December 29, 2011

Happy New Year!

Just wanted to wish all my fellow book bloggers a very happy new year! I'm looking forward to all the reading and blogging I'll be doing in 2012, and sharing it with all of you :D It looks like 2012 is going to be a fantastic year for YA!

December 28, 2011

2011 End of Year Survey: The Books

Jamie at The Perpetual Page-turner is once again hosting an end of the year survey of the books we read this year! I love making these kinds of lists so I am joining in the merriment. (Links go to my reviews.)

1.) Best book you read in 2011?

Of course, I can't pick just one, so here's a few to battle it out:

For an epic reading experience and a psychologically intriguing premise: The Host

For being the most emotionally wrenching: Forbidden

For being the kind of YA fantasy I just adore: Mistwood

For a relatable heroine and a swoon-inducing romance: Anna and the French Kiss

2.) Most disappointing book/book you wish you loved more than you did?

Sunshine was painful. (And plus I love Robin McKinley's book Beauty so I kind of hate that I found Sunshine so awful!) Also, Forgotten was quite the disappointment -- the execution just did not live up to the cool-sounding premise.

3.) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?

Popular — I had originally dismissed it as one of those light, "chick lit" YA books about a bunch of snotty girls in cliques. Then I was told there was a mental health aspect, and so I included it in my Psychtember event, only to be wowed over by its clever twist.

Vampire Academy — yes, I finally caved and read it and was most pleasantly surprised!

4.) Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Probably still the Hunger Games series! I think I recommended The Host a few times too (emphasizing that it was better than the Twilight series, LOL.)

5.) Best series you discovered in 2011?

I don't think I read more than one book in a series this year. But I have the feeling I may get totally sucked into the Vampire Academy series... O_O

Other first-in-a-series books that I think are a promising start: Ruby Red, Divergent, Enclave, Heist Society, Unearthly, Memento Nora, Birthmarked.

6.) Favourite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Tabitha Suzuma, Leah Cypess, Stephanie Perkins, Caragh O'Brien, Kerstin Gier, Ann Aguirre, Alissa Grosso, Veronica Roth, Richelle Mead.

7.) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

I don't normally read many novels in verse, but I did quite like Song of the Sparrow. Vampire Academy, The Host and Enclave also make appearances here.

8.) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?

Divergent, The Host, Enclave, Birthmarked and Vampire Academy.

9.) Book you most anticipated in 2011?

Probably some of the dystopian books, particularly Delirium, Divergent, and Wither. Unfortunately, though, both Delirium and Wither fell short of my expectations.

10.) Favourite cover of a book you read in 2011?

I adore the rich vibrancy of the Ruby Red cover.

11.) Most memorable character in 2011?

Argh, I always have the most impossible time answering this question! The characters from most of the books I read earlier in the year have faded somewhat in my memory, so I don't think I can answer this fairly. I'm refusing to pick a favourite! :D

12.) Most beautifully written book read in 2011?

Mistwood by Leah Cypess and Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell.

13.) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?

Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. So. Intense.

14.) Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. I waited all year to read this one! I kept putting it off even though everyone told me it was fabulous. And they were right, it was awesome. Vampire books are generally outside my comfort zone (hence why I read it for my challenge) but I really enjoyed this one! Hopefully a review of this one will be up soon :)

15.) Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2011?

I have a tough time remembering book quotes, but here's one I liked from Birthmarked, which I read just the other day:

"Leon slowly closed his fingers over the watch and slid it back into his pocket. 

'Gaia,' he began. 'You told me once to be good, if I knew how. I wish—'

She waited, unwilling to meet his eyes, hoping he would go on. When he didn't, the silence stretched between them like invisible cobwebs. In the dimmest part of her, she realized she might have wishes, too, elusive wishes that belonged more to a girl in a garden than they did to a captive."

Also, I still have a soft spot for this quote from Mistwood:

"She had learned to pay attention to the variations in Rokan's smiles. There was the sideways half-smile when he found something amusing; the slow, contented smile that appeared only rarely these days; and the wide, dazzling, unrestrained smile she had so far seen only twice, when he first came for her in the Mistwood and when they watched the hawk soar against the sky. And then there was this one, the reason for her watchfulness: the impish grin that meant he wanted to do something he knew was stupid and was going to do it anyhow."

16.) Book that you read in 2011 that you would be most likely to re-read in 2012?

Hmmm, good question. Probably some of the books that have sequels being released in 2012! Enclave, Ruby Red, