2012 Reading Challenge

2012 Reading Challenge: I DID IT!

Happy 2013, everybody! My new year's resolution for 2012 was to read 50 books in 2012...and it wasn't easy, but I did it! 50 books and I blogged about them all! Phew! I'm exhausted and I will NOT be making the same resolution this year. It's hard to get a lot of reading done when you're writing a book. I will say that I did learn a lot this year reading all these books (click on the 2012 Reading Challenge tag below to see all of the posts) and I think I'm a better writer for it. 

So here they are, the last six books I read! (Click on the title to learn more about the book!)


DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT by Sarah Mlynowski (coming March 2014, that's right 2014!)

Brag on me time! Sarah asked me if I'd be willing to read a draft of her YA novel coming in 2014. Um, YEAH! I don't want to give too much away since it's not coming out for over a year (and I'll be singing its praises a ton then), but I LOVED this book. It's funny, it's fast-paced, it's super original, and oh yeah, it's about a group of teens who get ESP! This book also made me so grateful that no one knows what goes on in my head. That's some scary stuff, people!


I was at Little, Brown when Sara's first novel, Story of a Girl, came out. I was immediately impressed with this debut author's writing and storytelling abilities. Fast forward nearly six years and three books later, Sara keeps getting better and better (how is that even possible?!?!?). How to Save a Life was thought-provoking, it was powerful, it was compelling, it was just plain awesome.

EVERYTHING CHANGES by Jonathan Tropper

I've been hearing about Jonathan Tropper's books for years, so a friend lent me Everything Changes. Halfway through the book I realized that, with the exception of Nick Hornby, I don't read contemporary fiction from male authors. Jonathan Tropper and his amazing book made me realize what I'm missing out on. So I'm adding his other books, and looking for similar male authors to my already insane to-read pile for 2013.

THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE by Jennifer E. Smith (coming April 2013)

Like pretty much the rest of the reading world, I adored Jen's The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, so I was especially excited to read this book. It did not disappoint. What always impresses me with Jen's books are the many different layers the story and characters have. There's always something unexpected, which makes reading her books so fun and rewarding. Plus, it has some hilarious lines, one which caused me to snort VERY LOUDLY in the Newark airport waiting area. Toward the end, I had a huge smile on my face, which is EXACTLY what happy looks like for me!

JUST KIDS by Patti Smith

My to-read pile is out of control, but what did I do before I went home for Christmas? Bought this book because I've heard so many wonderful things about it. I'm so glad I did. Smith's writing is beautiful and her memoir chronicling her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe was inspiring. I loved reading about the camaraderie of struggling artists at the Chelsea Hotel in the 70s. It really took you back to that time, and made me listen to her music and discover Mapplethorpe's photography. 


I've wanted to re-read this book for a really long time, so I promised myself that it would be the last book I read in 2012. I originally read this when I was in high school and I remembered being especially impressed by the voice and vivid personality that Salinger gave Holden Caulfield. All these years later, I'm even more taken with the voice and narrative. I see Holden Caulfield through adult eyes now and it moved me even more. With so many new books to read, I rarely re-read, but I know that I'll be revisiting this book again. And for those who haven't read it, do! Young adult books wouldn't be what they are today without this novel. 

I'm off to take a well-deserved nap... Did you stick to your 2012 resolution? 

XOXO, Elizabeth 

2012 Reading Challenge: The Home Stretch....

Happy December! I didn't blog about my October reads because a little storm named Sandy left me without my computer for two weeks. Speaking of Sandy, I hope you've checked out this AMAZING YA for NJ auction going on now. Nearly 200 authors have donated items that will benefit those most affected by Sandy. My lot includes a signed ARC of Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality (that doesn't come out until March), PLUS all my books AND a Skype chat!!  There are only THREE DAYS left to bid! Such a great way to finish up that holiday shopping list!

Back to my 2012 Reading Challenge list! Fortunately, I was able to get a lot of reading done, so I'm combining October and November. Since there are a lot of books, I'm going to TRY to make it short and sweet (we know how good I am at that!). Click on the book title to get more information on the book and author!


