Top Tens, Book Bucket List, and Other End of Year Business

2011 was a GREAT year. I read a lot of great books, attended awesome bookish events, and even had the chace to chat with some inspiring authors. Even with some minor bumps  — not knocking off every book off my book bucket list, nor reading every book I picked up at this year’s Book Expo even though I had all (good) intentions to do just that.

Even with minor bumps I have to say that 2011 was a blogging success. At least I think so, and hope that you, my readers, feel the same way.

After reading (and reviewing) so many books I’ve compiled a best of list for both young adult books and children’s picture books. Without further adieu, I present The BookBandit’s Best of 2011!! (Complete with Honorable Mentions and everything!)

Top Ten (Young Adult) Books:

1. Shine by Lauren Myracle

2. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

3. Dreamland Social Club by Tara Altebrando

4. Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter

5. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

6. Delirium by Lauren Oliver

7. Clarity by Kim Harrington

8. Revolution by Jenniffer Connelly

9. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg

10. So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

Most Anticipated Title of 2011: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Honorable Mention: The Last Little Blue Envelope by Maureen Johnson

Top Ten (Children’s Picture) Books:

1. A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip Stead

2. Clink by Kelly Di Pucchio

3. Different Like Coco by Elizabeth Matthews

4. Hooray for Amanda and Her Alligator by Mo Willems

5. The Lonely Doll by Dare Wright

6. Spork by Kyo Maclear

7. Daffodil by Emily Jenkins

8. Imagine Harry by Kate Klise

9. The Baby Beebee Bird by Diane Redfield Massie

10. The Cold Water Witch by Yannick Murphy

Honorable Mention: Cloudette by Tom Lichtenheld

In other book related end of year business, I originally set out to read 200 books that year. I figured it’s a nice round number that is a reasonably attainable goal. I mean, it’s 200 not 2,000. At some point I realized that, due to work and life, that 200 was, in fact, NOT an attainable goal. I downsized my goal to 150 books.

I am proud to announce that I did reach my 150 book goal. I was going to write the complete list, but it is 150 books long, and it would only make this post run on. But, fear not! If you do want to see what books I’ve read this year, you could check out my Goodreads Page.

I hope everyone had a fantastic 2011. Happy New Year’s all! Stay tuned for even more reviews, features, and giveaway here on the blog in 2012!

Mid – Winters Eve Hop – Winners!

First off, let me start off by saying Thank You to all of you who not just stopped by and read this blog, but to all who participated. Once again, you guys made this giveaway a success!

Now onto the winners. Unfortunately, I don’t have a prize pack for each person who left a comment, but I do have three prize packs to give away.

Prize Pack #1: Donna

Prize Pack #2: Michelle D.

and Prize Pack #3: Aurora M.

All winners were chosen via Random.org – a random number generator, and have been contacted already.

Stay tuned for more reviews, updates, and of course giveaways!

Every Other Day

Every Other Day by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Kali is an average teenage girl whose main goal is to glide through her high school halls relatively unnoticed. But every twenty-four hours she canges into something, or rather someone, entirely different.

Every other day Kali changes from awkward social outcast to skilled, but blood-thirsty, hunter with a hero complex. obsessively, she’s always on the hunt for any preternatural creatures – hellhounds, zombies, or whatever creation science throws her way.

Determined to keep the human race safe and in tact, Kali can’t possibly walk away when she sees a chupacabra marking on miss popularity Bethany. Knowing that in a few hours she’ll be able to defeat the creature, Kali lures the little nibbler from Bethany’s body into her own.

With it brings a whole new set of problems. For one she has this unquenchable thirst and second she’s able to mentally communicate with the, what she thinks is, the chupacabra.  This isn’t normal, even for not so normal Kali. The more she talks with the being named Zev, Kali slowly starts to learn the truth about the world she lives in and who she really is.

Every Other Day written by author Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a compulsively readable book that readers will have a real hard time pulling themselves away from. Full of unforseen twists and turns, Barnes does the unthinkable – she’s written a paranormal book minus the romance element. Every Other Day is far from a paranormal romance, but instead a quick paced, action packed read with a strong paranormal twist.

Barnes writing is mostly catchy, clear, and concise. Not one sentence drags, but rather fuels the already strong storyline. However, there are moments where it felt as if it just didn’t flow exactly right. Transitioning  from one place/situation to another seemed to be a challenge early on. One moment Kali’s hunting and the next moment, without warning, she’s in the middle of a high school pep rally. Even though this did cause minor confusion, it was quickly resolved.

Every Other Day is a stand out novel. And what makes it so is Kali. She’s a strong lead and an even stronger heroine who was well described and well-rounded. Even though she often comes across as being a bit rough around the edges, Kali is real, relatable, and really does have good intentions.

Secret Santas, Book Swapping, and A Holly Jolly Christmas

Once again, I participated in the extremely fun-filled Book Blogger Holiday Swap. I participated last year, and not only had the chance to give some great gifts (I think so at least) but to receive some awesome ones as well.

This year was no different! I received not one, but two books that have been on my want list for some time now. They are so new and shiny, and I can’t wait to read them.

