After much careful consideration, research, talking with other DSLR camera owners (both professional photographers and novices) I decided on a Nikon. And from there it was between a D3100 or a D5100. The biggest determining factors for me (taking away the price difference and being an extreme novice) were the positioning of the buttons on the back on the camera.
Having most of the buttons on the right side was just more comfortable to me. The other deciding factor for me was the vari-angle swivel LCD monitor on the D5100 that the D3100 was lacking.
After using it for a few weeks I'm really glad I chose the D5100 and I love the swivel screen. I can't tell you technically how awesome it is because I have no clue but I am determined to learn how to really use it at some point. And I will but right now we are getting acquainted!