Monday, December 30, 2013

Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Top TEN? Hahahahaha I (Lindsay) laugh at the fact I'm expected to keep this list to ten books. I thought about doing a specific genre and topic (YA Dystopian, YA Fantasy, YA Series, etc), but that's no fun. Plus I can't resist a chance to gush about all the books I loved this year.
I'm just going to list all of the books I loved, with my no more than five word summary, (and put books in a series together).
We also posted end of the year surveys which you can find here: Lindsay's & Sarah's
So, in no particular order, other than me scrolling through my kindle:
All the time.
Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight (plus the novellas) by Sarah J. Maas     

Scarlet & Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Shadow and Bone & Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, The Crown of Embers, & The Bitter Kingdom (plus novellas) by Rae Carson

For Darkness Shows the Stars & Across the Star-Swept Sea (plus Among the Nameless Stars novella) by Diana Peterfreund

Shatter Me, Destroy Me, Unravel Me, & Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi

Under the Never Sky & Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi

Unearthly, Boundless, & Hallowed (Radiant novella) by Cynthia Hand

Grave Mercy & Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

Deception & Defiance by C.J. Redwine

Legend by Marie Lu 

Graceling & Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
I would totally do this. If only my books weren't predominately on my kindle.

Fangirl, Attachments, & Eleanor& Park by Rainbow Rowell

These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Anna and the French Kiss & Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Hopeless by Colleen Hoover

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
Tackle-hugs you all. Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lindsay's 2013 End of Year Survey

Joining in on The Perpetual Page Turner's End of Year Survey! Yay!

1. Best book you read in 2013?
    This is SO hard to figure out. I guess I'll break it down.
     1. YA Fantasy: Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
     2. YA Contemporary: Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
     3. New Adult Contemporary: Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
     There are tons of books I loved this year. I could go on and on (and on).

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
     Does it count if it is going to be released in 2014? Because it would have to be Defy by Sara B. Larson. I had very high hopes for it, and I didn't love it as much as expected. My review is HERE.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?
     Cinder and Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. I wasn't sure if I would enjoy the whole cyborg aspect of these stories, but I LOVE LOVE LOVE these books. I seriously cannot wait for Cress to come out in the spring.          
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?
     While I suggest a lot of books to people based on what they like, I probably suggested Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins the most. I had lots of friends ask me for a "happy" book, and this was my favorite by far. I even convinced my book club to read it next month.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013?
     Since I read a lot of series this, I'll pick one that actually ended this year. Fire and Thorns Series by Rae Carson. I read The Girl of Fire and Thorns and The Crown of Embers in June, then immediately downloaded The Bitter Kingdom and read it in one morning upon its release in August.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?
     I read a lot of new authors this year (TTT post here), so this is super hard. I'd have to go with Rainbow Rowell or Sarah J. Maas. I adore both of their books.
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
I tend to stay in certain genres, but the one that was probably the most out of my comfort zone was The Diviners by Libba Bray. I don't usually read books that give me the heebie-jeebies, but this book definitely did. Sarah suggested it to me, and I ended up really enjoying it.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2013?
The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi. I devoured the first 2 books (and subsequent novellas). Could not put them down. Warner FTW.


Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. I love 'em. I devoured 'em. I read CoM in one afternoon (same day as The Bitter Kingdom and Deception actually. Not cool releasing books on the same day!)

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
    I love rereading books, especially ones in series. Since I read so much, I often forget things that happened in previous books. So I know I'll be rereading The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi, The Courier's Daughter Series by CJ Redwine, The Throne of Glass Series by Sarah J. Maas, and The Grisha Series by Leigh Bardugo just to name a few.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?
     These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. So. Gorgeous.
      Also Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick. I love the dress on this cover, especially with the title in the dress.

11. Most memorable character in 2013?
     Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. Because HER NAME, obviously. Plus she's a totally awesome, kick-butt heroine. If you haven't read the novellas, you should. You'd fall even more in love her.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2013?
    I don't even know what to pick, so I'll go with the first book that came to mind. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (have I gushed about this book enough yet?). I don't usually enjoy books using dual perspectives, but this really worked for me. I also liked how they don't give Lilac unrealistic abilities. Homegirl has zero survival skills, and is a little spoiled, but you can't help but root for her. Plus I appreciate when characters show serious growth, and Lilac definitely does so.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?
    Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. This book you guys. It's so fantastic. Rowell does an amazing job of addressing big issues.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to read?
     I can't believe I waited until this year to read the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce. So wonderful. 

