The Best of Twenty-Eleven

The year has come and gone so quickly that I can hardly believe it! It seems like just yesterday I was starting my winter semester as a college Freshman and I was trying to squeeze in every ounce of fun that I could. A ton of memories were created this past year, some bad but mostly all good, and I like to think it has been one of the best years yet. In keeping with the same format that I used last year, here are some of the best moments of 2011!

Sidenote: Almost all of these are a tie between two or more things. Sorry about that, I tried my best to narrow it down but it just wasn’t happening!

1. Best Vacation– This is definitely a tie between the Myrtle Beach vacation I took with Kati and the Myrtle Beach Vacation I took with my family a month later. The weather was gorgeous both times and I got to experience a ton of different things with each trip. I was so lucky to be able to go on two vacations back to back like that!

2. Best Concert– This one also has a tie! It is between Warped Tour 2011 and the acoustic performance by We The Kings! Warped Tour is a day filled with music awesomeness! I saw so many bands perform, got a ton of stuff signed, and I even got to talk to a few of the performers. The We The Kings acoustic performance was brilliant for so many reasons: It was acoustic, it was small, it was free, it featured my future husband, I got to put my arms around my future husband, and I even got to take a picture with my future husband. IT WAS AMAZING!

3. Best CD– This is also going to have to be a tie! We The Kings dropped their latest album this year entitled Sunshine State of Mind. The title of the album couldn’t be more perfect because I get in a sunshiney state of mind EVERY TIME I listen to their CD. So what could be the competition to such an epic CD? All the mixed CD’s I got this past year! I had a lot of friends make me CD’s and all of them were filled with awesome songs that brings a smile to my face!

4. Best New Activity– I can’t explain too many details because I have yet to send out Christmas presents to some pretty freaking lovely bloggers but I do enjoy jewelry making. It takes time and is far more expensive than I could have imagined but it is so much fun to create!

5. Best Birthday Present– Last year I got a whole new bedroom so I was wondering how anything could ever live up to something like that. The answer came in the form of a brand-new bookshelf! I was making just the one work but I was desperately in need of one and my parents luckily noticed it! I love it so freaking much!

6. Best Movies– Well I do love me some movies…and popcorn! Some of my favorites were: Breaking Dawn: Part 1, Bridesmaids, Crazy Stupid Love, The Help, Harry Potter & The Deathly Hollows: Part 2, and Footloose.

7. Best Books– Oh gosh! It was my original goal to read 100 books in 2011 but Goodreads just wouldn’t stop telling me how sucky I was at completing that goal so I changed it to 80 and I still didn’t accomplish it! However, I did squeeze in 76 books. The best ones (some 4’s and all 5 stars) are:

Sidenote: Some of the titles will be linked to my reviews and other will be linked to Goodreads since I have not yet reviewed them!

Sophie & Carter by Chelsea Fine

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

A Girl Named Willow Krimble by Giuseppe Bianco

Rising Shadow by Jacquelyn Wheeler

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Released by Megan Duncan

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Faithful by Janet Fox

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty

What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Matched by Ally Condie

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Re-reads of both Sarah Dessen and Jennifer Echols books

Fade by Lisa McMann

The Childe by C.A. Kunz

Between by Cyndi Tefft

Love, Inc. by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout

Girl v Boy by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout

Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John

The Pull of Gravity by Gae Polisner

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton

8. Best Blogging Moment– How does one even choose something like this? In the past year I have met more authors, connected with more bloggers, reviewed more books, joined more weekly features, and had the most fun than I have EVER had! This whole experience has been one joyous event after another and I have all of YOU to thank for that. I have found some of the greatest friends and most influential people (and let’s not forget they all also kick butt when it come to writing reviews!) than I could have ever imagined. I would not trade this past year for anything!

9. Best Friend(s)– It is no secret that Kati has and always will be my best friend. I talk about her awesomeness all the time. But because of recent events, I feel like I must give a shout-out to my dear friend Stacey. Her and I were running buddies in high school. You could never find two girls who hated cross-country with such a deep passion like the two of us (even though we secretly loved it!) She has been there for both Kati and I through so many things and now it’s our turn to be there for Stacey. These two girls make my days so much better and I love them for that!

