30 December 2009

My top 5 books of 2009! Oh and Happy New Year! :)

So 2009 really is almost over, huh? I can't believe it went by so fast! Overall it was a good year for me and quite an exceptional one book-wise, not only have I discovered book blogs and become completely and utterly addicted to them, but I've also read many fantastic books! Altogether I still haven't read as many books as I'd like, but out of the 70 or so that I have read, there are some books that really stand out ... It wasn't easy choosing just 5, but I've decided to (mostly :p) focus on books that were published in 2009 to narrow it down a bit. Anyway, without further ado, I'd like to present to you the 5 books I personally found the most bookalicious ...

*drum roll*
Ta-da, ta-daaaaa!

1. WINTERGIRLS by Laurie Halse Anderson (my review here)
I pretty much knew this book will be my favourite this year as soon as I started reading it. Words cannot express how amazing and breathtaking this novel is, you just have to read it to believe it. Some people find the topics discussed too disturbing and while I can't say that they weren't, I also think that the well tackled topics combined with the truly masterful writing and the beautiful cover made this book a winner. And not just for me - Chicago Tribune has recently named it one of The Most Influential Books of 2000-2009, which in itself is almost as amazing as the book itself. ;)

2. BEFORE I FALL by Lauren Oliver (my review here)
Yes, yes, I know this book wasn't published in 2009, buuut the reason why it's on the list nonetheless is because it was far too powerful to be missed. Luckily, I got the chance to read it in advance and while I thought it sounded really interesting, I never thought it would blow me away SO much. It's such an amazing book, so wonderfully complex and well written and really powerful, it's still fresh on my mind months after I've read it. Everyone else who's read this book was completely amazed by it - read some advance reviews here. This book comes out in March 2010 (I can't wait to buy a finished copy!) and I predict this will top many, many lists of favourite reads next year!

3. THE BOOK OF TOMORROW by Cecelia Ahern (my review here)
Another book that I expected to be good, but I never thought it would completely rock my socks off, heh! Tamara is one of my favourite narrators ever and I was really gripped by her story and all the mysteries. I was totally engrossed in the story and I fell in love with the quirky characters. This book is no masterpiece as such, but it's definitely one of the most enjoyable books I've ever read! Absolutely loved it!

4. TWENTIES GIRL by Sophie Kinsella (my review here)
This was my most anticipated book of this year and so you might be wondering why the hell isn't it also my #1 pick then if I'm such a huge fan of Sophie Kinsella, right? Let me assure you, Twenties Girl most definitely lived up to all my impossibly high expectations and I *loved* it, but the thing is, I expected this book to be fantastic and hilarious and amazing - and it was. So the surprise factor was missing, whereas all the other books blew me away and I guess I just like it when that happens, heh. But yeah, Sophie Kinsella can do no wrong - I've read all her books and loved them all!

5. AIR KISSES by Zoë Foster (my review here)
Another book that took me completely by surprise! I was a little sceptical about the premise, but gosh darn it was it enjoyable! This one stands out because of the original writing style (it's oh so witty) and the adorable characters were fantastic too! I read it in one day and I had this whole permanent goofy grin on my face as I was reading it. It may not be a masterpiece, but definitely a very enjoyable and quick read! I can't wait to read more by Ms Foster - her next book Playing the Field comes out in February and I'm already excited!

Phew, right, those are my books of 2009! If you've already picked yours, then feel free to let me know which ones you chose as I love these kind of posts, I just find it so interesting to see what stood out for other people.

That's it for me this year! Thanks so much for visiting & following my blog and reading & commenting on my ramblings, I really appreciate it!

Lastly, I'd like to wish EVERYONE a very Happy New Year and all the best in 2010! Hope it's a fantastic year for all of us! Keep up the good work, fellow* book bloggers!!! :)

(* - What is the non-sexist word for 'fellow'? This question has been bugging me for ages, lol!)

28 December 2009

Exciting / bookalicious 2010 releases!

We're about to wave buh-bye to 2009 and most of us are already thinking about 2010. You never know what a new year has in store for you, but one thing's certain - 2010 is going to be an amazing year for books! There are just sooo many exciting new releases that we all can't wait to get our hands on, right? Speaking of which, below you can find the list of books I'm personally reeeeally looking forward to in 2010!

