Category Archives: reading

2015 Reading List


Another year, another list of fabulous books read! I really wish I had read even more. As is, my TBR pile seems to be never-ending. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but I do wish I could read all the books I want to. That being said, I really loved the books I did read and here’s the list. If the book made it on my list, it was worth the read. (Just FYI – I know I’m a week short of the official start of 2016, but I’ll be adding the books I read this week to the start of 2016’s list.)

EVERYTHING EVERYTHING by Nicola Yoon (YA fiction) – Housebound teen “bubble girl” falls in love with neighbor boy.
SOME LUCK by Jane Smiley (adult historical) – First book in trilogy about a family in Iowa (starting in the 1920s).
THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander (MG fiction) – Award-winning novel in verse about 12 year old Josh, his basketball obsession, and his family.
CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell (YA fiction) – Companion to FANGIRL, the story about the young magician Simon Snow and his adventures at a school for magicians.
FLIGHT SCHOOL by Lita Judge (picture book) – A penguin wants to learn how to fly.

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SHELTER PET SQUAD #2: MERLIN by Cynthia Lord (chapter book) – Suzannah who volunteers at her local shelter, helps the Shelter Pet Squad find a missing ferret.
TONIGHT THE STREETS ARE OURS by Leila Sales (YA fiction) – When her mother walks out, Arden finds comfort in a blog written by a boy in NYC.
ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King (YA fiction) – Teen keeps her best friend’s secret, but has secrets of her own, in a story about being true to yourself in a small town.
DUMPLIN’ by Julie Murphy (YA fiction) – Plus-sized Willowdean is comfortable in her own skin (even if her former beauty queen mother isn’t). This is my kind of book with an underdog to root for, relationships that need mending, and a hot boy.
PRINCESS JUNIPER OF THE HOURGLASS by Ammi-Joan Paquette (MG fiction) – On her 13th nameday, Princess Juniper asks her father for her own (small) kingdom of kids to rule for practice. Full of adventure and mystery!
SHOPAHOLIC TO THE RESCUE by Sophie Kinsella (adult fic) – I’m such a fan of Kinsella. In the continuing Shopaholic saga, Becky and her troop are in Vegas searching for her dad who mysteriously “disappeared.” Always laugh-out-loud fun reading.
FAT ANGIE by e.E. Charlton-Trujillo (YA fiction) – A touching story about Fat Angie who grieves her war-hero sister, and is intrigued by the cool new girl who befriends her.
THE CHARMED CHILDREN OF ROOKSKILL CASTLE by Janet Fox (MG fiction) – Suspenseful tale that weaves magic and mystery together in a page-turning story about 12 year old Kate and her siblings who are sent to a castle in Scotland during the London blitz.

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HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE by Margaret Dilloway (adult fiction) – After the American occupation, Shoko leaves her home of Japan and moves to America after marrying a GI, leaving behind her family and a brother who disowns her.
THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE by Leila Sales (YA fiction) – Bullied and friendless Elise discovers escape and friendship in an underground club as a DJ.
WHAT ALICE FORGOT by Liane Moriarty (adult fiction) – After hitting her head, Alice loses 10 years of memories and is horrified to discover she’s in the middle of divorce proceedings with her husband whom she loves.

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CLEMENTINE FOR CHRISTMAS by Daphne Benedis-Grab (MG fiction) – Heart-warming story set before Christmas, three 6th graders are thrown together while volunteering on the pediatric ward at the hospital.
THESE SHALLOW GRAVES by Jennifer Donnelly (YA fiction) – Gripping thriller set in 19th century NYC, privileged Jo Monfort puts her reputation and engagement at risk to discover the truth behind her father’s death.
AFTER YOU by Jojo Moyes (adult fiction) – Follow up to ME BEFORE YOU – can’t say more in case you haven’t read the first book yet. So worth it!