10. Best Family– Well of course this goes out to my family once again but not without some complaints! Zack and Zeke aka The Brat Pack drove me absolutely INSANE this past year. Those two boys are the epitome of annoying little brothers. I love them to death but jeez louise they sure are crazy! In all honesty, I am lucky to have my family always there for me. They support me through everything and even though they make fun of me every once in a while, they always know how to make me smile!

So that’s it for my 2011! I hope you all had a great year and an even better 2012!

TGIF (14)

There once was an awesome blogger named Ginger and she decided to create a super fun feature where fellow bloggers would answer fabulous questions via blog posts every Friday. TGIF was born and we all have Miss Ginger at GReads! to thank for that! This week’s question is:

Making a Difference:

Which book(s) would you put in the hands of today’s teenagers in hopes of making a difference in their lives?

My initial response to this question is ANYTHING. Any book that perks the interest of a teenager that doesn’t normally read, holds some sort of significance. Any book that a kid picks up and it allows them to fall in love with reading is a book that is making a difference in their lives. So what if it happens to be a comic book, a picture book, or even a book about the life and death of Abraham Lincoln, if they are interested in it and it is getting them to read then it is important. HOWEVER, this is not exactly what the question is asking. If I personally had to choose books that I know and love to place in the hands of teens in hopes of making a difference in their lives, I would have to choose:

What Can’t Waitby Ashley Hope Perez: This wonderfully written novel is about a young girl’s struggle to achieve her dreams. I strongly believe that this book can teach any teenager that dreams can come true if you have enough drive and focus (ignore how cheesy that whole statement just sounded. It is the truth!). The main character, Marisa, has basically no support from her family. They don’t push her to attend college or move forth with her life but she wants it enough that she makes it happen anyway. I love that Ashley created such a strong, determined character that many can learn from.

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal is a book I would give to any teenager especially girls. This book starts off with a quiet, reserved girl. She then falls in love with a guy she is convinced she will have a future with. The wonderful thing about this book is that it doesn’t paint a picture-perfect ending that so many novels do. It is my biggest hope that some teenagers will learn that your first real boyfriend is not always (if ever) your last. Heartbreaks do happen but the important thing we learn from this particular book is that after the initial pain of a breakup is that you soon realize that your life is still going on with or without that guy. You still have friends, family, and a future aside from that one person.

Deadline by Chris Crutcher is a wonderful, touching story that I think will make a difference in many people’s lives. Teenage guys will especially love this book because the main character is a guy making it a lot easier to relate to. It has been a long time since I’ve read this but what I do remember is the timeless statement of living each day as if it were your last. Teenagers in general take each passing moment for granted. The main character in this book knows exactly how much time he has left on this earth so he does his very best to make the most of it. It is truly a touching story.

And as you guys know by know, I CANNOT create a list without Sarah Dessen. In all honesty (not just because it is my favorite book) The Truth About Forever is a book that teens can learn a lot from. I learned to not conform to any person’s view of me. I am who I am .I do what makes me happy. I don’t make changes to myself just because it makes a parent, friend, boyfriend, etc. happy. I stay true to myself and that is what the main character, Macy, learns to do in this book.

These four books carry four important, strong messages that I think many, many teenagers can learn from. They don’t tackle the most devastating issues out there such as a death of a family member, mental illnesses, or even drug and alcohol abuse BUT they do touch on subjects that everyone can learn from.

This Week On Katelyn’s Blog (8/26-9/2):

In My Mailbox (23)

Witch Song by Amber Argyle

Tune In Tuesday (23)

Hades by Alexandra Adornetto Book Trailer + Giveaway (Ends 9/7)

Monthly Wrap-Up (February 2011)

It’s that time again! Monthly Wrap-Up is a feature on my blog that I just started this year. At the end of each month I will post exactly what happened on my crazy little blog for that previous month. February is a short month; that is the excuse I am using to cover up my lack of reading/blogging this past month.

Books I Read In February

Rhymes With Cupid By Anna Humphrey

Vixen by Jillian Larkin

Gone by Lisa McMann

Timeless by Alexandra Monir

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

Across The Universe by Beth Revis

*That is a total of 6 books read for the month of February. I am now 14% done with my goal of reading 100 books this year*

Books I Reviewed In February

Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal. (Read my review here.) This is a fantastic 2011 Debut Novel that needs to be read by teenage girls everywhere. Love, heartbreak, and redemption are all included in this wonderful book!

