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Five Challenge: Series

December 24, 2010

First, a reminder: I’m participating in Persnickety Snark’s Five Challenge. For the remainder of the year, I’ll post 5 books daily that were the greatest in whatever category. Today’s is 5 Great Series. I love, love, love series! I’m qualifying a series if at least one of its books was published this year – not necessarily the first because that’s too complicated! The books pictured are the books in the series that came out in 2010.

Note: Pictures are linked to Goodreads pages.

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

Book one in The Infernal Devices, a companion series to The Mortal Instruments, Clockwork Angel was much anticipated by me and my friends. We were not at all disappointed, and the wonderful historical atmosphere and steampunk themes guarantee that this is going to be a series I love.

My Review

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

The last book in the beloved Hunger Games series! Need I say more? This was definitely, without a doubt, indubitably (+ a gazillion more synonyms) the book I most looked forward to this year. I still have mixed feelings about it, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t beautiful or that the series is one of the best I have ever, ever read.

My Review

3. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Everyone knows that I loved this book – even before I read it, really. It was pretty much love-at-first-sight-of-synopsis. Kiersten White is a fantastic lady herself, but even if she were some rascally old Grinch, Paranormalcy would shine. I cannot wait for the second book in this new series, Supernaturally.

My Review

4. The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa

This is book two in the Iron Fey series, and though it wasn’t my favorite, the series overall has definitely earned my love and appreciation. The mystical world of the fey, Nevernever, stole my heart from minute one, and the characters are out-of-this-world (quite literally, actually).

My Review

5. Matched by Ally Condie

I was so thrilled to find an a finished advanced copy at PNBA (Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Association)! It’s a dystopian, it’s unique, and it’s really great. I love the world of this book, and the ending is fantastic. I am so excited for the rest of this series!

My Review

These are all such fabulous books, but it was still hard choosing them over some others. I’ve read great series books this year!

What were your favorites?

And Happy Christmas Eve!

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Five Challenge: Covers

December 23, 2010

First, a reminder: I’m participating in Persnickety Snark’s Five Challenge. For the remainder of the year, I’ll post 5 books daily that were the greatest in whatever category. Today’s is 5 Great Covers. Because the covers were created in 2010, I’m including ARCs that are being published next year (I can’t resist).

Note: Pictures are linked to the Goodreads page.

1. Wither by Lauren DeStefano

Isn't it gorgeous? I love the graphics and coloring, but the bird in the cage is the real point that stands out to me. It's perfect for the story.

2. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

I know it's creepy and deranged, but I love this cover. It's amusing.

3. The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

You can look at this cover and immediately get a sense of the book. It's abnormal, it's creepy, and it'll make you wonder.

4. Matched by Ally Condie

Simple, elegant, and a great color. Matched is just pretty. And the cover is nicely symbolic as well.

5. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

I like this cover far more than any of the TMI covers, but it’s really the color and background that make this one pop. Plus the gorgeous little angel in the middle, of course. I’m also a fan of the font.

I absolutely love book covers, and there were some great ones this year. What are some of your favorites?

Five Challenge: Debuts

December 22, 2010

Persnickety Snark has a neat challenge/meme going for the last days of the year. I’m terrible at rephrasing things, so I’m going to quote directly:

It’s called the Persnickety Snark FIVE Challenge

From December 21st to 31st I posted daily on different elements of YA. I chose my top five titles/series/moments for each day. It was purely subjective / opinion based but I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts on YA for the year.  I am doing the same for 2010.  You can read last year’s efforts here.

I have included the themes for each day below so should you choose to join me you can. It’s a busy time of year so you might even pre-schedule posts or only chime in on the topics that interest you.

The challenge began yesterday, but instead of posting twice on one day, I’m going to skip the re-reads category (I hardly re-read anyway, so it won’t make much of a difference). Today’s (really yesterday’s) challenge? 5 Great Debuts… But it will actually be three because I haven’t read enough debuts.

1. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

Evie’s always thought of herself as a normal teenager, even though she works for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she’s falling for a shape-shifter, and she’s the only person who can see through paranormals’ glamours.

But Evie’s about to realize that she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal.

My Review

2. Personal Demons by Lisa Desrochers

Frannie Cavanaugh is a good Catholic girl with a bit of a wicked streak. She has spent years keeping everyone at a distance—-even her closest friends—-and it seems as if her senior year is going to be more of the same . . . until Luc Cain enrolls in her class. No one knows where he came from, but Frannie can’t seem to stay away from him.

What she doesn’t know is that Luc is on a mission. He’s been sent from Hell itself to claim Frannie’s soul. It should be easy—-all he has to do is get her to sin, and Luc is as tempting as they come. Frannie doesn’t stand a chance. But he has to work fast, because if the infernals are after her, the celestials can’t be far behind. And sure enough, it’s not long before the angel Gabriel shows up, willing to do anything to keep Luc from getting what he came for. It isn’t long before they find themselves fighting for more than just Frannie’s soul.

But if Luc fails, there will be Hell to pay . . . for all of them.

My Review

3. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick

Amber Appleton lives in a bus. Ever since her mom’s boyfriend kicked them out, Amber, her mom, and her totally loyal dog, Bobby Big Boy (aka Thrice B) have been camped out in the back of Hello Yellow (the school bus her mom drives). Still, Amber, the self-proclaimed princess of hope and girl of unyielding optimism, refuses to sweat the bad stuff. But when a fatal tragedy threatens Amber’s optimism–and her way of life, can Amber continue to be the rock star of hope? With an oddball cast of characters, and a heartwarming, inspiring story, this novel unveils a beautifully beaten-up world of laughs, loyalty, and hard-earned hope.

My Review

All three of these were fantastic books, but I have to step up and say that more people need to read Sorta Like a Rock Star! The other two have gotten so much more hype, but the third deserves just as much!

Anyway, I’m hoping that I’ll actually be able to deliver the desired five books tomorrow with 5 Great Covers!

Good night!

P.S. Exclamation point, exclamation point, exclamation point…

Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen; Review

December 22, 2010

Title: Bright Young Things

Author: Anna Godbersen

Published: October 12th, 2010

Number of Pages: 400

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

It was past four o’clock on that sleepy Union, Ohio, Sunday, and the dappled afternoon sun played on her high, fine cheekbones and the strands of her loosely braided honey-and-bark-colored hair. The girl was just eighteen, and had graduated from Union’s one-room high school two weeks earlier. If that passerby had bothered to ponder her eyes – which were the sweet, translucent brown of Coco-Cola in a glass – he might have recognized in them a brewing agitation.

Synopsis:

The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.

Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York’s glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star…

Cordelia is searching for the father she’s never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined—and more dangerous. It’s a life anyone would kill for . . . and someone will.

The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia’s brother, Charlie. But Astrid’s perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.

Across the vast lawns of Long Island, in the illicit speakeasies of Manhattan, and on the blindingly lit stages of Broadway, the three girls’ fortunes will rise and fall—together and apart. From the New York Times bestselling author of The Luxe comes an epic new series set in the dizzying last summer of the Jazz Age. [From Goodreads]

Review:

Whoo! What a fun atmosphere! Plunging into 1929 was a welcome experience! There is no doubt whatsoever that the aspect of the book that most wowed me was the setting. The moment the book ended and I was shoved back into the 21st century, I was bummed. If you’re a fan of a tangible historical atmosphere, you will love Bright Young Things by default.

This book needed to be told by three girls. It needed to tell three stories. It was the combination of the three – the binding of them – that made it feel whole. The way the girls’ lives intertwined, flowed apart, and wove together again was wonderful to see. While the book focuses a lot of attention on the period and the society, it wouldn’t be what it is without Cordelia Grey, Astrid Donal, and Letty Larkspur (beautiful names!).