Splendour by Anna Godbersen (7th)
The Secret Year by Jennifer Hubbard (7th)
The Mark by Jen Nadol (19th)

Playing the Field by Zoë Foster (1st)
Magic under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore (1st)
In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth (2nd)
Sweet Little Lies by Lauren Conrad (2nd)
The Loving Kind by Sarah Webb (5th)
The Life of Glass by Jillian Cantor (9th)
North of Beautiful (PB) by Justina Chen Headley (26th)

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver (2nd)
Anastasia's Secret by Sussane Dunlap (2nd)
Little Darlings by Jacqueline Wilson (4th)
Love Letters (PB) by Katie Fforde (4th)
The Counterfeit Guest by Rose Melikan (4th)
I Was Jane Austen's Best Friend by Corra Harrison (5th)
Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt (16th)
Sing Me to Sleep by Angela Morrison (18th)
Daughters of Fortune by Tara Hyland (18th)*

Katy Carter Wants a Hero by Ruth Saberton (1st)
Being Nikki (PB) by Meg Cabot (1st)
Miss Understanding: My Summer on the Shelf by Lara Fox (1st)
The Not-So-Secret Diary of a City Girl by Allie Spencer (1st)
Fool's Girl by Celia Rees (5th)
Boys, Bears and a Serious Pair of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald (13th)
The Good, the Bad and the Dumped by Jenny Colgan (15th)
The Distant Hours by Kate Morton (27th)
Karma Club by Jessica Brody (27th)
House Rules by Jodi Picoult (27th)
Swapped by a Kiss by Luisa Plaja (29th)
Midnight Girls by Lulu Taylor (29th)
Spotlight by Ilana Fox (29th)

Anxious Hearts by Tucker Shaw (1st)
Della Says: OMG! WTF? by Keris Stainton (6th)
The Hidden Dance by Susan Wooldridge (6th)
Things I Wish I'd Known (PB) by Linda Green (13th)
Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols (25th)
Perfect Man (PB) by Sheila O'Flanagan (27th)
The Last Night at Chateau Marmont by Lauren Weisberger (27th)
A Reluctant Cinderella by Alison Bond (27th)
The Season (PB) by Sarah MacLean (31st)

The One that I Want by Allison Winn Scotch (1st)
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty (10th)
Rock Chicks by Roni Cooper (10th)
Reality Check by Jen Calonita (14th)
Scandalous by Tilly Bagshawe (24th)*
Single in the City by Michele Gorman (24th)

One Night that Changes Everything by Lauren Barnholdt (6th)
Watch Me by Lauren Barnholdt (6th)
Liberation of Alice Love by Abby McDonald (8th)
Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon (8th)
The Men I've Loved Before by Adele Parks (8th)
Forget You by Jennifer Echols (20th)
Ice Cream Girls (PB) by Dorothy Koomson (22nd)

Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway (3rd)
Just Look at Me Now by Nell Dixon (5th)
You're the One that I Don't Want by Alexandra Potter (5th)
Personally, I Blame My Fairy Godmother by Claudia Caroll (5th)
Kiss Heaven Goodbye by Tasmina Perry (5th)
My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin (19th)

Mini Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (2nd)
The Perfect Couple by Robyn Sisman (2nd)
Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde (2nd)
Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly (28th)

You Are Not Here by Samantha Schutz (1st)
Sugar and Spice by Lauren Conrad (5th)
Down to Earth by Melanie Rose (14th)
Elixir by Hilary Duff (14th)
Love from Cecily by Harriet Evans (14th)
Distant Hours by Kate Morton (15th)
Bright Young Things by Anna Godersen (26th)

This is obviously just a draft and I'll be adding titles as I come across them. But lots of goodies, as you can see!

Which upcoming releases are YOU most excited about? :)

26 December 2009

In My Mailbox #23

As always, IMM is hosted by The Story Siren.