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MYSTERY AT THE EAGLE’S NEST (Cooper & Packrat) by Tamra Wight (chapter book) – The continuing adventures of Cooper and Packrat, best friends who live at a campground. This time they are tracking a group of mysterious strangers who might be endangering the eagles at the campground.
BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert (adult nonfiction) – Inspiration for living the creative life.
HOW TO START A FIRE by Lisa Lutz (adult fiction) – A intricately woven story about three friends who met in college.
THE NUTCRACKER COMES TO AMERICA by Chris Barton, illust. by Cathy Gendrone (nonfiction picture book) – The story of how three brothers brought the ballet story The Nutcracker to America.
A WINDOW OPENS by Elisabeth Egan (adult fiction) – A book-loving woman who “has it all” takes a risk and joins a start up company that might put her best friend’s bookstore out of business.
UNBREAK MY HEART by Melissa Walker (YA fiction) – Clem is stuck on a boat with her family, nursing her wounds from a fight with her best friend, and unexpectedly falls for a boy on another boat.
HELLO, GOODBYE, AND EVERYTHING IN BETWEEN by Jennifer E. Smith (YA fiction) – High school sweethearts spend the last 12 hours before they go off to separate collages reminiscing and trying to decide if they should break up or stay together.
THE BOY MOST LIKELY TO by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA fiction) – A touching coming-of-age story dealing with love, teen parenthood, and mistakes made. (And a totally swoon-worthy male love interest!)
KISSING IN AMERICA by Margo Rabb (YA fiction) – Sixteen year old grieving Eva falls for a boy who moves away and she finds a way to travel across the country to be with him.
LITTLE WOMAN IN BLUE by Jeannine Atkins (adult historical) – Heart-warming story based on real life artist May Alcott (sister of Louisa May who wrote Little Women).
THE DARKEST PART OF THE FOREST by Holly Black (YA urban fantasy) – Hazel and her brother live in a town that more or less peacefully co-exists with faerie folk until the eternal sleeping boy in a glass coffin wakes up and disappears.
NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio (YA fiction) – Krissy, senior star hurdler with a college scholarship in the bag and best boyfriend ever, learns she’s intersex. A deeply layered story of love and a self-acceptance.

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CLEO EDISON OLIVER, PLAYGROUND MILLIONAIRE by Sundee T. Frazier (chapter book)- Fifth grader Cleo has big aspirations to be a successful businesswoman and is determined to come up with the perfect business for her class assignment.
SANCTUARY by Jennifer McKissack (YA fiction) – Seventeen year old Cecelia must return to her childhood home, the estate on an island where memories haunt her.
THE HEART OF BETRAYAL by Mary E. Pearson (YA fiction) – Book 2 of the Remnant Chronicles follows the saga and adventures of Rafe, Kaden, and Lia. No spoilers here, but I can’t wait for book 3!
ANOTHER KIND OF HURRICANE by Tamara Ellis Smith (MG fiction) – The lives of two ten-year-old boys, one in Louisiana and one in Vermont, are swept up and thrown together in a tale dealing with and healing from loss.
BUNNIES!!! by Kevan Atteberry (picture book) – Humorous story about a monster who wants to befriend bunnies.
DREAMS OF GODS & MONSTERS by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy/fiction) – Book 3 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. No spoilers here!
DAYS OF BLOOD & STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor (YA fantasy/fiction) – Book 2 of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. No spoilers here!
FISH IN A TREE by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (MG fiction) – A child who struggles with dyslexia gets support and help from a kind teacher and true friends.
IT’S A SEASHELL DAY by Dianne Ochiltree, illust. by Elliot Kreloff (picture book) – A child and mom spend a day at the beach, searching for shells and other treasures.

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ONE WORD FROM SOPHIA by Jim Averbeck, illust. by Jasmeen Ismail (picture book) – Sophie tries to convince her parents to get her a pet giraffe.
A HANDFUL OF STARS by Cynthia Lord (MG fiction) – Lily hopes to raise money for surgery for her blind dog Lucky who inadvertently introduces Lily to a migrant worker girl.
GOODBYE STRANGER by Rebecca Stead (YA fiction) – Intertwining stories mostly about 8th grader Bridge – about friendship, first love, and family.
LOVE MAY FAIL by Matthew Quick (adult fiction) – Portia Kane leaves her cheating husband and returns to her hometown where she makes it her mission to help her former teacher.
MY DOG IS THE BEST by Laurie Ann Thompson, illus. by Paul Schmid (picture book fiction) – A boy and his dog. Adorable!
FINDING AUDREY by Sophie Kinsella (YA fiction) – With trademark Kinsella humor and empathy, a story about Audrey, a teen with severe anxiety who withdraws from the world, only to be slowly drawn back in by her brother’s friend.
IS EVERYONE HANGING OUT WITHOUT ME? by Mindy Kaling (adult memoir) – Mindy Kaling of The Mindy Project’s humorous memoir.
THE GOLLYWHOPPER GAMES:FRIEND OR FOE by Jody Feldman (MG fiction) – Book 3 of the Gollywhopper Games series has middle grader Zane sidelined from trying out for the football team chosen as a reluctant contestant for the third Gollywhopper Games.
THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan (adult fiction) – Bex Porter leaves behind America and her twin sister to attend Oxford and falls for Nick, the Prince himself – a perfectly swoon-worthy read!
SAINT ANYTHING by Sarah Dessen (YA fiction) – Sydney struggles with her emotions dealing with a brother in prison and her parents whose lives revolve around him.
P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU by Jenny Han (YA fiction) – Starting just days after Lara Jean and Peter fight and end their fake relationship (TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE), the story continues to follow Lara Jean and her up and down love life and the fall out from the love letters she wrote (and didn’t send out, but somebody did).
PAPER THINGS by Jennifer Richard Jacobson (MG fiction) – Fifth grader Ari struggles in school and with friendship when her older brother removes her from her guardian’s care.
THE START OF ME AND YOU by Emery Lord (YA fiction) – A year after her boyfriend drowned, Paige, while still grieving, decides to try to start fresh.
THE WALLS AROUND US by Nova Ren Suma (YA fiction) – Amber has been held in the Aurora Hills Juvenile Detention Center since she was 13. For three years, she’s survived, but something is going on…
VALIANT by Sarah McGuire (MG fiction) – When her father the tailor falls ill, Saville disguises herself as a boy and uses her gift (as much as she hates sewing) to feed them in this retelling of The Brave Little Tailor.
RULES FOR 50/50 CHANCES by Kate McGovern (YA fiction) – Seventeen year old Rose has big dreams of becoming a professional ballerina and wants to take the test to find out if she has her mother’s Huntington’s disease. Falling for a guy was the last thing she wanted or needed.
BEEKLE by Dan Santat (picture book) – Sweet award-winning picture book about imaginary friends.
THE WINNER’S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski (YA fiction) – Book 2 in the Winner’s Trilogy, Kestral’s life continues to spin with love, betrayal, secrets, and deception. No spoilers here! Can’t wait for book 3!

