Sunday, December 30, 2012

My Best Books of 2012

I have finally decided on my favorites of 2012. I finally finished all of the books on my last reading stack of the year, except for re-reading Clockwork Prince. I try to finish it before the release of Clockwork Princess.
In Junior Fiction or Middle Grades Fiction my favorites were as follows: Top Three
1. Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan
Product Details
Hyperion Books

I loved all the books in the Percy Jackson series and so far all of them in the Heroes of Olympus. I loved watching the demigods grow into their powers and learn to work together.

2. The Fire Chronicle by John Stephens
The Fire Chronicle (The Books of Beginning, #2)
Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Books of Beginning series reminds me of the magic in Harry Potter and the suspense and adventure draw you into the story.

3. Unwanteds: Island of Silence
Island of Silence (Unwanteds, #2)
Aladdin
Another series that reminds me of Harry Potter with its magical world and the artistic magical powers of the students. The battle between good twin and bad twin provides extra spark to the story.

Favorite Short Stories:
My favorite short stories collections were as follows:
1. Demigod Diaries by Rick and Haley Riordan
The Demigod Diaries
Hyperion Books
This collection goes along with his Greek mythology series. By far my favorite one was Haley Riordan's story Son of Magic. It is an extremely impressive start for the teen and I can't wait to see what he writes as he gets older.

2. Goddess Legacy by Aimee Carter

The Goddess Legacy (Goddess Test, #2.5)
Harlequin Teen
I love her Goddess Test series and the Goddess Legacy was a great set of short stories, most of which broke my heart. God of Thieves was my favorite in this collection and gave more insight into the character of James/Hermes.

3. Fallen in Love by Lauren Kate

Fallen in Love (Fallen, #3.5)
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
This was an in between book to help readers waiting for Rapture in the Fallen series. Another group of heart-breaking stories, but my favorite was a good one in which Miles and Shelby fall in love. They were two of my favorite characters in the Fallen series.

It was hard to make a shortlist for Young Adult fiction this year. I could not limit myself to just three choices and really had twelve choices. I did get those twelve narrowed down to five, OK technically nine books.

1. For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars (For Darkness Shows the Stars, #1)
Balzer + Bray
This was a retelling of Persuasion set in a post-apocalyptic society. I loved Persuasion and the characters in Peterfreund's story were spot on with those in Persuasion.

2. Leviathan trilogy by Scott Westerfeld

The Leviathan Trilogy
Simon Pulse
Technically this is three books, but since I read them all this year, I am just counting the series as one. :) I loved the twists on WWI and the storyline of Deryn and Alek. I really enjoyed reading steampunk this year and this was my first taste of the genre.

3. The Girl in the Steel Corset/The Girl in the Clockwork Collar by Kady Cross

The Girl in the Steel Corset (Steampunk Chronicles, #1) The Girl in the Clockwork Collar (Steampunk Chronicles, #2)
Harlequin Teen
Again, I really enjoyed steampunk! I loved Finley Jayne and she is possibly my favorite character this year. Her struggles between her good side and bad side were extremely interesting. Plus the cover is beautiful!

4. Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent (Divergent, #1)
Katherine Tegan Books
I think this series was on most of the best lists this year. I loved Four/Tobias and he may be my favorite romantic lead this year. Tris was also a great strong female and I liked the idea of factions as something that could possibly happen. I just can't believe I haven't read Insurgent yet.

5. Hourglass/Timepiece by Myra McEntire

Hourglass (Hourglass, #1) Timepiece (Hourglass, #2)
Egmont
Hourglass was my first review and first 5 rating of the year. I love this series and am so excited there will be a third book. Emerson and Lily were my favorite friendship of the year and I just could not choose between Hourglass and Timepiece as my favorite of the series. Plus the covers are really cool!

Close runners up were Legend by Marie Lu and Enchantress by Michael Scott. I loved the whole Nicholas Flamel series by Scott and I really can't wait to read Prodigy by Lu.

This is my list for 2012. What was on your list for best of the year?

The Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong

This is the last book in the Darkest Powers series. If you have not read the first two books, The Awakening and The Summoning, then this will definitely have spoilers for those books.



