Monthly Archives: December 2011

Final Thoughts on 2011 and Looking Ahead to 2012

First, a HUGE thank you to all of you out there reading my blog. What began as just another thing on my To Do list has become something that I love and look forward to doing. I have a few new ideas for this little spot in the new year, so stay tuned.

Now, on to the goals. I have given this a lot of thought and I have decided not to join any reading challenges in 2012. I will continue to set reading goals for myself, but they won’t be anything that I obsess over. Sad, but true, my lists and goals make me a little nutty. This year I read A TON. I read some awesome books, but somewhere along the way it became more about meeting my goals and less about just enjoying the book in front of me. I was always thinking ahead to what was next. With this in mind here are my reading goals for 2012:

1. Read from the shelves and discover “new to me” authors.

Why? I love being the one to order the new (YA) books and then getting to read them first. In the library world this is a.) part of the job description to keep current with new releases and b.) cool. There is a problem with this. The hot new releases that everyone wants are rarely on the shelf so people need to know what to read while they wait their turn for The Next Big Thing book. I short, I want to beef up my list of “go to” recommendations and read more of the gems I may have missed. The key here is to find a balance between old and new.

2. Read a variety of formats and genres.

Do you see how I am setting myself up for success here? This will be a piece of cake! Audio and graphic novels? Check! E-books? Apparently this is not a fad! I struggle with nonfiction and historical fiction, so I will need to make an effort to read genres. I need and want to read both YA and adult books. Basically anything I read in 2012 will meet this goal. Clever, no? Again, it’s all about balance in the new year.

3. Read only things I enjoy.

I will not waste time on books that are just ok. If I am not hooked, I will pass it along and not feel guilty about it.

That’s all. I want to reclaim reading from the land of “work-related” and return it to its rightful place as a pleasurable escape. Wish me luck.

What are your reading goals for 2012?

Happy Reading and Happy New Year!



My 2011 Reading In Review

Way back in January I set some reading goals for myself. In order to meet those goals I joined a bunch of reading challenges. Well, today is judgment day. How did I do? Before I continue I would like to apologize for the lack of pictures and graphics in this post, but I promise if you continue to the end there will be a very adorable and totally non-book related picture for you.

Challenge #1: Audiobooks 360+/200 hours

I signed up to listen to 200 hours. I seriously underestimated this one. In fact, I can’t even add up the hours listened. I listened to 45 audiobooks. If each one is about 8 hours that means I listened to at least 360 hours of audio. That is a lot of driving and dog walking! The lame part? I think I checked in with the challenge host 2-3 times.

Challenge #2: 2011 Debut Authors Challenge 18/27

I signed up to read 27, which is how many 2010 debut books I read last year. I am not sure why I did not meet this goal. Again, I did not check in with the host.

Challenge # 3: Goodreads Challenge Yourself to Read More 203/200

I rocked this one! I still can’t believe I read 203 books this year. I am not sure how to feel about it either. On the one hand, I read some awesome books. On the other hand, could I have been doing other equally awesome things instead? Hmm.

Challenge #4: Graphic Novel Challenge 58/10

This is another challenge I dominated. I discovered that I LOVE graphic novels. I checked in with the host once or twice. Are you noticing a patteren here? I am.

Challenge #5: YA Historical Fiction Challenge 11/12

I was so closes with this one. Despite not meeting the specific goals of thechallenge, I read a lot of HFIC this year. In addition to the 11 YA books, I read eight adult historical fiction novels. That is huge for me. Again, I did not check in with the host.

I had other reading goals that I did not actually put in writing. I wanted to find a better balance between my adult and YA reading. I was incredibly successful in that venture. I read or listened to 60 adult books and graphic novels. I also wanted to read more nonfiction. I read seven works of nonfiction. Last year I read six, so that’s an improvement, right?