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PICNIC IN PROVENCE by Elizabeth Bard (adult memoir) – Ex-pat American and her French husband move from Paris to Provence with their infant son.
MY BEST EVERYTHING by Sarah Tomp (YA fiction) – When Lulu Mendez, who wants to escape her small town, learns her father has blown her college savings, she comes up with a desperate plan to make/sell moonshine.
GOOD OMENS by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (adult fiction) – A tongue-in-cheek telling of the Apocalypse involving Crowley (devil) and Aziraphael (angel) who because they have grown fond of living on Earth join forces to try to prevent the end of the world.
A TALE FOR THE TIME BEING by Ruth Ozeki (adult fiction) – When Ruth finds and reads a diary washed up on the shore of her Canadian beach, she get lost in the world of a teen age girl, uprooted from her home in Sunnyvale and forced to move to Tokyo after her father loses his lucrative Silicon Valley job.
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (adult historical fiction) – Pulitzer Prize winning novel told in multiple POV, mostly from a young blind French girl named Marie-Laure and a young German boy Werner caught up in WWII.
FIRST FROST by Sarah Addison Allen (adult fiction) – In a return to the Waverly sisters (GARDEN SPELLS), Allen expertly weaves magical realism in a story filled with love, family, and hope.
ALL FALL DOWN by Ally Carter (YA fiction) – When 16yo Grace Blakely returns to live with her grandfather, the US ambassador to Adria, she is determined to prove she’s not crazy, convince her family her mother was killed not in an accident, and find her mother’s murderer. Can’t wait for book 2 of the Embassy Row series!
THE ROSIE EFFECT by Graeme Simsion (adult fiction) – In a follow up to THE ROSIE PROJECT (Spoiler Alert), Don Tillman and Rosie are now married and living in New York, and Don, who does not deal well with surprises, is surprised to learn Rosie is pregnant.
READ BETWEEN THE LINES by Jo Knowles (YA fiction) – Interrelated “short stories” told in multiple POVs centered around the middle finger after unpopular Nate Granger breaks his middle finger during high school gym class.
DAUGHTER OF SMOKE & BONE by Laini Taylor (YA fiction) – Book 1: Karou, an art student living on her own in Prague belongs to another world, one of half beasts – chimera, and in particular her foster father Brimstone who does some sort of magic with the teeth Karou is tasked to collect.
THIS ONE SUMMER by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki (YA graphic novel) – Rose, on the cusp of adolescence, reunites with her summer best friend as they explore questions of life and love.
THE SORCERER HEIR by Cinda Williams Chima (YA fiction) – In a continuation of the Heir Chronicles, Emma Lee/Greenwood continues to struggle with her fear that the boy she loves, Jonah, is responsible not only for her father’s murder but the other murders as well.

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What did you read that you especially loved in 2015?

Thank you for being here and for allowing me to share great books with you. Here’s to a fantastic 2016 of MORE great books (and more give-aways)!

2014 Reading List


Happy New Year! I want to take this opportunity to thank all of you for following this blog. It’s a joy to share my love of reading and books – and I love hearing from you, too! If you have a reading blog that I’m not currently following, please comment below with your url. I love seeing what everyone else is reading and I get some great recommendations for books I might not have otherwise picked up.