It's been a short working week so I only got two books, but they were both excellent! And no, none under the Xmas tree because I don't really celebrate Xmas and thus don't get any gifts - boo, I know! ;) But oh well, here are the lovely books I treated myself to:

I've read Because She Can by Bridie Clark a few years ago and I *loved* it so I was really excited to hear she has a new novel coming out. I pre-ordered THE OVERNIGHT SOCIALITE even though it was still a bit pricey, but I honestly couldn't wait for the paperback! If this book is half as good as Because She Can was, then it's bound to be brilliant! Can't wait to read it!

I've no idea how I found out about THE CASTLE OF SHADOWS by Ellen Renner (maybe it was Chicklish again, hehe), but I really liked the sound of it so I pre-ordered it too and it already arrived, woo. It's so cute and on the inside there's a lovely map of the whole thing takes place etc. Another book I'm excited to read as soon as I actually get some free time. ;)

Looking forward to seeing what everyone else got! :)

23 December 2009


Hosted by Breaking the Spine, WAITING ON WEDNESDAY is the meme to highlight the books we're looking forward to!

Hands up who loves Jenny Colgan?! I've only read two of her books (Operation Sunshine & Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend) and LOVED both so obviously I'm very excited about the next book by Ms Colgan, which comes out in April 2010 - read more about it below. Until then, I already have two other books by her to read, West End Girls & The Boy I Loved Before, yay. Now all I need is some time to actually read them, le sigh. If you haven't read any Jenny Colgan books yet, then I'd definitely recommend them if you're looking for a hilarous and uplifting read.

Anyway, without further ado, here's what Ms Colgan has in store for us:

"Posy is delighted when Matt proposes - on top of a mountain, in a gale, in full-on romantic mode. But the next morning disaster strikes: he backs out of the engagement. Crushed and humiliated, Posy starts thinking. Why has her love life always, ALWAYS ended in total disaster? Determined to discover how she got to this point, Posy resolves to track down her exes ...Is there hope for Matt, or will she fall back in love with an old flame? What about Lord Voldemort, the old boyfriend that cannot be named? And could Posy face up to the idea that, actually, one day she could live life on her own terms?"

21 December 2009

Desperately seeking MAKING OUT books (Katherine Applegate)!

The other day I remembered these really great books that I was reading over ten years ago. The ones I read were translated from English into my mother tongue and when I googled the author and some of the names from the books, I found out that this was actually a huge series and that I haven't even read half of them! And I desperately want to have the whole collection now.

So I was wondering if anyone has heard of or read the MAKING OUT series by Katherine Applegate??? It was published in the late 90s and here's a quick summary from Wiki:
Making Out is a series of young adult novels by author K. A. Applegate. The books were based on the lives of teenagers living on an island called Chatam Island off the coast of Maine. The main characters were Zoey Passmore and her brother Benjamin, Claire Geiger and her sister Nina, Jake McRoyan, Lucas Cabral and Aisha Gray.
The books dealt with many troublesome topics such as the death of a parent, divorce, disability, drugs and alcohol.
The books followed the group of teenagers all the way through senior year to college life.

The series consists of 28 books:

  1. Zoey Fools Around
  2. Jake Finds Out
  3. Nina Won't Tell
  4. Ben's In Love
  5. Claire Gets Caught
  6. What Zoey Saw
  7. Lucas Gets Hurt
  8. Aisha Goes Wild
  9. Zoey Plays Games
  10. Nina Shapes Up
  11. Ben Takes a Chance
  12. Claire Can't Lose
  13. Don't Tell Zoey
  14. Aaron Lets Go
  15. Who Loves Kate?
  16. Lara Gets Even
  17. Two-Timing Aisha
  18. Zoey Speaks Out
  19. Kate Finds Love
  20. Never Trust Lara
  21. Trouble with Aaron
  22. Always Loving Zoey
  23. Lara Gets Lucky
  24. Now Zoey's Alone
  25. Don't Forget Lara
  26. Zoey's Broken Heart
  27. Falling for Claire
  28. Zoey Comes Home
I think that only like 11 books were published in my country and then they just disappeared and up to today I still don't know if Ben's operation was successful! It's been bugging me for years and I really want to read the whole series. I might not love it as much as my 12/13-year-old self did, but I vividly remember how fantastic these books were!

