Rummanah Aasi

The Off the Shelf Challenge was by far my most difficult reading challenge but I felt very good in completing it. I initally signed up to read 50 books off my shelf but quickly realized that was unrealistic so I made it a much more manageable 30 books. I ended up reading 38 books off my book shelves, which helped a lot in weeding out my collection and make space for new books.
Rummanah Aasi

12/12 books

  For my final reading challenge for 2012, I will be participating in the Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at the Story Siren. I had a blast doing this challenge this year and have found some new author to follow. 2012 looks like it is going to be another fantastic year. Like this year, I plan on reading 12 books for this challenge.


  1.  The objective of this challenge is to read at least twelve novels from Young Adult or Middle Grade Authors. 12 books is the minimum to participate but there is no max limit.
  2. Anyone can join. You don't have to live in the U.S. or be a blogger.
  3. If you do have a blog, it doesn't have to be written in English to participate.
  4. You can join anytime. The challenge runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. 
You can read about how a book qualifies for this challenge here.

You can sign up for this challenge here.

Books Read for the Debut Author Challenge (tentative list and I'm sure I'll add a bunch more)
  1. Everneath by Brodi Ashton
  2. Fracture by Megan Miranda
  3. Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
  4. Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
  5. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by
  6. Hemlock (Hemlock #1) by Kathleen Peacock         
  7. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
Rummanah Aasi

33/24 books

  I've thought about reviewing picture books on my blog, but wasn't sure if anyone would be interested. I think it would be a great opportunity to diversify my reads and update my recommendations for younger readers. I plan on reading from the Monarch Awards, a list of recommendations for picture books sponsored by the Illinois School Library Association as well as books listed on the Caldecott award too. Thanks to Jennifer of An Abundance of Books for hosting this challenge!

The Details:

  • Timeline: January 1, 2012- December 31, 2012
  • Select your level:
  • Level 1 - Read 12 picture books
  • Level 2 - Read 16 picture books
  • Level 3 - Read 24 picture books
  • You don't have to select your books ahead of time, you can just add them as you go. If you do list your books in the beginning, you can always change them later on.
  • Crossovers with other challenges count.
  • Digital books count
  • Re-reads count as long as you read them in 2012 and you post a new review for the book.
  • You can join anytime
Goal for this Challenge: 24 picture books

Pictures Books Read

  1. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown
  2. In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming
  3. Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
  4. Airport by Byron Barton
  5. The Grand Mosque by Karen Grey Ruelle
  6. The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore
  7. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley
  8. But, excuse me, that's my book by Lauren Child 
  9. The Golden Sandal by Rebecca Hickox
  10. Mirror by Jeannine Baker
  11. The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin
  12. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! by Margaret Mead MacDonald
  13. Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch
  14. Silent Music by James Rumford
  15. Joha Makes a Wish by Eric Kimmel
  16. Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer
  17. How to Raise Mom and Dad by Josh Lerman
  18. How Rocket Learned How to Read by Tad Hills
  19. Even Monsters Need a Haircut by Matthew McElligott
  20. That Cat Can't Stay by Thad Krasnesky
  21. Blackout by John Rocco
  22. The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen
  23. Ant and Grasshopper by Luli Gray
  24. Clemente! by Willie Perdomo
  25. Art and Max by David Wiesner
  26. Redwoods by Jason Chin
  27. Monster Museum by Marilyn Singer
  28. Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann
  29. Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood
  30. Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler
  31. Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw
  32. The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo
  33. Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi
Rummanah Aasi

262/245 books

I read 240 books this year. Just short of 10 books for my reading goal of 250, but I still think that's pretty good considering I had two jobs and all the other obstacles that life throws at you. For 2012, my goal is to read 245. Thanks to Tales of the Crypt for hosting this challenge. 

  • Starts January 1, 2012 and ends December 31, 2012
  • Anyone can join
  • You don’t have to have a blog to participate.
  • Non-Bloggers feel free to share your list of books in the comment section of the monthly link up post.
  • Reviews though not required are always nice.
  • Audio, E-books, Bound and re-reads all count
  • There is no need to come up with your list of books in advance.
  • Challenge crossovers ok
  • Create a sign up post and sign up here.
  • The goal of this challenge is to read 100+ books during 2012.

Books Read in 2012

Italics indicate a review has already been posted

  1. Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead (YA)
  2. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce (YA)
  3. Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Leanna Renee Hieber (YA)
  4. Smile by Raina Telgemeier (GN)
  5. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier (Children/YA)
  6. This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #1) (Children/YA)
  7. The Secret Sisterhood of Heartbreakers by Lynn Weingarten (YA)
  8. Library Wars Vol. 4 by Kiiro Yumi (Manga)
  9. Touch of Power (Healer #1) by Maria V. Snyder (Adult/YA)
  10. Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand (YA)
  11. Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton (YA)
  12. Library Wars Vol. 5 by Kiiro Yumi (Manga)
  13. Library Wars Vol. 6 by Kiiro Yumi (Manga)
  14. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab (Childrens/YA)
  15. The Fine Art of Truth or Dare by Melissa Jensen (YA)
  16. A Spy in the House (Agency #1) by Y.S. Lee (Children/YA)
  17. A Body at the Tower (Agency #2) by Y.S. Lee (Children/YA)
  18. Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) by Veronica Rossi (YA)
  19. Incarnate (Newsoul #1) by Jodi Meadows (YA)
  20. Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown (Children)
  21. Airport by Byron Barton (Children)
  22. The Grand Mosque of Paris by Karen Gray Ruelle (Children)
  23. Owl Babies by Martin Waddel (Children)
  24. In the Small, Small Pond by Denise Fleming (Children)
  25. Love and Leftovers by Sarah Tegray (YA)
  26. Legend by Marie Lu (YA)
  27. Stardust by Neil Gaiman (Adult)
  28. Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer (YA)
  29. Amelia Rules! The Whole World is Crazy by Jimmy Gownley (Graphic Novels)
  30. Amelia Rules! Superheroes by Jimmy Gownley (Graphic Novels)
  31. Fall From Grace by Charles Benoit (YA)
  32. Deadly by Julie Chibbaro (Children/YA)
  33. What Angels Fear (Sebastian St. Cryr #1) by C.S. Harris (Adult)
  34. Afterschool Charisma Vol 1 by Kumiko Suekane (Manga)
  35. Afterschool Charisma Vol 2 by Kumiko Suekane (Manga)
  36. Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Fattah (Children)
  37. Blood Lie by Shirley Vernick (YA)
  38. Afterschool Charisma Vol 3 by Kumiko Suekane (Manga)
  39. Afterschool Charisma Vol 4 by Kumiko Suekane (Manga)
  40. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley (YA)
  41. How to Raise Mom and Dad by Josh Lerman (Chldren)
  42. The Wonderful Book by Leonid Gore (Children)
  43. A Story for Bear by Dennis Haseley (Children)
  44. But, excuse me, that's my book by Lauren Child (Children)
  45. Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee (Children/YA)
  46. Friendship on Fire by Danielle Weiler (YA) 
  47. Death Sentence (Escape from Furnace #3) by Alexander Gordon Smith *Review coming soon
  48. Fracture by Megan Miranda (YA)
  49. The Kingdom by Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen #2) (Adult)
  50. Black Butler Volume 6 by Yana Toboso (Manga)
  51. Black Butler Volume 7 by Yana Toboso (Manga)
  52. The Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark (YA)
  53. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! by Margaret Read MacDonald (Children)
  54. Alia's Mission by Mark Alan Stamaty (GN)
  55. Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch (Children)
  56. The Golden Sandal by Rebecca Hickox (Children)
  57. The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin (Children)
  58. Mirror by Jeannie Baker (Children)
  59. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga (YA)
  60. Hexed by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles #2) (Adult)
  61. New Girl by Paige Harbison (YA)
  62. Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill (YA)
  63. Scary School by Derek Kent (Children)
  64.  Bewitching (Kendra Chronicles #1) by Alex Flinn (YA)
  65. The Whole Story of Half a Girl by Veera Hiranandani (Children)
  66. Grave Mercy (His Fair Assassin #1) by Robin LaFevers (YA)
  67. Anything But Typical by Nora Baskins (Children)
  68. 172 hours on the Moon by Johan Farstad (YA)
  69. My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick (YA)
  70. Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers (Children/YA)
  71. Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper (Children)
  72. Nana Vol 1 by Ai Yawaza (Manga)
  73. Nana Vol 2 by Ai Yawaza (Manga)
  74. Exile by Anne Ousterlund *Review coming soon
  75. Breaking Night by Liz Murray (Adult)
  76. Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (YA)
  77. The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats (YA)
  78. Boys Over Flowers Volume 1 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  79. Boys Over Flowers Volume 2 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  80. Boys Over Flowers Volume 3 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  81. Boys Over Flowers Volume 4 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  82. Boys Over Flowers Volume 5 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  83. Boys Over Flowers Volume 6 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  84. Boys Over Flowers Volume 7 by Yoko Kamino (Manga)
  85. Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould (YA)
  86. The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonym Bosch (Children)
  87. American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin (Adult)
  88. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn (YA)
  89. Countdown by Deborah Wiles (Children)
  90. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (Children)
  91. Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford (Children)
  92. River Marked (Mercy Thompson #6) by Patricia Briggs (Adult)
  93. Shine by Lauren Myracle *Review coming soon
  94. Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott (YA)
  95. Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (Adult)
  96. Fables #1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (Adult/Graphic Novel)
  97. Dark Life by Kat Falls (Children)
  98. Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer (Children)
  99. How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills (Children)
  100. That Cat Can't Stay by Thad Krasnesky (Children)
  101. Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott (Children)
  102. Blackout by Jon Rocco (Children)
  103. Shadows: Book of Elsewhere #1 by Jacqueline West (Children)
  104. Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (YA)
  105. Bossypants by Tina Fey (Adult)
  106. Black Heart (Curseworkers #3) by Holly Black (YA)
  107. My Abandonment by Peter Rock (Adult)
  108. The Summer My Life Began by Shannon Greenland (YA)
  109. Night Sky by Joelle Perry (YA)
  110. The Prophet (Graveyard Queen #3) by Amanda Stevens (Adult)
  111. Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs (Alpha and Omega #1) (Adult)
  112. The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen (Children)
  113. Ant and Grasshopper by Luli Gray (Children)
  114. Clemente! by Willie Perdomo (Children)
  115. Art and Max by David Wiesner (Children)
  116. Skellig by David Almond *Review coming soon
  117. Trash by Andy Mulligan (Children/YA)
  118. Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bond (YA)
  119. Redwoods by Jason Chin (Children) 
  120. Familiars (Familiars #1) by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson (Children)
  121. City of Lost Souls (Mortal Instruments #5) by Cassandra Clare (YA)
  122. Bloodrose (Nightshade #3) by Andrea Cremer (YA)
  123. Silent to the Bone by E.L. Konisburg *Review coming soon
  124. Shades of Milk and Honey (Shades of Milk and Honey #1) by Mary Robinette Kowal (Adult)
  125. Witch Child by Cecilia Rees *Review coming soon
  126. Star Crossed by Elizabeth Bunce *Review coming soon
  127. Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst (Childrens)
  128. Wonder by R.J. Palacio (Childrens)
  129. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson (Adult)
  130. The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (Childrens/YA)
  131. Hunting Ground (Alpha and Omega #2) by Patricia Briggs (Adult)
  132. We Are All Equally Far from Love by Adania Shilbi (Adult)
  133. Zeina by Nawal El Saadawi (Adult)
  134. Hammered by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles #3) (Adult)
  135. Nana Vol. 3 by Ai Yawaza (Manga)
  136. Nana Vol. 4 by Ai Yawaza (Manga)