And now for your promised dose of adorable:

That’s my dog Lexi in her Christmas finery, enjoying her present from Santa. Cute, right? But you were promised adorable! Fine. Check this out:

 That’s Cleo. She’s new to the fam (my brother’s pup, not mine) and freaking adorable.

Happy Reading!


The Best of 2011 Honorable Mentions

Yesterday’s Top Ten Tuesday was all about our favorite books of 2011. I totally cheated and made a list of 12 and snuck in the mention of at least four others and that still wasn’t enough. Here are ten more books that I read this past year that deserve a shout out.

1. Out for Blood (The Drake Chronicles #3) by Alyxandra Harvey. I love this vampire series and can’t wait to read Bleeding Hearts.

2. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. I am a big fan of the road trip novel and this one was a lot of fun.

3. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller set in a futuristic world that has been devastated by human and natural disasters.

4.  Blood Red Road by Moira Young. I know gave this one a nod yesterday, but I cannot praise this dystopian debut enough. It really should be a must-read for fans of The Hunger Games and Divergent. Gritty, tough, violent, action-packed, and a touch of humor and romance-what’s not to love?

5.  Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore. This was a fun romantic comedy with a supernatural twist. Fans of the Hex Hall and Paranormalcy series will want to add Rosemary Clement-Moore’s books to their TBR lists.

6. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Laugh. Out. Loud. Hilarious. Look at that cover. How could you not want to read this book?

7. The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. This is a tough read and certainly not for every reader, but it was powerful and addicting. I could not put it down and the story stuck with me long after it ended. To me that is an amazing book.

8. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier. Historical Fiction, romance, mystery, intrigue, and time travel. Gorgeous cover.

9. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld. The Leviathan series has something for every reader-steampunk, adventure, cool war machines, a girl disguised as a boy, strange hybrid beasties, and amazing illustrations. In all honesty, I love all things Scott Westerfeld.

10.  The Mark of the Golden Dragon by L.A. Meyer. Another Bloody Jack book!

Happy Reading!


Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2011

I think that a Top Ten Tuesday list is the perfect way to spend the first work day of the last work week of 2011 (I had to think about that one!). Anyway, the fabulous bloggers over at The Broke and the Bookish have asked us to tell you about our favorite books of 2011. As if a list of ten is enough…I’ll try, but be prepared for cheating. My first act of cheating is to direct you to the top ten list that I created for Read It Or Weep, the blog written by the reference staff at my library. My favorite adult reads of the year can be found here. While you are there, I recommend you check out some of the other lists as they are quite awesome. Now I can focus on my favorite YA read! I am going to be up front here. This list will have 12 titles, a favorite for each month of 2011.


Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John is a stunning, feel-good debut. What a wonderful way to start the new year. My middle school book club is currently reading it and we will be discussing it in February. I can’t wait.


Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, another spectacular debut, was the perfect Valentine’s Day read. Sadly, I could not fall in love with Lola. Maybe I will try again in 2012.


Shine by Lauren Myracle may be one of the most controversial YA books of 2011. It is also one of the most powerful books I read this year.


Blood Red Road by Moira Young, no, wait, The Dark and Hollow Place by Carrie Ryan, oh no, I meant to say Red Glove by Holly Black was my favorite read in April. Yup, I am going with Red Glove. I love the alternate reality world of magic and mobsters that Cassel lives in. With all the betrayals he has suffered it’s no wonder he is so dark and brooding. Sigh. Anyway…Read White Cat first.


Divergent by Veronica Roth is yet another 2011 debut author. The Elevensies are certainly dominating my list so far. Way to go guys! Anyway, if you haven’t already read it, do yourself a favor and get on that.


Stork by Wendy Delsol sat neglected on my TBR list for ages! How sad that I denied myself this gem of a book for so long. Don’t make the same mistake as me, take this one (and the sequel, Frost) home ASAP.


Where She Went by Gayle Forman totally surprised me. I really enjoyed If I Stay, but I did not expect to LOVE Where She Went as much as I did. Amazing.


