Tag Archives: ann brashares

The Book Chat {Vol 8}


The Book Chat is hosted every Thursday by Jessica from Sweet Green Tangerine. Head over and link up!

Today’s question: What are some of your best vacation reads?

I’m a big reader on vacation. I actually make an effort to read more on vacation than at any other time, simply because it is the most relaxing thing I can do, and often the hobby that gets put on a back burner when I have too much other work to do. But on vacation? All bets are off.

I also have terrible luck with books on vacation. In the past, I’ve brought a ton of books with me and been very disappointed because I didn’t enjoy them as much as I would have liked. It almost feels like a curse at this point; I have all this time to read so I try and bring a diverse selection of books, and then I think to myself “why didn’t you just stick with what you knew you’d like?!”

When I have stuck to my gut, I’ve read some fantastic novels. Here are the top 5 books I’ve loved and read on vacation: 

#5- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This was my most recent vacation read, when I went to Florida. Honestly? If it weren’t for vacation I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to finish! I was reading it on my Kindle and it was taking me forever. All I needed was a good 5 hour plane ride, and I was completely immersed in the story. Now I can’t wait to read the last two in this dystopian trilogy!

PS: This book just got a director to be made into a movie. Charlie Kaufman will be directing Knife of Never Letting Go & I predict great things for it. 

#4- Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. If it weren’t for all the hours I spent at the beach in Europe, I may have never picked up this book. But with all the free time from learning, it seemed my brain missed it. I needed this good, thoughtful book to get my brain working again! It was a fascinating read and I couldn’t believe how immersed I was in Gladwell’s work while on a BEACH. I talked to all my friends about it while I read it, it was just so cool.

#3- My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. One of my guilty pleasures in reading is epic love stories. This one was no different. I brought it to Greece with me and proceeded to force my 3 other friends to read it when I was done. I just love Ann Brashares!

#2- Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. As if I haven’t talked about this book a million times already, but I brought this one to Cuba with me and couldn’t believe what a gem it was! I laughed like a crazy person on the beach, came home, and bought the rest of the series. So good!

#1- The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I brought this book with me to Mexico and could not put it down. Although it’s much younger reading, it was the perfect mix of funny and adventure. I proceeded to reading the entire series when I came home! Probably one of the best vacation read choices I’ve ever made.

What are some of your most successful vacation/beach reads?! 

The Best Books of 2011


As 2012 gets closer, I thought it would be fun to look back at some of my favorite things of the year. In the next few days I’m going to look at the best of 2011- I’m excited to see what kind of things you can all add to my lists! Oh and if you’re wondering, that is the current state of my ‘to-read’ bookshelf. I have an illness, you guys. A book-buying ILLNESS.

Today I’m going to look back at my top ten favorite reads of 2011. I tried as much as possible to keep these in 2011 because I read way too many good books this year, but I have to say that my absolute favorites of 2011 were not written this year. I’m also going to look at a few books that DID come out this year that I’m still excited to actually start reading but haven’t had the chance to yet.

So here we go.

The Top Ten

#10 Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Released: June 2011
Publisher: Random House

Why: I LOVED the entire Sisterhood series growing up, and after re-reading them in the early summer I fell right into the story of this one. I was back in love with the four girls, and I am back in love with Ann Brashares’ writing. She has matured so much as a writer, and although that book DEVASTATED me it was beautiful at the same time.

#9 The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Released: April 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group

Why: It took me a little while to get into this one, but as soon as I did I just couldn’t put it down. I was completely in love with the characters and the story. Immediate classic.

#8 Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Released: February 2011
Publisher: Harpercollins

Why: When I first heard about the story line behind this book (love as a disease) I was intrigued. The book did not let me down in the least and I can’t WAIT for book two!

#7 Divergent by Veronica Roth
Released: May 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

Why: I was completely captivated by this book from start to finish. Love the dystopian aspect to this book, it reminds me of all my favorite parts of every other dystopian novel I love.

#6 Room by Emma Donoghue
Released: June 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

Why: I don’t usually pursue a book that doesn’t immediately attract my attention, and this one took a good 25-30% of the story before I realized how good it actually was. It was one of those books that I read while I ate, while I got ready to go out, and basically any free moment I had until it was done.