But mostly what I want to know is this - has anyone else read this series and loved it? :)

19 December 2009

In My Mailbox #22

Thanks to The Story Siren for hosting this meme. Below is a picture of the faaaabuuuloooous books I got in the past week!

I decided to get CAN YOU SEE ME? by Ruth Gilligan after reading on chicklitreviews.com that the paperback comes out in April. I was instantly drawn to this book and in the end I decided that I couldn't wait that long and just got the trade paperback instead. I might even prefer this cover to the paperback one (even if just a little bit).

LIVING DEAD GIRL by Elizabeth Scott arrived as a gift from my Secret Santa aka Tynga! This was one of the books on my wishlist and I can't wait to read it; it sounds quite a bit like The Collector by John Fowles, which is one of my all-time favourite books! Tynga also kindly made me the button on the right and helped me with the redesign of my blog since she's really good at that kind of stuff! Be sure to check out her blog and thanks again for everything, Tynga! Click here to see what I got her. :)
As for the blog button, feel free to use it, hint hint! ;) I'm definitely planning to put up lots of pretty bottons too as soon as I get my layout sorted out, i.e. get two sidebars ... But that might mean that I need a new layout altogether, which is a huge process. Am contemplating having one designed just for me, but we'll see what happens. Stay tuned and all. ;)

ON THIN ICE by Kay Woodward is the second book in the Skate School series and I found out about it on Chicklish. I haven't read the first book yet (bought it a while ago), but I pre-ordered the second one too because I'm a huge fan of figure skating and I was really excited to learn that there are actually/finally books about that!

Lastly, I actually *won* a copy of GIRL, ALOUD by Emily Gale at the author's site!!! This is another book that I learned about on Chicklish (their review here), who also did a great interview with the author of this book a while ago. I was soooo happy to win this book as it really sounds like a fantastic read!

16 December 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: Stolen private thoughts

This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

I've just realized that two books I'm looking forward to in 2010 are sort of similar theme-wise so I've just decided to post them together since they both feature girls who have had their very private notebooks STOLEN! Talk about a nightmare! I see a lot of potential in both and I can't wait to read them!

(July 2010)

"Four dares - Two secrets - One night Eliza is in a full-blown panic. Her notebook has been stolen—the one that lists everything she wants but is afraid to go after. And the absolute worst person in the world has it: her ex-boyfriend, Cooper. Like it’s not enough Cooper was lying to Eliza for their entire relationship, now he and his friends are blackmailing her. They’re giving her just one night to complete the most humiliating tasks on her list or they’ll post her secrets online—including the ones that aren’t just about her. Eliza’s sure of only one thing: she isn’t going down without a fight. Cooper may have what’s left of her dignity, but she’s not the only one with something to hide ..."
I've been looking for this summary everywhere and finally found it at Just Your Typical Book Blog, yay!

DELLA SAYS: OMG! WTF? by Keris Stainton
(May 2010)

"Della's over the moon when she kisses her long-standing crush at a party -- but then she discovers her diary has disappeared...When scans of embarrassing pages are sent to her mobile and appear on Facebook, Della's distraught -- how can she enjoy her first proper romance when someone, somewhere, knows all her deepest, darkest secrets?"

You can actually read the first chapter of this book on the author's official site or follow the book related updates on the blog!

12 December 2009

In My Mailbox #21

As always, this meme is hosted by The Story Siren.
So, guess who had a great book week! Yep, yours truly indeed - see proof below!

I've been waiting for this re-release of Alexandra Potter's DO YOU COME HERE OFTEN? for months! Love the author, adore the cover, can't wait to read the book!

I loved Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin so I decided to get her other book, MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC, which sounds like a great read, albeit rather reminiscent of Remember Me? by Sophie Kinsella (yay). Cute cover too!

And can I get a massive squuueeeeee for the ARC of HOUSE RULES by Jodi Picoult? :) Click here to see the front cover of the ARC. They're calling it her "most powerful novel yet" and I can't wait to see if it lives up to that hype. Ms Picoult is one of my favourite authors so you can imagine how excited I am about this, hehe. Due to my supersuper busy schedule, I sadly can't see myself reading it this year, but I'll definitely review it when it comes out in April 2010!