Pop by Gordon Korman was a book I selected for my book club. I try really hard to have good mix of male and female leads and this one was perfect. If you think you won’t like it because it is about football, put those thoughts out of your mind. Sure, there is football, but it’s really about family and friendship and doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. It’s funny and sad and an all around great read.


Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick is a beautiful story told in print and illustrations. September marked the beginning of a major reading slump for me. I read a lot of graphic novels this month and Wonderstruck was the most amazing of them all. Audio versions of the first two Harry Potter books also helped me through my weird funk.


Ok, it is nearly impossible to pick a favorite from October. Hourglass by Myra McEntire, Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir, Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan and Goliath by Scott Westerfeld were ALL read in October. Seriously, how do I choose from that list? What? I have to pick just one? Fine. Eenie, meenie, miney, moe…I choose:

But I am not happy about having to pick just one. I am sorry Gwenyth, Percy, and Deryn. I still love you very much.


I could not in good conscience make a favorites list that did not include The Ranger’s Apprentice. I began this series early in 2011 and have made my way through book 8 and have loved each and every one. So, the best of November honor goes to The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan.


The month isn’t over yet, but I am going say that my favorite read of the month was Legend by Marie Lu. Another debut author, another fantastic addition to the growing list of awesome dystopian reads.

The rough draft of my favorites list had 26 titles on it, so I am going to go ahead and pat myself on the back for picking 12 (and slipping in mentions of a couple more….sneaky, sneaky). I think I may have to make a Top Ten Wednesday list (doesn’t have the same ring to it, huh?) for honorable mentions. That’s all for now though. I am off to see what you picked as the best of 2011.

Happy Reading!


The Kings of Clonmel, Ranger’s Apprentice Book 8 by John Flanagan Review

I have really slacked of with reviews these last few months of the year. I also realize that I make some mention of my pathetic review writing rate every time I muster up the will to write one. Trust me, I am aware of how lame that is and I have been thinking of ways to improve the blog in general and my reviewing situation specifically. But, that is neither here nor there right now. Right now I am going to give you a review! I am so close to finishing The Ranger’s Apprentice series and I am quite proud of the fact that I have reviewed each and every one here. If you have not read the series from the beginning you may want to stop here. I won’t reveal any spoilers for this volume, but I can’t promise anything more than that. You have been warned.

The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanagan,  2010

Rangers Will and Halt and their friend, Sir Horace, are back together again for a new adventure. Their destination is the tiny island nation of Hibernia where a quasi-religious cult known as the Outsiders is spreading fear and sedition throughout the country side. What the Hibernians do not realize is that they have fallen victim to a cruel and deadly hoax, perpetrated by the leader of the cult. Will’s skill with the bow and arrow and Horace’s brute strength and cunning will certainly be useful on this mission, but it is Halt and a secret about his past that are the keys to revealing the Outsiders for the crooks and charlatans that they are and restoring order in the kingdom.

With eight books and counting, there is nothing stale about this series. The author continues to present fresh and exciting adventures for his beloved characters, and believe me, at this point they are very much beloved by me! In addition to revealing a very juicy secret about Halt, Flanagan tackles the issues of weak leadership, fear mongering, and the dangers of mob mentality in this action-packed addition to the series. I continue to enjoy this fun series and look forward to more of this story in book 9, Halt’s Peril.

Fans of this series may enjoy the works of Cinda Chima Williams, Garth Nix, Michael Scott, and John Delaney.

Happy Reading!