I had a goal to read 100 books last year. Alas, I read 74. That means that I was mostly focusing on my own writing. I read only 30 children’s/teen books – that was a surprise to me. But, I have a tendency to avoid reading my genre when I’m focused on my own work-in-progress, so perhaps this is a good sign (at least for my own writing). The great thing, though, was that I thoroughly enjoyed all the YA/MG books I read this year!

Here’s my list of books:

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MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME edited by Stephanie Perkins (YA)

Oooh La La!


Oops! I’ve been quieter than I planned. Hope everyone had a fabulous holiday and that 2015 will be stupendous and great! Where was I over the holiday?

I spent it with my husband and college-age daughter, in this city:


Eating a lot of these:


And stopping at this awesome place:


We had an amazing and memorable week.

And special for you all because I know you’ll appreciate it -I saw this:


And for anyone who loved ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins, I stood here and made a wish:


Oh, and what was I reading that week? This, which was perfect:


Loved this book of twelve perfectly wonderful holiday love stories written by some of my favorite YA authors!

I promise to share my 2014 reading list at the start of the new year. Happy reading and thanks so much for reading this blog. I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

Shopping Suggestions


It’s that time of year again, when we want to find the perfect gifts for family and friends. When I can, I prefer to give the gift of a book. Everyone wins – the receiver, the author, and the bookstore (please buy from your local Indie).

If you check out my reading list for the year (sidebar), these are the books I’ve read and enjoyed so far. But I’d like to highlight a few for your shopping pleasure. For the purpose of this blog, I’ll stick to children’s and teen fiction, but if you’d like my recommendations for adult fiction, just drop me a line.

9781423144342_p0_v2_s260x420  The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima (Hyperion/2013)

In a continuation of the Heir Chronicles, this story focuses on Jonah and Emma. Both are survivors of the Thorn Hill massacre/accident (depending on who tells the story) – killing all the adults and turning the surviving children into “savants” or mutants. Not quite wizards or enchanters or warriors or sorcerers – but somehow having a special ability, but also cursed with short lives. Jonah is able to enchant, but also his bare touch will kill. Emma who knew nothing of this world comes to it after her grandfather is murdered and she’s united with her long-absent father. But then Jonah comes along to question Tyler (Emma’s father) about Thorn Hill and is ambushed by wizards and a battle ensues.  There is mystery, intrigue, and romance! The ending is a bit of a cliffhanger but fortunately the next book, The Sorcerer Heir was released in October! I’m looking forward to reading it!


9781423166801_p0_v2_s260x420  United We Spy by Ally Carter (Hyperion/2013)

In the last book of the Gallagher Girl series, Cam starts her last semester of her senior year as a Gallagher Girl with her three best friends and Zach by her side. Until  things go unexpectedly haywire and the girls must use their spy training to solve and save, once again. Always exciting and always fun, I will miss this series! If you haven’t read any of the books, definitely start with book 1 about a secret spy school for girls.





41zHaSex4JL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_  Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick/2013)

Piddy Sanchez’s biggest issue used to be wanting to know who her father was. But then she and her mother move and Piddy starts a new high school. Immediately she catches the wrong kind of attention. A mean girl and her gang of girls want to hurt Piddy and she doesn’t understand why. Piddy’s grades suffer as she tries to avoid confrontation and Piddy feels alone. Things continue to get worse for Piddy and she must make a decision in order to get her life back. Touching story!




9780545035330_p0_v2_s260x420  Half A Chance by Cynthia Lord (Scholastic/2014)

When Lucy and her mom and photographer dad move to a cottage on a New Hampshire lake, she is, as always, worried about being the new kid. But summer gives her a chance to get to know her new home and make a new friend with neighbor Nate, even though he is only there for the summer. Lucy decides to enter a photography contest and with Nate’s help, she shoots photos, wondering if they will be good enough for her dad. She and Nate and his sister, follow the loons – recording their family life for the Loon Preservation Society and for Nate’s grandmother who is slowly starting to lose her memory. A story about friendship, family, and making and keeping memories. Beautifully written!




9780316043533_p0_v1_s260x420  Sorta Like A Rock Star by Matthew Quick (Little, Brown/2011)

Amber Appleton, age 17, lives with her mother in a yellow school bus (her mother’s part time job). With her little dog Bobby Big Boy, Amber tries to bring hope into everyone’s lives – her best friends, the seniors at the retirement home, a Vietnam Vet and her favorite teacher at school, but when tragedy strikes and Amber gives up, all those lives she’s touched – they come together to give her a great gift back. Quirky characters abound with touches of humor and great emotion.