Chloe immediately wakes up in the house of the Edison resistance group to a half-demon poltergeist who almost kills her. She knows he must be part of the Edison group's experiments but he refuses to talk to her about that. Chloe, Derek, Simon, and Tori have bigger problems though. Trying to convince the resistance group to move quickly against the Edison group, is not working and Chloe worries for her aunt's and Rachelle's safety. Chloe is struggling with understanding her feelings for both Simon and Derek and finds herself caught between the two boys. Chloe is also trying to learn more about her necromancer powers without creating an army of the undead. This proves difficult when she almost wakes up an entire cemetery. Her strong powers also create doubt with the resistance group and could put her in even more danger. Can the group be trusted and who is the true enemy? The supernatural kids are not for sure who to trust, but they are willing to rely on each other to save Rachelle and Aunt Lauren.

I thought this was a great end to the series. It is full of action and suspense and just a little romance. I really couldn't decide who I wanted her to end up with, but I think she made the right choice. I hope that Armstrong revisits these characters someday, but there is a clear ending to their story in this book.

Favorite Character: Chloe. She finally embraces her powers and remains strong. She does depend on Derek quite a bit, but she is also his support as well as Tori's in the end. She accepts that her life will never be the same, but she does not give in to despair. She still has her nice personality, but now with a little more edge.

Favorite Quote: "You aren't like her. She sees that now, what you are, what you can do, and it scares her. Scares and disgusts."

I really enjoyed this series. People kept talking about how good it was, but I was still surprised about how well I liked it. There is so much suspense and action that all three books were hard to put down. Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book for me!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout

This is my December Random Read and the first book in the Lux series.

Katy and her mom need a change after the death of her father. Her mom moves them from Florida to West Virginia, where Katy is sure nothing exciting could happen, until she meets her neighbors. Dee and Daemon are gorgeous and Dee has a great personality. Daemon, however, is a jerk. Katy is both attracted and repulsed by him and Daemon keeps trying to push Katy away from himself and his sister. Katy refuses to back down and when Daemon saves her life on several occassions, she learns the truth about the twins and about the area. Daemon is an alien as is his sister and a number of people in their region. This is a closely guarded secret and one that could cost Katy her life for knowing. Not all aliens are sexy and good and the bad ones are coming for Daemon and the others and Katy could be caught in the middle.

It was interesting to read a book about aliens and this is first fiction book I have read with aliens as major characters. I like Armentrout's twists on her aliens powers and the villians are frightening. I also enjoyed her writing style and the humor of the book. The one thing that did bug me was hearing how hot or haut Daemon was. Katy and the other females repeatedly tell you this on almost every page. There was a little more to his character than this, but that and the fact that he was a jerk were stressed a little too much. I do like that Armentrout captures the teenage way of talking and I think that makes this series appeal to high school age teens.

Favorite Character: Dee. I really liked Dee and would love to learn more about her. She seemed like a caring person and the most human, even if she is an alien.

Favorite Quote: "It wasn't like I could tell them I did have an exciting weekend, one involving almost getting hit by a truck and proving the existence of extraterrestrial life forms."
I also liked this section.
"Daemon followed me home after school. Literally...
I'd braked-checked him several times.
He'd blown his horn.
It made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside." I did enjoy the humor in this book. :)

The humor in the book was great, but there was too much talk about Daemon's hotness for me. I will probably read the second book in the series, because I did like the action and her take on aliens, but it may be awhile. 3.5 cups of cocoa.

Bout of Books 6.0 Reading Challenge

Bout of Books Read-a-Thon

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 7th and runs through Sunday, January 13th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 6.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books 6.0 team
 
I will update this soon with a list of books that I plan on reading!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Telling Tales Challenge



I thought this looked like a fun challenge. It is hosted by Bex at An Armchair by the Sea. The goal is to read books that are related to fairytales and mythology and rereads count. You can also use these books in other challenges. For more information or to sign up, click here. I am trying for Troll Under the Bridge Level, which is 5 books.
My books for this challenge:
1. Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

Books to be added later!

2013 Fairy Tales Retold Reading Challenge

Photobucket
I just signed up for the 2013 Fairy Tales Retold Challenge hosted by Debz Bookshelf! My goal is to conquer the Lady in Waiting level and read 5 books.Here are some of the books I'm planning on reading:
1. Night Dance by Suzanne Weyn

If you want to join me on my quest, you can learn more at http://debzbookshelf.blogspot.com/p/fairy-tales-retold-challenge.html

Books will be listed soon!

Friday, December 21, 2012

2012 Fall into Reading Challenge

I barely finished this challenge in time! I am glad I did, because these were some of my favorite series books this year. Legend was amazing and Rick Riordan remains one of my favorite authors. I am enjoying the Books of Beginning series and anxiously awaiting book 3. Even though I barely finished Beautiful Darkness before the end of the challenge, it was another great read. My original post can be found here. Thank you Katrina at Callapidder Days for hosting!

Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

This will definitely have spoilers for Beautiful Creatures, the first book in the Caster Chronicles.
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Lena and Ethan barely survived Sarafina’s attack and Ethan only survived because of the Book of the Moons. Lena exchanged the life of her Uncle Macon for Ethan’s life and even though she did not know the consequences, she is filled with remorse. As Lena withdrawals from the world and Ethan, she grows closer to her Dark Caster cousin Ridley and the mysterious John Breed, who has the powers of an Incubus without the limitations. Ethan fears he is losing Lena and has no memory of her sacrifice and the two begin to drift, just as Ethan grows closer to Keeper in Training Liz, who is beautiful and mortal. When Lena breaks off their relationship and runs away, Ethan knows he has the save her and learns that he may actually be made for the job. Ethan, Liz, and Link scramble to save Lena, but could they be too late? The Seventeenth Moon is coming and Lena may be more Dark than Light.
I love the way the authors present the setting. Their descriptions of Gatlin and South Carolina are great and their use of the Tunnels to travel to Georgia also make me want to visit Savannah. The secondary characters are some of my favorites, particularly the characters of Amma, Link, Macon, and Ridley. I loved the flashbacks to Macon's past. I also think the relationship between Ethan and Lena is very realistic and the fact that both realize it is not going to be bubble gum and roses the whole time makes it believable. I can't wait to begin the third book, Beautiful Chaos.
Favorite Character: My favorite new character would be Liz. Liz is funny, compassionate, and English.  I almost wish Ethan would choose her over Lena, almost. I love that Ethan and Lena fight so hard to be together, but that they are willing to sacrifice their relationship if it is what they think is best for the other. I love Amma and Macon too, even though we don't see much of Macon in this book, except mainly through the flashbacks. I think Link is my favorite in this book though. He is hilarious and loyal both to Ethan and Ridley.
Favorite Quote: "We don't get to choose what is true. We only get to choose what we do about it." I think we often want to change the truth and that it is hard to accept when we can't do this, so I think this is a great quote for life in general.
I love the gothic feel of this series and the great characters. Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book and series!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2013 Dusty Bookshelf Challenge

The Dusty Bookshelf 2013 Reading Challenge

This challenge is hosted by Jessica at  Books A True Story. The goal is to read books that have been sitting on your shelves for a long time or ones on your to be read list that you may or may not own. I finished three books for this challenge last year for the Pixie Dust level. This year I am going to try for the Dusty Bunny level of 5 to 10 books. For more information about this challenge, click on the image at the top or this link http://www.booksatruestory.com/2012/12/05/2013-dusty-bookshelf-sign-ups/.

I will post updates here and on the 2013 challenges page.

2013 Sequel Challenge

I am already participating in Jessi's Paranormal Challenge, but I thought the Sequel Challenge would be a helpful way to finally finish some series! You have from January 1 to December 31, 2013 to complete the challenge and any book after book 1 counts toward the challenge, including novellas after book 1. I really need to finish Insurgent by Veronica Roth( I loved Divergent!) and the books in the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. I am sure before the year is out I will have started and stopped many other series as well. I will update this post when I decide on more titles to add to the list. For more information about this challenge click on the image at the top or on Sequel Challenge.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Reading Stack #26

I finished the three books on my last stack, so it is time to load up once again. I am reading Obsidian for my Random Read this month and so far it is interesting. I don't like Daemon much, although Katy seems to be attracted to him. I am only on Chapter 4, so maybe he will show some redeeming qualities soon. I am also reading Beautiful Darkness by Garcia and Stohl and I love getting lost in Lena and Ethan's story again, just like I did in Beautiful Creatures. If I can finish those two books I will have completed my challenges for the year. I would also like to finish the Reckoning by Kelley Armstrong, so I can see how the Supernatural kids story ends. I have started it, but I am trying really hard to read my challenge books first. I still have down to reread Clockwork Prince, but the odds of finishing it before the new year are not good. I love that series, but it breaks my heart everytime I read the twisted love triangle plot. So, I will stick with these four books for my end of the year reads. What do you hope to finish this year?

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Legend by Marie Lu

Legend (Legend, #1)
Penguin Group


I finished my third book in the Fall Into Reading Challenge. Legend is the first in the Legend series and book 2, Prodigy will be released in January. It is often compared to the Hunger Games, which it does have an evil dystopian society,  but it is very different from HG.