More Hunger Games Movie News: Nail Polish Tie-Ins

Ok, so this is old news (everyone else talked about it yesterday), but I wanted to share. The nail polish brand, China Glaze, unveiled its new line, The Capital Collection. The official face of the new line? Effie! I admit that it’s a bit of a strange tie-in, but I’ll buy it. Afterall, the contestants do go through an intense spa treatment before they get thrown into the arena. Maybe it’s a bit of a stretch, but I have been distracted from pondering this any further by this:

So pretty! The butterfly eyelashes are so lovely that I am sure the nail polish is just as shiny/sparkly/awesome. I wouldn’t know for sure because THERE ARE NO NAILS IN THIS PICTURE! But who cares? Look at the pink eyeshadow! Look at the tiny hint of what is probably a crazy cool hat! Look at that lovely lavender hair! You get the point. 12 Districts, 12 shades. The Capital Collection. I will be looking for them. I’ll probably even buy some. I’m clearly a sucker for advertising. Well played China Glaze. Well played.

Happy Reading!


Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Hope Santa Brings

Can you believe that Christmas is almost here? Thanks to the folks over at The Broke and The Bookish, I have one last chance to write a Dear Santa letter. Maybe I’ll get lucky!

Dear Santa,

I know books are a heavy, but if it’s not too much trouble for you and the flying reindeer crew, I would love to have a few new volumes in my collection. I swear I have room for them. You don’t need to bring all of them, but if you could tuck one or two in your sleigh for me I would be so thankful. Here are few suggestions:

1. Goliath by Scott Westerfeld. I have Leviathan and Behemoth (signed!)and they keep asking when their final book will be joining them. “Some day” is no longer cutting it, they are getting awfully pushy. I keep telling them that I am well aware of the fact that they are beautiful books and they feel incomplete without it. I think they should just be happy that they showed up on a Top Ten list two weeks in a row and back off.

2.  The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I cannot believe I do not own these books. Ok, fine, it is totally wrong to LIE to Santa. I do have the first one, but I bought it used and it has a giant coffee (I hope) stain on it that I did not notice and I would love a shiny new copy. Santa, I swear I am not shallow. I just like things to match, so if all you have are coffee-stained copies of the other two, send them my way, please.

3. Hex Hall and Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins. I should really own these, they are so much fun. I can hardly wait for Spellbound. How magic are you, Santa? Can you bring a book that isn’t due out until March? I bet you could. I believe.

4. The Outcasts by John Flanagan. I would love to have the complete Ranger’s Apprentice series, but at 10 books, that is a lot to ask of you, dear Santa. So, how about the first book in a brand new series? I haven’t read it yet, so it’s the perfect gift!

5. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. This book was awesome. It should be part of my collection. Also, I want to be ready for Mr. Bacigalupi’s next book, The Drowned Cities when it comes out in May. Also, I just know my nephews will totally love this book in another 5-6 years, why not be prepared?

6. Ex Libris by Anna Fadiman. It’s a book about books and reading and libraries. It’s not new, but I recently saw this on someone else’s blog. It looks so little and cute, and again, it’s about books and read. Yes please!

7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Please, Santa. I really need this book. I really need to read this book, so I should just have it at my house at all times.

8. Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I am sure I would really like this series, I just never seem to get to it. Maybe if someone *ahem* *wink, wink* Santa, would bring it to me, I am sure I would make the time for it.

9. How about an I.O.U for Black Heart by Holly Black? Unless of course you can work some magic, because I am nearly desperate for this book. I don’t know if I can wait until April. Seriously. But, if I must wait, I will take an I.O.U. or else I am going to end up with another Goliath situation…

10. Finally, I could use some inspiration, so if you have recommendation please leave it under my tree! I would love to spent the winter planning some new spring landscaping, working on clever (but simple) crafts, and cooking some delicious new treats. I know there books for these things, I just have to find them.

Thanks Santa! And like I said, if it’s too much, don’t worry. I work in a library, I can get my own books (but this is something so satisfying about owning your favorites).



Mondays With Megan: New Manga! Afterschool Charisma

I recently ordered a ton of new manga for my library collection and the first of it is starting to come in. I confess that I am really bad about reading manga, but I am trying to get better about that. On of the problems that I have is that I find it very overwhelming to see currently ongoing series with 40+ titles in them. That’s a lot of catching up to do. So, my new plan of attack is to start fresh with new series. To that end, today I am taking home the first four volumes of Afterschool Charisma by Kumiko Suekane.