9780807517390_p0_v1_s260x420  Dust of Eden: A Novel by Mariko Nagai (Albert Whitman & Co./2014)

After Pearl Harbor, Mina Masako Tagawa and her family are forced to leave their home in Seattle and relocate to an internment camp in Idaho. This is the story of the Japanese internment during WWII. In poignant and powerful verse, Mariko Nagai tells the story through middle-schooler Mina who has to leave behind everything – including her cat and best friend, Jamie. In the dusty barrack camps where the families are crammed together with no privacy and little amenities, Mina’s family cracks under the strain. The beauty lies in the telling – Nagai’s verse is filled with emotion. Grandpa’s roses are the beauty that survives in the harsh environment and serves as a reminder that under even the harshest conditions, beauty can be found.




9781452111742_p0_v3_s260x420  Always Emily by Michaela MacColl (Chronicle Books/2014)

In 1835 Haworth England, 17yo Emily is forced by her sister Charlotte to go away from her beloved moors to a boarding school, where Charlotte will be a teacher. Both sisters crave the writing life, but Charlotte is practical. Teaching would be a good practical profession. Headstrong Emily escapes back home after suffering homesickness and misery. Emily comes across a young man camping on the moors and becomes embroiled in a mystery. A gripping and engaging tale based on the famous Brontë sisters.





9781442444645_p0_v3_s260x420  Promise of Shadows by Justina Ireland (Simon & Schuster/2014)

The story opens on Zephyr who is stuck in Tartarus’ worst section, the Pits, as punishment for killing one of Hera’s guards. Zeph is a failed Harpy. Fortunately, she has found a protector in Cass. When her childhood friend (and crush) Tallon comes to the rescue to release her from the Underworld, she and Cass join Tallon, his dragon brother Blue and Zeph’s childhood nemisis Alora in a quest to keep Hera from taking over the mortal world. Exciting and original and full of adventure and tension! I hope there is another book after this one!




9780802728388_p0_v3_s260x420  Taste Test by Kelly Fiore (Bloomsbury/2013)

When Nora Henderson secures a place on the popular TV cooking competition for high school seniors, she is excited for a chance to achieve her dream of leaving small town Weston, NC and having a career in the culinary arts. When she arrives and meets the other contestants, she immediately loathes the arrogant son of a famous chef, Christian. The two become fierce competitors. During the course of the show, it seems someone is sabotaging the competition, seriously injuring some of the contestants. Nora is determined to figure out the mystery. Exciting mystery flavored with a spicy romance, and recipes!




9781442426702_p0_v5_s260x420  To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster/2014)

Lara Jean has been in love with 5 boys in her 16 years, and she’s written each of them a love letter and sealed them in her closet. Those letters were meant for her and never for the recipients, but when those letters somehow reach these boys, Lara Jean must deal with the consequences. The hardest boy to deal with is Josh, her beloved older sister’s boyfriend. To try to convince Josh she no longer has feelings for him, she starts a fake relationship with Peter K, another letter recipient.  They write up a contract with rules, but, of course, complications arise as Josh tries to pursue Lara Jean. I laughed and cried and I loved that the MC was half Korean-American. Best news? There’s a companion book coming out in 2015!




9781442435001_p0_v5_s260x420  Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson (Simon & Schuster/2014)

When Emily discovers that her best friend Sloane has disappeared, she is lost without her. Sloan was what made life good, and what made Emily interesting. Sloan leaves behind a list of things for Emily to do – all things that scare her, like ride a horse, go skinny-dipping, and kiss a stranger. These are all Slone things, not Emily things. But Emily believes that doing these thing might bring Sloan back or at least give her a clue as to where she went. During the course of checking off things on her list, Emily becomes friends with class president, all-around-do-gooder and confident half of a couple, Frank Porter, and of course, things get complicated. Loved this story and didn’t want it to end. I just wanted to hang out with Emily (and Frank) longer.




9781595146748_p0_v2_s260x420  Like No Other by Una LaMarche (Razorbill/2014)

Devorah Blum has always been the rule follower in her Hasidic family, but when fate strikes during a storm while she’s at the hospital, she finds herself stuck in an elevator with a boy her age. She has never been alone with the opposite sex and while at first frightened, she is surprised at how comfortable she is with him. Jaxon, a East Indian nerd at heart, is instantly attracted to Devorah and tries hard to impress her. He’s usually tongue-tied in front of girls, but he is strangely comfortable with her as they share conversation and headphones. After they escape the elevator, they both feel an undeniable pull toward each other, and Devorah risks everything to try to be with him.