  137. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray (YA)
  138. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Adult)
  139. Karma by Cathy Ostlere (YA)
  140. The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin (Children)
  141. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! by Margaret Mead MacDonald (Children)
  142. Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch (Children)
  143. Silent Music by James Rumford (Children)
  144. Joha Makes a Wish by Eric Kimmel (Children)
  145. Three Girls and Their Brother by Theresa Rebeck (Adult)
  146. Jessica Rules the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey (YA)
  147. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (YA) 
  148. Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs (Adult)
  149. A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis *Review coming soon
  150. Between by Cyndi Tefts (YA)
  151. Alanna: The First Adventurer (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce (YA)
  152. Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson (Adult)
  153. In the Hand of the Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) by Tamora Pierce (YA)
  154. The Abandoned by Amanda Stevens (Graveyard Queen Prequel) (Adult)
  155. Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker *Review coming soon 
  156. Tricked by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid Chronicles #4) (Adult)
  157.  The Woman Who Rides Like a Man (Song of the Lioness #3) by Tamora Pierce (YA)
  158. Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman (YA)
  159. Vampire Knight Vol. 14 by Matsuri Hino (Manga) 
  160. Lioness Rampant (Song of the Lioness #4) by Tamora Pierce (YA)
  161. Girls Don't Fly by Kristin Chandler *Review coming soon
  162. Unraveling by Elizabeth Norris (YA)
  163. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith *Review coming soon
  164.  Nana Vol 5 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  165. And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (Adult)
  166. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (YA) 
  167. Nana Vol. 6 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  168. Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson (Childrens/YA)
  169. Nana Vol. 7 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  170. Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (part of the Kate Daniels series) (Adult)
  171. First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #1) (Adult)
  172. Nana Vol. 8 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  173. Hemlock (Hemlock #1) by Kathleen Peacock (YA)
  174. Tiger Lilly by Jodi Anderson (YA)
  175. Nana Vol. 9 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  176. Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan (YA) 
  177. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (Adult)
  178. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry (YA)
  179. Vampire Empire: The Greyfrair by Clay Griffith (Vampire Empire #1) (Adult)
  180. Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis (Children)
  181. Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat (YA)
  182. Nana Vol. 10 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  183. Library Wars Vol. 7 by Kiiro Yumi (Manga)
  184. What She Left Behind by Tracy Bilen (YA)
  185. Storm by Brigid Kemmerer (Elementals #1) (YA)
  186. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain (Adult)
  187. Gilt by Katherine Longshore (YA)
  188. Nana Vol. 11 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  189. Nana Vol. 12 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  190. Timeless (Parasol Protectorate #5) by Gail Carriger (Adult)
  191. Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon (Adult)
  192. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (YA)
  193. Nana Vol. 13 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  194. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Adult)
  195. Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa (YA)
  196. The New Phenomenon by Chris Raabe (YA)
  197. Lousy, Stinkin' Grapes by Margie Palatini (Children)
  198. Night Flight by Robert Burleigh (Children)
  199. Pop! The Invention of Bubble Gum by Meghan McCarthy (Children)
  200. Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes by Eric Litwin (Children)
  201. Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (Infernal Devices #2) (YA)
  202. Second Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson # 2) (Adult)
  203. Nana Vol 14 by Ai Yazawa (Manga) 
  204. Fair Game (Alpha and Omega #3) by Patricia Briggs (Adult)
  205. Black Butler Vol. 8 by Yana Toboso (Manga)
  206. Secret Letters by Leah Scherier (YA)
  207. The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting (Body Finder #3) (YA)
  208. Wild by Cheryl Strayed (Adult)
  209. Nana Vol. 15 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  210. Such Wicked Intent (Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein #2) by Kenneth Oppel (Children/YA)
  211. Nana Vol 16 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  212. Nana Vol 17 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  213. Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff (Lotus War #1) (YA)
  214. Monster Museum by Marilyn Singer (Children)
  215. Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann (Children)
  216. Just Say Boo! by Susan Hood (Children)
  217. Boogie Knights by Lisa Wheeler (Children)
  218. Sheep Trick or Treat by Nancy Shaw (Children)
  219. The Halloween Kid by Rhode Montijo (Children)
  220. Boris and Bella by Carolyn Crimi (Children)
  221. Scary, Scary Halloween by Eve Bunting (Children)
  222. The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin by Margaret Wise Brown (Children)
  223.  Zen Ghosts by Jon J. Muth (Children) 
  224. Night Fright Flight by Laura Kraus Melmed (Children)
  225. Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst (YA)
  226. Nana Vol 18 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  227. Summer at Forsaken Lake by Michael Beil (Children)
  228. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama *Review coming soon
  229. The Age of Miracles by Karen Walker Thompson (Adult)
  230. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Book 1 Graphic Novel by Denise Mina  (Adult/Graphic Novel)
  231. Nana Vol 19 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  232. Girl of Nightmares by Kendra Blake (Anna #2) *Review coming soon
  233. Drama by Raina Telgemeier (Graphic Novel)
  234. Crow Boy by Taro Yashima (Childrens)
  235. Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake (Childrens)
  236. Guess What? by Mem Fox (Childrens)
  237. Death and the Girl Next Door by Darynda Jones (Dark Light #1) *Review coming soon
  238. Nana Vol 20 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  239. Nana Vol 21 by Ai Yazawa (Manga)
  240. Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #3) (Adult)
  241. Two Ravens and One Crow by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid #4.5) (Adult)
  242. Fourth Grave Beneath Me by Darynda Jones (Charley Davidson #4) (Adult)
  243. Stealing Parker (Hundred Oaks #2) by Miranda Kenneally (YA)
  244. Trapped by Kevin Hearne (Iron Druid #5) (Adult)
  245. There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack (YA)
  246. A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily #2) (Adult)
  247. Crossed by Ally Condie (Matched #2) *Review coming soon
  248. Vampire Knight Vol. 15 by Matsuri Hino (Manga)
  249. Samir and Yonatan by Daniella Carmi (Childrens)
  250. A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached (Graphic Novel)
  251. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (Adult)
  252. Spark by Brigid Kemmerer (Elementals #2) (YA)
  253. Zahra's Paradise by Amir and Khalil (Graphic Novel)
  254. Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander (Adult)
  255. Two Crafty Criminals by Philip Pullman (Childrens)
  256. Afterschool Charisma Vol. 5 by Kumiko Suekane (Manga)
  257. Hiroshima No Pika by Toshi Maruki (Childrens)
  258. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell (Childrens)
  259. Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron (Childrens)
  260. Beast by Donna Jo Napoli *Review coming soon
  261. Afterschool Charisma Vol. 6 by Kumiko Suekane (Manga)
  262. Space Between Our Footsteps edited by Naomi Shihab Nye *Review coming soon
    Rummanah Aasi