If you look closely, you’ll see some familiar names-Marie Curie, Joan of Arc, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Florence Nightingale are just a few.

Here’s the scoop:

St. Kleio Academy is an exclusive private high school with a unique enrollment policy. All the students are clones of famous people from history. All of them, except Shiro Kamiya who is the son of one of the scientists in charge of the cloning program. Shiro does his best to fit in with his classmates and he only want to help them as they study the achievements of their originals. Shiro’s future is not predetermined, but the clones appear to be destined to repeat history.

So many things about this series are appealing to me. First of all, I am excited to see how various historical figures are treated and how they interact with each other. I mean really, how do Freud, Hitler, and Rasputin get along? Do Joan of Arc and Elizabeth I hang out with Marie Curie? And since its high school, who likes who? Can you just imagine the messed-up romantic possibilities? And of course, there are clones. I am very much a fan of books about clones. I am not so sure human clones are a good idea in practice, but in theory the idea is pretty cool. The premise sounds promising, I hope they are good. I’ll let you know what I think, though it may not be until after the holidays as I am on holiday prep overload. I need a nap.

Any manga recommendations for a newbie?

Happy Reading!


Today I am Thankful

It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the stressful hustle and bustle of the holiday season. I myself am guilty of fretting over things that in the grand scheme of things are insignificant. This week I have had a number of reminders to slow down, stop stressing, and enjoy the magic and merriment of the season. Lucky you, I am going to share.

I have been feeling quite scattered-brained this week and I have not been able to muster the concentration needed for The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare. Shocking, I know. But, the bright side of this is that I found inspiration in two small books.

First I enjoyed A Little House Christmas: Holiday Stories from the Little House Books.

I know I have talked about Little House a lot lately, but they really are just so good. This collection of Christmas stories helped put me in a holiday mood and reminded me of the things that are truly important-good health, close family, and good friends. Laura Ingalls lived in a time when a new tin cup and few pieces of candy were a Christmas windfall. Can you imagine? Life was hard and dangerous and they found comfort and joy in family and friends not material belongings. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for all the modern conveniences I enjoy, but it does make me think.

The other source of inspiration this week comes from the book 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik

In 2007 Kralik, an attorney, found his life to be at a depressing low. His law firm was in jeopardy, his relationships were in shambles, his apartment was tiny and depressing, he has unhealthy and miserable as he helplessly watched his dreams slip away. That is, until he found inspiration on a New Year’s Day walk in the hills of L.A. He decided to start focusing on what he had instead of dwelling on what he didn’t. Inspired by a thank you note from his ex-girlfriend, Kralik embarked on his mission to send 365 thank you notes to people who touched his life.

I am only half-way through the book, but I am finding it inspiring and thought-provoking. It is making me more aware of all the things that I have to be thankful for in my life. In fact, I am thankful to Stacey for recommending this book to me.

Another reminder to slow down and enjoy the season came last night. After watching my nephew’s Christmas concert I drove my 90-year old grandmother home. As we approached downtown she remarked that she hadn’t seen Public Square lit up for Christmas in years. How fortunate that we had not passed the exit yet! It was late, I was a little cranky and I knew I had to be up early the next morning, but that 10 minute detour really meant a lot to a woman who doesn’t ask for much in life. And do you know what? It was beautiful!

Grandma is on the left, her 92 year-old sister is in the middle, and the 87-year old “baby sister” is at the end. Me and my sisters are on the opposite side of the table. We are sitting across of our “older” selves (I am the oldest of my generation, in the middle, across from the oldest of her generation). I am so thankful to have these awesome women in my life.

Finally, this morning I saw a house collapse on its neighbor. The new second story of the house literally collapsed to one side. I was reminded that things can always be worse. My basement may be a damp, moldy mess, but at least my neighbor’s roof is not leaning against the side of my house. Life is good.