9781934133590_p0_v1_s260x420  Devin Rhodes Is Dead by Jennifer Wolf Kam (Mackinac Island Books/2014)

Fifteen-year-old Devin Rhodes is found dead at the bottom of the ravine, and best friend Cass is wracked by guilt that overshadows the loss and grief she feels over the last moments she shared with Devin. Cass struggles with her feelings over how used and small she felt when she was around Devin and the forever friendship they’d shared. When she believes that Devin’s ghost is haunting her, Cass wants nothing more than to forget, even as everyone around her prods her to remember, especially the detective that comes to question her. Told in alternating before and after chapters, this suspenseful story about friendship is a true page-turner with an ending that doesn’t disappoint. Outstanding page-turning story!





Cooper & Packrat #2: Mystery of the Eagle’s Nest by Tamra Wight (Islandport Press/2014)

Cooper and Packrat are back in another Wilder Campground adventure. Cooper and Packrat discover one of their campgroup geocache boxes filled with illegal eagle parts. They are determined to discover the mystery of these illegal activities. An adventurous story with fascinating facts about eagles





9780374384678_p0_v2_s260x420  The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (FSG/2014)

Kestral is the General’s daughter – a proud Valorian living in luxury in the conquered Herrani capital. Her father has given her an ultimatum – marry or join the military by age 17. She wants neither. One day, she comes across a slave auction and she ends up bidding for and buying a slave – something she is ashamed of. Smith is arrogant and closed off, and yet the two start to form a sort of friendship – one that is not normal for mistress and slave – trust and attraction grows. But unbeknownst to Kestral, Smith (or Arin) is a plant and a spy who is second in command to the brewing rebellion. A gripping page-turning with a hot romance!





9780545613781_p0_v1_s260x420  The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis Grab (Scholastic/2014)

Every Christmas in the small town of Pine River, the Angel Tree is mysteriously erected in the town square. People young and old tie wishes to the tree, and those wishes, with the generous help of the townsfolk, come true. Lucy wishes that the surgery for her sick seeing-eye dog that her family can’t afford will be provided. Max wants nothing more than to get out of the depressing run-down apartment his family lives in after their house burned down. Joe, new to town, and friendless, wishes his mother could come to him for Christmas. Cami doesn’t tie her wish onto the tree because she wants to discover who the mysterious benefactor is. When the four come together to solve the mystery, a greater gift of friendship materializes. A heart-warming tale perfect for the Christmas season and any other time of the year.



9780399252518_p0_v3_s260x420  Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (Nancy Paulsen Books/2014)

In free verse, Jacqueline Woodson recalls her childhood, from birth in Ohio, to a childhood raised by family in South Carolina, to moving again as a child to Brooklyn New York. And always was the dream of becoming a writer. With details of the race struggle during her childhood interspersed with touching detail about her family and forever friend, Woodson tells a story about her childhood.






Honestly, I recommend any of the books I’ve read and listed on the sidebar of my blog. These are just a few of my favorites from the year. Happy holidays, happy shopping, and of course happy reading!

2013 Reading List


HAPPY NEW YEAR! In all, I read 75 books, not including manuscripts/WIPs by friends and books I put down after a few chapters.  Of these books, 44 were children’s books (picture books, chapter books, MG, YA, and NA), 28 adult fiction, and 3 miscellaneous (nonfiction/writing/spiritual). I re-read four books (by Ellen Emerson White), and fell in love with new authors (Rainbow Rowell, Jojo Moyes, and Joshilyn Jackson, to name a few).

Here is my list in full (with a scattering of notes – just know that if the book is on this list, I enjoyed reading it and recommend it). If you’ve read any of the same books, I’d love to have a conversation with you about them (my email address is shared in my contact info), or if you have books to recommend based on books I read/loved here, please let me know!

2013 Reading List

 1. THE SEA OF TRANQUILITY by Katja Millay

Atria Paperback (S&S)/2012    YA/NA fiction 

2. JUST ONE DAY by Gayle Forman

Dutton Books/2013   NA fiction

3. ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

Viking/2012   Adult fiction

Kindle, January 16, 2013

4. THE CRIMSON CROWN by Cinda Williams Chima

Hyperion/2012   YA fantasy

5. DOUBLE CROSSED: A Spies and Thieves Story by Ally Carter

Hyperion/2013   YA novella

6. ART by Patrick McDonnell

Little, Brown/2006  Picture book



Penguin Books/2010  adult fiction


Disney Hyperion/2013      YA fiction

9. FRANCES AND BERNARD by Carlene Bauer

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/2012    adult fiction

10.  TOUCHING THE SURFACE by Kimberly Sabatini

Simon Pulse/2012    YA fiction (paranormal)