I'm embarrassed to admit that I hadn't read this book before now. I really like to read books before seeing the movie, so I immediately went to see the movie the day after I finished reading the book. Both are so well done! But I'm glad I read the book first. Charlie was a heartbreakingly amazing narrator and I tore through this in one day. Brilliant!

I HUNT KILLERS by Barry Lyga

This was my book group's October pick (which I selected!). I used to be obsessed with Stephen King when I was in college. I hadn't really read any comparable YA books (with the exception of Darren Shan). But then I read this book. Wow. It is in turns creepy, funny, relatable (which makes me question my sanity), and keeps you on your toes. Just when I thought I figured everything out, Lyga would put in another twist. I can't wait for the sequel. And I will also make sure I stay on Barry's good side, that guy knows WAY too much about different ways to dispose a dead body. 


It's no secret that I love Jen Calonita, my tour buddy. I devoured the first Belles novel and was excited for the sequel. It did not disappoint. Jen creates relatable characters and then basically turns their lives upside down! It's a lot of fun to watch it happen (and I'm SUPER agitated at the ending and DEMAND book #3 now!).

WONDER by RJ Palacio

WONDERful. (I should be embarrassed by this pun, but I'm not because it's true!) This was my book group's November pick. I've heard a lot about this novel and the buzz is well deserved. I've been debating about writing all the emotions that this book brought out on me, but instead I think I'll just say it made me FEEL. 


Okay, let me get this out of the way first: I knew this book wasn't going to be Harry Potter. I had my expectations in check. And would I have read this book if it was written by anybody else? Probably not. I did struggle getting into it at the beginning, I read the first 300 pages then Sandy hit and I was away from the book for three weeks. I was nervous when I picked it up again, but here's the thing with JK Rowling: she creates such vivid characters and setting that I had no problem remembering who everybody was and their connection to each other (there are A LOT of characters in this book). The last 200 pages flew pretty quickly and I especially liked how everything came together in the end. I'm really glad I read it.

LOVE IN A CARRY-ON BAG by Sadeqa Johnson

Former Scholastic Colleague #1! Sadeqa and I used to work together in publicity back in the day at Scholastic. I was so excited that her debut novel came out this year. It's such a fun and poignant book about relationships, both between lovers and families. Sadeqa is such a beautiful writer, her descriptions made you feel like you were with the characters experiencing their highs and lows. And the main girl character is a book publicist so I LOVED all the little details about that (ah, memories...). Oh, this book is pretty damn sexy as well! 

CRIMINAL by Terra Elan McVoy (coming in May 2013)

Former Scholastic Colleague #2!! (Did Scholastic hire super talented people or what?) I love Terra AND her books. I was so excited/surprised to hear that her next novel was going to be about a girl who gets tangled in a crime that ends in murder because of her boyfriend. It's very different from her other novels and it was such a brave choice for her. And I absolutely loved it. I read this in less than 24 hours because I had no idea (NONE) how this was going to play out. There were times I wanted to yell at the book, other times I wanted to hug it - again, it made me FEEL and that's such a huge compliment for any book. I'm so proud of Terra for this book. Put it on your 2013 list!

GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn

Don't worry, no spoilers here! I finally picked this up Thanksgiving weekend as I HATE spoilers and heard there are a bunch for this book. This book is insane. But I really liked it. It's left me thinking about it a lot. This was another book that I tore through in just a couple days, it was really hard to put down. I just read an article where Gillian talks about the ending (DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK) and appreciate what she had to say. I personally liked how everything played out, because it was unexpected. Um, that's all I'm going to say! Definitely understand why it's making a lot of "Best Of 2012" lists!


My book group read Everybody Sees the Ants a few months ago and I really liked it. I've been hearing a lot of people talk about her new book so I dived right in. AS King is quickly becoming one of my favorite YA authors. She writes characters who are extremely relatable even though they have their own unique experiences. 

Okay! That's it for now. I've got four weeks left and six books to read to hit 50. It's going to happen. IT WILL.