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?
    I'm sure there were lots I enjoyed, but I'll pick one from a book I haven't really mentioned yet. This one is from Defiance by CJ Redwine "It’s probably my job to tell you life isn’t fair, but I figure you already know that. So instead, I’ll tell you that hope is precious, and you’re right not to give up."

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?
     I really have no idea how to figure this out. Obviously the novellas I've read would be the shortest (Fracture Me, Destroy Me, etc). But as for the longest? I don't really know. I read mostly on my kindle, so it's not like I can look at my bookshelf to determine the length. I did reread Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, which is long, so I guess it?!

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.)
     Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I read it in one day, and then had to wait for everyone else I knew to finish it. THAT SCENE NEEDED TO BE DISCUSSED.

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)?
     While there are lots of romantic relationships to choose from, I'd have to go with Cather and Wren from Fangirl. I love the complicated relationship between the twins.

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously?
     Since I read so many new authors in 2013, this is fairly easy. It's Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. I loved the end to this series. So wonderful. 

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from someone else?
The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay. We read this in our book club, and I really, really enjoyed it. I wouldn't put it in my normal wheelhouse of books (but it is YA) because I tend to read fantasy, but this was a great contemporary novel.
21. Genre you read the most from in 2013?
YA Fantasy. Hands down. It's my favorite.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?
Chaol from Throne of Glass/Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas. Swoon. Or. ORRRRR Hector from the Fire and Thorns trilogy. I love these guys. LOVE THEM.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I adored this book. And I will read ANYTHING Rowell writes. My gushing review here.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?
     Oooh, I love fantasy, so this is tough. But I really enjoyed the world building in These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. Seriously amazing world building. The planet they create is fascinating. It's almost as much of a character in the story as the Lilac and Tarver.
25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I LOVED the story, and I loved the Simon Snow fanfiction.

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?
     Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. There were a couple of parts in the book that reminded me of some things that have happened to me, and it definitely brought me to tears.
27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?
     Gorgeous by Paul Rudnick. I haven't talked to many people at all that have read it. It's a bit different than a lot of books I read, and I absolutely adored it.

Thanks everyone! Feel free to share some of your answers below!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Sarah's 2013 End of Year Survey

1. Best book you read in 2013? Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. I have been waiting for the finale of this series for a while. This book had one of the most satifiying endings I've ever read. I love love loved it. 

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t? The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic by Emily Croy Barker. I always enjoy books about faeries and folklore. However, I do not like books with weak female leads and Nora was weak minded and foolish. I just couldn't take her!
3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr. I was pleasantly surprised. Typically her books are redundant. She has quite a few books about Faeries and the like and they all seem to have the same story line. I downloaded Carnival of Souls hoping for something different and I got it! I really enjoyed this one. It was very Dark and mysterious! 
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013? Divergent Series by Veronica Roth. It's on of the best series I've read since The Hunger Games.
5. Best series you discovered in 2013? The Divergent series by Veronica Roth. Simply because there were no other complete series I discovered this year.
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013? Anna Carey. She wrote the Eve series. I discovered her last year and recently finished the series. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the books. 
7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling. This is the first memoir I've read. I'm not much for non-fiction but I really loved this book. Mindy Kaling is hilarious!
8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2013? Stolen by Lucy Christopher. This book was chilling. I couldn't tear my eyes from it. It held me captive. (Pun totally intended.)
9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year? Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. I usually read this series once a year anyway. I can't put it down. 
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013? Rags & Bones (New Twists on Timeless Tales) by Multiple Authors. 

11. Most memorable character in 2013? Quintana from Quintana of Charyn. Girl is totes cray (as my sister, Leah, would say.) But I loved her all the same. I really enjoy strong female characters and Quintana was fierce.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2013? The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. The characters, the backdrop, the story in general ... All so beautiful!

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? Stolen by Lucy Christopher. This book was published in '09 but I just recently added it to my Nook. It's incredibly   intense. When I finished reading it, I thought about it for weeks afterwards. It broke my heart in so many ways. 

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to read? Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. They'd been on my reading list for a long time. I just never got around to reading them. But once Lindsay kept raving about the series I knew it was time to read it! 