 

Vixen by Jillian Larkin. (Read my review here.) This is a must read for anyone participating in Y.A. Bliss’ Historical Fiction Challenge. Revenge, love, drama, murder, lies, deceit, fashion; basically the norm for the Roaring 20’s.

 

Timeless by Alexandra Monir. (Read my review here.) Another fantastic 2011 Debut Novel! This one takes us all throughout history as the main character races through time to save the boy she loves.

 

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg. (Read my review here.) Not a debut novel but an absolute must-read! This feel-good novel is about getting over heart-break, learning to love yourself, and not to mention, it features the wonderful Beatles!

*I feel that I should also mention that this book may or may not have been written about my best friend Kati and I*

 

Rhymes With Cupid by Anna Humphrey. (Read my review here.) This super cute, easy-loving novel is the perfect little book for Valentines Day, or really just for a time when you just need a love story to get you by.

 

Across The Universe by Beth Revis. (Read my review here.) 2011 Debut Authors must have been conspiring together to all write fantastic novels. Across The Universe is a book that will satisfy all readers regardless of what their favorite genre is. It is sci-fi, romance, thriller, mystery, just everything great rolled into one.

Miscellaneous Things On The Blog In February

I continued to participate in the weekly meme featured by The Story Siren, In My Mailbox. I got so many fantastic items this past month, I really couldn’t believe it!

(Read my IMM posts here, here, and here.)

I also joined a new meme this month hosted by Miz B of Should Be Reading, called Teaser Tuesday. You pick a random page of a book you are currently reading, reveal 2 sentences, and tease all your readers. It is fun and I got a great response to it!

(Read my Teaser Tuesday post here.)

On one particular day, I was feeling generous and bored so I decided to post a few videos staring, made, and produced by my brother and neighbor. The creative little dudes love coming up with videos and also love the comments, so if you are feeling generous and bored as well, click the link below and drop them off a comment!

(To view my brother’s and neighbor’s videos click here.)

In other news, Leah Clifford’s book, A Touch Mortal came out this month! To enter her giveaway (which sadly, I did not win) I had to make a post regarding the craziest thing I have ever done. It features my spontaneous personality, clumsiness, and all-around bad luck.

(To view “The Craziest Thing I Have Ever Done” click here.)

Wrap Up

That is it for this month, I know it is sad and pathetic. I am not getting too much closer to my goal of books read in 2011, but I have a feeling March is going to be more productive! However, Kati and I will be taking a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, so if I am somehow swallowed up by the ocean (it’s happened once or twice before, who knows if it’ll happen again), you all will have to deal. Now back to the point, if you are interested in doing a monthly wrap-up, please do so! Post a link in the comments section, and I will check it out. I hope February was a great, love-filled month for everyone!

Book Review: Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Title: Other Words For Love

Author: Lorraine Zago Rosenthal

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Pages: 354 hardcover

My Rating: 5/5 stars

When an unexpected inheritance enables Ari to transfer to an elite Manhattan prep school, she makes a wealthy new friend, Leigh. Leigh introduces Ari to the glamorous side of New York–and to her gorgeous cousin, Blake. Ari doesn’t think she stands a chance, but amazingly, Blake asks her out. As their romance heats up, they find themselves involved in an intense, consuming relationship. Ari’s family worries that she is losing touch with the important things in life, like family, hard work, and planning for the future.

When misfortune befalls Blake’s family, he pulls away, and Ari’s world drains of color. As she struggles to get over the breakup, Ari must finally ask herself: were their feelings true love . . . or something else?

This is such an amazing book! It is wonderful, beautiful, bitter-sweet, and unbelievably honest. I was worried this book wouldn’t live up to its hype, but it really had no problem at all. I could just ramble about this book is all day long so before I take up more space saying how much I loved this book, I will actually talk about WHY I loved it. First of all the story takes place in the mid to late 80’s. It follows the life of a young girl named Ariadne. Ari is basically just your average girl trying to get through all of life’s little struggles. There is the overbearing mother, the nearly absent father, crush on the brother-in-law, a sister with a list full of issues, and that is just the family issues. Ari is also trying to cope with adjusting to her new school as well as dealing with the jealousy she has over her outgoing, beautiful best friend, Summer. Things are going just so/so in life until Ari befriends Leigh at her new school. Leigh soon introduces Ari to her cousins Del and Blake. This will change Ari’s life forever. It doesn’t take too long for Ari and Blake to fall for each other. Before long, these two are involved in an intense relationship. Ari is in pure bliss and can’t believe that she has found her first love. However, troubles along the way cause the two to split and Ari must handle with the fact that she is no longer with Blake. This book was blissful at some points and completely heartbreaking at others but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