Happy reading! XOXO, Elizabeth


2012 Reading Challenge: Spectacular September

Happy October (say wha?)! I'm starting to think I might actually pull off reading 50 books this year. I've added four AMAZING books to the list in September and only have 15 to go with 3 months left. (And I've got a bunch of trips/events coming up so that's a lot of airport, airplane, hotel reading.) So without further ado, the books I've read (please click on the book title for a description). 

THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray

Wow. Just wow. If you haven't heard about The Diviners yet, may I first say, I'm so glad you were able to come out from that cave you were hiding in. ;) Seriously, this book is insanely good. It's got so many elements (magic, mystery, humor, suspense, romance - all set in 1920s New York City) that many times I stopped reading and thought, "HOW DOES LIBBA DO IT?" I was pretty much in awe the entire time I read this book (and it's a big one, but it flies). The way the different characters weave together and the attention to detail is really impressive. It inspires me to be a better writer. Which is what all well crafted fiction should do. Bravo, Libba! And now I'm biting my fingernails in anticipation for the sequel.

JANE AUSTEN GOES TO HOLLYWOOD by Abby McDonald (coming April 2013)

One of the 465 amazing things about being an author is that sometimes you get asked to read a book before it comes out. When I found out that Abby McDonald was writing a Sense & Sensibility modern retelling, I knew I wanted to read it the second the galley was out. And I got to read it even sooner. Guys, it's SO AWESOME. I understand how daunting it is to take on one of Miss Austen's classics and Abby did a sensational job. Her take is wholly original, fresh, funny... and scandalously good! It's made me want to re-read the original again THEN re-read her book. You're going to hear me talk a lot more about this in the spring, but until then you'll have to wait. But believe me, it's worth it!

Oh, and the cover hasn't been released yet which is why it's not shown above. But (brag on me), I have seen it and it's fab! Put this on your spring 2013 list (*cough* along with Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality *cough*).


This was my book group's pick for September. I sat down on a Saturday and said to myself, "Okay, try to read 200 pages today and then read the rest tomorrow." I opened up the book and didn't put it down until I finished it. Right away you're drawn to the character of Lucky. His voice is in turns relatable yet wholly unique. There are a few little twists in the story that throws you off balance, but in a good way because it makes you keep turning the pages to see how everything plays out. And even after I turned the last page, I kept thinking about Lucky and his story. THAT is the true test of a strong character.


I've wanted to read this book since it came out years ago since I've heard nothing but amazing things about it (it won the Pulitzer after all!). Each chapter focuses on a different character and it really isn't immediately clear how they're all connected. Like with The Diviners, I was in total awe of the storytelling. A few times I stopped myself and looked back at a previous chapter to realize that she'd left subtle hints about what was to come. It really is brilliant, one of the best books I've ever read. It's on the favorite list. And it has made me rethink how I put together a story. Seriously, if you haven't read it, pick it up. NOW.

What a month! I know it might seem like I like all the books I've read, but this month really stood out. It truly is an amazing time for books. People who think the book industry is dying apparently don't read good books.

Hope your fall is treating you well! 

XOXO, Elizabeth

2012 Reading Challenge: Don't Call It a Comeback!

Hello all! Well, last month I declared that I would read six books in August for my 2012 Reading Challenge. I didn't... I read SEVEN. BOOM! Now all I have to do is read a book a week and I'll be all set. Err... 

Since there are a lot of books this month, I'll try to be brief. Just click on the title to read a synopsis of the book. And away we go!

THE NEXT BEST THING by Jennifer Weiner

I'm a huge Jennifer Weiner fangirl. She's one of my favorite authors and I always look forward to her next best thing (I'm so punny). She's a smart, fun writer who writes about strong women. And Jennifer stands up for female writers. I loved The Next Best Thing - especially knowing the inside scoop on the book. I went to one of her readings and learned about how her work on the short-lived ABC Family show The State of George inspired it. I have friends who work in TV in Hollywood and have heard many stories about how many hands get into the creative process. This book made me very happy to be in book publishing, where it's pretty much you and your editor (who deal with the content of your book)!

THE RAVEN BOYS by Maggie Stiefvater (coming September 18, 2012)

I adore Maggie. I loved The Scorpio Races. So I was so excited to read the first book in her new The Raven Cycle series. Holy. Crap. SO GOOD! I was riding the train when I got to this part with a twist and GASPED aloud causing people to turn around. Fortunately, security was not called. This book blended magic, legend, mystery, humor, oh, and HOT BOYS in one fast-paced, amazing read. Once you think you know what's going on, Maggie pulls the rug out from under you. But you'll love her for it. Believe me, once you finish this book you'll want to talk to someone about it immediately. (Which is the problem when you read an ARC, but luckily I knew the editor and talked his ear off about its brilliance). My only gripe with the book is that I now have to wait a year for the sequel (yep, I'm one of THOSE people). ;)

SKINNY by Donna Cooner (coming October 2012)

We all have that voice in our head. The one that bullies you. I wish I could say that I've learned to quiet that voice completely, but I haven't. It's WAY better than when I was as a teen. I found this debut novel so powerful. While the journey that the main character Ever faces may not necessarily relate to a lot of people (having gastric bypass surgery), those nagging thoughts in your head, and the self-sabotaging that we can do, will. I was so invested in Ever and her story, and cheered her along the way. I wish I had this book when I was a teen. But we have it now!


When I heard this title I immediately knew I had to read this book. Then a friend told me that it read like a John Hughes movie (which to me is the greatest compliment a book can get!!!). That sealed the deal. This book takes the reader on one crazy, hilarious adventure. Besides all the crazy items in the scavenger hunt, I think what I loved most were the characters: they were real, flawed, surprising - each with their own individual identity. Like how people are in real life! I'm glad I didn't have this book as a teen, because I'm pretty sure my friends and I would've tried to do something like that and it would've been a disaster. WITHOUT the hilarious results!

CODE NAME VERITY by Elizabeth Wein

This was my book group's August selection. It has gotten pretty much every star review known to publishing. It sparked a really great book club discussion, which is all you can really ask.


My mom got really excited when she found out that I have a Les Paul electric guitar. Not because she knows anything about guitars, but because Les Paul was born in Wisconsin. So I came home this month to find this book on my bed. I opened up to read it and discovered it's for middle-grade students (ah, thanks for the hint, Mom). Besides the glossary of difficult words like "tips" and "natural," it was a great read even for this GROWN ADULT (MOM!). While I knew Les Paul's influence on electric guitars, I had no idea how much influence he had over how music is recorded today. It was a fascinating story. He left a lasting legacy for anybody who enjoys contemporary music. (I recently added the documentary Les Paul: Chasing Sound to my Netflix queue, so you might want to check that out if you're interesting in learning about this legend). 

ROCKOHOLIC by C.J. Skuse (coming in November 2012)

So this might be shocking to you, but I'm a bit of a music junkie and fangirl. Oh wait, did I say shocking, I meant OBVIOUS. So when my lovely publisher sent me an ARC of this book I knew I would love it. After all, I often think about meeting my celebrity crush and just KNOW he'll fall in love with me the moment he sees me. Duh. I was beyond obsessed with Joey McIntyre from New Kids on the Block when I was a tween. I was so grateful that I didn't meet him until I was an adult as I was totally convinced at 12 that if he met we'd be together. Forever. So in Rockoholic when Jody not only meets the rockstar of her dreams, and accidentally kidnaps him (with a candy bar - why didn't I think of that!!!!), things don't turn out exactly as she planned. I loved this book and was so excited to blurb it: "Perfect for the inner fangirl in us all. A hilarious look at what happens when fantasy and reality collide. Fast-paced, squirm-inducing, heartbreaking, life-affirming: It will make you think twice about your celebrity crushes. But not stop them. That would be crazy talk." And it would be. 

Phew! 31 books down, only 19 to go! On to September - I've got some big books I want to read so hopefully I won't fall behind...yet again.

Happy fall (wait, it's almost fall - how did THAT happen?)!

XOXO, Elizabeth