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013? "It's hard to hate someone once you understand them." Stolen by Lucy Christopher

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2013? Shortest is a toss up between ...
1. The Ocean at the End of the Lane
2. Stolen
3. Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire. 
The longest books were 
1. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey.
2. Quintana of Charyn.
3. Carnival of Souls

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Hello! Insurgent's big death! Mind.Blown. I totally get it. Did I like it? No. But I get it.

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)? Brother and sister, Bartholomew and Hettie Kettle from The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann. The way Bartholomew protects Hettie and loves her is so sweet. It warms my heart.

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you’ve read previously? Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta. Do I need to say anymore about my love for Melina Marchetta?! 

20. Best book you read in 2013 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from someone else? I'm in the process of reading  Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I only added it to my Nook because of Lindsay's recommendation. So far I LOVE it. 
21. Genre you read the most from in 2013? YA. It's my go-to genre. 
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013? Ronan Lynch from The Raven Cycle series. I always fall for the dark, brooding bad boys.
23. Best 2013 debut you read? Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire by Paul Ramsay. I alway enjoy stumbling upon new authors. I especially enjoy when their debut is a quirky, fun, quick read. 
24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013? The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater. This is the second book in The Raven Cycle series. It wonderfully written and hugely imaginative. Maggie does an amazing job with the world she creates.     
25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013? Edgar Wilde and the Lost Grimoire by Paul Ramsay. A really fun, interesting and quick read. 
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013? Stolen by Lucy Christopher. So many tears. 
27. Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out? The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stievfater. This series has me totally hooked and has kept me guessing from the very beginning. Yet I know no one who's read it or even knows what series I'm talking about! Bummer!!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Top 10 Books We Hope Santa Brings Us

Merry Christmas Eve everyone! We hope you all have a fantastic Christmas tomorrow!

Lindsay's Selections:
So here's the deal. I feel I've sufficiently covered all of the books I'm excited about next year (read about them here). So I decided to go a little outside the box. 

Because Santa is MaGiC and can do whatever he wants, here's what I want him to bring me.

1. More Harry Potter books. I don't care if it is a prequel, sequel, companion following more minor characters (I need me some more Sirius. So an entire book about him would be just fine by me. Same goes for Tonks & Lupin). I want to stay in the Potterverse forever.
I'll take this many books in the Potterverse, please.
2. A first edition printing of Pride and Prejudice. If I ever have millions upon millions of dollars, I would totally buy this for myself. But until then, I'll just rely upon the jolly guy in red.

3. Speaking of Pride and Prejudice, I could use some more Darcy and Elizabeth. So if Santa can use his magic to bring back Ms. Austen to write me a sequel (or 7) about the Darcys and their plethora of children, I'd appreciate it.

4.. These libraries (or something similar):

Who doesn't want a library with a ladder? Or a nook just for reading books? Amirite?

 5. A book letter. I would love one of these for my home:
In case my husband wants to buy me a New Years Gift. ETSY

Sarah's Selections:

I'm going to follow the theme here and stick with the tone Lindsay has set. Santa IS Magic. I kind of think of him as a cross between Dumbledore and Gandalf. (Then again, I also imagine that's what God would look like.) So here is what I want from Ol' Saint Nick. 

Santa? Is that you?!

1. For Diana Gabaldon to write a novella of the time Ian Murray Jr. spent with the Kanyen'kehaka in the Outlander Series. (I need the whole story in detail about his time there! Not just the tidbits Diana gives us when he returns to Jamie and Claire.)

2. Baby Lit versions of Harry Potter. Because Baby Lit is the bomb-dot-com. Seriously ... They have Dracula, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and more for babies! Now they just need Harry Potter.

3. A movie version if Finnikin of the Rock. Because it's Finnikin of the Rock and I need to watch it on the big screen. 

4. I'm with Lindsay ... More Harry Potter books. I want a book about the original Order of The Phoenix.
Hermione agrees!

5. Jamie Fraser. Jamie Freaking Fraser. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

Book: Defy by Sara B. Larson
Series: Defy #1
Released: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pages: 336 pages (Kindle)
Rating: 2 out of 5


From Goodreads:
A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?
*First of all, thank you to Scholastic for sending me this book via Netgalley*
Sigh. I had SUCH high hopes for this book. It was even on my TTT for 2014 releases I was dying to read. On the surface this book had lots of things I like: Gender-bending, mystery, historical-like setting, royalty. Sounds like it would be a home-run for me, right? Wrong. So wrong. And I'm sad.
 This book reminded me so much of the Alanna series by Tamora Pierce, but uh not nearly as good. The love triangle in this story pretty much took over the entire story. While I love me some romance, I don't want it to be at the expense of the rest of the story, which is what happened here. It was so promising in places!