The overall storyline was not something super original; girl meets boy, girl falls in love with boy, girl and boy break up; but due to the honesty and strong voice from the main character it seemed like a breath of fresh air. Ari’s personality was so fresh, honest, and believable throughout the whole book. At some points I even felt like I was almost intruding too much on her personal life. Nearly everything that Ari goes through is an issue that teenage girls go through today. Problems with her family, siblings, friends, and boyfriend are things that I know for a fact that I go through today (well not the boyfriend part, but if I had one I am sure I would be going through similar issues).

I also loved the growth that we got to see with not only the main character but with EVERY character in the book. Lorraine did such a superb job paying attention to all the supporting characters. It is not every day that you see a book this well written. Ari’s growth is just sensational. We get to see her go from an awkward, shy girl to a girl in love. We then get to see her go from a girl in love to a girl in despair. And perhaps the most significant change, we get to see her go from a girl in despair to a girl full of confidence. Ari’s mother also goes through a change. For a majority of the book she spends so much energy trying to make sure Ari is doing exactly what is expected of her. At times I found it quite annoying that she was always insisting what Ari should be doing. However, I now realize that she just wanted what was best for her daughter and she really didn’t know how to deal with it. In the end she was able to go from a controlling, negative mother to a supporting, positive one. I absolutely loved it when Ari’s mother actually gave up the reins on Ari’s life and took control of her own to actually write AND finish her own book. As far as the other characters go, there was also a HUGE change in Summer, Ari’s best friend and Evelyn, Ari’s older sister. During the middle parts of the novel these two characters went through a rough patch and it cause a major toll on Ari. I was so happy to see that during the end of the story they were able to turn their lives around.

Other Words For Love is a MUST read for 2011. It is superb, wonderful, fantastically well written, basically just an all around great book. There were so many little details in this book that make it special to me. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!

Monthly Wrap-Up (January 2011)

This is a new feature I decided to try out on my blog. At the end of each month I will post exactly what happened on my crazy little blog for that previous month. January has been an extremely busy month so there is a lot to cover!

Books I Read In January:

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Fade by Lisa McMann (Book Club)

What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

Girl v. Boy by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout

Faithful by Janet Fox (Y.A. Historical Fiction Challenge)

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

Other Words For Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

* That is a total of 8 books for the month of January. I am only 8% done with my goal to read 100 books in 2011. I need to pick up the pace in February!*

Books I Reviewed In January:

Jane by April Lindner. (Read my review here.) This book was fantastic. It gives a new, modern-day twist to Charlotte Bronte’s classic Jane Eyre.

Endless Summer by Jennifer Echols. (Read my review here.) I was lucky enough to win a signed copy of this book (a fact that is still super exciting to me). I am a HUGE fan of Jennifer Echols and Endless Summer just proved to be yet another great book (technically it is two books but still..) by Jennifer.

Beastly by Alex Flinn. (Read my review here.) I loved this book! First, it is a playoff of one of my favorite Disney stories. This is a  modern version of Beauty and the Beast told from the Beasts perspective. Second, it has been adapted for film! None other than uber cute Alex Pettyfer plays the beast in the movie version! (I included the movie trailer in that particular review; I am so excited!)

 What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez. (Read my review here.) I received this book through netgalley to read and review. I was so excited to start reading this 2011 debut novel! It really is a must read!

 Fade by Lisa McMann. (Read my review here.) This was the latest book we chose to read for book club. It has been great being able to read this series! I love it.

Faithful by Janet Fox. (Read my review here.) Because of this wonderful book, I am now obsessed with historical fiction. It is a beautifully written book full of great characters and imagery!

Girl v. Boy by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout. (Read my review here.) Loved this book! It is a super cute novel about Battle of the Sexes. I loved the constant arguing between the main character and her anonymous counterpart.