G.P. Putnam’s Sons/2009   adult fiction

12.  JULIE AND ROMEO by Jeanne Ray

Random House/2000    adult fiction

13. THE LOST ART OF MIXING by Erica Bauermeister

G.P. Putnam’s Sons/2013

14.  EAT CAKE by Jeanne Ray

Random House/2003   adult fiction 

15. GHETTO COWBOY by G. Neri  (illustrated by Jesse Joshua Watson)

Candlewick/2011        MG fiction

16. SHINE by Lauren Myracle

Abrams Books/2011   YA fiction 


Crown Publishers/2012   Adult fiction

18. THE UNDERNEATH by Kathi Appelt

Simon & Schuster/2008  MG fiction

19. THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE by Brent Hartinger

Buddha Kitty Books/2013   YA fiction


20. ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

St. Martin’s Griffin/2013  YA fiction


Little, Brown & Co/May 2013

22. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Scribner/1925              Fiction classic

23. GIRL PARTS by John M. Cusick

Candlewick Press/2010     YA fiction

24. UNREMEMBERED by Jessica Brody

Farrar, Straus, Giroux/2013  YA fiction

25. WEDDING NIGHT by Sophie Kinsella

The Dial Press/2013  Adult fiction 

26. GORGEOUS by Paul Rudnick

Scholastic/2013  YA fiction

27.  BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys

Speak (Penguin Group)/2011  YA historical fiction

28. FOX FOREVER by Mary E. Pearson

Henry Holt/2013  YA sci-fi


Bloomsbury/2009           teen fantasy

30. THE MADNESS UNDERNEATH (Shades of London Book 2) by Maureen Johnson

Putnam/2013    YA paranomal

31. DIE FOR HER (A Novella) by Amy Plum

Harper Teen/2013   YA paranormal

32. ATTACHMENTS by Rainbow Rowell

Dutton/2011     adult fiction


33. I’LL BE SEEING YOU by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

Harlequin Mira/2013     adult historical fiction

34. AMITY & SORROW by Peggy Riley

Little Brown/2013     adult fiction 

35. You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me by Sarra Manning

Corgi Books/2011  (UK)    new adult fiction

36. IT’S A FIREFLY NIGHT by Dianne Ochiltree (illus. by Betsy Snyder)

Blue Apple/2013   picture book

37. THE MOON AND MORE by Sarah Dessen

Viking/2013     YA fiction

38. ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card

1994   MG sci fi

39. FROGGED by Vivian Vande Velde

Harcourt/April 2013     MG fantasy/fairy tale


Dial Books/July 2013    MG fiction


Penguin Books/2006    adult fiction 

42.  SEEING RED by Kathryn Erskine (ARC)

Scholastic/September 2013   MG Historical Fiction

43. COOPER & PACKRAT: MYSTERY ON PINE LAKE by Tamra Wight (Illus by Carl DiRocco)

Islandport Press/2013      MG fiction


44. OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg

Scholastic/2013  YA fiction

45. AUSTENLAND by Shannon Hale

Bloomsbury / 2007   Adult fiction

46. SEATING ARRANGMENTS by Maggie Shipstead

Vintage Books (Random House)/2012   adult fiction

47. THE NEWLYWEDS by Nell Freudenberger

Vintage Book (Random House)/2012    adult fiction

48. SPIRITUAL SOLUTIONS by Deepak Chopra

Harmony Books/2012   spiritual


G.P. Putnam’s Sons/2013                   adult fiction

50. BELLE EPOQUE by Elizabeth Ross

Delacorte/2013    YA fiction


51. THE PLOT WHISPERER by Martha Alderson

Adams Media/2011    writing/craft book


52.  THE INFINITE MOMENT OF US by Lauren Myracle

Amulet Books/2013   YA fiction


Viking/2013   adult fiction



Candlewick/2013   YA fiction


55. FANGIRL by Rainbow Rowell

St. Martin’s Griffin/2013   NA fiction9781250030955_p0_v4_s114x166


56. THE PRESIDENT’S DAUGHTER by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel & Friends/2008  YA fiction

re-read (third time)

57. WHITE HOUSE AUTUMN by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel & Friends/2008  YA fiction


58. LONG LIVE THE QUEEN by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel & Friends/2008   YA fiction


59. LONG MAY SHE REIGN by Ellen Emerson White

Feiwel and Friends/2007                     YA fiction


60. THE PARTNER TRACK by Helen Wan

St. Martin’s Press/2013    Adult fiction

Side note: It’s so refreshing to read a novel about an Asian-American protagonist in a contemporary American setting. Race did play a factor in this story, but not in a “multicultural story” way. So much of what Ingrid experienced as an Asian-American in America rang true to me. I hope this is the start of a trend where we see main characters of color in contemporary stories.

