Dr. King for all he did and for the legacy he's left behind. Let us never forget!

(For a complete write-up of all things MLK, check this out.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Club Reads

While we're on the topic of books to read in 2011, I thought examining the top book club reads of 2010 might be another good start. I didn't look over this list before compiling my off the cuff "to be read" post but have been chatting about book club favorites over the last couple of days and so I thought I'd share and, of course, solicit which ones you've read, loved, and would recommend!

According to Book Movement, where over 26,000 book club groups are registered here's the top 20 picks avid readers across America seemed to have their noses in:

-The Help by Kathryn Stockett and which I mentioned here

-The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

I have to include this totally intimidating picture from a recent W magazine shoot for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo movie adaptation. The make-up and hair completely transforms actress Rooney Mara into character Lisbeth Salander to the point Rooney is completely unrecognizable:



-Sarah's Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

-Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jaime Ford. Here's a copy of the query letter for the book that subsequently landed her an agent and a book deal to get this published! This was also a feature in one of my cover love posts.

-The Next Thing on My List by Jill Smolinski

-Little Bee by Chris Cleave and here's an interesting Q & A with the author.

-A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick

-Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

-Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and which has even the amazing John Irving singing its praises.

-The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer and Annie Barrow, which was already on my must read list

-Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen and yes, I admit it I'm excited for this movie adaptation starring Reece Witherspoon and Robert Pattinson *fangirl squee*.

-The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and which I have to give huge props for as it's the only YA book on the list!

-The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein and which I highlighted here and here. Now if you're a follower of the blog then I probably don't have to tell you why I picked up this book. If you're new, let's just say I love dogs and this particular one on the cover reminded me so much of my dog Annie that I had to at least read the book jacket...and then a few pages...and then, of course, buy the book altogether and never stop talking about it :-) So here's the cover that started it all thanks to the great marketing people behind the scenes.

-Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is another nonfiction read which many of you know has been made into a movie. And if you liked this book you may also like How to Sleep Alone in a King Size Bed which I featured here.

-The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls. Serious props to this book as a nonfiction read amidst a sea of fiction.

-The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton

-The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I can't help but find this name hilarious!

-The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

-The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. This has been compared to The Secret Garden which was a fav read of mine when I was younger so I'll definitely have to check this out!

-Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. OMG, if you read about how this book developed and the author's promise to build the first school in an impoverished Pakistani village...well, it's a must read. And, of course, horray for more nonfiction!

I have to admit there are quite a few on this list that I have not cracked open but that's fine by me as it means a great year of reading ahead! So tell me, what is your book club reading these days?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Rise of Dystopian Fiction

My friend Katie and I have been discussing the rise of dystopian fiction especially in young adult literature. I'm sure this is a topic many avid readers have been talking about especially with the wild success of books like Suzanne Collins Hunger Games trilogy, something I listed as one of my absolute favorite reads in 2010.

For those less familiar, dystopia is defined in the dictionary, as "a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding" though I prefer Wikipedia's explanation:

"Dystopia is, in literature, an often futuristic society that has degraded into a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian. Dystopian literature has underlying cautionary tones, warning society that if we continue to live how we do, this will be the consequence. A dystopia, thus, is regarded as a sort of negative utopia and is often characterized by an authoritarian or totalitarian form of government. Dystopias usually feature different kinds of repressive social control systems, a lack or total absence of individual freedoms and expressions and constant states of warfare or violence. Dystopias often explore the concept of technology going "too far" and how humans individually and en masse use technology. A dystopian society is also often characterized by mass poverty for most of its inhabitants and a large military-like police force."

I loved this second definition not only because it's much more thorough but the emphasis on government control and the guise of the dystopian state as utopia is, in my opinion, the essence of the genre. In fact, I couldn't think of a single dystopian novel where the government itself wasn't a key ingredient in shaping the narrative and societal restraints. It's not a society based in some great depression but rather repression.

My first foray into dystopian fiction began in high school, with George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

I came across a great article on the topic of dystopian fiction in YA while writing this post and what struck me most between the young reader in this story and myself back in high school was how far fetched dystopia seemed to me then and how relatable it may be for readers now. When I first read Orwell or Atwood or Huxley, they seemed very science fiction (which, of course, dystopia is related) but today, the idea of Big Brother watching you doesn't seem far fetched. We've seen the lack of privacy with the popularity of the Internet and social networks like Facebook and, of course, there was The Patriot Act and its associated wiretapping of Americans.