I've heard great things about WAKE by Lisa McMann so I decided to get a copy and see for myself if it's really as interesting as it sounds, hehe.

Hope everyone else had a great week too! :)

10 December 2009

Review: THE DRESSKEEPER by Mary Naylus ***

"Have you ever pretended to be someone else? Picky Robson thought things couldn’t get any worse. Her life is a boy-free zone, she’s being bullied at school, then Mum announces she has to look after Gran every weekend for the foreseeable future. One night, unknowingly tempting fate, Picky slips into a flouncy old dress from the depths of an ancient chest and finds herself back in 17th Century London. But she is not alone. A weirdo in a wig is trying to kill her - mistaking her for a girl called Amelia. Who is Amelia? Can Picky change the past by exposing the murdered? And will she make it back alive?"

I've seen sooo many great reviews for this book everywhere and since it sounded like a great read, I was delighted to be offered to read it (many thanks, Prospera Publishing!). I'm pleased to say it did turn out to be a cute little read, but I couldn't help thinking that the story or the characters were slightly underdeveloped ... This could partly be due to the fact that this book is mostly suitable for younger readers and I don't read too many of those so it's hard for me to give an objective review since I'm not an expert on the genre ... Nonetheless, it's an enjoyable read.

It's narrated by Picky (whose real name is Penelope), who is actually a rather flawed character (she's certainly no beauty queen), but she really brings the story to life and she's really funny most of the time. I really loved her narration and even though I rolled my eyes at her a few times, the truth is that I was probably just as silly or even worse when I was 13, hehe. Our Picky travels through time when she puts on an old dress in her granny's attic and soon she's on a mission to save a girl called Amelia from being killed on her wedding day. So she travels back and forth, from the 21st century to the 17th, trying to find a way to save Amelia, who happens to be her in the 17th century. It may sound complicated, but trust me, it's really not.
During her time travels, Picky gets to learn about the life in London at that time, which was interesting to read, even though things were sometimes a bit on the TMI side - let's just say London back then didn't quite smell of roses, hehe.

I enjoyed the narration and reading about London back then, but I'm afraid I found the characters slightly cartoonish ... I just thought they were all overly simplistic and I couldn't really feel for any of them. My favourite, apart from Picky, was probably Ollie, Picky crazy little brother who comes up with such randoms insults, haha. Probably not too pleasant to be around, but fun to read about. ;)

I wasn't entirely convinced by the plot either - I just felt there were loopholes and not everything quite worked for me. I didn't really find it fast paced or anything, but it was exciting enough to keep me reading for sure! There's a twist at the end that I didn't see coming, but I can't say I was really blown away by it either.

But do you know what I really, really dislike about this novel? The cover! This book could've had such a cute cover if it featured any of the pretty dresses described in the book, but instead this poor ended up with this dark thing. You can't even see what's on it unless you look really closely and see that it's supposed to be big dresses. I don't like the font either. Am I the only one who's not a fan?

Anyway, please don't get me wrong, this is actually a really good read and I think I would've loved it if I was younger, but now I couldn't help looking at it from a different perspective. It's an original novel that covers several other subjects (including bullying, being different, dementia, family problems, friendship etc.), not just time travelling. I'd definitely recommend it if you're looking for a quick enjoyable read! The good news is that you can get your copy at the Prospera Publishing with free international shipping, woo!

overall rating: 3/5
plot: 3/5 | writing: 4/5 | characters: 3/5 | cover: 2/5

ps: Book Chick City has just published a very interesting interview with the author so do check that out! Also, feel free to read what other lovely book bloggers have to say about The Dresskeeper: The Bookette; Juju at Tales of Whimsy; So Many Books, So Little Time; Wondrous Reads; Book Chick City; The Sweet Bookshelf; I Want to Read That, Another Book Blog Whore. Several of these bloggers are running a contest too so visit them if you'd like a copy!

9 December 2009

Waiting On Wednesday: LITTLE DARLINGS

As always, this meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.