Each year 10 year olds in the Republic take the Trial, a test to determine their worth to the Republic. June is the Republic's darling. She is the first to score a perfect 1500 score in the Trial and she is about to graduate from college at the age of 15. Day is the Republic's most infamous criminal and failed the Trial. He could be in league with the Colonies who are fighting the Republic saying that the Republic and the Colonies were once United States. He could be fighting for the Patriots, who want to overthrow the "elected" Elector Primo and his regime. In reality, he has his own separate agenda. Day has taken down planes and stolen Notes from a bank, but he never kills anyone, until June's brother Metias. June in her anger wants to hunt down Day and Metias's Commander Jameson and friend, Thomas are willing to allow her the chance. Day for his part was trying to find a cure for the plague for his younger brother. Day throws a knife at Metias as he flees the hospital crime scene, but he thinks he hits Metias in the arm. As June hunts down Day by going to the Lake sector of Los Angelos, she unwittingly befriends the boy and his tagalong Tess. She begins to fall for the boy, until she learns the truth. However as she learns more about Day, she begins to question all she has been taught to believe. Is Day really the cold blooded murder and troublemaker for the good Republic or is the Republic really the enemy? June's decision chould change her world.

I have read several dystopian novels lately and this is one of my favorites. The only one I liked better is Divergent. I loved Lu's writing style and I loved the dual point of views. I think having Day's words in a different font and color than June's was a brilliant publishing idea and it even reflected their different personalities. June's seemed more precise, whereas Day's seemed more thoughtful and informed. June's showed her beliefs in the systems and Day's his ability to see past lies and to the facts. The relationship between the characters was extremely believable and well-developed. I also had a very hard time putting the book down and the pace is so quick, you just don't want to stop reading. Her society seems possible and real, which is a scary thought. You just want June to wake up and take out the Republic. The story is both heart-breaking and thoughtprovoking and  I can't wait until Prodigy.

Favorite Character: Day. He loves his family and is willing to risk everything for them. Even though he knows he should be looking out for himself and his family, he can't help taking care of others, like Tess and June. He is also smart and resourceful and according to many of the females, good-looking.

Favorite Quote: "If you want to rebel, rebel from inside the system. That's much more powerful than rebelling outside the system. And if you choose to rebel, bring me with you."

Definitely a 5 cups of cocoa book! I was completely drawn into the story and loved the characters! Well-developed and extremely strong debut book!

Note to self: I really need to stop reading series or at least start reading sequels, because my TBR pile is huge!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Classic Double Challenge 2013



This challenge is hosted by Melissa at One Librarian's Book Reviews (1lbr). The idea is to read a classic book or original story, fairy tale, or mythology and compare that to a retelling or a book that relates to the classic story. Melissa lists several options on her site, which you can go to by clicking the image at the top or on her blog's name in this post. She also has different levels you can choose to complete.  Last year I just did the Small level, which is one pair. I read Persuasion and For the Darkness Shows the Stars and I loved them both! This year I am going to try for the Medium level, which is two pairs or four books. I think I want to do Ten by Gretchen McNeil and And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. I am already reading Ten for the New Author Challenge, but I would love to see how it compares to the original Christie story. I love reading Christie's stories when I am in a reading slump and surprisingly I have not read And Then There Were None yet. Other possibilities include Romeo and Juliet and one of the many retellings of this story or maybe another Jane Austen novel. I hope to pick my second pair soon.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

2013 New Authors Challenge

New Authors Challenge 2013








Artwork: Anglerfish by Vlad Gerasimov


The New Authors Challenge is hosted by Jackie at Literary Escapism. The idea is to find new authors that you haven't tried to read in the past. You can pick 15, 25, or 50 new authors. After finishing a book, you post reviews and link them to the New Authors post. For more info go to http://www.literaryescapism.com/new-author-challenge/new-author-challenge-2013.

I am going to try to read 15 new authors. I have a few ideas of authors I would like to read. I may try Rachel Vincent, Gretchen McNeil (I have seen so many great reviews of Ten), and Kristin Cashore. Hopefully I can branch out a little in my reading.
1. Ten by Gretchen McNeil
2.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge


This is a paranormal reading challenge hosted by Megan Likes Books and Jessi at Auntie Spinelli Reads. The goal is to read at least 12 paranormal books, at least one each in the following categories.