It’s evident from the beginning that Cordelia Grey is not a girl to be messed with. She knows what she wants, and she won’t compromise her goals (well, if she compromises them, she does away with the consequences). The moment you “set eyes” on her, you get the feeling that she is meant for more. Something big is going to happen to her. She is something big.

I liked Cordelia, though I highly disapprove of some of her choices and the way she rationalizes particular actions. I admired her resilience and ambition. Her story, the story of finding her family, her home, her station in life… It’s intriguing and thrilling. I was jarred by the sudden shift in atmosphere and lifestyle just as Cordelia was.

Letty might be my least favorite of the trio, but she didn’t begin that way. Originally, I thought she was sweet and delicate – naïve, certainly, but sweet all the same. As she’s pulled into the world of nightclubs, cigarette girls, and girls who were “born to be stars,” she changes. The scrapes she gets into can often be attributed to either her naivety or her desperation to get to the top – to get on stage and wow people and see her name in lights. The infuriating thing, though, is that she was so incredibly obsessed with her goals that she stepped on people and sacrificed some of her values. She started to drown herself in her ambition. It was a sad decline to witness. However, there are sweet things – gentle things – to her character, and she learned from some of her consequences.

Astrid, now here’s a fancy gal! I love her. The sleek way she ended every sentence with “darling,” her preoccupation with “acting her part,” the way she was immediately drawn to Cordelia, and her mood swings all combine into a fascinating, unexpectedly lovable character. Her situation – the daughter of a woman who has the gift of marrying well… repeatedly – is tumultuous and out of the ordinary. Her relationship with Cordelia’s brother, Charlie, was nearly always on the rocks, but is clearly meaningful to her. I heartily enjoyed reading from Astrid’s point of view.

This book has much to do with character, but also tons to do with families. The Greys (Cordelia, Darius, and Charlie) have an extraordinary bond and value it over almost anything else. Darius, despite his illegal activities, surprised me. His fatherliness and soft-spots were adorable, and you grow fond of him in seconds (or pages). Charlie is the more interesting of the two, I must say, due to his wild mood swings. One moment, he’s bullying and brutal, and the next he’s crying/hugging/smiling. He’s the sort of person you have to learn to love, but he’s certainly an intriguing specimen.

Bright Young Things is chock full of the drama, atmosphere, contentions, characters, and love stories that will woo just about anyone. You have forbidden love, rival families, wounded and tightly-woven families, and characters that make so many mistakes you lose count but who bounce back and try to make the best of things. And, on top of all that, the characters’ choices lead them to an end that left me insanely excited for more. (And more is coming next year with the sequel, Beautiful Days!)

The Iron Daughter by Julie Kagawa; Review

December 21, 2010

Title: The Iron Daughter

Author: Julie Kagawa

Published: August 01, 2010

Number of Pages: 304

Rating: 4/5

Quote:

“He sighed, and his eyes closed. “You were right,” he murmured, his voice nearly lost in the darkness. “I couldn’t do it alone. I should have listened to you back in Tir Na Nog.”
“Yes, you should have,” I whispered. “Remember that, so that next time you can just agree with whatever I say and we’ll be fine.”

Synopsis:

Half Summer faery princess, half human, Meghan has never fit in anywhere. Deserted by the Winter prince she thought loved her, she is prisoner to the Winter faery queen. As war looms between Summer and Winter, Meghan knows that the real danger comes from the Iron fey—ironbound faeries that only she and her absent prince have seen. But no one believes her.

Worse, Meghan’s own fey powers have been cut off. She’s stuck in Faery with only her wits for help. Trusting anyone would be foolish. Trusting a seeming traitor could be deadly. But even as she grows a backbone of iron, Meghan can’t help but hear the whispers of longing in her all-too-human heart. [From Goodreads]

Review:

First of all, let me apologize for the belated review. It’s time for my wonderful memory (which I am massively grateful for) to step up to the plate.