Another release I'm eagerly expecting is the next Jacqueline Wilson book called LITTLE DARLINGS, which comes out in March 2010. Yes, I know this is more MG or tween lit or whatever, but I have a soft spot for Jacqueline Wilson so I'm always looking forward to her next book. I got her latest too (Hetty Feather), but haven't read it yet. It's supposed to be reminiscent of Tracy Beaker (I love that girl!) so you know you're in for a great read.
This one smells a bit like SECRETS with the whole "two girls with quirky names and different backgrounds, unlikely friendship" thing going on, but oh well. I like the sound of it though and I'll most likely pre-order it in a couple of months - that way I can get a hardback for the price of a paperback, woo!

Anyway, more about the book:

LITTLE DARLINGS by Jacqueline Wilson
Sunset lives a life of luxury with her beautiful ex-model mum, her world-famous ex-rocker dad and two little celeb siblings. But life on the red carpet is no compensation for rowing parents, constant nagging, intensive media scrutiny and no real friends. Destiny, on the other hand, is an only child living on a rundown estate with a sickly but devoted mum who constantly tells her that she's really the daughter of a famous former rock star...When the two girls meet in unlikely circumstances, they are surprised to find in each other something they've been missing all their lives...

6 December 2009

In My Mailbox #20

Another quiet book week over here at Bookalicious ... I only received one book, which I snagged on Kristi's other wonderful blog Books for Grabs. Yep, I managed to get my hands on an ARC of Hancock Park and Kristi very kindly sent it to me, I just paid for the shipping! Thanks so much, Kristi aka The Story Siren, for setting up Books for Grabs and for sending the books and also for hosting this meme!

OK, now honestly, how gorgeous is the girl on the cover of this book?! Stunning (except for the freakishly long neck) and the plot sounds great too so I cannot wait to read it, but I've just been so very busy lately that I've hardly had time for reading. :( I have all these amazing books which are just begging and screaming to be read, but I have to ignore them for the time being because I have too many other things on my plate, boo. Hopefully things will improve in a month or two because I really need a few days when I could just reeeeeaaaaad, I really miss that, but what I'm working on right now is very important too so I shouldn't complain really. Nonetheless, wish I could just clone myself and do a few things at the same time!

Off to check now what everyone else got! :)

2 December 2009

Waiting on Wednesday: A double dose of GIRLS with secrets!

This meme is hosted by Breaking the Spine.
I've decided to do a double feature this time since I'm two books I'm looking forward to have similar titles and sort of similar plots (friends with secrets)! They bought sound fantastic, as you can see below!

THE ICE CREAM GIRLS by Dorothy Koomson
(February 2010)
At only eighteen years of age, Poppy and Serena were the only witnesses to a tragic event. Amid heated public debate and scrutiny, the two glamorous teens were dubbed 'The Ice Cream Girls' by the press and forced to go their separate ways and to lead very different lives. Twenty years later, Poppy is keen to set the record straight about what really happened, while married mother-of-two Serena wants no one in her present to find out about her past. But some secrets will not stay buried - and if theirs is revealed, their lives will start to unravel all over again ...Gripping, thought-provoking and heart-warming, The Ice Cream Girls will make you wonder if you can ever truly know the people you love.

by Lulu Taylor

(April 2010)
From the prestigious dormitories of Westfield to the irresistible socialite scene of present-day London: everywhere Allegra McCorquodale goes, scandal follows her. And in Allegra's shadow are her closest friends since school, the Midnight Girls. Romily de Lisle: super rich, brilliant and bored. She's as blessed as Allegra when it comes to looks, but she's a force to be reckoned with. And Imogen Heath: pretty, timid and hopelessly drawn to Allegra's reckless charm. She longs to be a part of the glitzy high-society world where her friends move with such ease. Once free of the cloistered worlds of school and university, the Midnight Girls face new and different challenges, but they are for ever bonded by a terrible secret they've sworn never to break. Bitter rivalries arise as their professional lives soon cross paths. Greed, tragedy and sinister passions threaten their allegiance and each of them stand to lose what they love most ...

Ooh, I can't wait to read these two!
Judging by her tweets, Chloe (the lucky girl!) has apparently already read The Ice Cream Girls and she actually declared it her book of the year! How intriguing - and promising! :)