The book starts off which Alexa and her twin brother Marcel (hmm, sounds familiar... cough Alanna and Thom cough) seeing their parents die. To avoid being sent to the breeding house, which I'll discuss in a minute, they chop of Alexa's hair and call her Alex so she can join the army. The main story picks up 3 years later when Alexa Alex is part of Prince Damian's elite guard.
Alexa is not as awesome as Mulan.

Let's jump back to the breeding house thing for a minute. I HATED this. And not just for the moral/obvious reasons. The breeding house is where all girls are sent to be raped until they become pregnant to produce more soldiers for the army. Ugh. 1) The war has only been going on for 10 years. This doesn't need to happen. There should still be lots of men to choose from before resorting to this. 2) Alexa needed something to be afraid of (other than snakes), and *this* is the thing you come up with? 3) Yes, it's evil and it conveys how awful King Hector is, but there's lots of other ways to accomplish this other than objectifying women. 4) There's no in-between on women. It's either the women being raped, or Alexa. That's it, really. Even the other somewhat strong women characters in the story have major weaknesses.

Alexa started off as a really strong character. I respected her decisions and her strength as a fighter. I even had sympathy for her during the death of a certain character, which was necessary, but I didn't like the execution. So then, THEN, the love triangle gets introduced, and overtakes the entire story. On one side you have Stefan Salvatore Rylan, who is one of the other elite guards with Alex, and on the other side is Damon Salvatore Prince Damian. How will she choose? There's lots of discussion of their eye color and how she gets lost in their eyes. Or their hot bodies. 
One of my favorite parts of gender-bending stories is the reveal. The "reveal" in this book sucked. Because SPOILER Both Damian and Rylan already knew that she was a girl and had been in love with her from the beginning. END SPOILER. I just, ugh. I hated this whole love triangle. Plus, it's totally obvious she likes one a lot more than the other, but won't be with him because of REASONS. Snooze. I stopped caring, especially when you talk about it every 10 pages.
What I wanted to do upon the 3587475 mention of how she can't decide who to pick
The one shining part of the love triangle is when she's forced to sleep between the two of them. Awkwardness and hilarity ensue. I wish more of the book had been like this. It was a great scene.

Can I also say how much I despised some of the name in this book? Blevon is a horrible name for a country. And Tanoori? Blah. And General Tinso? Ick. 

So yeah. Totally disappointed with this book. The first 30% started off strong, and then they enter the jungle, the love story takes over, and it becomes fairly predictable. Even the BIG SECRET is totally obvious and I knew it the entire time. So yeah. 2 stars. And you should just go read Alanna because it's fantastic and does everything right that a gender-bending, love triangle, save the kingdom story needs to do. Or watch Mulan. Another solid choice.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Review: Timebound by Rysa Walker

Book: Timebound by Rysa Walker
Series: The Chronos Files #1
Released: January 1, 2014
Publisher: Skyscape
Pages: 374 pages (Kindle)
Rating: 3.75 of 5
From Goodreads:
When Kate Pierce-Keller’s grandmother gives her a strange blue medallion and speaks of time travel, sixteen-year-old Kate assumes the old woman is delusional. But it all becomes horrifyingly real when a murder in the past destroys the foundation of Kate’s present-day life. Suddenly, that medallion is the only thing protecting Kate from blinking out of existence.

Kate learns that the 1893 killing is part of something much more sinister, and Kate’s genetic ability to time-travel makes her the only one who can stop him. Risking everything, she travels to the Chicago World’s Fair to try to prevent the killing and the chain of events that follows.

Changing the timeline comes with a personal cost, however—if Kate succeeds, the boy she loves will have no memory of her existence. And regardless of her motives, does she have the right to manipulate the fate of the entire world?
 Time travel? Historical setting? Future setting? AND a current setting? Sounds like a book right up my alley. I had high hopes when I downloaded this one as part of the Kindle Prime feature, and it definitely paid off. I really enjoyed reading this book.

Kate is an average teenager. Her parents are divorced, and she splits time between the two of them. All of this sudden her estranged grandmother (Katherine) shows up asking to have lunch with Kate and her mother. While at lunch, Kate notices a pendant her grandmother has out on the table is glowing a bright blue. While her mother is away from the table, Katherine briefly tells Kate she has a "power" that not everyone has.
Katherine, in fact, is from the future. She is a CHRONOS historian (all this gets explained, so I'm not going to do it). She gets stranded in the 1960s when something happens at CHRONOS headquarters causing her pendant to no longer work.

This pendant is what allows a person to travel in time. Kate (and her dad, by default, kinda) move in to Katherine's house, so Kate can be trained in how to use the pendant because....
As it turns out, Kate's grandfather, Saul, is a BAD GUY and caused CHRONOS to fail, is altering timelines. Like a lot. Which is making some of Kate's family disappear (like in Back to the Future!).
Look! Marty and those two other people
Upon the realization that basically Kate doesn't exist, she meets Trey. Trey is a super cute, helpful, and all around good guy. He decides to help Kate out with her problem. There's some insta-love happening, but I felt like it kinda worked within the context. Kate desperately needed a friend, and Trey was there and willing to help her out (and not freak out about what Kate was saying). 

BUT there's this other guy. Kiernan. Who Kate seemed to know in another... timeline? Past? Future? And apparently they had / have / will have a relationship. Ha. 

So, Kate finally figures out when and where she needs to "jump" in time to fix whatever Saul is doing. However, TWIST, if she fixes the timeline, then Trey won't remember her. There's a great discussion between Connor (Katherine's assistant) and Kate about what is right vs. what's best.

I loved all of the historical references. Using actual facts from history give the story an added depth that I appreciated. Sometimes it did feel a little forced, but I could see how it would be beneficial and a learning experience for younger readers who may not know as much of this history. It gives you glimpses of Woodstock, civil rights, suffrage, and the World's Fair in Chicago.

I can see how the time-travel aspect could get very confusing at times. Due to my love of Doctor Who and other time-travel related things, it was actually fairly easy for me, personally, to follow. But, there are a couple of times I did have to pause and think about when things were taking place. It doesn't flow in a line as the Tenth Doctor says, but more a big ball. (See clip below which is really rather accurate in relation to this book).


Overall I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi, mystery and especially time-travel. I'm looking forward to Book 2!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Top Ten New to Us Authors We Read in 2013

It'll just be me (Lindsay) this week. Which is no problem whatsoever since I read SO many new authors this year. This is going to be easy. Too easy. And in no way will I be limiting my choices to 10. Shocking.  And normally I add photos of their books, but alas, with 17 books on the list, plus you know, a 3 year old who thinks I should pay attention to him, I didn't feel like doing it this week. However, I did link to their twitter accounts when available, so there's that. :)

Alexis Bedel in ‘Gilmore Girls’- tookieclothespins via Tumblr
Love the books. Smell the books.

So here goes, (in no particular order):
1. Sarah J. Maas (@sjmaas) I love, love, love her Throne of Glass series. If you haven't started it yet, do it. NOW. Bonus points for her online story with Susan Dennard (@stdennard)  The Starkillers Cycle.

2. Tahereh Mafi (@taherehmafi) I heart her. She's so quirky and I love her writing style. You should really follow her on twitter. And buy her new novella Fracture Me that comes out today.

3. Rae Carson (@raecarson). HECTOR!! I mean, you should read The Girl of Fire and Thorns series. Because HECTOR. The end.

4. Veronica Rossi (@rossibooks). I am anxiously awaiting the release of Into the Still Blue next month.

5. Leigh Bardugo (@LBardugo). STURMHOND. Need I say more?! Yes? I FREAKING LOVE this series. I need Ruin & Rising like now.

6. Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell). Binge read all three books in 2 days. I like her books. Lots. See my review of Fangirl.

Woman reads while books accumulate - readmeyourwrites via Tumblr
I wish books would just magically appear on my bookshelves.

7. Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner (@AmieKaufman & @MeaganSpooner) Uhh. you can read all of my gushing about their book here.

8. Diana Peterfreund (@dpeterfreund) I absolutely adore her adaptations of Persuasion and The Scarlet Pimpernel.

9. Stephanie Perkins (@naturallysteph) If you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss yet, you're really missing out. I even convinced my book club to read it soley so I could re-read it.

10. CJ Redwine (@CJRedwine) Rachel is one of my favorite heroines this year. So you should definitely check out Defiance.
They're all cool books.

11. Marissa Meyer (@marissa_meyer) Cause CYBORGS. Also, I NEED CRESS!!!!

12. Cynthia Hand (@CynthiaHand) Another binge read for me (I do this a lot). Loved her Unearthly series, and desperately wish it would continue.

13. Robin LaFevers (@RLLaFevers) Medieval female assassins? I'm in.

14. Tamora Pierce ( I read the Alanna series soley based on Gillian's recommendation. Great story. Read all 4 books in about 3 days (see what I mean about binge reading? I have a problem)

15. Paul Rudnick (Goodreads profile) Gorgeous is up there with my favorite books this year. I should really, really do a review for it (thus giving me an excuse to read it again).

16. Sherry Thomas (@sherrythomas) The Burning Sky was a big surprise for me. I really enjoyed it.

17. AC Gaughen (@acgaughen) This was actually the first book I reviewed on this site. Can't wait for Lady Thief. Plus Scarlet + Rob = 4ever

Yeah. so 17 new authors I read this year (plus I know there's more. Several more). If you haven't read any of these authors, please check them out and give them a try!
Animation of ‘Don’t you like books?’ - gemini-dragon-gifs via Tumblr
Because I like big books. And I cannot lie.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Review: These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Book: These Broken Stars 
by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner
Series: Starbound #1
Released: December 10, 2013
Publisher: Disney Hyperion
Pages: 374 pages (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 of 5

From Goodreads: It's a night like any other on board the Icarus. Then, catastrophe strikes: the massive luxury spaceliner is yanked out of hyperspace and plummets into the nearest planet. Lilac LaRoux and Tarver Merendsen survive. And they seem to be alone.

Lilac is the daughter of the richest man in the universe. Tarver comes from nothing, a young war hero who learned long ago that girls like Lilac are more trouble than they’re worth. But with only each other to rely on, Lilac and Tarver must work together, making a tortuous journey across the eerie, deserted terrain to seek help.

Then, against all odds, Lilac and Tarver find a strange blessing in the tragedy that has thrown them into each other’s arms. Without the hope of a future together in their own world, they begin to wonder—would they be better off staying here forever?

Everything changes when they uncover the truth behind the chilling whispers that haunt their every step. Lilac and Tarver may find a way off this planet. But they won’t be the same people who landed 
on it.

So. THIS BOOK you guys. It's so wonderful. I love it. I had so many emotions throughout this book. If you follow me on Goodreads you would've seen my posts while I was reading it. They were all over the places. Lots of "this is so great!" with some "I'm enthralled and fascinated!" and then a "No. no no no no no. NOOOOOO" mixed in. So yeah. I should probably start from the beginning though.

I've been anxiously awaiting the release of this book, ever since Gillian over at Writer of Wrongs was live tweeting her reading of it a few weeks. I couldn't wait to get my hands on it when it was released on Tuesday. Plus, did you SEE that cover? Swoon. I love that dress. (It actually went on tour with a few writers which you can see here).

So basically this book is Titanic in space. And then kinda like Lost once they crash land (I'll get to that in a minute). 

It starts off on board the Icarus, the most wonderful ship in the whole world (sound familiar?). We meet Tarver Merendsen, who is a war hero from a poor background, and Lilac LaRoux (I adore this name. So great), who is the richest girl in the world-plus the daughter of the man whose company built the Icarus. They meet, he has some insta-love going on (which, blah, so not realistic), but then he finds out who she is and immediately changes his mind. The first couple of chapters are good, not great. The story really picked up for me once the Icarus starts to crash. 

The book alternates between Tarver and Lilac's points of view. And it totally works. What else works? The mysterious interrogation of Tarver between the chapters. It's leading you somewhere, and you can't wait to find out where.

Tarver & Lilac end up in an escape pod together, which crash-lands on a nearby planet. This is when I really, really started loving this story. There's lots of tension, arguing, and all around discord. Tarver has the survival instincts of a soldier who has been placed in dangerous situations, and Lilac? Well, she just appears to be a spoiled rich girl. (Like Jack & Rose from Titanic. Ha.) But you guys, there is so much more to these characters that gets unraveled as the story goes on. They each have lots of layers. Like onions. Or parfaits.
Or ogres.
So as they traipse around the island planet, they start to notice lots of mysterious things. Like whispers. And this is where I started to think of Lost. In which case Tarver = Sayid and Lilac = Shannon. Add in an odd smoke monster, and I would've been in heaven.
Seriously. He's even a soldier. And she's rich. SAME!
I'm really invested in this story and the characters by this point. And then. AND THEN.. 


But. BUT. The book doesn't end there. There's more. Lots more. So don't let the massive depression that will inevitably take hold of you stop you from finishing this book. It's worth it. And I LOVE the ending. So there's that to keep you going.

This is most definitely one of the best books of the year. And it would be a great book to convert friends over to the Sci-Fi genre if they're not already fans.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) byMindy Kaling

Book: Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (and Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Released: November 1, 2011
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Pages: 197 (Nook version)
Rating: 5 Stars out of 5

Let me start off by saying that this is the first and only celebrity memoir I've ever read or had the desire to read. But it was totally worth it. In "Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?", Mindy invites readers to take a look inside her life and her personal views on romance, friendship, and Hollywood. Though the writing is simple, the timing of the humor as well as the arc of each essay is really excellent. But more importantly, it's HILARIOUS.  

I love that Mindy (we're on a first name basis now) is open and honest about where and how she failed and even embraces those failures. She is someone I could totally see myself being best friends with. The book was light hearted, witty, funny and a very easy read. I recommend it to anyone who wants or needs a good laugh.

I also really appreciate the self-deprecating side of Mindy’s humor. In a section titled "Alternate Titles for This Book” she lists: When Your Boyfriend Fits into Your Jeans and Other Atrocities, Sometimes You Just Have to Put on Lip Gloss and Pretend to be Psyched, So You’ve Juts Finished Chelsea Handler’s Book, Now What?, and There Has Ceased to Be a Difference Between My Awake Clothes and My Asleep Clothes as potential options.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

"Bren and I befriended each other early on. We clung to each other with blind loyalty, like Lord Voldemort and his snake, Nagini. I, of course, was Nagini."

"The greatest source of stress was that it had been three months since I’d moved to New York and I still didn’t have a job. You know those books called From Homeless to Harvard or From Jail to Yale or From Skid Row to Skidmore? They’re these inspirational memoirs about young people overcoming the bleakest of circumstances and going on to succeed in college. I was worried I would be the subject of a reverse kind of book: a pathetic tale of a girl with a great education who frittered it away watching syndicated Law & Order episodes on a sofa in Brooklyn. From Dartmouth to Dickhead it would be called."

"As you can see, when I write, I like to look like I’m recovering from tuberculosis. I sit in bed, my laptop resting on a blanket or a Notre Dame sweatshirt on my lap."

"AS A THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD, my big celebrity crush was Pierce Brosnan. Yeah, I know. Pierce Brosnan is such an uncreative crush that it sounds like the panicked choice of a closeted lesbian teenager."

"When You’re Not Skinny, This Is What People Want You to Wear
Navy: Ah, navy, the thin-lipped, spinster sister of black. Black, though chic and universally slimming, is considered a boring red carpet color and is rarely featured on best-dressed lists. That’s why I get shown a lot of navy. Navy has made a comeback in the past few years, which is terrific, because before that, navy was most famous as the signature color for postal workers."

All in all, I loved this book! Go read it. You won't be disappointed. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Top Ten Books on Our Winter TBR List

Lindsay's Selections:
So. I gave a rather extensive list last week on books I'm excited about in 2014. A few of those would definitely overlap with this week's list (particularly Ignite Me, Into the Still Blue and Cress) so I'll just link to it here, and you can check out the other ones released this Winter. With that being said, I'll be listing all new books for today's Top Ten. 

1. These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner. Released today. And I'll be reading it TODAY. I've heard nothing but good, wonderful, amazing things about this book. Also the #thesebrokenfeels is happening. I'm a little worried. But in a ridiculously excited way.

Pretty pretty pretty dress. I love.
 2. Timebound by Rysa Walker. I'm actually currently reading this one and loving it so far. It's all wibbly wobbly timey wimey. Which makes my Whovian heart so very happy.
Plus it gives me an excuse to use this gif of David Tennant talking about how time is a
"big ball of wibbly wobbly timey wimey....stuff."

3. Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano. I've been meaning to read this one for a while now. I've heard the beginning is a little slow, but the ending is amazing. Can't wait to find out for myself.