I hope you can take a quick, quiet moment and find something to be thankful for today. It’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.

Do you have a book that inspires you? I am in the mood to be inspired, so please pass the recommendation on to me. Thank!

Happy Reading!


Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Great Gifts

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. This week we are getting into the holiday spirit and talking about books that make great gifts. This year I bought my three young nephews passes to the brand new aquarium opening up here in Cleveland. I am so excited about this that I bought myself a membership. Merry Christmas to me. But I digress, I really am trying to make a point. A little wallet card is no fun to tear open on the big day, so I bought them each ocean-themed books. I really wish I could remember titles, but I don’t. I am pretty sure they are all DK or National Geographic titles and they are gorgeous. I feel like younger children are easy to buy books for. Teens, on the other hand could be a bit trickier. Me? I can’t wait until these boys are teens because I will buy them the most awesome books ever. Until then, let me help you shop for the teen readers in your life.

1. For the history buff and/or steampunk fan:

The Leviathan Trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

These books are gorgeously illustrated and I think have broad general appeal so get this for the guy who loves history, battles, and awesome machines or the girl who loves a great adventure with a strong female character. Steampunk is all the rage right now, so that’s a bonus too.

2. For the reader who appreciates a good cry:

If I Stay and Where She Went by Gayle Forman

This series has tragedy, heart-break, romance, music and hope. It’s a real tear-jerker, but worth every tissue!

3. For the mythology lover with a sense of humor:


Rick Riordan is a genius. And hilarious. You’ll want to start at the beginning with the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. If you want Egyptian mythology get started on The Kane Chronicles series. Percy fans will also appreciate The Heroes of Olympus series, which blends familiar Greek heroes with new Roman heroes and gods.

4. For every girl who dreams of having a secret identity and bada** skills:

Ally Carter has two series that rock my socks off. The Gallagher Girls series is about a secret spy school for girls. Awesome tough girls on secret missions, romance, and humor all in on perfect little package. They are squeaky clean, so give these to your tween readers too. The Heist Society series stars a girl with equally unique and awesome skills. She’s like the modern-day Robin Hood of the art theft scene. There is also a super cute boy.

5. For the guy who likes fantasy, adventure, and appreciates medieval times and weaponry:

There are ten books in The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan and every single one is amazing. I can’t wait to check out his new series, The Brother Band Chronicles.

6. For fans of The Hunger Games:


Dystopian societies are another hot topic in teen literature, thanks in large part to the popularity of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. If your teen reader doesn’t already own/hasn’t read that series, buy them now. If they are looking for awesome readalikes check out Divergent by Veronica Roth, Blood Red Road by Moira Young, or Legend by Marie Li.

7. For time traveling fans:


Hourglass by Myra McEntire and Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier are two of my favorite books of 2011. Give these to the girl who loves a good paranormal romance but needs a break from vampires.

8. For the nonfiction lover:


Warriors by Hannah Wilson, Danger! by Laura Buller, Ductigami by Joe Wilson, and Six-Word Memoirs on Love & Heartbreak by Writers Famous & Obscure are all cool books with great teen appeal.

9. For fans of urban fantasy/alternate history/The Sopranos:


The Curse Workers series by Holly Black is fantastic! Don’t be fooled by the girl on the cover of Red Glove, these books will appeal to guys as well as girls. Get them hooked with White Cat and Red Glove and they will be begging for Black Heart when in comes out in April 2012.

10. For the fan of a feel-good story:


Not everyone enjoys a vampire/zombie/dystopian/paranormal story. For those who want good old contemporary fiction try Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John or The Cardturner by Louis Sachar.  These are great stories with memorable characters and happy endings. Warm fuzzies for your favorite reader.

Once again, I have totally bent the rules of the Top Ten list, but I hope this helps you find the elusive perfect gift for your favorite teen (or teen at heart) reader.

Happy Reading!