    25/25 books

      I gave in and bought myself a Simple Nook Touch during the Thankgiving holiday. I absolutely love it! I've already read a few books on the ereader and find it much more comfortable than reading on my laptop. It was even a bigger bonus to get free ebooks from my library. I was thrilled to find the 2012 Ebook Challenge hosted by Ladybug reads. I hope to use this challenge to keep up with all the e-galley reads I receive from Netgalley and other publishers.

    Challenge Guidelines:

    1. This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2012 - Dec 31, 2012.
    2. Anyone can join, you don't need to be a blogger. If you don't have a blog, feel free to sign-up in the comments. You can post reviews to any book site (i.e. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, Goodreads, etc).
    3. Any genre or length of book counts, as long as it is in ebook format.
    4. You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you.
    5. When you sign up, put the direct link to your post about joining the E-Book Reading Challenge.
    6. You can move up levels, but no moving down.
    7. Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2012, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year.

    1. Floppy disk - 5 ebooks
    2. CD - 10 ebooks
    3. DVD - 25 ebooks
    4. Memory stick - 50 ebooks
    5. Hard drive - 75 ebooks
    6. Server - 100 ebooks
    7. Human brain - 150 ebooks

    At the beginning of each month there will be a roundup post for you to add your reviews for that month. If you forget, feel free to add your reviews in the following month. Any reviews submitted will be entered into the draw for that month.

    There are prizes for this challenge! Yes, there will be draws every month for participants. As long as you are signed up, every review you add to the monthly roundups will get one entry into the giveaway for that month.

    There will also be a grand giveaway at the end of the year for everyone who achieves their goal level (or  higher). There may be different prizes for different levels, but that is not decided yet.

    Goal for this challenge: 25 ebooks

    Books Read for the 2012 Ebook Challenge 

    1. Darker Still (Magic Most Foul #1) by Lynn Renee Heisber
    2. Touch of Power (Healer #1) by Maria V. Snyder
    3. Everneath (Everneath #1) by Brodi Ashton 
    4. Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky #1) by Veronica Rossi
    5. Blood Lie by Shirley Vernick
    6. Friendship on Fire by Danielle Weiler
    7. Apocalypse Gene by Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark
    8. The Kingdom (Graveyard Queen #2) by Amanda Stevens
    9. Incarnate (Newsoul #1) by Jodi Meadows
    10. New Girl by Paige Harbison
    11. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
    12. Hexed (Iron Druid Chronicles #2) by Kevin Hearne
    13. The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats
    14. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley
    15. Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
    16. Night Sky by Joelle Perry
    17. Sisters of Glass by Stephanie Hemphill
    18. Cross My Heart by Sasha Gould
    19. The Prophet by Amanda Stevens
    20. Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee
    21. Scary School by Derek Kent
    22. Vampire Academy (Vampire Academy #1) by Richelle Mead
    23. Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand
    24. Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman
    25. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
    Rummanah Aasi

    9/12 books

      As a bibliophile and a librarian, I strongly believe in the freedom to read. Every year, I dedicate a full week in reading and discussing banned/challenged books for the Banned Book Week but why stop at one week? So I was glad that The Eclectic Bookshelf is hosting this challenge to spread more awareness of banned/challenged books. 


    • Anyone can join
    • You don't need a blog to participate.  For non-bloggers, please leave a comment with a link (if you review somewhere else) to the review or leave a list of the books you read on the monthly link up post.
    • Audio, ebooks, and bound books are ok.
    • No re-reads
    • Create a sign up post and post at this link.
    • Challenge goes from January 1, 2012 - December 31, 2012
    • Challenge Crossovers are ok.


    Level 1 - Read 12 Banned/Challenged books
    Level 2 - Read 24 Banned/Challenged books
    Level 3 - Read 36 Banned/Challenged books
    Level 4 - Read 37+ Banned/Challenged books

    Goal for this Challenge: I will be reading 12 books and follow my same format as my Banned Books Week where I discuss why the book was banned/challenged. 

    Goodreads Lists to refer to:

    American Library Association Links:

    Books Read for the Challenge

    1. Breathing Underwater by Alex Flinn
    2. Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis
    3. Crow Boy by Taro Yashima
    4. Dirty Cowboy by Amy Timberlake
    5. Guess What? by Mem Fox
    6. Boys Over Flowers Vol. 5 by Yoko Kamio
    7. And Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    8. Hiroshima No Pika by Toshi Maruki
    9. Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

    Rummanah Aasi

    10/10 books

     I love reading about Victorian England and I love mysteries so the Death by Gaslight Reading Challenge is a win win for me! I'm really excited about reading a few series that I've had my eye on for a while such as The Agency by Y.S. Lee, Enola Holmes by Nancy Springer, and the Sebastian St. Cyr series.

    Here are the details for the challenge:

    For the Death by Gaslight Reading Challenge, the goal is to read mysteries set in or written during the Victorian and Edwardian eras (1837 - 1910). I'll probably be reading mysteries set in England (since those are the ones I'm most interested in), but any location is acceptable, as long as the time frame fits. No more than 3 titles can be from the same series (except for the first special challenge, listed below).

    There are 4 levels to choose from:
    1.  The Merry Widow of Windy Nook: 5 books
    2.  Palmer the Poisoner: 10 books
    3.  Burke and Hare, Body Snatchers: 15 books
    4.  Jack the Ripper: 20+ books

    Additionally, there are 4 "special challenges".  Books which are read for any of these mini-levels do not count towards the main reading levels. These are "extra credit" and are purely optional.
    1.  Serial Killer: Read an entire series (re-reading if necessary) from the first book until the last (or most recently published). There is no limit on the number of books, so a series could consist of 2 books or 20.
    2.  The Great Detective: Read 5 (or more) books featuring Sherlock Holmes, at least one of which must be an original story by Arthur Conan Doyle.
    3.  Arsenic and Air Ships: Read 5 (or more) books which are steampunk mysteries.
    4.  Penny Dreadfuls: Read 5 (or more) non-fiction books that detail Victorian or Edwardian crimes.

    All the regular rules apply:
    * cross-overs between challenges are more than okay
    * any format counts - audio, ebook, etc.
    * you don't have to have a blog to participate (since I technically don't - I post reviews at Goodreads)
    * feel free to change levels at any time
    * re-reads are fine, but books must be read in the 2012 calendar year to count
    Reading challenges are suppose to the challenging (hence the name)...but we don't do this for a living, we do this for fun! 

    Goal for this challenge: 10 books and I may do the Great Detective extra challenge if time allows.

    Some sites for ideas...
    19th Century British Mysteries (at
    19th Century European Mysteries (at

    Books Read for the Death by Gaslight Challenge

    1. A Spy in the House by Y.S. Lee (Agency #1)
    2. What Angels Fear by C.S. Harris (Sebastian St. Cyr #1)
    3. The Body at the Tower by Y.S. Lee (Agency #2)
    4. Traitor in the Tunnel by Y.S. Lee (Agency #3)
    5. And Only to Deceive by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily #1)
    6. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
    7. The Secret Letter by Leah Scheier
    8. A Poisoned Season by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily #2)
    9. Fatal Waltz by Tasha Alexander (Lady Emily #3)
    10. Two Crafty Criminals by Philip Pullman

    Rummanah Aasi

    6/6 books

      Believe it or not I have a hard time choosing adult contemporary novels to read. I've been very successful in finding great reads from the Alex Awards. So I figured this was a great challenge to discover more great titles. 