  • Vampires
  • Werewolves/Shifters
  • Fey
  • Angels/Nephilim
  • Mermaids
  • Dragons
  • Zombies
  • Demons
  • Witches/Wizards
  • Ghosts
  • Aliens
  • Other (ie: sirens, unicorns, centaurs, time travel etc.)
  • You can read more than one in each category if you have time. The books can also count for other challenges. For more information click on the image at the top or on the links to the hosts' websites.

    January is Vampire month and I know that I want to read Vampire Academy for January. So far that is the only book I know I am going to read for the challenge. I will update this post as I choose and review.
    1. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead- finished and reviewed!
    2.

    Sunday, December 2, 2012

    Cold Fire by Tamora Pierce

    This is my last book this year for the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge. I finished three books and completed the Pixie Dust Level.

    Cold Fire is book 3 of the Circle Opens Quartet and this series follows the Circle Quartet. If you have not read any of the books in the Circle Quartet, this will have spoilers for that series. However, the books in the Circle Opens Quartet do not have to be read in a particular order at least the first three haven't.


    Daja and Frostpine have decided to travel around to different smiths, so that Daja can learn about how other smiths work. The two have settled down in Kugisko, a cold Northern town, for the winter. They will have to stay there until early spring when the mountain pass thaws. The two are staying with the Bancanor family, Kol and Matazi and their four children, the oldest of which are twin girls around Daja's age. Kugisko is a city made of wood and so it is prone to fires, particularly in the winter when everyone is trying to keep warm. Within the first weeks of Daja's stay, she witnesses a fire and notices a brave man, Ben Landradun, who is trying to teach the town how to fight fires. Daja wants to help Ben and begins working on gloves to help keep his hands from being scorched while fighting the blazes. However, Daja's free time is quickly occupied by the twins, Jory and Nia. Daja spots magic in Jory and learns she is a cooking mage and since one twin has magic, the other has to have it too. Daja scries Nia's talent as a carpentry mage and sets about finding mages to train the girls. Even though she finds mages, she is stuck with teaching the girls meditation to harness and control their powers and she has to teach the two separately. In the meantime, more fires break out and Daja and Ben realize the fires are being set. Can Daja help catch the firebug and teach the girls? With all this work, Daja is looking forward to the spring.

    I love this series and the world that Pierce has created! Briar is my favorite of the Circle four, but Daja is a close second. Daja and Frostpine have a wonderful teacher/student relationship and I think of the four, she has the teacher that matches her powers the best. Daja still mourns for her family, but she has now learned how to interact with others outside the Trading families. Out of the three I have read about so far, Daja is the one who has matured the most. I enjoyed seeing her teaching style and her interactions with the twins. Pierce masterfully creates a believable world and with her descriptions you can easily visualize the area. I like how magic in her world is tied so closely to the earth and how magic seems almost real and understandable.

    Favorite Character: Daja. She is strong- she is a smith mage after all- and very patient, even though she thinks she is not. Daja seems the most loving of the four Circle teens and she is also willing to trust others, both a fault and a virtue, more than her Circle friends.

    Favorite Quote: "That's magic for you, she thought gloomily. One part glory, one part fun, and one part polishing the brightwork till your back and your knees and your hands all ache." This quote is one of the reason's Pierce's magic is so believable. She shows that the mages have to really work at building and controlling their magic.

    I know in many reviews, people fault this book for revealing early on who the firebug is. A few moments are told from this person's point of view and you know within the first one hundred pages who it is. This did not bother me. I thought the point of the story was more that sometimes people disappoint us and that we cannot recognize bad people just by looking at them. The story also revolved just as much about teacher/student relationships. I thought both those themes were fascinating and knowing the firebug did not ruin this for me.

    5 cups of cocoa! I really want to read Tris's story now, but that will have to wait until next year!

    Saturday, December 1, 2012

    December Random Read


     

    Random Reads

    This is a meme hosted by Sarah at www.imlovingbooks.com. You can create a list or use your Goodreads To Be Read feature to choose a book. After deciding on your list, then go to random.org and type in the number of books on your list and see what you get for the month.

    
    Obsidian (Lux, #1)
    Entangled Teens Publishing
    I finished both my October and November Random Reads in November! For my December Random Read, my book is Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout. I have seen really good reviews for her book and have had this one on my list for a couple of months now. This one is about aliens and since I haven't read any books about aliens I am looking forward to something a little different. Here is the review.