One Year Blogoversary GIVEAWAY

Alright, so my blog isn’t turning 25, but at least it shows I can bake. Mmm, cake.

Today, my wee little blog celebrates its first birthday. It’s hard to believe that a year has gone by since my blog transformed from a niggling thought at the back of my head to a reality. I’ve achieved more this year than I could have hoped for, made a few fellow blogging friends along the way, and read some fantastic books, which is really what it’s all about. It seems only fitting that my first giveaway should be celebratory in nature.

To commemmorate my first blogoversary, I’m giving away two books from three of my favorite authors. One lucky follower will win a copy of Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. A second follower will win a copy of Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta. Oh, and in case I forgot to mention: Will Grayson, Will Grayson is SIGNED.

Alright, now I’m going to do the shameless self-promotion bit, but really, don’t you want to win one of the fabulous books mentioned above? So to enter, please become an email subscriber of my blog and leave a comment telling me that you’ve signed up. For kicks and giggles, also let me know what your favorite most underrated book is, because I’m always looking for suggestions.

Entrants will gain an additional entry for each of the following:
  • Following me on Twitter (@BooknShortLatte)
  • Friending me on Goodreads (Shortlatte)
  • Tweeting the link to the giveaway
  • Commenting on any previously-posted review

Include your total number of entries in your comment, please! Contest runs from Sunday, July 15 through midnight on Sunday, July 22.

So that’s it. Go forth and let your entries abound.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week is a freebie week, and I’ve decided to do: Top Ten Books That Made Me Cry

Disclaimer: I am not proud of my reaction to many of the following books. Procede your own risk (well, really, it’s a risk to my credibility as a blogger, but regardless…).

1. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
I’m not a hardcore Twilight hater. I’ll admit, I have the books, and while they don’t tend to make their way into my reread pile, I probably won’t discard them anytime soon (all flaws and abusive relationship portrayals aside). The same goes for the movie (though luckily, I have enough pride to have limited myself to owning only the first, and that’s because it’s hilarious[ly bad]). However, I actually think The Host is rather underrated. Meyer will never be a literary author, but after slogging through the first two-hundred pages, I was shocked to find myself tearing through this. And when I reached the end, I was sobbing: big, heaving, ugly sobs. I’m not saying it’s great literature, but give it a chance; it might surprise you.
2. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
All kidding aside, Sparks isn’t an author who usually makes it onto my TBR list. However, I hold a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf for this one title. I’m not quite sure why, because I really don’t like Jamie very much, but Landon gets to me every time. The setting (unlike the movie, the book is set in the 1950s) also really works for me. I like that Sparks left the ending of the book purposefully ambiguous, because otherwise I would be an utter wreck whenever I finished this one.
3. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
This book gutted me, utterly. It remains my favorite Marchetta title, and Tom is my absolute favorite of her characters. The intertwining of his troubles with those of his family is painfully raw, and though he manages to come out in a positive place, the journey is excruciating at times.
4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I wasn’t a huge fan of Forman’s If I Stay duology, but I have to admit that the first book did have me teary-eyed at times. It was more of a mist than a full cry, but it gets credit nonetheless.
5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife ruined me for all other books for months. I still haven’t gotten over the beautiful tragedy of Claire and Henry’s romance, and I doubt I ever will. This is one title that, as much as I loved it, I haven’t been able to reread since my first experience because I just can’t bear putting myself through the pain a second time.
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Alright, I admit it. For as much as I’ve ragged on Rowling’s writing in the past, this last one got to me. I believe that Fred’s death was what did me in (same goes for the movie the first couple of times I saw it). And for those who haven’t yet read or watched Harry Potter…whoops.
7. Lover Awakened/Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
These two are by far my favorite installments in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. After a dubious start with Dark Lover, Ward managed to create a world and characters so dynamic that my heart beats alongside theirs despite the more ridiculous elements of the stories (slang and product-placement being among its foremost flaws). Zsadist and Bella, John Matthew and Xhex: my favorite couple is a toss-up on any given day. Of course, that’s not including Qhuinn and Blay, the conclusion to whose story we will finally be getting next year.
8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
This book nearly collided with a wall. When I think of reading experiences in which I became fully immersed in the story, to the point where the outside world ceased to exist, this one usually to comes to mind. The last few pages threatened to shatter the delicate thread of emotion that had built up within my seventh-grade heart throughout the day.
9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
I read spoilers. I read the last page of a book before I buy it. I knew what I was getting into. That didn’t make the inevitable any less severe. I fell in love despite myself, knowing all along that my heart would get broken, and even so, I’m already looking forward to my next reread.
That’s all she wrote for this week. My choices are a bit unconventional, to say the least. What can I say; I’m a hardened cynic except for when I’m not, and that’s usually at unexpected times. Are there any books that are guaranteed tear-jerkers that I’ve omitted?