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand. (Read my review here.) Yet another great book by a 2011 Debut Author. This particular novel is about angels, my new obsession. I just loved it!

Miscellaneous Things On The Blog In January:

Like I said earlier the month of January was just crazy! I decided to jump on board with all the crazy bloggers who do In My Mailbox hosted by The Story Siren. It has been great so far! I am definitely spending way too much money still but I love being able to just hop from blog to blog and to be able to see what fellow book lovers are picking up to read.

(Read my IMM posts here, here, here, and here.)

I also happened to have a rough patch during the month of January. The loss of my job, the lack of sleep, and my dad’s wackiness caused me to make a blog post in which I complained a lot.

 (You can read my complaining post here.)

On the happier side of things, we got puppies this month! My dog Tipsy finally gave birth to five pups almost three weeks ago. So far all the puppies are healthy, hyper, and extremely adorable! It is going to be tough when we have to get rid of them in 5 weeks.

(You can see pictures of my adorable little puppies in my post right here.)

Back to the World Of Books for a second; I had my first ever Author Interview! I was (and still am) extremely excited and honored to be able to interview the lovely Ashley Hope Perez. Her novel, What Can’t Wait (an excellent book) is one of the books I read and reviewed in the month of January. I asked her 11 questions (11 questions for a 2011 debut author…do you get it???). Ashley was just awesome! She answered every single one. Thanks again to Ashley for that!

(Read my SUPER AWESOME interview here.)

And sticking in the World Of Books for a second, I joined yet another challenge. This one is hosted by Thoughts of a Book Junkie and it is called the A-Z Challenge. Throughout 2011, I will be reading one book per letter in the alphabet. It is an awesome challenge so you should check that out right here.

(Be sure to check out my A-Z Challenge list here.)

Wrap Up:

So that is it for the month of January. It has been an awesome month! Checked back in roughly 28 days to see how the month of February turns out!

The 2011 A-Z Challenge

I swore to myself that I wasn’t going to do anymore challenges, well that was until I came across The Thoughts of a Book Junkie’s Blog. I thought that this challenge would be easy, fun, and a great way to possibly win some free books (come on, who doesn’t love free books =). All you have to do is compile a list of 26 books that you will read throughout the year. Easy enough, right? Well the catch is, is that there has to be one title for each letter. Do you know how many books are out there with a Z as the first letter of the title? There isn’t many, but the few that I did find sound great! Now for the awesomeness of the challenge: There is plenty of possible giveaways just for joining, it’s international, & it can be combined with other challenges! You better believe I am using books that are part of the Y.A. Historical Fiction Challenge (**) and the 2011 Debut Author Challenge (*). So now, on to my list of A-Z books.

A- Angelfire by Courtney Allison Moulton*

B- Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys**

C- Choker by Elizabeth Woods*

D- Dead Rules by Randy Russell*

E- Entwined by Heather Dixon*

F- Falling For Hamlet by Michelle Ray*

G- Generation Dead by Daniel Waters

H- Haven by Kristi Cook*

I- Illegal by Bettina Restrepo*

J- Jekel Loves Hyde by Beth Fantaskey

K- Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler

L- The Lipstick Laws by Amy Holder*

M- Moonglass by Jessi Kirby*

N- The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab*

O- Other Words fo Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal*

P- Possession by Elana Johnson*

Q- Queen of the Dead by Stacey Kade

R- Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer*

S- Sirenz by Charlotte Benarrdo & Natalie Zaman*

T- Timeless by Alexandra Monir*

U- Unearthly by Cynthia Hand*

V- Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez*

W- What Can’t Wait by Ashley Hope Perez* (Review, Interview)

X- XVI by Julia Karr*

Y- You Had Me At Halo by Amanda Ashby

Z- Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan

In My Mailbox (2)

IMM is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and it is a way for book bloggers to post what they have received for review, borrowed from a friend, bought at the bookstore, or picked up at the library. Here is a list of the books I have gotten this week (really someone should hide my debit card from me):

Bookstore:

XVI by Julia Karr (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

Timeless by Alexandra Monir (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson by Louise Rennison

Across the Universe by Beth Revis (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

Other Words for Love by Lorraine Zago Rosenthal (2011 Debut Author Challenge)

Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers

Well I hope you enjoyed this week’s In My Mailbox. Be sure to check in next week to see what new books I have to read!