It’s clear that I’m a huge fan of the Iron Fey series. The Iron King blew me away, with Kagawa’s masterfully written descriptions and fantastic world-building, and while The Iron Daughter didn’t astound me at the same level, I can’t honestly say that I didn’t love it.

Meghan Chase returns for another adventure in the Nevernever, trailing after the Winter Prince she thought loved her. “Thought” being the key word. On this trip to faeryland, we don’t begin in a summery meadow, but Tir Na Nog, under the Winter Queen’s reign.

What another extraordinary universe! The atmosphere is exquisite… and horrific. The icy tension between characters and the frozen state of their feelings [pun(s) intended] help paint the world in which dear Prince Ash blossomed. It’s immediately evident why he is the way he is… cold. On the surface, at least.

Though Meghan’s stuck in this Winter-Not-So-Wonderland for the first chapters of the book, there’s no way Kagawa could keep Meghan – or the reader – holed up for long. There’s far too much to see in the Nevernever. And way too much for our hero and heroine to do. Or heros because there’s no way in Tir Na Nog that I would leave out Puck.

He’s just as fantastic as ever! There are moments in this book that my heart ached for him – the sort of moment in which all you want to do is make him cookies and give him a pat on the back, but, as with every good character, there were moments in which I wanted to slap him, laugh at him, give him a hug… He’s an incredibly three dimensional character.

However, the character who really stood out in this book is Ash. I’ve nearly been converted to his team. Honestly, he’s so fascinating and torn. His very aura is complicated (speaking of which, you should read my post on complicated characters here). The growth – even the bits of him that change that aren’t visible but are undoubtedly there – of his character, personality, and opinions is just what the book needed to give it a stable character arc that could keep readers interested all on its own.

I didn’t enjoy Meghan quite as much as I did when I read the first book, but that isn’t to say that she’s drastically changed for the worse – or that she’s bad at all. Just as in real life, there are certain characteristics or ways of speaking or… anything really… that get on your nerves, no matter how much you like the person in general. There’s something akin to this in my feelings for Meghan, but she’s still a great heroine. You want her to come out victorious.

There are other characters, both old and new, that blew me away. Various villains and allies – all major contributors to my love for the story. Every character has a different way of breathing, walking, talking, etc. that makes them strong, individual people.

The intricacies of the actual plot, the adventure, additional world-building, and the like were just as great as ever. There’s a stint in a place called the Between (one that involves another new character I absolutely adore by the name of Leanansidhe) that was amazing! Fun, exciting, and unusual in all the right ways. The new information concerning the Iron Fey and the state of the Iron Kingdom make it clear that the next book (or books) in the series are bound to hold many more adventures… because the iron faeries are not backing down. They crumble, but manage to piece themselves back together. Consequently, any battle the oldbloods (meaning, really, Meghan and her posse) win or lose doesn’t determine the result of the war. Which is perfect, because there’s no way I want this series to end.

The end of the book is heart-wrenching, thrilling, and induces thoughts such as: “Holy cow, I need the next one!” Not to mention the fact that it’ll shatter your heart into millions of tiny pieces. The Iron Daughter ends in a bang, a loud, eardrum-shattering racket that rings in your ears for hours afterward.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver; HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY!

December 20, 2010

I know how anxious you guys are to read this, so although my ARC is very dear to me, I’m here to share the delirium.

Pun intended.

And, it’s the holidays! What could be more appropriate than a giveaway?

I want the giveaway to end by Christmas, so that leaves everyone with five days to enter including today and Christmas Eve. Here’s the deal:

  • You must enter before 12 am. (your time, no matter what it is) on December 25th
  • You must live in the United States (Sorry, but I’m paying for shipping!)
  • There are no extra entries, but I appreciate all tweeting, messaging, or blogging!
  • The book is a little beaten up, as my friends have read it, too. There are some pen marks on the bottom that appeared after a trip in my cousin’s backpack. I wasn’t previously aware of this, and I’m sorry! It’s still fantastic!
  • Fill out this form.
  • This one.

Good luck to all, and to all a good night! (Or whatever time it is.)

Read my review of Delirium here.

Read my interview with the Lauren Oliver and her character, Alex, here.

Let’s See

December 19, 2010

I saw this list on Bookish in a Box and was immediately curious how many of these classics I have read. So, because it’s interesting and because it’s an easy post, the list follows. The books I’ve read once are in bold, the books I’ve read more than once are in bold and underlined, the books I’ve started but never finished are in italics, and there are * next to the ones I own (** if I own more than one copy!).

1. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen**
2. The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte*
4. Harry Potter series – JK Rowling *
5. To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee*
6. The Bible*
7. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte*
8. Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell*
9. His Dark Materials – Philip Pullman*
10. Great Expectations – Charles Dickens*
11. Little Women – Louisa M Alcott*
12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy*
13. Catch 22 – Joseph Heller
14. Complete Works of Shakespeare
15. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien*
17. Birdsong – Sebastian Faulk
18. Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveler’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch – George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell*
22. The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald
24. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy*
25. The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath – John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll*
30. The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame*
31. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy*
32. David Copperfield – Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis*
34. Emma -Jane Austen**
35. Persuasion – Jane Austen**
36. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – CS Lewis*
37. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin – Louis De Bernieres
39. Memoirs of a Geisha – Arthur Golden
40. Winnie the Pooh – A.A. Milne
41. Animal Farm – George Orwell*
42. The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown
43. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44. A Prayer for Owen Meaney – John Irving
45. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
46. Anne of Green Gables – LM Montgomery**
47. Far From The Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
48. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
49. Lord of the Flies – William Golding*
50. Atonement – Ian McEwan
51. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
52. Dune – Frank Herbert
53. Cold Comfort Farm – Stella Gibbons
54. Sense and Sensibility – Jane Austen**
55. A Suitable Boy – Vikram Seth
56. The Shadow of the Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57. A Tale Of Two Cities – Charles Dickens
58. Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
59. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time – Mark Haddon
60. Love In The Time Of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61. Of Mice and Men – John Steinbeck*
62. Lolita – Vladimir Nabokov
63. The Secret History – Donna Tartt
64. The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
65. Count of Monte Cristo – Alexandre Dumas
66. On The Road – Jack Kerouac
67. Jude the Obscure – Thomas Hardy
68. Bridget Jones’s Diary – Helen Fielding
69. Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie
70. Moby Dick – Herman Melville*
71. Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens
72. Dracula – Bram Stoker*
73. The Secret Garden – Frances Hodgson Burnett*
74. Notes From A Small Island – Bill Bryson
75. Ulysses – James Joyce
76. The Inferno – Dante
77. Swallows and Amazons – Arthur Ransome
78. Germinal – Emile Zola
79. Vanity Fair – William Makepeace Thackeray
80. Possession – AS Byatt
81. A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens*
82. Cloud Atlas – David Mitchell
83. The Color Purple – Alice Walker
84. The Remains of the Day – Kazuo Ishiguri
85. Madame Bovary – Gustave Flaubert
86. A Fine Balance – Rohinton Mistry
87. Charlotte’s Web – E.B. White
88. The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Albom
89. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90. The Faraway Tree Collection – Enid Blyton
91. Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
92. The Little Prince – Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
94. Watership Down – Richard Adams
95. A Confederacy of Dunces – John Kennedy Toole
96. A Town Like Alice – Nevil Shute
97. The Three Musketeers – Alexandre Dumas
98. Hamlet – William Shakespeare
99. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
100. Les Miserables – Victor Hugo

So, I’ve read all of 21 (4 of which I’ve read twice), I’ve read part of 4, and I own 30 (more than one copy of 3). Not bad, but I definitely have some work to do!

I’d love to see others do this! It’s fun!

Happy Holidays!