    What are the Alex Awards? The Alex Awards are given each year to books written/marketed to adults that have special appeal to young adults (age 12-18). They often feature teen protagonists.

    Why should we care? As an eclectic blogger, I love crossing over from genre to genre. I have found that occasionally there is a division between adults who read adult books and adults who read young adult books (and of course, there are many who read both). I think it would be interesting for both types of readers to try out these books that blur the lines between these two genres.

    When does the challenge run? It runs from January 1, 2012 to December 31, 2012. You have to start the book after January 1, 2012 for it to count.

    What are the rules? It's pretty simple -- read Alex Awards winners! I will also count nominees. You can find lists here. There are four levels - 1-3 books, 4-6 books, 7-9 books, or 10+ books. You are not required to post reviews, but on January 1, 2012 I will put up a linky for participants to post their reviews.

    Goal for this challenge: 6 books

    Great! How do I sign up? Write an introductory post stating your desired level and link to it in the linky at The Story Girl's reading challenge post. You can sign up at any time from now until the challenge ends, so feel free to join in midway through the year.

    Books Read for Alex Awards 2012

    1. Stardust by Neil Gaiman 
    2. My Abandonment by Peter Rock
    3. Breaking Night by Liz Murray
    4. Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    5. Three Girls and Their Brother by Theresa Rebeck
    6. The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

    Rummanah Aasi

    20/24 books

      I had a great time with the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge this year and was thrilled to see that Helen was hosting the challenge again. I hope to read books from a wide range of genres and audiences from this region.

    What is considered the Middle East?

    The Middle East is a nebulous term with each person defining it in a different way (it's also a very Euro-centric term so please forgive me for that). However I am going to use it for lack of a better way to define the area covered by this reading challenge. So, what is the Middle East? Traditionally it included only the "middle eastern" countries in Asia plus Egypt. Some define it as countries with Arabic as the dominant language, while others say it is all Islamic countries. For the purposes of this challenge I am going to stick with the more traditional/geographic approach including the countries around the Arabian peninsula.

    Countries Include: The author of the book may be from the following countries: Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Yemen. Update: Given the news lately, let's add in the north African countries of Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco

    What books qualify for this reading challenge?
    The author of the book may be from the countries listed below or the book can be set in one of the countries included in this challenge. The book could be about Islam. Fiction, non-fiction, YA and Adult lit, graphic novels, audio books, books for other challenge... they all count.

    Levels: There are no levels for this challenge, my hope is that we'll each read whatever number works for us, learning to appreciate and understand the Middle East more along the way.

    What are the dates of the challenge?
    The challenge will run January 1, 2012 through December 31, 2012.

    Goal for the Challenge: 24 books

    How do I sign up to participate?

    Write an introductory post about what you hope to get out of this challenge, or why you are signing up, or what you know/feel about the Middle East, or something that relates to this challenge. If you want to list books you are going to read you may, but you certainly don't have to. Please include a link back to this post so that others who are interested can find it. Use the Middle East Reviews link to post your introduction/intent to participate.

    Books Read for Middle East Challenge 2012 

    1. Crescent by Diana Abu Jaber (Iraq)
    2. The Golden Sandal by Rebecca Hickox (Iraq)
    3. Mirror by Jeannine Baker (Morocco)
    4. The Secret Message by Mina Javaherbin (Iran)
    5. Where the Streets Had a Name by Randa Abdel-Ratah (Palestine)
    6. Tunjur! Tunjur! Tunjur! by Margaret Mead MacDonald
    7. Mystery Bottle by Kristen Balouch
    8. Silent Music by James Rumford (Iraq)
    9. Joha Makes a Wish by Eric Kimmel 
    10. Alia's Mission by Mark Stamatay (Iraq)
    11. We All Are Equally Far From Love by Adania Shibli
    12. Zeina by Nawal Sadawi (Egypt) 
    13. Tasting the Sky by Ibtisam Barakat (Palestine) 
    14. Three Wishes by Deborah Ellis (Palestine/Israel)
    15. Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan (Egypt)
    16. A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached (Lebanon)
    17. Samir and Yonatan by Daniella Carmi (Palestine/Israel)
    18. Zahra's Paradise by Amir and Khalil (Iran)
    19. Beast by Donna Jo Napoli (Iran)
    20. Space Between Our Footsteps by Naomi Shihab Nye (various countries from the Middle East)


    Rummanah Aasi
    It's hard to find age appropriate books for tweens who want to read the latest YA titles that they may be a bit too mature for (i.e. reading and thematic level). There are always a few books that can be recommended and enjoyed for a wide range of ages and audiences. Flipped is just one example. I can't believe I waited until 2011 to read this book off my shelf.

    Description: Flipped is a romance told in two voices. The first time Juli Baker saw Bryce Loski, she flipped. The first time Bryce saw Juli, he ran. That’s pretty much the pattern for these two neighbors until the eighth grade, when, just as Juli is realizing Bryce isn’t as wonderful as she thought, Bryce is starting to see that Juli is pretty amazing. How these two teens manage to see beyond the surface of things and come together makes for a comic and poignant romance.

    Review: Flipped is an unputdownable novel about questioning what you believe in and believing in what you feel. From second grade, Bryce has always known how he feels about Juli. She is weird, dangerous, and can't seem to leave him alone. She has a certain way of looking at him which has freaked him out since the first time she hurled herself into his life.
       Juli has a tendency to do that when she spots something she likes. She throws herself into things she believes in, whether they're people, projects, or even rotting trees. Juli has always known how she feels about Bryce. He has been walking around with her first kiss for years. It's those bright blue eyes. She would love it if he ever reciprocated with even a tiny smidgen of her enthusiasm or heck even a smile now and then would be fantastic!
      Flipped sounds like a lot of YA romances that immediately begins with what we readers call 'insta-love' where the characters meet and fall in love at first sight without really getting to know one another. Flipped is a romantic comedy of errors told in a "he-said, she-said" alternating chapters by two fresh, funny, and insightful voices. Yes, there are two tweens trying to wrestle their hormones and feelings during hilarious misunderstandings and missed opportunities, but the themes of learning to look beyond the surface of people, figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and who you want to be with made this book memorable. It is these questions that changed, structured, and even matured Bryce and Juli's relationship.
      Bryce made me laugh especially as how he routinely fails to get Juli off his back. It's clear to him and everyone else that he wants absolutely nothing to do with Juli Baker. Bryce's chapter while comedic offers the reader devise their own bias opinions about Juli while Juli gives us an understanding of her motives as she describes the same events from her point of view. Bryce is completely clueless and it was nice to seem him change as Juli's feelings begin to wane after a horrible spat. Juli is a lovable heroine who is passionate, fresh, smart, and different. She may come off as a morbid stalker in Bryce's chapter, but she is not. She's precocious and wiser than her years.
      The book is filled with laugh out loud moments and scenes that made me go "aww". Interspersed but never heavy handed is a substantial amount of serious social commentary woven in, as well as an exploration of the importance of perspective in relationships. The book is also filled with fully dimensional secondary characters and keep the subplots rolling. I absolutely loved Bryce's grandfather Chet who gives Bryce and Juli wise advice though they may not know it until they do their own growing up. Smart, funny, and full of warmth, Flipped is a tween romance that is sure to be loved by all and I highly recommend it.