61. JUST ONE YEAR by Gayle Forman

Dutton Books/2013    NA fiction

62. THE ROSIE PROJECT by Graeme Simsion

adult fiction


63. ALL THE TRUTH THAT’S IN ME by Julie Berry

Viking/2013   YA fiction

64. ROOMIES by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando  ARC

Little, Brown & Company/2014       NA fiction9780316217491_p0_v3_s114x166-1

Side Note: Tag line: One summer. Two strangers. Sixty-five days until they meet. This books comes out this year so keep an eye out for it. It’s worth the read!

65.  SEND by Patty Blount

Sourcebooks/2012  YA Fiction


66. CHIME by Franny Billingsley

Dial Books/2011   YA fiction (folktale)

67. ROOTLESS by Chris Howard

Scholastic/2012    YA fiction 

68.  WE WERE LIARS by E. Lockhart    ARC

Random House/May 13, 2013   YA fiction

Side note: Look for my interview with Emily Lockhart in a few months. This is going to be a much talked about book, one you will want to read before everyone else talks about it!

69. SOMEONE ELSE’S LOVE STORY by Joshilyn Jackson

HarperCollins/2013    Adult fiction


Bloomsbury/2012                   adult fiction


71. GODS IN ALABAMA by Joshilyn Jackson

Grand Central Pubishing (Hatchett Book Group)/2005  Adult fiction

72. BACKSEAT SAINTS by Joshilyn Jackson

Grand Central Publishing/2010   Adult fiction

73. THE ISLAND by Elin Hilderbrand

Backbay Books (Hatchett Books)/2010  Adult fiction


74. FOOD MATTERS by Mark Bittman

Simon & Schuster/2009   nonfiction food

Side note: This book motivated my husband and me to make some big lifestyle changes. I’m reading his book VEGAN BEFORE 6:00 next.


Harper Perennial/1992    adult fiction

There you have it! I really enjoyed the books I read this year and wish I’d had time to read even more. There are so many wonderful books out there! I hope to read 100 books in 2014! Thanks for sticking around, I know I haven’t been blogging regularly, but I’ve been spending my time writing (and reading). I promise more great interviews and give-aways this year!

Please provide links to YOUR reading list in the comments. I’d love to check it out! Happy reading!

Books Vs E-Books


It’s a debate I’ve listened to and participated in for a few years now. I was strictly all pro-books for a long while. A couple of Christmases ago, my husband asked me if I wanted a Kindle. I said no. Did he listen? No. LOL But he had good reason. When we travel (and we do travel quite a bit), I’d pack 3 – 8 books (depending on the length of our trip) in our suitcase, making it VERY heavy. He gets that I need books to read, that I want books to read, and that no trip is complete without a small library for me. The Kindle (or any e-reader I’m sure) is wonderful for travel. Now I can download as many books as I want without worrying about running out while I’m traveling – and I can also buy books while I’m away. Plus, the house we have in CA is very small and I had to limit my book buying since I didn’t have a lot of storage.

The truth is, though, I still prefer books. I love the heft of them, the smell of them, and being able to flip pages. I have a large collection of bookmarks that I love to use. I pick a special bookmark for each book I read.  And I love to own books written by friends and I love getting books signed.  A friend recently shared with me what her nephew (?) said about having “trophy books”. Love that! That’s exactly how I feel about my books – I love to display my library proudly. Now that we’re moving into a bigger house and I’ll have my own writing studio with built-in bookshelves, I’ve been buying books like crazy. Shhhh.😉

I love having choices though. And if I read a book I end up loving on my Kindle, I buy the actual book to have in my library.

What’s your feeling about e-books vs books?

First Book of 2013


I am a rather superstitious person – given to omens. Whatever book I started the year off reading would portent the quality of the rest of my reading year. Fortunately the first book I read was excellent!

9781476730943_p0_v2_s260x420The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

Atria Paperback (Simon & Schuster)/2012  new adult fiction

This is where the importance of reading blogs come in. If not for Lucy of The Reading Date and Brittany of The Book Addict’s Guide, I may not have heard of this incredible book. Both listed this book as one of their top reads of 2012. What a great way to start off my 2013!

I normally share my own synopsis of a book after I read it, but I don’t feel like I can do this one justice so I’m pasting the summary from GoodReads here:

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.

I was hooked from the very first page and didn’t want to put the book down, but forced myself to because I wanted to make this story last. A story with amazing characters I fell in love with, The Sea of Tranquility is filled with tension interspersed with humor, incredible chemistry, and deep emotion. I’d definitely read another novel by this author!