#5 Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson
Released: April 2011
Publisher: HarperCollins

Why: I read the first book in this series soon after coming home from Greece, and this book brought me right back to Europe and everything I loved about it. I immediately picked up the second book and was so happy with the way the story turned out! I was really glad to hear that there was a second book because I definitely didn’t have enough after ’13 Little Blue Envelopes’

#4 The Death Cure by James Dashner
Released: October 2011
Publisher: Random House

Why: If you haven’t read The Maze Runner (book one in the trilogy) then you SHOULD BE. One of my favorite YA series right now. This was an amazing ending to it. There were some points that I felt the book was a little bit too apocalyptic, but the ending? Wow. Just, wow.

#3 My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares
Released: June 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group

Why: I’m not a huge fan of romance novel, but this one? I am in LOVE with this love story. Once again, Ann Brashares writes a beautiful, believable and fantastical story that had me literally ignoring my friends during the last hundred or so pages. LOVE. Can’t wait for book two!

#2 Looking for Alaska by John Green
Released: September 2008
Publisher: Pengruin Group

Why: I went through a crazy John Green phase at the beginning of the year, but Looking for Alaska was the first book I read by him and has remained my favorite. I love the way he writes, and I love the quirky behaviors that each of his characters has.

#1 The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Released: September 2007
Publisher: Random House

Why: This book was just amazing. One of the bigger novels I’ve ever read, but probably changed my life. I need to re-read this in the New Year. And if you haven’t read it? It is the most beautifully written story from World War II that I have ever read. Ever.

On the ‘To-Read’ Shelf’ Published in 2011

#6 The Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

#5 The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

#4 Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (paperback)

#3 The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

#2 Silence by Becca Fitzpatrick

#1 Matched by Ally Condie

Most Anticipated Reads in 2012 (so far)

#5 Insurgent by Veronica Roth

#4 City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare

#3 Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

#2 The Kill Order by James Dashner

#1 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I’ve come to an important conclusion. 2011 was the year that I realized how much I adore young adult literature. Seriously, I read SO much more of it now than I read adult books, and as I browsed the upcoming adult books, there are almost none that interested me. Ha! I mean, I have a few of my favorite adult authors, but otherwise I read the bestsellers and just teen books.

What were your favorites of the year? What about your most anticipated? Which books did I miss this year? 

Recent Reads [worth sharing]


*First I’d just like to direct you to my nav bar which now has a lovely new tab… My blog roll!You can click on it & find out more about a bunch of really great bloggers. You’ll also notice that the whole nav bar has been tweaked [hopefully for the better] so have fun looking around at all the fun stuff I’ve added! 

I feel like recently I haven’t really been writing enough about the books I’ve been reading or giving reviews- which I love to do- so I though I would take the opportunity today to share some books I’ve read lately & my thoughts!

1. My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares

I LOVED this book. Ann Brashares had a little rough writing patch for a while when she wrote ‘Summer of You & Me’ and ‘3 Willows’ but she is back with a vengeance. This story is based on the life of Daniel, a boy who has “the memory”. He remembers his past lives as he is re-born again into his new ones. In his current life, he’s an older teenager who has fallen in love with a girl named Lucy who he calls Sophia. He has fallen in love with the same soul over and over again in each of his lives & must always face challenges in order to be with her.

This story was not only beautifully written and told from the perspective of an amazing character, but it’s a great love story and it was the most perfect read while I was at the beach in Greece.

I gave this book: 5 stars

2. Blink by Malcolm Gladwell 

One of my 101 Goals was to read three books on well-being and I ended up spontaneously reading this one as my final book for that goal. I wasn’t sure what to expect from it because I didn’t know a whole lot about it, but it was actually REALLY interesting.

It’s basically all about intuition- the power of subconscious thinking and how it affects your every day decisions, even the ones you’re not aware of. Gladwell uses a lot of really interesting examples to illustrate the facts that he’s trying to prove. I thought that some of his points fell a little short, but I was all in all really intrigued and was constantly thinking about what I read after putting the book down.

I gave this book: 4 stars

3. The Giver by Lois Lowry 

I read this in early high school I believe and remembered really loving the story and wanting to re-read it. After picking up a copy of it at a used bookstore this summer I sat down and re-read it in under two days. A very short novel, it follows young Jonas who lives in a world where everyone is assigned their jobs at a ceremony on their twelfth birthday. Jonas is given the job of “memory keeper” which is said to be the most special in the whole community, however he learns that there are many difficult things that go along with this job & he learns a lot of lessons about real life on the way.

I don’t think I enjoyed it as much the second time, which is never a fun thing to admit. Dystopian novels are so popular right now and I wanted to re-read one of the very first ones that made it on the shelves all those years ago. It’s a newberry medal winner and though I guess I can see why, I definitely felt too old to be reading this book again. That being said, for the age that it’s targeted for it was a perfect read and a really interesting introduction to the world of fantasy.

I gave this book: 4 stars

4. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

I went on a bit of an Ann Brashares reading spree this summer – I read all her books except the two I mentioned above- and I loved ALL the books I read.

This one was no different, but it took me a long time to come to terms with the story. I’m not going to give any spoilers, but after growing up with the Sisterhood & getting excited for my trip to Greece, I was not expecting a story HALF as sad as the one I got. I was devastated at first, and literally had to come to terms with the events of the novel. At first I hated that Brashares had dared write this book, but slowly I tried to see past my frustration and fell in love with everything else about the story.

I think this was one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve read this year, which is saying a lot. If you read the other Sisterhood books, this is a MUST read.

I gave this book: 5 stars

That’s all I’ve got for now! My reading has slowed down and unfortunately I read a couple books that aren’t really worth mentioning. These four really stuck with me this summer though and if you get the chance I highly recommend them all.

Happy reading! 

Another post on books


My taste in books ranges over just about every topic. I mean, there are a few exceptions but in general I’m willing to give any author a chance. Most of my current favorite writers are actually because a friend (or a customer at work) recommended a book to me. If you’re not an avid reader and you don’t know where to start, don’t be shy to take someone’s advice. If they feel strongly enough about a book, you may fall in love with it too. And if you are an avid reader, then still take recommendations! Like I said, some of my favorites were not my own discovery whatsoever.

I thought I might talk a little bit about my top 5 favorite YA authors (which I’ve probably rambled on about already) and in another post I’ll write about my top 5 favorite adult authors. Sometimes I fall even more in love with a particular writer after reading up about him or her. Putting a face and a whole life to a name makes a world of a difference sometimes. Anyway, it was hard enough to narrow this down, so I strongly recommend you give them all a look-up if you aren’t already a fan!

Top 5 YA authors

1. Markus Zusak


1. The Book Thief
2. I Am The Messenger
3. The Underdog
4. Fighting Ruben Wolfe (sequel to The Underdog)
5. Getting the Girl (sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe)

-I’ve read 1, 2 and 5. I actually had no idea that Getting the Girl was the third in a series and I wasn’t lost or anything, it was just a really sweet coming of age book about love and acceptance.

-My favorites are by far I Am The Messenger & The Book Thief. I think they tie as favorites, because they honestly both changed my life and the way I perceived books in the YA section. They’ve both won numerous awards and I can’t recommend either one enough, regardless of what your reading taste is. Check them out on Goodreads here and here.

-Both of those books are also in my top 10 current favorites. Truly amazing reads, and I can honestly say that I think Markus Zusak is one of the best writers in YA fiction right now. Oh! Also do go follow him on Twitter.

2. J.K Rowling


1. The Harry Potter series 1-7
2. Tales of Beedle the Bard
3. Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them
4. Quidditch Through the Ages
5. An 800 word Harry Potter Prequel 

– As if J.K Rowling needs any kind of introduction. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you most certainly know that this amazing woman has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to the series that millions around the world love.

– Her books changed my life, which I wrote about recently here

3. John Green


1. Looking for Alaska
2. An Abundance of Katherines
3. Paper Towns
4. Zombicorns (online novella)
5. Let it Snow (co-written with Lauren Myracle & Maureen Johnson)
6. [currently writing] The Fault in our Stars

– You mean you haven’t heard enough about him here and here?

– Everything he writes I want to copy down somewhere to remember another day. I’m constantly favoriting (yes I know that’s not a real word) his quotes on Goodreads & I’ve helped convert so many new fans that it makes me feel really proud, and I can’t tell you why.

– Everything this author does for his fans makes me love his books more. He’s actually going to sign every single pre-ordered copy of his new book. That’s like, hundreds of thousands. How legit is that?

– I’m trying to fill up all the space next to his picture so I’m going to keep rambling. John Green’s books may be one of the reasons that I fell back in love with beautiful literature. I don’t know how else to describe it.

– My favorites are 1, 2, 3 but in no particular order. They’re all awesome!

4. Suzanne Collins


1. Gregor the Overlander 1-5 (The Underland Chronicles)
2. The Hunger Games
3. Catching Fire
4. Mockingjay

– Suzanne Collins was the first teen author to renew my love for YA fiction 3 years ago. I used to read it obsessively when I was at the age for it, but then I moved on to adult books when I thought the time was right. Reading The Hunger Games changed the way I perceived teen books again and I was able to discover what an amazing world it can be. A lot of people are super embarrassed when they’re “too old” to be shopping in the younger sections, but it’s honestly AMAZING the books you can find in there.

– Catching Fire is in my top 10 favorite books of all time.

– I cannot WAIT for The Hunger Games movie to come out next year.

– If you haven’t read these yet, I don’t care WHAT you read, you will love this book. I think I’ve met two people who haven’t liked it… Out of probably close to a thousand (not an exaggeration, I’ve been selling the book for 3 straight years)!

5. Ann Brashares


1. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (Summer 1-4)
2. The Summer of You and Me
3. My Name is Memory
4. 3 Willows
5. Sisterhood Everlasting

– I’ve blogged about her books recently because I just re-read all four Sisterhood books as well as the brand new one (which I forgot to book review) but I can honestly say that those books changed my life entirely. Re-reading them did NOTHING to change that for me, it only renewed my love for these books even more.

– I did not like (and did not even finish reading) The Summer of You & Me as well as 3 Willows. She’s the only author that I’m allowing in this feature to have books that I didn’t like because I so sincerely love everything else she wrote. I have ‘My Name is Memory’ on my bookshelf now and I’ve heard only good things. Also, her books are not all YA, but I still consider her as a YA author above all.

– I’m going to write a review of Sisterhood Everlasting I think, but that was one of the most beautifully written books I’ve read this year. I cried so much reading it, I can’t even begin to tell you. It was so good.

These authors are probably some of the most famous in their field right now, so I may not be teaching you anything new. In that case, I’d like to just mention a few authors that are slowly making their mark in YA fiction (or that already have but just didn’t make the Top 5 cut) and I can’t wait to see what else they come out with: Veronica Roth, Lauren Oliver, Kenneth Oppel [LOVE him. His new book is on my nightstand right now!], Rick Riordan, James Dashner and Jeff Kinney– who I’m way too old to read (seriously!) but can’t help but enjoy his sense of humor anyway.

I think that just about covers it for now, who are some of your favorite authors? Have I introduced you to anyone new that you’ll be reading? I’d love to know! 

** I say the word honestly way too much. Wow. **

Summer Reading List


I’ve been reading a LOT of blogs lately about what people are reading and about how people are constantly looking for book recommendations. I’ve been told I have pretty good taste in books so I thought I would:

a)share a list of my top 10 favorites that I’ve read recently (you can look them up and maybe enjoy them as much as me if you haven’t already)


b) Write a list of the top 10 books on my shelf that are waiting to be read.

I do read a lot of YA fiction, but I promise I only read the best of the best. My friends that I’ve forced into reading some of my favorites can vouch for me here. Feel free to share any recommendations with me, I am always looking for new books!

Top 10 Current Favorites

1. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (First book in the Mortal Instruments series)
Type of book: YA fiction, Fantasy, Vampire/Werewolf, Romance.

2. The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (First book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series)
Type of book: YA fiction, fantasy, Greek Mythology, humor, GOOD FOR ANY AGE.

3. Room by Emma Donoghue
Type of book: Adult fiction, Real Life, Award Winner, Bestseller

4. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Type of book: Adult fiction, Historical Fiction, Bestseller, Book-turned-movie(coming out in August!)

5. Divergent by Veronica Roth
Type of book: YA fiction, Dystopian, Bestseller, AMAZING, If you liked Hunger Games you’ll ADORE this.

6. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Type of book: YA fiction, Dystopian, Bestseller, Book-turned-movie, If you haven’t read this yet you’re truly missing out!

7. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana De Rosnay
Type of Book: Adult fiction, Historical Fiction, Sad, Emotional, Bestseller, Book-turned-movie (Sometime this summer!)

8. An Abudance of Katherine’s by John Green
Type of Book: YA fiction, Real life stories, Humour, Amazingness, Just read it.

9. Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Type of Book: YA Fiction, Dystopian, If you love Hunger Games/Fantasy YA you’ll love this one.

10. I Am The Messenger by Markus Zusak
Type of Book: YA Fiction, Real life stories, Humour, SO GOOD ALSO PLEASE READ THE BOOK THIEF. Thank you.

These are really just the first 10 that come to mind that I’ve read within the last two years, but I’m always up for giving more suggestions if you need!

Top 10 Can’t-Wait-To-Read

1. Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares
Type of Book: Adult fiction, Continuation of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series (AWW.)

2. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
Type of Book: YA Fiction, Dystopian, Book with lots of buzz, If you like HG/Divergent/Delirium apparently you will love this

3. Talking to Girls About Duran Duran by Rob Sheffield
Type of Book: Biogoraphy, Music

4. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Type of Book: Adult Fiction, Historical Fiction, Bestseller, Why haven’t I read this yet?

5. Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman
Type  of Book: Adult Fiction, Fantasy, Awesomeness (apparently!)

6. Mystic River by Dennis Lehane
Type of Book: Adult Fiction, Mystery, Recommended by a friend

7. Matched by Ally Condie
Type of Book: YA Fiction, Dystopian, Mixed reviews but mostly good stuff

8. Salem Falls by Jodi Picoult
Type of Book: Adult Fiction, Real life stories, Court cases/Law stuff

9. Little Princes by Conor Grennan
Type of Book: Biography, Around the world, Bestseller, Book with lots of buzz

10. The Cardturner by Louis Sachar
Type of Book: YA Fiction, Real life stories, I basically just love Louis Sachar (Holes? Anyone?)

So those are the top books on my shelves these days!  I’ve got a ton of others that I wanted to share, but maybe I’ll keep them for another post. What are you reading this summer? What have you read that you absolutely loved? Any that were on my list?

Photo courtesy of this awesome post about home libraries. I want! 

Growing up with books


Ever since I can remember, I have absolutely loved reading. When my grandmother used to babysit me at 3 years old, she would sit on her couch and read for hours in the afternoon, and I would sit next to her and pretend to do the same thing. I just loved the idea of it, even when I couldn’t read.

Growing up, I was one of those kids who anxiously waited for the Scholastic flyers at school. Once a month I would sit at home and look at every single book in the catalogue that was sent home with me, trying to figure out what books I wanted to read next. I still have a bunch of those books now, and the ones that I gave away I regret terribly.

Photo Credits

At my work, I deal with parents and their kids every day trying to find the right book. And the really sad thing is that there are a LOT of kids that are being forced into reading these days. Parents come in looking for that “right fit” of a story that will make their child fall in love with reading, and a lot of other parents are dragging their kids and teenagers around the store just begging them to try something new. Luckily a lot of my customers have loved my recommendations in reading and have fallen in love with books because of it. And of course a huge number of people come in and just can’t get ENOUGH books. I love those people.

I was never the person that you’d have to force to read a book. A lot of my childhood favorites were books I even had to read for school: Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel and The Giver by Lois Lowry are the first two that come to mind. But there were so many other series of books that marked me growing up. Every kid who loves books has the ones that will stick in your mind forever and remind you of growing up, summers with best friends, Scholastic flyers at school, or even those days that you would lock yourself up in your room for an entire day to finish a REALLY good story (Harry Potter had that effect on me).

But besides Harry Potter, there were a few more series of books as well as various authors that remind me of growing up, that taught me important lessons in those years were I felt like no one understood me (ah, the moody teenager syndrome!). Some of my younger favorites included The Babysitter’s Club, Goosebumps, Amazing Days of Abby Hayes, California Diaries & Fear Street. Yup, I was an R.L Stine/Ann M. Martin kinda girl. I remember the days when my mom would give me 2 dollars and send me off to the dollar store to buy the latest edition of The Babysitter’s Club, and I would sit in my room for the few hours that it took me to read through it. Remember those hilarious 90’s covers? Nothing beats them:

As a teenager, no series of books were more important to me (besides Harry Potter, again, you just can’t beat them) than The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. That series of 4 books was the reason I understood being a teenager. I grew up with Lena, Tibby, Carmen and Bridget, I laughed with them and I cried with them. When the movies came out I went to see them with my 3 best friends and we laughed and cried some more.

I recently started re-reading this series of books, and it had me reminiscing about all the good times I had growing up, reading these books that have stayed with me over the last 2 decades of my life. It’s one of those passions that will never go away- reading is the reason that I fell in love with writing, it’s the reason that I hope to one day work in publishing.

There’s a moral to this story- if or when you have kids, make sure to show them how amazing the world of books can be. There are are so SO many great ones out there, for all ages. Even today, I am amazed at the sheer number of fantastic novels that I have read in each and every single age category.

“Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book.”  ~Author Unknown