Before, the idea of surrogates or physical perfection--and selection--were abnormal ideas but now they seem pretty main stream. And, of course, there's the violence--often from the oppressive government and then the eventual uprising of those they so coldly wish to control. Violence in literature wasn't something I came across much in my early reading years but, today, violence is everywhere. It's in the news (which we're constantly inundated with), in our video games and movies, and sometimes in our very lives. And this article highlighted that for many of today's youth, they do not remember a time when we were not at war.

Another interesting take on this topic was in a New Yorker article. It quotes author Scott Westerfeld. "The success of [the]‘Uglies,’ is partly thanks to high school being a dystopia.”

What an interesting idea and yet...perhaps not so novel. Teens are forced into an adult ruled institution often feeling judged against one another and without very much influence in its overall governing. For those lucky enough to be popular, high school may be a utopia and "the best days of your life" but for others yearning to escape it can be anything but. And it is this too that makes this genre, even in these supposed futuristic places, seem perhaps not that far off. The characters, however, usually have an opportunity for rebellion--something that's heroic and revered and often ends all for the better. But rarely do teens have that opportunity in real life to reverse the things around them they do not like, most especially rules created by adults and institutions in which then enroll.

It is for these two reasons: high school as dystopia and teens not only escaping but relating to the plots, subplots, and characters in dystopian fiction now more than ever, that has contributed to the genre's growing appeal in this age group.

Do you agree? Do you think the view of dystopian literature has changed over the years as our society has?

What great dystopian fiction have you read and would recommend? If you're like me, you're finding more and more options to choose from. In fact, my "to be read" list in 2011 was (now that I think of it) quite lacking in this genre and so I'm officially adding three more reads to my 2011

They include, Matched by Ally Condie, XVI by Julia Karr, and Possession by Elana Johnson.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cutest Thing Ever

My brother and his girlfriend Angela shared the video of the whistling puppy with me. I'd never seen it before and it's just too cute to hog all to myself.

The only strange thing is our golden retriever keeps giving me the eye like I'm hiding a puppy in my shirt because she can't figure out where the noise is coming from.

Anyone else have fav videos from YouTube?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

WTF Thursday

It's been a while since I did a post on this and already, at the start of 2011, there are so many to choose from. This installment, however, is reality TV themed because, really, what doesn't give us more WTF moments than that?

1. Jersey Shore star Snooki, "Why did I wake up in a garbage can?" Polizzi published a book.

2. Kim Kardashian's addiction to all things fake eyelashes

I mean seriously? These things just keep growing and has anyone ever seen her without them?

3. Kelsey Grammer dates ex-wife's doppelganger

Ex-wife Camille Grammer, reality star of The Real House Wives of Beverly Hills:

Soon-to-be fourth wife Kayte Walsh:

These pictures might not do it justice but I swear, if Camille could smile, they'd look the same.

4. While apparently not new it's news to me that there's a reality TV show called Pawn Stars chronicling the daily activities of the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas, Nevada--a 24-hour pawn shop. Seriously. This is a show.

5. And Flava Flav is going to be appearing on a celebrity bowling show. Yes, this Flava Flav, the anti-zen:

Have you had any WTF moments lately?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best books of 2010

The Perpetual Page Tuner, The Story Siren, and YA Bookshelf all did surveys of their favorite books of 2010 (ie. fav books they read in 2010) and I thought I'd participate.

1. Best Book of 2010

Ohhh this is tough. There were three books I read this year that really stood out to me for different reasons and that I truly, madly, deeply loved. They were The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (discussed more in question 6 below), The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares.

2. Worst Book of 2010

I can't really pick a "worst" book because I tend to read books recommended by others with similar taste or I'm fairly certain I'll enjoy.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010

Okay, I'm going to say it and I'll probably get a lot of slack for it but The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. I was disappointed because all the reviews said it was fast-paced right from the beginning so I expected a Dan Brown-esque book when Larsson's style is entirely different. He takes his time to develop the story, the characters, their complicated relationships with one another, and slowly, slowly puts the pieces together for us until the end when it all unravels to a very quick climax and resolution. When it was all said and done, I enjoyed the book and, of course, there's no denying that Larsson is a great writer but it was not in the least what I expected. It's hard to say if that's disappointment or simply my disapproval of it's marketing pitch and reviews but there you have it. It was paced differently and examined a number of darker themes (e.g. sexual abuse) that I wasn't expecting.

