Happy Halloween!

I hope everyone has enjoyed their Halloween weekend! Sadly, I can't do an In My Mailbox this week because I didn't get any books :( BUT! This past Wednesday was my birthday and I was lucky enough to get a couple of great gifts. My boyfriend's family sent me an Amazon gift card and my boyfriend surprised me after taking me out to dinner with a Nook! I was so giddy about that, he kept laughing at me. I haven't had a chance to read on it yet because of the stack of books I got at the library last week. I'm also planning to splurge on some books with the gift card but I feel overwhelmed in trying to choose. What are some recently released books you all have enjoyed?

I'll leave you all with a couple of photos from the Halloween party I attended last night. Did any of you have fun costumes?


Book Review: The Line by Teri Hall

Book: The Line by Teri Hall
Published: 2010, Dial Books
Genre: YA Dystopian Fiction
Pages: 219 pages
Where I got it: the library
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Rachel lives with her mother on The Property. The good thing about living there is that it's far from the city, where the oppressive government is most active. The bad thing, at least to most people, is that it's close to the Line - an uncrossable section of the National Border Defense System, an invisible barrier that encloses the entire country.

She can see the Line from the greenhouse windows, but she is forbidden to go near it. Across the Line is Away, and though Rachel has heard many whispers about the dangers there, she's never really believed the stories. Until the day she hears a recording that could only have come from across the Line.

It's a voice asking for help.

Who sent the message? What is her mother hiding? And to what lengths will Rachel go in order to do what she thinks is right?

Written in mesmerizing prose, this futuristic debut examines one girl's struggle to risk crossing - not just the barrier, but the lines her mother has drawn to keep her safe from the secrets that Rachel is only just beginning to discover.

My thoughts: The Line is one part dystopian fiction, one part paranormal. Rachel and her mother, Vivianne, live on The Property owned by the prim and curmudgeonly Ms. Moore. The government has been redesigned to rule all but Rachel has begun to question the sheltered life she has always known at The Property. The book starts out pretty slow but the action in the last 75 pages or so really redeemed it for me. I didn't love The Line, but I think it did a decent job pulling me in for at least the next book in the series. Once Rachel learned about the past of her family and her mom's employer, Ms. Moore, I was hooked. 

I read this book in about a day, as it's a pretty short novel at only 219 pages and each chapter is on average 5-8 pages. I really liked Rachel's character. She was so brave to offer to Cross the Line in order to save a man she has never met. We see her character beginning to grow into a young woman as The Line progresses. I do find it a little unbelievable that Rachel's mom, Vivianne, would actually let her go knowing that she may never be able to Cross back to their side. I'm definitely going to pick up the sequel, Away, when it is released sometime in 2011. I'm looking forward to finding out if Rachel's father is alive somewhere among the Others, what exactly the Others are, and if she'll be able to be reunited with her Mom.

The verdict: 3 stars  


Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jennifer at Crazy for Books. This week's question is:
What is one bookish thing you would love to have, no matter the cost?

My answer: I have been dreaming about having a room with wall to wall bookshelves, perhaps a window seat and some french doors. In the room, I would also have a big comfy chair where I could curl up and do all of my reading. Someday!

Thanks for stopping by my blog!


Book Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Book: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Published: 1959, Penguin
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 246
Where I got it: the library
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Amazon): Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has unnerved readers since its original publication in 1959. A tale of subtle, psychological terror, it has earned its place as one of the significant haunted house stories of the ages.
Eleanor Vance has always been a loner--shy, vulnerable, and bitterly resentful of the 11 years she lost while nursing her dying mother. "She had spent so long alone, with no one to love, that it was difficult for her to talk, even casually, to another person without self-consciousness and an awkward inability to find words." Eleanor has always sensed that one day something big would happen, and one day it does. She receives an unusual invitation from Dr. John Montague, a man fascinated by "supernatural manifestations." He organizes a ghost watch, inviting people who have been touched by otherworldly events. A paranormal incident from Eleanor's childhood qualifies her to be a part of Montague's bizarre study--along with headstrong Theodora, his assistant, and Luke, a well-to-do aristocrat. They meet at Hill House--a notorious estate in New England.
Hill House is a foreboding structure of towers, buttresses, Gothic spires, gargoyles, strange angles, and rooms within rooms--a place "without kindness, never meant to be lived in...."
Although Eleanor's initial reaction is to flee, the house has a mesmerizing effect, and she begins to feel a strange kind of bliss that entices her to stay. Eleanor is a magnet for the supernatural--she hears deathly wails, feels terrible chills, and sees ghostly apparitions. Once again she feels isolated and alone--neither Theo nor Luke attract so much eerie company. But the physical horror of Hill House is always subtle; more disturbing is the emotional torment Eleanor endures. Intense, literary, and harrowing, The Haunting of Hill House belongs in the same dark league as Henry James's classic ghost story, The Turn of the Screw.

My thoughts: 
As far as a haunted house story goes, The Haunting of Hill House is one of the creepiest that I've read. The doors that would always slam shut and the way the house seemed to purposely get each person lost were the little things that made me regret that I was reading my flashlight in my dark bedroom. Some of the other things that added to this book's creep factor were the cold spot in the house and the banging that would happen in the hallways in the middle of the night that only certain people could hear. There was one particular moment of hand holding in the dark that had me shivering with fright. It reminded me of The Shining in many ways. If you're a Stephen King fan or you are into psychological thrillers, I would highly recommend this book.

With that said, I've been having trouble deciding if I actually liked The Haunting of Hill House or not.  The characters all seemed to change personalities from one minute to the next. I felt confused on whether Eleanor and Theodora liked each other. At times it was like they felt as though they were long lost friends and then at other times we would get Eleanor's internal monologue about how much she hated Theodora. I think that Shirley Jackson meant for us to dislike the characters but overall it just made me feel indifferent about the ending. I don't know if it was the house that was making everyone act weird or if everyone was just bipolar. There was so much buildup as the house was biding its time before it claimed one of the visitor's for its own but I wasn't overly shocked, nor did I feel bad for the person it chose. I did enjoy the buildup but I was slightly let down in the end. However, it was refreshing to read a ghost story that's strictly spine tingling instead of full with gore.

The verdict: 3 stars


Top Ten Tuesday - Books for Halloween

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.This week, we're talking about our favorite spooky books for Halloween, which just so happens to be my favorite time of year!

1. Scary Stories to Tell In The Dark by Alan Schwartz - as a kid, I LOVED scary stuff and these books were so creepy. The illustrations were pretty terrifying too.
2. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson - I'm reading this one currently and loving the spooky feel!
3. The Shining by Stephen King - this is my favorite Stephen King novel. Super creepy story and the movie is great as well!
4. Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger - I read this around Halloween last year and while it's not as good as Niffenegger's first novel, I thought it presented itself well as a creepy read for Halloween.
5. Fear Street series - loved these as a kid. R.L. Stine definitely knows how to scare me!
6. Dracula by Bram Stoker - I read this last year at Halloween. I wasn't completely crazy for it but it's one of the original horror stories. I liked reading the simplified version of what a vampire is like instead of all the variations we have in the vamp novels out there now.
7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - my thoughts on Frankenstein are similar to those of Dracula. Even though I didn't love it, I think everyone should read this at least once around Halloween.
8. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski - loved the haunted house part of this book, the rest I could have done without. Definitely spooked me!

I can't believe I can't think of any more. I read so many horror stories as a kid, I wish I could remember all of them.