I received Hate List by Jennifer Brown and XVI by Julia Karr from Amanda over at The FictionFairy.

Thank You Amanda for such a thoughtful gift.

As it is Christmas I wanted to say Merry Christmas to all of you my readers. I hope this holiday season isn’t only full of great books, but full of good health and cheer to you and yours!

Mid-Winters Eve Hop (Giveaway!)

Hi All!

It’s Mid – Winter and once again I am fortunate to participate in the Mid – Winters Eve Hop hosted by  I Am A Reader, Not a Writer and Oasis of YA. I am super excited this year. Why? Because not only do I have some awesome goodies to give away, but I get to participate alongside awesome blogs who are also giving away awesome goodies! (That’s a lot of awesome going around, isn’t it?!)

So what’s a hop? A hop is a kind of giveaway that allows blog readers/followers to hop from one blog giveaway to another by use of a handy linky! (To view all the participating blogs, head here)

This year, I’m not giving away one prize back, but three. Yes, three chances for three people to win! Up for grabs:

Prize Pack #1:

(Used) Copy of Gingerbread by Rachel Cohn, Ten Things We Did and Probably Shouldn’t Have by Sarah Mlynowski Bookmark, When it Happens postcard signed by author Susane Colasanti, and one Vlad Todd temporary tattoo.

Prize Pack #2:

(Used) Copy of Cathy’s Book  by Sean Stewart and Jordan Weisman, a Vlad Todd temporary tattoo, a Dreamland Social Club (by Tara Altebrando) mermaid pin, and an Eternal Sea bookmark signed by author Angie Frazier.

Prize Pack #3:

Misfit (ARC/Used) signed by author Jon Skovron, a Vlad Todd temporary tatoo, and an Enchanted Ivy bookmark signed by author Sarah Beth Durst.

(Sarah Beth Durst signed in silver sharpie – it’s faint in the picture, but I promise the bookmark is signed by her)

This Giveaway is open to U.S. Residents ONLY!

How to Enter:

All you have to do is two simple things: subscribe to this blog, and leave a comment on THIS post (and ONLY this post) telling which Prize Pack you would like and that you subscribed to the blog. Please make sure to include an email address in your comment as well.

Three winners will be selected by random generator. But I will try my hardest to give each winner the prize pack they want. However, if every entrant wants one prize back I will select which prize pack goes to which winner.

The Details:

Contest is open from December 21st (at Midnight, 12:00 A.M.) and will run until December 27th (at 11:59 P.M.) Winner will be selected and contacted via email on Wednesday December 28th. Winner will have, two days,  until Friday December 30 to respond. If no response is received another winner will be selected randomly).

Good Luck and Happy Hopping!

It’s that time again

Dash & Lily Day – The First Ever! (Picture Heavy)

In the past two weeks I have had A LOT of holiday festivities going on.  Believe it or not, but this is the first year in a long time that I enjoyed more than the holiday shopping. All of the fun festivities really did help boost the holiday spirit.

Last weekend good friend Miss Print and I ventured out on the first ever Dash & Lily Day. Who are Dash and Lily? If you’re a reader of all things young adult then you’ll know the Dash and Lily I’m referring to are the main characters from David Levithan and Rachel Cohn’s awesome book Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.

Set against the New York backdrop, two teens (Dash and Lily, obviously) are brought together by fate and by a book of dares that takes them both on a whirlwind adventure though New York City.

Having read (and LOVED ) this book, Miss Print and I decided to, in our own way, recreate Dash and Lily’s adventures.

Starting where the book started, Miss Print and I visited one of New York’s beloved book stores – the Strand. Chock full of books every readers thirst will be quenched there. While walking around we even stumbled upon the book that started it all.

We didn’t buy anything there. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I already own the book that started it all (and even have it signed by David Levithan) and already have enough books to go around – several times.

After wandering around the Strand we headed to the Union Square Holiday Market. Full of unique vendors and gifts Miss Print and I thought that visiting would be very Dash and Lily-esque.

The Union Square Market has some beautiful finds. From gourmet food to one of a kind NYC inspired Christmas ornaments there is a lot to see and buy. And buy we did! I bought a beautiful yellow colored ring.

Now, Lily didn’t buy any rings in the book, but I feel that the oddly colored ring I bought would have Lily’s stamp of approval.

After walking around the Market we decided to head to Max Brenner’s. Yes, Max Brenner’s. I for one was really excited about going there. I’ve passed by so many times, and always wanted to go, but never had a reason or occasion to go diner there. Unfortunately though we did not partake in any dining. Even though we planned on it, we did not plan on Max Brenner’s being packed to full capacity, with plenty waiting to be seated. Being that we had many other things planned that we wanted to fit it, we looked around the small (and overly crowed) gift shop, and took some awesome pictures!

Taken by Emma (Miss Print)

Taken by Emma (Miss Print)

I just have to add Max Brenner’s smells amazing. Even if it is too packed to actually eat there, it’s worth a wander in just to take in the smell. After leaving Max Brenner’s we decided to head uptown to take in a movie. Heading to what I’m sure is Lily’s favorite places in NY, or at least one of them, we went to see Hugo in Times Square.