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Author

I decided to mix it up and interpret this week’s theme a little bit differently.

1. If you like Neil Gaiman, try Tim Powers.
Powers is a master of his class, yet unfortunately his name isn’t nearly as well known as it should be. His works take work, though; Powers is quite the ambitious author, often utilizing existing cultural figures to construct alternative histories replete with lamias, psychotic serial killer clowns, werewolves, time travel, and the gods.
2. If you like John Green, try David Levithan.
So this won’t come as a shock to many of you, especially since these two authors have actually collaborated before. (If you haven’t read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, do so immediately). Still, for those of you not in the know, Levithan’s writing often reaches the exhalted heights of wry youthful optimism that Green is so famous for.
3. If you like Ilona Andrews, try Seanan McGuire.
The Toby Daye series exhibits some of the best worldbuilding and characterization in urban fantasy today. For those who love Kate Daniels’s toughness and capability coupled with a quick wit and unbearable sexual tension, you’re missing out if you’re not reading about Toby.
4. If you like Holly Black, try Rob Thurman.
Though I’ve mentioned this before, I’ll say it again: Cassel Sharpe and Cal Leandros would be best buds. Though the worldbuilding in each series is starkly different, they share an easy and sarcastic narration that strikes a chord with my cynical nature.
5. If you like Diana Wynne Jones, try Megan Whalen Turner.
These two remarkable ladies drew inspiration from each other’s writing, and it shows in both of their most ubiquitous narrators. I would have loved to read a crossover book starring Gen and Howl.
6. If you like Kristin Cashore, try Sherwood Smith.
If you’re a fan Cashore’s lush prose and mixture of romance, political intrigue, and fantasy, you’ll find all that and more in the Crown Duel duet. Mel is a great heroine, and while there is slightly less magic in Smith’s work, the feel is very similar to that elicited by Cashore’s series.
7. If you like Karen Marie Moning, try Anne Bishop.
While Moning’s Fever series and Bishop’s Black Jewels series have little in common, they will forever be linked in my mind since I discovered them (and fell in love with both) in a short two-month period. Despite their differences, I believe that fans of Moning’s dark fantasy tone will be able to appreciate Bishop’s world and the ambiguously drawn characters that inhabit it.
8. If you like Stephanie Perkins, try Cath Crowley.
Perkins is undoubtedly one of the hottest names in young adult contemporary, due mainly to her remarkable ability to write main characters who seem all at once too good to be true yet utterly believable. Crowley’s work is eminently relatable yet a little grittier than Perkins; still, fans of Perkins work will likely adore Crowley’s writing as well.
9. If you like Maggie Stiefvater, try Liz Berry.
I’ve adored Berry’s The China Garden for nearly a decade now. It’s lovely and unique and criminally unrecognized, especially considering the recent surge in interest for young adult paranormal. Fans of Stiefvater’s lyrical writing will recognize the same quality in Berry’s.
That’s all I’ve got this week. Happy Fourth, all ye readers!

Showcase Sunday

Showcase Sunday is a meme created by Vicky at Books, Biscuits, and Tea to share new book acquisitions, whether bought, gifted, received for review, borrowed, or won.

Bought

  • One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Dies by Sonya Sones
  • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
  • The Girl with Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green Signed, with inscription to Daniel Wallace (author of Big Fish)
Gifted
  • Hounded by Kevin Hearne
  • Hexed by Kevin Hearne
  • Hammered by Kevin Hearne
  • Tricked by Kevin Hearne (all four are now signed)

For Review

  • The Unfinished Garden by Barbara Claypole White (from NetGalley)
  • On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves (from NetGalley)
  • Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (from NetGalley)
  • Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill (from NetGalley)

Won

Beneath the Dust Jacket: Looking for Alaska by John Green

Beneath the Dust Jacket is a new feature in which I spotlight some exceptionally pretty books and the little artistic details that set them apart.

I was recently at an author event at a cool little indie bookstore (post on that to come later), and since we arrived a couple of hours early, obviously the only thing to do was browse. Now, I have sort of a thing, a tick you might call it: if I see a used hardcover of an author I read, I check to see if it’s signed. You’d be surprised how often my inclination turns out to be right.

I’ve actually got several signed John Green books gracing my shelves (he’s no stranger to the sharpie when it comes to his books, although sadly my copy of The Fault in Our Stars is sans-Hankler fish). When I saw a copy of Looking for Alaska residing in the used children’s book section, I opened it up, not intending to buy it if it actually were signed even though my trade paperback version is just the standard unsigned type. Yet I spotted a twenty-dollar price penciled in on the first page and knew I must be onto something. Turns out, this one wasn’t merely signed, oh no: I managed to snag a copy with a John Green inscription that shows him geeking out about another author. I instantly knew that this lovely was coming home with me.