Book Review: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Book: House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Published: 2000, Random House
Genre: Fiction
Pages: 662
Where I got it: my wonderful local library
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Had The Blair Witch Project been a book instead of a film, and had it been written by, say, Nabokov at his most playful, revised by Stephen King at his most cerebral, and typeset by the futurist editors of Blast at their most avant-garde, the result might have been something like House of Leaves. Mark Z. Danielewski's first novel has a lot going on: notably the discovery of a pseudoacademic monograph called The Navidson Record, written by a blind man named Zampanò, about a nonexistent documentary film--which itself is about a photojournalist who finds a house that has supernatural, surreal qualities. (The inner dimensions, for example, are measurably larger than the outer ones.) In addition to this Russian-doll layering of narrators, Danielewski packs in poems, scientific lists, collages, Polaroids, appendices of fake correspondence and "various quotes," single lines of prose placed any which way on the page, crossed-out passages, and so on.
Now that we've reached the post-postmodern era, presumably there's nobody left who needs liberating from the strictures of conventional fiction. So apart from its narrative high jinks, what does House of Leaves have to offer? According to Johnny Truant, the tattoo-shop apprentice who discovers Zampanò's work, once you read The Navidson Record,
For some reason, you will no longer be the person you believed you once were. You'll detect slow and subtle shifts going on all around you, more importantly shifts in you. Worse, you'll realize it's always been shifting, like a shimmer of sorts, a vast shimmer, only dark like a room. But you won't understand why or how.
We'll have to take his word for it, however. As it's presented here, the description of the spooky film isn't continuous enough to have much scare power. Instead, we're pulled back into Johnny Truant's world through his footnotes, which he uses to discharge everything in his head, including the discovery of the manuscript, his encounters with people who knew Zampanò, and his own battles with drugs, sex, ennui, and a vague evil force. If The Navidson Record is a mad professor lecturing on the supernatural with rational-seeming conviction, Truant's footnotes are the manic student in the back of the auditorium, wigged out and furiously scribbling whoa-dude notes about life. Despite his flaws, Truant is an appealingly earnest amateur editor--finding translators, tracking down sources, pointing out incongruities. Danielewski takes an academic's--or ex-academic's--glee in footnotes (the similarity to David Foster Wallace is almost too obvious to mention), as well as other bogus ivory-tower trappings such as interviews with celebrity scholars like Camille Paglia and Harold Bloom. And he stuffs highbrow and pop-culture references (and parodies) into the novel with the enthusiasm of an anarchist filling a pipe bomb with bits of junk metal. House of Leaves may not be the prettiest or most coherent collection, but if you're trying to blow stuff up, who cares?

My thoughts: House of Leaves has been on my to-read list for at least 4 years now but the sheer weight of the book has always had me putting it off. Since I joined my local library recently and a group I belong to on Goodreads was planning to tackle it for one of our October group reads, I finally put a copy on hold at the library. I've read a few reviews in the last week since I began the journey of reading it myself. Many people have said they don't understand why it is considered scary. To those people I say, what were you reading? I wasn't having nightmares or anything, but I was certainly spooked. Sure, if you only pay attention to the editor in the book, Johnny Truant's, asides about his own life, it's not scary. The retelling of The Navidson Record, which is what House of Leaves revolves around, had me completely engrossed most of the time. There were parts that read like a textbook, making it a little difficult to follow and absorb, but for the most part I flew through this book. Poltergeist is one of my favorite movies ever, so a story about a house that is essentially alive and changing form inside gets two thumbs up for me.

I wasn't really a fan of how much work it was to read House of Leaves at times. There were sections where words were strewn about the pages and I wasn't sure where exactly the next line was or I had to reread a couple of times in order to piece together what was going on. There was a stretch of pages that had only a word or a single line on them. Even though it adds to the suspense and somewhat schizophrenic feel of the novel, I couldn't help but think of how much paper was wasted on that. The use of photos, collages, letters etc. was a fun effect but there were pieces that I didn't really understand what they had to do with The Navidson Record or House of Leaves.

Like I mentioned earlier in this review, reading House of Leaves was like a journey because it took such an effort to read and there are quite a few story lines to follow. I liked it but I could have done without all of Johnny Truant's stories. None of them had anything to do with The Navidson's, other than him going crazy while obsessing over The Navidson Record just like Navidson became obsessed with his house. I think I would have much rather just read the whole account of The Navidson Record and the mysterious house on Ash Tree Lane that sucked people and objects into its depths, getting them lost and driving them slowly insane.

The verdict: 3 stars 


In My Mailbox/ Weekly Reading Wrap-Up (5)

In My Mailbox is a weekly feature hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren. This week I finally made it to the library to pick up my copy of House of Leaves that I put on hold. I meant to only go in, grab the book and get out... Let's face it though, that was never going to happen. While I was there I also got:
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
The Line by Teri Hall
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Travels With Charley by John Steinbeck

I'm slowly crossing off my list of books I've been dying to read, as mentioned in a Top Ten Tuesday post I did awhile ago, so I'm pretty pleased about that!

In the last week, I read and reviewed Frankenstein (in case you missed it- HERE) and started reading House of Leaves, which I'm just about done with. I'm glad to be getting some spooky reading in as Halloween approaches.


Book Blogger Hop!

Book Blogger Hop

The Book Blogger Hop is hosted by Jen at Crazy-for-Books. If this is your first time hopping by, drop me a comment so I can check out your hop as well. Happy hopping!

This week's question is: Where is your favorite place to read?