    Rating: 5 stars

    Words of Caution: PG language. Recommended for strong Grades 5 readers and up.

    If you like this book try: Scrambled Eggs at Midnight by Brad Barkley
    Rummanah Aasi
      I've unsuccessfully tried to write a review for Daughter of Smoke and Bone ever since I finished it a few months ago. No matter what I write, I can't seem to get across how much I loved this book without being overly gushy. Several bloggers before me said the same thing and I didn't understand them until I was in their position. This book received a lot of hype and it is one of the rare ones that deserves all the hype and that much more, which is why I'm extremely nervous when I heard the book rights to this series has already been sought by a movie company. I'm hoping this in no way influences how Laini Taylor will write her series.

    Description (from the book's panel): Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil's supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.
       Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she's prone to disappearing on mysterious "errands"; she speaks many languages--not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she's about to find out.
       When one of the strangers--beautiful, haunted Akiva--fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

    Review: Every so often there comes a book that completely captures your attention, demands to be read and won't leave your mind long after you finish the last page. Daughter of Smoke and Bone at first glance seems like any ordinary supernatural romance story. It is and it isn't. Sure it contains magic, angels, demons, star-crossed romance, but it stands completely alone. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the most creative, original, spell binding story I've read this year. It is a lush, imaginative tale of magic and monsters, war and heartbreak, loyalty and betrayal, and love and hate. The world-building in this novel is gorgeous and breathtaking, the backstory is completely fresh and original, its otherworldly secrets had me on the edge of my seat. Laini Taylor's writing is masterful and awe inspiring. I wish I had just a smidgen of her talent.
      Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a book that cannot be easily placed into any genre. It is a mystery, a fantasy, a tragedy, a romance, and a coming of age story that feature supernatural figures that we commonly call angels and demons, but that is just touching the surface of the book. The descriptions are vivid, and picturesque, the characters terrifying, complex and oddly compelling, the lines between good and evil is completely blurred, making our hearts break into tiny fragments so we can split our allegiances in a diplomatic fashion.
       Karou is a fabulous heroine. She is quirky and mysterious, aloof yet simultaneously very familiar as she struggles with her nagging feeling of being empty and the constant frustration of getting vague answers from the family she has ever known. It is her vulnerability that struck a strong chord with me and I'm sure with many readers who have experienced that feeling as they are growing up. The haunting question of "Who am I?" is universal and creates a companionship bond with Karou despite her peculiarities. Karou is smart, skilled, curious, and extremely talented. She knows there's more to the story than she's been told. She is fearless when she needs to be, but vulnerable at heart.
      Karou's relationship with the chimaera who comprise her family is complex and contradictory at times. They dote on her and completely trust her, but they also hide the truth and betray her. Yet their deep-rooted bond is one of the most heart-warming aspects of the book, and is crucial to the impossible decisions Karou must make. Though Karou's family are repeatedly called and described as "monsters" or "devils", Taylor creates these figures as three dimensional in order to show that nothing is so simple and absolute. Karou's unconventional family fiercely loves her, and even when it's not always clear, one can't help but think they're acting with her best interest at heart.
      I was completely captivated by the book's engrossing setting as we travel from Prague to other various countries. I felt as if I was with Karou so much so that I completely forgot that I was sitting in my own house reading the book. It was so hard to leave Karou's world and re-enter back to our mundane, in comparison, world. Needless to say, I was completely swept away.
      Taylor perfectly balances drama, action, suspense, and swoon worthy romance that is completely Karou's alone. I will admit that I was lost at first reading the book. We are given tantalizing hints about Karou's past and her real identity, but I didn't mind my confusion at all. I was already enraptured by Taylor's storytelling abilities. Every time I thought I would take a break, I was pulled back by the book to read just one more chapter. When the many strands come together to reveal a stunning and heartbreaking truth, I had so many mixed feelings running through me. I was thrilled that she found all the answers to her questions and learned about her past, but I was also hated the fact that she has to make such a hard decision. I can't wait to find out what Karou does next.  Daughter of Smoke and Bone is a fast-paced and high-soaring adventure that spans continents and worlds, generations and families, but ultimately it is the story of one unique girl with a hidden sadness and a forgotten past.

    Rating: 5 stars

    Words of Caution: There is some strong language, allusions to sex, and some disturbing scenes in the book. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

    If you like this book try: Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor, Mortal Instrument series by Cassandra Clare, Tithe by Holly Black
    Rummanah Aasi
      Things will be relatively quiet here this week at my blog. I'm wrapping up a few left over reads for this year and will be participating in a few reading challenges for next year. Today's topic for Top 10 Tuesday, an awesome feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish, is discussing our favorite reads from 2011. Here are mine, in alphabetical order, along with a link to my review. I still have to write a couple of reviews for a couple of them and hope to do that this week.

    Favorite Books Read in 2011

    Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake- One of the best YA horror books I've read in a really long time and my favorite debut novel from this year. I think it would make an awesome movie if Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman, and Joss Whedon got together for a project. Can't wait for Girl of Nightmares

    Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin -  A powerful, unflinching, influential, and gripping story that forces us to think critically about racism in America. Though written several years ago, it is still important today. 

     Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor - An exquisite, awe inspiring read that knocked my socks off. I'm highly anticipating on what happens next in Karou's adventure.

     Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen- A sweet, relatively clean tween romance that has heart and wisdom. I can't believe it took me this long to read it.

     Forever (Wolves of Mercy #3) by Maggie Stiefvater- The perfect conclusion to the Wolves of Mercy series. I don't think it could have ended in any other way. Romantic and haunting just like Maggie's writing.