Hugo really did take my breath away! This was one of my highly anticipated films of 2011. Being a HUGE fan of the book (The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick) I was excited to see how Martin Scorsese was going to bring this to life. I have to say it was long, longer than I anticipated, clocking in at two hours. Even though it was long I feel that that wasn’t a set back.

Recently, I had mentioned to a friend after seeing The Wizard of Oz in one of New Jersey’s most beautiful theaters, that movies today don’t instill that sense of awe and magic like movies of yesterday. For me, Hugo captured the spirit of movies long past. It was full of magic and wonder. And I loved every moment of it.

Like Hugo, Dash and Lily (the book and the characters) capture that same spirit and feeling. I think that’s why I loved it so much.

After a successful movie, we made our way to the Build – A – Bear store. Now I know what you’re thinking (well, those of you who have read Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares): they didn’t make bears they made muppets at F.A.O.. Since making muppets was out of our price range Miss Print and I decided on another muppet making like activity.

Now I’ve never made a Build -A- Bear before. I’ve seen others make one, but haven’t experienced the bear making fun myself. I was excited to say the least. The biggest challenge wasn’t picking out the name or the outfit (I knew them both before I knew the bear). Finding the right bear is a science. I learned quickly that you just can’t pick any ol’ bear. Oh no, you need to find the right bear, the one that speaks to you – not literally speaks.

Originally I had set out to make a Clarice (from the much beloved Rudolf movie). But finding the Clarice “bears” not available, I found a bear that suited me and my inner Lily. After much (mental) debate I found her – a dark/light blue snowflake bear! She captured the spirit of winter, Christmas, and of course Dash & Lily day.

Dressed in fancy Rudolph and Clarice pajamas, may I present: Lily!

With our new furry friends Miss Print and I popped into the Little Miss Match sock store, conveniently located right next door to Build -A- Bear. Little Miss Match is AWESOME. Every item them – mainly socks – is mismatched. I bought three pairs of mix and match mismatched socks, plus a pack of Alice in Wonderland themed mismatched socks. They’re super cute and super warm! And they have some fun (and creepy) hats.

Taken By Emma (Miss Print)

We were originally planning on going to F.A.O. Schwarz and making a trip to Dyker Heights to see all the twinkling Christmas lights. Unfortunately though we did not make it to either destination. Not because of not wanting to, but because it was late and steadily getting colder outside.

Even though our festivities were not strictly Dash & Lily, they embodied the spirit of the book and the characters!  A fun day was had, and I hope that Dash & Lily Day 2011 will turn into a holiday season tradition!

(Any picture captioned with “Taken by Emma (Miss Print) indicates that I, the BookBandit, did not take these photos. Emma was kind enough to let me use her photos. To see them all head over to her blog – OR – her website Thanks Emma!)

Drink, Slay, Love

Drink, Slay, Love by Sarah Beth Durst

Pearl isn’t like other girls her age. Sure she likes to hang out with her boyfriend, grab ice cream whenever she can, and stays out way to late for her family’s liking. What sets herself apart from other girls is that she’s lethal.

Pearl’s an average vampire who survives by preying on and snacking upon unassuming humans, and staying away – -far away for the sun. Or at least she was an average vampire until she was stabbed right through the chest by a pearly white horn of a unicorn. A rainbow pooping unicorn?!

After being stabbed Pearl is more than mere vampire. She’s now able to do things that other vampires simply can’t. This is NOT good. But not everyone thinks her newfound abilities are bad. In fact, her vampire family think quite differently. After being granted the honor of hosting the prestigious Fealty Ceremony – a ceremony that ushers young vampires into adulthood – Mother and Daddy to put Pearl to good use by sending her to high school. See, since being stabbed she now has a reflection and  can walk outside in broad daylight.

Sentenced to scope out volunteers at the local high school, Pearl suddenly finds herself caught up in a living nightmare. And as if this isn’t the worst part, Pearl’s slowly developing a – a conscience.

Drink, Slay, Love written by author Sarah Beth Durst is an intriguing read that skillfully combines – not one but two – mythological creatures: the vampire and the unicorn. Stepping away from all the fabricated tales of vampires (e.g. glimmer in sunlight and feast on animal rather than humans), Durst excels at depicting both traditionally.

Not just intriguing Drink, Slay, Love is enjoyable.  And what makes it so is the snarky leading lady – Pearl. As a  protagonist Pearl isn’t exactly warn or fuzzy. But she truly is a strong heroine. She’s smart and can hold her own in any kind of situation – even if the situation goes against everything she’s ever been taught.

Durst’s writing is spectacular. Both charming and witty, readers will love that Pearl is often thrown into funny situations. This makes Drink, Slay, Love seem real. Not only that, but makes Pearl appear more human, more relatable. But never short on twists and turns that readers will not see coming, Drink, Slay, Love is a real nail biter. And yes, being that its main character is a lethal vampire, has some truly scary moments!