My answer: I've been learning to read just about anywhere these days, but one of my favorite places is on a beach chair on the roof deck of my apartment. I love to go up there in the warm sun and just relax. When it's cold, I usually choose to sprawl out on the couch under my favorite fleece blanket. Our new apartment has a fireplace that I can't wait to start using in the coming months!


Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Book: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Published: 1818
Genre: Fiction/Classic
Pages: 220
Where I got it: bought at a book sale years ago
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): The epic battle between man and monster reaches its greatest pitch in the famous story of Frankenstein. In trying to create life, the young student Victor Frankenstein unleashes forces beyond his control, setting into motion a long and tragic chain of events that brings Victor himself to the very brink. How he tries to destroy his creation, as it destroys everything Victor loves, is a powerful story of love, friendship …and horror.

My thoughts: With it being so close to Halloween, I decided it was time to pull Frankenstein off my bookshelf. It didn't end up being that spooky, but I think I would have liked it less if I read it any other time of year. I also remember having a copy of Frankenstein when I was a kid, but I have a feeling it was adapted for kids because I remember it being quite easy to read. This time around, I had more trouble following the story in the beginning. As with many classics, the language in Frankenstein is very wordy. As I read on though, I came to enjoy the eloquent language and the story sucked me in. It helped to read the Sparknotes after each chapter, as I found there were small details I didn't pick up on in the book itself. Since I already knew the basic story of Frankenstein (who doesn't?), that also helped in my reading.
As far as the characters go, I felt bad for the monster. He became a very intelligent being after learning so well from the secret teachings of Felix, unbeknownst to him. His desire for a female version of himself humanizes him. He wants someone familiar that he can love, which is something almost every human hopes for in life. When he doesn't get what he wants from his creator, he lets himself become the monster he so desperately did not want to be by taking away Victor's loved ones so that he would know the monster's pain. I found it interesting that even in the early 1800's, appearance played such a large role on being accepted into society. 
I did not like Victor much. I didn't feel like there was much character development for him. He created this monster that was killing the important people in his life and would blame it on himself, then fall into a fever for months. This pattern happened repeatedly. At first he agreed to the creation of the female monster in order to protect the family that was threatened, but then he decides it's a bad idea and destroys his progress. He is being tortured by both the monster and himself and I'm surprised he lasted as long as he did. There wasn't much more to his character. He was a coward for abandoning his creation because of it's appearance and I believe he deserved the torture he was put through. In fact, I felt the whole story was lacking. With the numerous adaptations of Frankenstein over the years, little details have been added that were not in the original story. This came as a disappointment to me. There just wasn't enough excitement. Overall, I thought Frankenstein was a decent story that I'm glad I read during the month of October. The language made it enjoyable enough to read but I would have liked there to be more action.

The verdict: 2 stars 


Blogger Hop!

The book blogger hop is a weekly meme hosted by Crazy-for-Books. Thanks for hopping by! If this is your first time here, have a look around :)
Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is: When you read a book that you just can't get into, do you stick it out and keep reading or move to your next title?

My answer: I always finish a book, no matter how awful it is. It's probably a bad thing wasting my time on books I don't enjoy but I get very OCD about my book reading. Once I've started a book, I can't leave it unfinished. I also like to give the author the benefit of the doubt, hoping it will get better in the end.


Book Review: No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by Miranda July

Book: No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories by Miranda July 
Published: Scribner, 2007
Buy It:

Summary (from Goodreads):
Award-winning filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a startling, sexy, and tender collection. In these stories, July gives the most seemingly insignificant moments a sly potency. A benign encounter, a misunderstanding, a shy revelation can reconfigure the world. Her characters engage awkwardly -- they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate. With great compassion and generosity, July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that govern their lives. No One Belongs Here More Than You is a stunning debut, the work of a writer with a spectacularly original and compelling voice.

My thoughts: I think I missed the part about this book being "sexy" when I first heard about it. No One Belongs Here More Than You is a collection of short stories by the filmmaker Miranda July. I've seen her movie, Me, You and Everyone We Know and really enjoyed the awkwardness in it. However, the stories in this collection I found to be a little too bizarre most times. I first started listening to this as an audiobook back in July when my boyfriend and I were on our road trip across the country. We were both pretty weirded out by some of the stories and had to listen to them in bits because so many were depressing. We got through about half of the book on that trip and then I recently checked it out of the library to finish the second half. There were a couple of stories toward the end that I enjoyed enough to make up for where others were lacking. Many of the characters were awkward to the point that it made me uncomfortable for them and I had to push myself to read on. There were also quite a few sex scenes (mostly imagined by the characters) that I felt didn't belong because it took away from the innocence and naivete that July had spent time building up in each story. I really wanted to enjoy this collection after hearing many rave reviews and being a fan of July's film. It just didn't live up to the hype for me.

The verdict: 2 stars 


Book Review: Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Book: Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Published: McElderry, 2007
Pages: 544
Genre: Young Adult
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Raised in a stern, abusive Mormon household, a teenage girl starts to question her religion and struggles to find her destiny.

Her father is abusive, her mother is submissive, and her church looks the other way. Confused and angry, Pattyn Von Stratten acts out and is sent to live with an aunt on a Nevada ranch. She finds the love and acceptance she craves, with disturbing consequences.

My thoughts:  When Pattyn Von Straten begins to question her religion, she causes a stir in school and in the mormon community she grew up in. Her parents send her away to live with her aunt for the summer where Pattyn continues to question her beliefs. As she does so, she sheds her old self and becomes this new woman who can do anything she puts her mind to. The changes she goes through are mainly impart to her budding relationship with Ethan, the college boy she meets and falls in love with over the summer.

Burned is written entirely in prose, which annoyed me at first but by the end of the book I came to like the style. It made for a very quick read, despite the size of the book (over 500 pages).  I've read a lot of young adult books dealing with abuse lately, not on purpose. It's been interesting to see the common themes of these novels and how each author approaches the subject. I really liked Pattyn because she was strong and not afraid to challenge authority. She asked the questions she was thinking about her religion, even when she knew the people she was asking would not be happy with her thoughts. When she moved in with her aunt for the summer, I was so happy for her that she was able to get away from her family who treated her so unfairly. She developed a close bond with her aunt who encouraged Pattyn to be the woman she wanted to be and not the woman her religion told her she had to be. When she met Ethan, she found a once in a lifetime kind of love and it seemed like he was going to save her. It took great courage for Pattyn to go back home when her parents decided she was needed again to take care of the new baby. She knew that her father was beating her younger sister and if she went back she would have to share the beating. After losing her virginity to Ethan over the summer, Pattyn's worst nightmare is confirmed- she is pregnant. Back at home, the problems with her parents were escalating. She had to make her escape or her father would kill Ethan and probably her as well if he found out about the baby, so they planned an escape. 

As Burned wraps up, we realize Hopkins is probably not going to give us the happy ending we so hoped for Pattyn and Ethan. The cliffhanger ending actually got on my nerves. I felt like there were other options. She could have told her aunt about her dad. She would have done anything to help Pattyn. Instead, she and Ethan keep everything a big secret which ends up getting out anyway. I also would have liked to know what she chose to do when she learned of what happened to Ethan and their baby. While it did make for a more dramatic ending, I felt like I deserved to know what happened to Pattyn. She came so far, only to be sucked back into the drama of her religion and the family rules. I would recommend this novel for anyone looking for a fast read with substance that will keep you turning the pages.

The verdict: 3 stars 


In My Mailbox/ Weekly Reading Wrap-Up (4)

This week was a little slow for me reading-wise. I finished Evernight and posted my review here. I also read Burned by Ellen Hopkins (review coming soon). I'm now reading No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July.

My mailbox was also pretty empty this week, sadly. I only got one new book from Bookmooch, The Accidental by Ali Smith. Thanks again to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting IMM!


Book Blogger Hop

It's Friday! Hopefully soon that will mean more to me than just another day of the week- I finally got a call to interview for the job I've been hoping for. Of course, Friday also means it's time for the Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy-for-Books.

Book Blogger Hop

This week's question is: What's your favorite beverage while reading or blogging, if any?

My answer: I LOVE drinking tea while I read (if the weather is cold enough). It's so soothing. If I'm out reading in the sun, I always have a nice cold glass of water next to me. When I'm blogging, I don't typical drink anything. I'm a bit clumsy so I try to keep drinks away from my precious Macbook :)

For those of you participating in the Readathon this weekend, good luck! I wish I had the time to joing you. Thanks for hopping by!


Book Review: Evernight by Claudia Gray

Book: Evernight by Claudia Gray
Published: HarperTeen, 2008
Genre: Young Adult
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Bianca wants to escape.
She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.
Then she meets Lucas. He's not the "Evernight type" either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.
"I couldn't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."
But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.

My thoughts:  The first 150 pages or so of Evernight, I was trying to figure out what compelled me to check this book out of the library or why I was still reading it. Not much was happening and I was already almost half way through. Bianca was trying to make it through her first semester at the creepy boarding school, Evernight, where her parents were newly employed. She acts like an outcast and hints that there are things that separate those who "belong" there and those who don't. Although the synopsis on the back of the book doesn't mention vampires specifically, it is pretty obvious that this is another teen vampire novel. So where were the vampires?? Not even a real mention of them aside from Bianca's sort of friend, Raquel, who suspects they exist. 
Finally, around the 150 page mark we learn the secrets of Evernight and Bianca's story comes spilling out. Once it started picking up, I found myself unable to put the book down. Eventually we learn that Bianca's boyfriend, Lucas, has a secret of his own, making it near impossible for the two of them to be together. I found Bianca a little annoying with her whole "Lucas belongs to me" attitude, but otherwise she was likable enough. I wasn't really a fan of Bianca and Lucas even before we learned of their true selves. I was rooting for Balthazar to win Bianca over in the end. I think I'll be picking up the next installment in the series, Stargazer. I'm interested to see what becomes of Bianca and Lucas' love story.

The verdict: 3 stars 


Book Review: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen

Book: Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
Published: Penguin, 2000
Genre: Young Adult
Buy It: Amazon

Summary (from Goodreads): Strange, sleepy Rogerson, with his long brown dreads and brilliant green eyes, had seemed to Caitlin to be an open door. With him she could be anybody, not just the second-rate shadow of her older sister, Cass. But now she is drowning in the vacuum Cass left behind when she turned her back on her family's expectations by running off with a boyfriend. Caitlin wanders in a dream land of drugs and a nightmare of Rogerson's sudden fists, lost in her search for herself.
Why do so many girls allow themselves to get into abusive relationships--and what keeps them there? In this riveting novel, Sarah Dessen searches for understanding and answers. Caught in a trap that is baited with love and need, Caitlin must frantically manage her every action to avoid being hit by the hands that once seemed so gentle. All around her are women who care--best friends, mother, sister, mentor--but shame keeps her from confiding in any of them, especially Cass, her brilliant older sister, whose own flight from home had seemed to point the way.
Dessen has here created a subtle and compelling work of literature that goes far beyond the teen problem novel in a story rich with symbolism, dark scenes of paralyzing dread, quirky and memorable characters, and gleams of humor. With the consummate skill and psychological depth that brought her praise for Keeping the Moon, she explores the search for self-identity, the warmth of feminine friendships, and the destructive ways our society sets up young women for love gone wrong.

My thoughts: I enjoy Sarah Dessen when I'm looking for something light and quick to read. I wasn't really familiar with this one and it just so happened that it was very similar to the last book I read, Speak. I think that I would have enjoyed this much more if I had not read two similar novels back to back.  Nonetheless, it still was a quick read for me and I didn't dislike it.
Caitlin has always lived in her older sister, Cass', shadow. Cass is secretly tired of her parents controlling her life and ends up running away with her boyfriend. While Caitlin and her family learn to deal with the temporary loss of Cass, Caitlin is also trying to figure out how to live her life apart from Cass. She begins dating Rogerson, the mysterious rich guy she met at a carwash. Things with Rogerson are great for awhile and get even better when Caitlin learns Rogerson's father beats him. This brings the couple much closer as she is able to help him deal with his abusive father. Things start to take a turn as Rogerson begins to get jealous and angry more often. Suddenly it seems he is no different from his father. To numb the pain, she starts smoking pot regularly and continues spending all of her time with Rogerson trying to keep him happy. Caitlin becomes almost dead inside from all the pain Rogerson has caused her but she still refuses to tell anyone what is going on. She is able to hide her cuts and bruises. The night of her parent's annual April Fools party, her world finally comes crashing down and her secret comes out.
I actually felt that Caitlin was much more likable than Melinda in Speak. She felt real to me. She had developed this connection and love with Rogerson and then suddenly a switch was flipped in him and her life was changed. Although she never seemed to think about leaving him, she recognized that what he was doing to her was wrong. It tore her apart to know that someone who loved her could hurt her so badly. I really hoped that her friend Corinna would figure out what was wrong and save her much earlier, but that didn't happen. The only good thing that came out of Caitlin and Rogerson's relationship was the the friendship she found in Corinna. Her other best friend, Rina (really? Corrina and Rina??) was a pretty awful friend too caught up in her own life to see there was something seriously wrong. I could not stand her. All along, Caitlin was missing someone she could confide in. She got too lost in her own head to save herself. She was trying to step out of Cass' shadow, which she managed to do but in the wrong way. Overall, this was a pretty decent book about abuse in relationships and what NOT to do. A little heavier than the other Sarah Dessen books that I've read, but it offers a good message about speaking up if you or someone you know if the victim of abuse.

My thoughts: 3 stars

Top Ten Tuesday - Favorite Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme started by The Broke and The Bookish. This week, we share our top ten favorite authors.

1. J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter is really what got me back into reading in college. After being a voracious reader through elementary and middle school, I didn't read for pleasure in high school too much. In college, I decided to start the HP series when I was bored and got hooked. I'm very grateful to Ms. Rowling for that!
2. Markus Zusak - Both The Book Thief and I Am The Messenger were fantastic books and I can't wait to read more from Zusak.
3. Nicole Krauss - The History of Love really made an impact on me and I've heard so many great things about Great House.
4. J.D. Salinger - The Catcher in the Rye was pretty much the first book I ever classified as my favorite. It was also the first required reading I'd ever really fallen in love with. I know many people dislike Salinger and don't understand this novel but I just love it. Franny and Zooey is the only other I've read so far and I enjoyed it as well.
5. Jonathan Safran Foer - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close is one of those fantastic books that stayed with me long after I finished. I have to say, I read Everything Is Illuminated a year or two before EL&IC and I didn't like it much but I think I'm going to give it another go. I also plan to read Eating Animals in the next couple weeks.
6. Ann M. Martin - The Babysitter's Club books were my childhood. I can't make a list like this without including Ann Martin.
7. John Steinbeck - Ok, so I've only read East of Eden, but the writing in it is so good, I'm fairly sure I'll love more of Steinbeck's collection. I'm hoping to get my hands on some of his other works soon to see if he really should be on this list.
8. Augusten Burroughs - He's from the same area I grew up in and he's hilarious. I love reading about his dysfunctional life and recognizing the places he talks about in his books.
9. Audrey Niffenegger - The Time Traveler's Wife is one of my all time favorite books so I have to add her to the list. While I didn't love Her Fearful Symmetry, I still thought it was an interesting book (you just have to go in knowing it's going to be totally different from TTW).
10. Sylvia Plath - her life was so tragic but she wrote so beautifully. I've read The Bell Jar a couple times now and I think it's one of those books that gets better each time. I've read some of her poetry and I have her journals on my bookshelf waiting to be read as well.


In My Mailbox/ Weekly Reading Wrap-Up (3)

The past week I did quite a bit of reading. I read and reviewed Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt and Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. I also read Dreamland by Sarah Dessen (I'll be posting my review tomorrow) and am now reading Evernight by Claudia Gray.

Now, here's what was in my mailbox this week!
Won from Goodreads:

Via Bookmooch:

Bought at Salvation Army (and only $3 for the 4 books!):

Eating Animals - Jonathan Safran Foer
Carry Me Down - MJ Hyland
Good Grief - Lolly Winston
Walk Two Moons - Sharon Creech
New Moon - Stephenie Meyer
Eclipse - Stephenie Meyer
Slam Dunks and No Brainers: Pop Language In Your Life, the Media and Like... Whatever - Leslie Savan

With these new editions to my library, my bookshelf is officially full with unread or books I'm likely to reread. I'm so excited about the prospective of new bookshelf shopping, but I have no idea where it will go in my apartment. As always, thanks to Kristi at The Story Siren for hosting In My Mailbox!


Book Blogger Hop

Book Blogger Hop

It's time for another round of the Book Blogger Hop, hosted by Crazy for Books! This weeks question is: How do you spread the word about your blog?

My answer: I'm still very new to book blogging so I haven't gotten too deep into promoting my blog yet. I'm working on getting the content on here first before I start looking for tons of followers. I try to participate in a few of the weekly memes, such as this one, Top Ten Tuesday and In My Mailbox. Those have been my main source for promoting the blog so far. I also have a link to my blog on my Goodreads profile. I've been thinking about getting a Twitter account specifically for this blog sometime in the near future as well.