    Hard Bitten (Chicagoland Vampire #4) by Chloe Neil- I experienced a wide range of emotion while reading this book, but the last page had me stunned. I was so flummoxed that I had to read the last 5 pages at least three times. Fabulous tension, mystery, suspense, and romance. 


     Stolen by Lucy Christopher - Lucy Christopher's debut and Printz honoree title, Stolen, let me speechless and had me thinking for days. This book was so frightening that I couldn't deal with reading it by myself and began telling coworkers just to distance myself from it.

     Where She Went by Gayle Forman- Seeing Adam in so much pain broke my heart. I started crying around pg 50 of this book and didn't stop until an hour after I read the last page. It's perfect.

    Wherever You Go by Heather Davis - A brilliantly crafted novel that seamlessly blends contemporary fiction with a dash of the supernatural. This quiet book pulled on my heart strings right away and didn't let go. I became so invested in Holly's, Rob's, and Jason's lives that I couldn't stop reading. The characters were honest and their problems were authentic. 

     Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick- Wonderstruck shows us how thrilling a museum can be. Visually stunning and aptly named, Wonderstruck is a definitely a wonder to behold regardless of its weight and tome-like appearance

     Other favorites not listed due to space constraints: Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews, Silver Borne (Mercy Thompson #5) by Patricia Briggs, and The Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus #2) 

    What are your favorites from this year?

    Rummanah Aasi
     Happy Holidays, Everyone! I hope you are enjoying your time off and having a great time with your family and friends. Today I'm pleased to have Living Violet's author Jaime Reed on the blog today. I'm a big TV fan and am curious as to what TV shows other people watch. I asked Jaime what was her Top 10 TV shows on her DVR. Here are her answers:

    Jaime Reed's Top 10 TV Shows on her DVR

    * Dexter
    * The Vampire Diaries
    * Community
    * Shameless
    * Entourage
    * Game of Thrones
    * The Dave Chappelle Show seasons 1&2
    * Family Guy
    * Nurse Jackie
    * Dr. Who season 6 

     Thanks for stopping by, Jaime!


    Readers, thanks to Jaime's publishers and the Teen Book Scene, I have one advanced reader copy of Living Violet to giveaway. Since I have the copy on hand, this giveaway is limited to US addresses only. To enter, simply leave a comment along with your name/alias and an email address so I can contact you if you win. The giveaway ends 10 PM EST on January 13th and the winner will be announced on January 14th on my blog. Good Luck!
    Rummanah Aasi
      I couldn't decide what to review to today so I'm offering another round of YA mini reviews from different genres. I read these books a few months ago. Some of them I remember fondly while the other I wish I never took the time to read. Like with everything else, some books are a hit or miss. Here are my mini reviews for Angelfire (Angelfire #1) by Courtney Allison Moulton, Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta, and Solitary (Escape from Furnance #2) by Alexander Gordon Smith.

    Description: Elisabeth Monroe lives the life of a normal privileged teenage girl. Yet Ellie is anything but. Only she doesn't know it. Not until her seventeenth birthday. The nightmares she's been having are real. She is the Preliator, a being who has a mortal body but an immortal soul, the only one capable of wielding angelfire, who is reborn time and time again in order to serve her sole purpose - to destroy reapers and keep humanity safe. This time is different. Her rebirth took longer than ever before with only limited recollection of her past - a past that even her protector and guardian, Will, doesn't know completely. And this time the reapers aren't the only thing to fear. There is another out there who can threaten Ellie's very existence and alter her future in ways nothing before ever could. As Ellie grapples with recovering her memories about who she is and not yet fully able to control her powers, will she be able to unlock the secrets in her mind in time to defeat Lucifer's growing armies and prevent the Apocalypse? Will the answers she finds be too much to handle? And will her humanity be enough to overcome the darkness within her?

    Review: I'm not sure you remember, but I've had Angelfire on my reading pile since January. I kept picking it up and then putting it down. I nearly dropped it altogether until I read reviews from blogs and thought I wasn't giving it a fair shot. I should've trusted my instinct because I didn't like this book at all. While reading this book I could've sworn I've read this story before as the plot unfolded and then I realize that I had. There's a lot things that are startling similar to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn't mind all that much as people draw inspirations from every where, but the thing that bugged me the most about Angelfire is the main character Ellie. I didn't like Ellie at all. She irritated me. When she was suppose to be strong and fight her battles, she cower in a little corner until the handsome, brooding, the guy 'she can't love but can't help be drawn to for some reason' (who I dub as the dull Angel clone) rescues her repeatedly. I can't take a heroine who is suppose to be a warrior seriously if she doesn't fight. Doesn't that defeat the purpose? Anyway, the plot was predictable including the plot twist that I saw a 100 pgs earlier, and the characters as you can tell were a bore. Needless to say, I'm not going to continue this series. If you're looking for a similar yet stronger plot and great characters, check out Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey instead.

    Rating: 1 star

    Words of Caution: There are some disturbing images and some language. Recommended for strong Grade 8 readers and up.

    If you like this one try: Wings of the Wicked (Angelfire #2) by Courtney Allison Moulton, Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey

    Description: Francesca could use her outspoken mother's help with the problems of being one of a handful of girls at a parochial school that has just turned co-ed, but her mother has suddenly become severely depressed.

    Review: I can't believe it has taken me so long to read a book by Melina Marchetta. *facepalm* After reading several awesome reviews from fellow bloggers, I was determined to read Saving Francesca. Saving Francesca was an awesome contemporary/realistic fiction book. The plot is very simple yet the carefully constructed and complex characters and relationships make this book shine. I immediately connected to Francesca as she struggles to find and save herself. She has always used her mother as an indicator of what to do and how to be, but when he mother suddenly feels ill Francesca suddenly falls without a safety net. She learns to become comfortable in her own skin and slowly begins to put down roots at her school, bonding with the girls from St. Stella's (her former school) whom she had considered misfits, and with some unlikely guys. I've never read an author who realistically shows how people become friends until now. The friendships are organic that take their time to form but once they do, they are solid. The relationship between Francesca and her brother was incredibly sweet too. Marchetta beautifully depicts the pain experienced by Francesca's whole family and Francesca's anger towards her father. If you're looking for a character driven novel with excellent and realistic dialogue be sure to pick up Saving Francesca. I can't wait to read another book by this author.

    Rating: 4.5 stars

    Words of Caution: There is some strong language and underage drinking. Recommended to strong Grade 8 readers and up.