4. Fracture Me by Tahereh Mafi. Even though this is a novella, it's totally still making the list. I can't wait to read some from Adam's POV (even though I heart Warner). I also plan on rereading the first two books and other novella before reading this one. I love love LOVE this series.

5. Legend / Prodigy / Champion by Marie Lu. I already have Legend all set to go on my Kindle (thanks to a kindle daily deal a couple of weeks ago), and I know once I start the series, I won't be able to stop.

Sarah's Selections: I have too many books to count on my TBR list. Here are my top five!

1. The Dream Thieves (The Raven Boys #2) by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm actually in the process of reading this one. I love Maggie Stiefvater. She never ever disappoints me when I need something great to read.

2. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund. Anything that was inspired by Jane Austen's Persuasion sounds good to me! Persuasion is my favorite JA novel. Also, this is also one that Lindsay recommended to me and she hasn't steered me wrong yet.

3. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I've had this one downloaded to my Nook for a few months now. I'm determined to get to it before the end of the year! 

4. The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta. I've already declared my love for Melina Marchetta. She gave me Jellicoe Road and Finnikin of the Rock, not to mention I've read every other book she's written. I must read this one too, obviously!

5. Rags & Bones: New Twists on Timeless Tales by Multiple Authors (Neil Gaiman, Melissa Marr, and Holly Black ... Just to name a few). I always enjoy these kinds of reads. Multiple authors in one book always makes me excited to keep turning the page. AND Neil Gaiman put a new spin on the tale of Sleeping Beauty for this book. Know that was enough for me to add it to my list. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Book Review: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Book: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Released: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Pages: 433 (Kindle Edition)
Rating: 4.5 of 5
From Goodreads: A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love.

Cath is a Simon Snow fan.

Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan . . .

But for Cath, being a fan is her life — and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.

Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this?

Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories?

And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?
Ahhh, I don't even know where to start. I love this book so much. I've actually read it twice since its release in September. The first time was part of my Rainbow Rowell book reading binge (Attachments and Eleanor and Park being the other two). The second time was last week when I wanted something a little lighter and happier to cheer me up. It definitely did the trick.

I guess I'll start with the cover. I love the use of a cartoon. It fits the feel of this book. And as far as covers go, a fairly accurate depiction of what you're going to find inside: A cute boy talking to Cath, while Cath is trying to focus on Simon and Baz. 

Now on to the story. Without getting in to too many details, I can definitely see myself in Cath. Especially the desire to often avoid doing anything other than reading (or in Cath's case, writing fan fiction). My idea of a good night is curling up with a book. Not even kidding. 

The story starts off with Cath's first semester at college. Her twin sister Wren decides she needs to be her own person, leaving Cath alone. Wren tells Cath she's not going to live with her, as well as pretty much leaving the Simon Snow fan fiction to Cath (they used to write it together). And let me tell you, Cath is a BIG DEAL in the Simon Snow fan fiction world. {Sidebar: Simon Snow is an obviously hilarious substitute for Harry Potter, which I love}.  So what does Cath do when she feels isolated from her sister and lonely? Writes more fan fiction of course!

Rowell breaks up the chapters by including sections from the "real" Simon Snow story along with Cath's fan fiction. I know that not everyone loved this aspect, and I've heard a few people skipped it altogether, but I loved it. Then again I love fan fiction myself. Really I do. (I blame the crappy ending to Gilmore Girls for this, by the way. So not happy with how that show ended.) This aspect of the book definitely worked for me, but I can understand why some people skipped it in order to get to the real meat of the story that features Cath.

I love, love, love the supporting characters. From her roommate Reagan who is a bit on the surly side (who might be my favorite person in the book), Wren the twin sister, Cath's dad, Nick, the writing professor, and especially smiley, happy Levi, Rowell succeeds in making you care about each and every one of these characters. 

Even when all Cath wants to say is "Let it Go*" you can't help but love her.

*Cath never says this. It really doesn't even make any sense with this book.
 I just wanted an excuse to post this video. :)

Can we please talk about the LOVE INTEREST for a minute?! I'm not going to give away who it is, but seriously, I adore him. He's so sweet and kind and funny and a great book boyfriend. He "gets" who Cath is. She needs him. He's her lobster.
Ahh Phoebe.

More than anything, this book shows how books and movies are MORE than just books and movies. That people become immersed in that world and never want to leave. It's a wonderfully, well-written love letter to fans. And I LOVE it.