Daniel Wallace is a local author (he was actually the commencement speaker at my high school graduation), yet he’s not just a small-town celeb. He’s the author of Big Fish, a great book in its own right, and one that was turned into a movie by none other than Tim Burton. As you can imagine, this three-degrees of separation game sort of cemented the deal for me.

To Daniel Wallace-

From a fan.

With all best wishes-

John Green, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Books Written In The Past 10 Years That I Hope People Are Still Reading In 30 Years

1. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Stiefvater’s lilting prose and honest characterizations mark her work as a cut above the typical young adult fare. This story of a seaside community whose residents participate in annual water horse races is a beautiful yet disturbing take on an original folk tale.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
Gruen’s tale of a young veterinarian who joins the circus by luck of circumstance is simple yet moving, and though the characters don’t break any new ground, her lush descriptions of circus life will make you yearn to leave behind the ordinary trappings of your own life.
3. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Honestly, anything published under Gaiman’s name should be required reading thirty years from now, but since my favorite adult novel of his, Neverwhere, was published more than ten years ago, I’ll stick with this lovely children’s story for purposes of this list. Gaiman’s work in eminently readable by adults and children alike.
4. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
Another author whose entire catalogue should be required reading, it was difficult to choose just one Marchetta. The story of Tom Mackee and his broken family is my favorite of her books. It’s painful, difficult to read at times, but always gently, brutally truthful.
5. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
I still haven’t read The Book Thief, but I don’t need to in order to know the strength of Zusak’s writing. Ed Kennedy is one of the most relatable everyman narrators I’ve had the pleasure of reading. His story is at once funny and inspiring.
6. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
Allen’s writing is cotton candy rather than a main course, but that doesn’t lessen its blissful impact. She has a real way with words; you’ll want to visit every quirky town she describes and indulge in each delectable dish the characters create. Fiction needs some levity and pure fairy tale happiness.
7. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
Years after first reading this book, I still haven’t healed the massive hole it punched in my heart. It takes a bit of work to get into the swing of the narrative, but once you are immersed in it, it’s difficult not to get wrapped up in the grand arc of Claire and Henry’s story.
8. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan
Levithan’s image of a high school life where gay is the norm might seem somewhat conspicuous in its improbability, but once that tableau is accepted as a magical realist backdrop, the tale that unfolds is heartwarming and totally familiar. And Infinite Darlene just might be one of the secondary characters most deserving of her own novel.
9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
It’s not my personal favorite of his, but I believe it’s nonetheless Green’s best work to date. His impossibly witty, pop-culture laden dialogues are unlikely to be exchanged between real teenagers, but it doesn’t matter, because Green understand the human experience in a way that transcends age.
10. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
This one might be cheating a bit since the first two were published more than ten years ago, but since it’s still ongoing I’m going to include it. I’ve yet to come across another author who has utilized such a wide range of literary techniques to consistently fool readers while simultaneously staying completely true to her own style and to her characters. Gen is one of my favorite literary characters ever, and his story is deserving of a spot on everyone’s reading list.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week’s theme is: Top Ten Authors I’d Like To See On A Reality Show

1. George R.R. Martin on Survivor

Considering how fond Martin is of killing off his characters (particularly those I actually happen to like), I’d get a kick out of seeing how long he would last before getting kicked off himself.

2. Stephanie Perkins on Project Runway

If Lola and the Boy Next Door convinced me of anything, it’s that I would love to see all of the fashions that Perkins described hit the runway for real.

3. Neil Gaiman on Face Off

Gaiman’s imagination seems to have no bounds, particularly when it comes to describing the strange and unexpected. I would love to see what crazy creatures he would come up with on this special effects makeup show.

4. Sarah Addison Allen on Top Chef

Allen’s descriptions of food culture set the perfect tone for her evocative, whimsical stories. I’ve lusted after so many of the dishes described in her stories, so I’d like to see her come up with some new culinary masterpieces.

5. Maria V. Snyder on Hell’s Kitchen

In contrast to Top Chef, Hell’s Kitchen is louder, bawdier, and seemingly more cut-throat, so perhaps Snyder could put some her poisons knowledge to the test and cut back on the competition. (Of course I’m joking…sort of…)

6. Rob Thurman on Fear Factor

Thurman is one tough chick, as her kick-ass characters attest. I’d love to see how far she could make it, and whether she would ultimately succumb to chickening out or getting grossed out.

7. John Green on The Real World

Judging by his vlogs, it’s clear that Green is one of the most likable and hilarious people on the planet. I’m not even sure if The Real World is still on air (I suspect it isn’t), but I would resurrect it just to see more of A Day in the Life of John Green.

8. Seanan McGuire on American Idol

I’ve not actually heard any of McGuire’s music, although I’m aware that she has released several albums. It would be great to see someone mix things up on Idol for once, and perhaps drop a few hints about one Toby Daye in the process.

That’s all I’ve got for this week, since I don’t tend to watch much reality television.