    If you like this book try: The Pipers Son by Melina Marchetta, Looking for Alibrandi by Melina Marchetta

    Description: Imprisoned for a murder he did not commit, fourteen-year-old Alex Sawyer thinks that he has escaped the hellish Furnace Penitentiary, but instead he winds up in solitary confinement, where new horrors await him.

    Review: Solitary is the second book in the Escape from Furnance series. Though the author gives enough information to new readers to the series, I would still strongly urge readers to read the first book, Lockdown, in order to get a better sense of the horrific ambiance of the Furnace Penitentiary. Just as breathlessly paced and soaked with blood and grime, Alex’s escape from the futuristic underground prison and experimental lab called Furnace leads first to recapture and then to a second flight that involves frantic chases through dark caverns and tunnels, face-to-face encounters with flesh chewing human-rat hybrids, and visits to a gruesome “Infirmary”.  Along with lurid imagery, we also get a bit more depth of Alex's character as he tries to make sense of his own guilty conscious. I was highly engaged with this book and definitely recommend it to reluctant readers, particularly boys, who are looking for an action packed story that reads like a thriller/horror movie. I can't wait to find out what happens next and if Alex ever survives and escapes from the Furnance. Books 1-3 are out now and book 4 releases next year.

    Rating: 4 stars

    Words of Caution: There is some language and disturbing scenes in the book. Recommended for Grade 7 and up.

    If you like this book try: Death Sentence (Escape from Furnance #3) by Alexander Gordon Smith, Violence 101 by Denis Wright and I Am Not a Serial Killer by Dan Wells
    Rummanah Aasi
     For my last book in the Southeast Asian Reading Challenge, I finished The Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpah Lahiri. This is Lahiri second collection of short stories and in my opinion a much strongely written and diverse enteries than her Pultizer Prize winning collection in Interpreter of the Maladies.

    Description: Eight stories that take the reader from Cambridge and Seattle to India and Thailand as they enter and uncover the lives of sisters and brothers, fathers and mothers, daughters and sons, friends and lovers.

    Review: My main complaint about short stories is one of its trademarks: brevity. By the time I get comfortable with the plot and warm up to its characters, the story is over and I feel cheated. Perhaps, I'm reading them wrong and should not approach them in the same way as I normally do with any fiction book. Writing a short story must be very hard and it takes a rare and particular talent to write captivating short stories. The author must perfectly craft every word, every sentence, in order to develop character, plot and intrigue in a limited space.
     Lahiri's eight stories featured in Unaccustomed Earth are much lengthier than most short stories I've read, but I welcomed them. I felt they gave her much needed room to explore not only the different themes, but also a showcasing the various relationships throughout her stories. Lahiri's stories always feature characters of Bengali descent who reside in America but they are far from formulaic. In the title and personally my favorite story, Unaccustomed Earth, Brooklyn-to-Seattle transplant Ruma frets about a presumed obligation to bring her widower father into her home, a stressful decision taken out of her hands by his unexpected independence. In another, the alcoholism of Rahul is described by his elder sister, Sudha, who struggles with her own disappointment, guilt, bewilderment and sense of duty. And in the loosely linked trio of stories closing the collection, the lives of Hema and Kaushik intersect over the years, first in 1974 when she is six and he is nine; then a few years later when, at 13, she swoons at the now-handsome 16-year-old teen's reappearance; and again in Italy, when she is a 37-year-old academic about to enter an arranged marriage, and he is a 40-year-old photojournalist. Lahiri's stories are surprising, aesthetically marvelous and shaped by a sure and provocative sense of inevitability. Her skill of storytelling is enchanting and I look forward to whatever she publishes next.

    Rating: 4 stars

    Words of Caution: There is some strong languge, underage drinking, and semi-explicit sex scenes in a few stories. Recommended for teen readers interested in multicultural fiction and adults only.

    If you like this book try: Interpreter of Maladies by Jhmpah Lahiri, Bittersweet by Roopa Farooki
    Rummanah Aasi
      After reading a few lackluster titles, I wanted to read something funny that had depth. When I first read a book by David Sedaris (who's incredibly hilarious by the way), many people recommended that I should pick up Bill Bryson. I bought his book, A Walk in the Woods, at a book sale and then it sat on my shelf for many months until now. It definitely fulfilled my void and it was highly entertaining.

    Description: Bryson share his experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail with a childhood friend. The two encounter eccentric characters, a blizzard, getting lost, and rude yuppies along the way.

    Review: A Walk in the Woods is a smart, funny travel book that also manages to tackle some important issues without ever being heavy or didactic. Bryson, who was born in Iowa, moved to England and gained most of his hiking experience along that country's friendly trails from village to village and pub to pub. He is an experienced travel writer and he decided to tackle the 2200-mile trail from Georgia to Maine with his overweight, ex-alcoholic hiking partner Stephen Katz. Bryson suddenly realizes that his British hiking experiences are completely different from his American one. The book comprises of the hiker's poignant observations and their experiences along the Appalachian Trail (AT). I laughed several times while reading this book, particularly when the two men yelled at cursed at each other and themselves for taking on a ridiculous endeavor, much like myself when I start my workout, hating every minute and counting down the time when I can stop.
      Similarly, Bryson and Katz struggle along a part of the southern trail and then abandon the whole idea when they admitted they could under no circumstances complete the journey just by hiking. Bryson drives down and samples parts of the remaining AT, such as the Pennsylvania coal country, and finally he and Katz decide to give it another chance and set out into the 100-mile wilderness of Maine. Their constant badgering about food (i.e. what the did/didn't pack, who ate all of it, what are they going to do when it runs out, etc) had me in stitches and me realize that I'm not well equipped on going camping at all. Their journey is shaky to say the least and coupled by some bizarre people they meet along the way including a rude yuppies and an airhead American twenty year old who has absolutely no clue how stupid she sounds when she speaks.
      The book's biggest strength is its humor, but Bryson also manages to intersperse his observations on the environmental damage along selected portions of the trail, which us pause to think how much we take advantage of the environment around us. He also includes some really interesting history on both of the trail itself and the areas of the eastern mountains through which it winds. I didn't think these discussion chapters were abrupt, but rather added an additional depth to the story along with drinking problem that Katz struggles with. I would definitely recommend this book to people who enjoy humorous novels but also want depth. I also think this would be a great book to listen to on a road trip where you can commiserate along with our incompetent traveling heroes. 

    Rating: 4 stars

    Words of Caution: There is some strong language and crude humor. Marketed toward adults but I think it's suitable for teens in high school.

    If you like this book try: Walking to Vermont by Christopher Wren, French Lessons by Peter Mayle
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