4. Most Surprising Book (in a good way!) in 2010

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson which I featured in this post.

5. Book You Recommended to People Most in 2010

I've recommended so many books this year though I think The Luxe by Anna Godbersen may have edged out on this one. It's the first historical fiction YA book I've read so it came up a lot in conversation and even traditional non-YA readers like my mother were all over this series. Here's my review of it back in August.

6. Best Series Discovered in 2010

Hands down this is The Hunger Games. OMG did I tear through this story. I had heard wonderful things about the series and after having listened to author Suzanne Collins talk at this year's National Book Festival, I was all about it.

I loved The Luxe as I stated above but nothing had me up reading all day, through meals, even while I was walking since I quite literally couldn't put it down like The Hunger Games.

7. Favorite New Authors of 2010

Jandy Nelson (debut author in 2010) though I also discovered (ie. read for the first time) Suzanne Collins, Anna Godbersen, Ann Brashares, Allie Larkin, Melissa Bank, Sarah Dessen, Jodi Picoult, and Garth Stein this year.

8. Most Hilarious Read of 2010

This is a tie between The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank and The Idiot Girls' Action Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life by Laurie Notaro. The former tackles more serious issues with tons of wit and the later is just plain laugh out loud and which I discussed in a post here.

9. Most Thrilling Unputdownable Book of 2010

The Hunger Games
, of course.

10. Book You Anticipated the Most for 2010

Hmmm...I don't know if there was one book I anticipated above all others. I certainly heard a lot on the blogosphere about The Sky is Everywhere and Personal Demons (post here) from readers who got their hands on ARC copies. I had also heard, as I'm sure everyone has, about The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series.

11. Favorite Cover(s) in 2010

Some cover war posts here, here, and here.

12. Most Memorable Character in 2010

Katniss in The Hunger Games, Enzo in The Art of Racing in the Rain, Lisbeth in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Charlotte in Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult.

13. Most Beautifully Written Book in 2010

The Sky is Everywhere is written very poetically and Nelson really takes her time to describe the scent of the flowers in the garden, the wind through the trees, and how all of the world reflects and affects the characters.

14. Book that had the Greatest Impact on You in 2010

Handle With Care, which I didn't tear through like some of the others but it definitely made me question myself, and what I'd be capable of doing or saying if it was in the interest of my family (a child in particular). From what I've heard this is classic Picoult and I'm definitely interested to read more of her work to see how, exactly, she's tackled other delicate and complex topics.

15. Book You Can't Believe You Waited Until 2010 to Finally Read

More than specific books, I'm surprised it took me so long to start reading YA. I had no idea the range, depth, and diversity of this genre and based on it's rising success including adult readers, it looks like I'm not the only one.

15b. (I'm adding this to the survey.) What Books Are Definitely on your 2011 Reading List?

Before I Fall
by Lauren Oliver, The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg, Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos, Being Perfect by Anna Quindlen, Time of My Life by Allison Winn Scotch, The Duff (Designated, Ugly, Fat Friend) by Kody Keplinger, Little Earthquakes by Jennifer Weiner, War by Sebastian Junger, Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan, Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Schaffer, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins featured here, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt by Aimee Perkins and featured in a post here, and whatever my book club picks out.

So yes, my taste is eclectic and I'm sure there will be a lot more books added to that list as more recommendations and reviews come out but I'd say that's a pretty good "to be read" list to jumpstart 2011.

But what about you; what were your favorite books in 2010 and what are your most anticipated ones to read in 2011?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year's everyone! I hope 2010 was a fabulous year for you and 2011 turns out to be even better. It's been a lot of fun starting this blog this year and I look forward to improving and expanding on it in 2011. (Wow, I can't believe it's 2011! Time flies!)

If you have any suggestions or requests of things you'd like to see more, please let me know whether it's writing advice, book reviews, giveaways, pop culture, or something new altogether.

I hope your New Year's Eve had someone special swooping in for a kiss during the sometimes dreaded party countdown a la A Lot Like Love (one of my fav movies). If you haven't seen it, I definitely recommend it. It's a cute storyline about timing and love. Here's a clip: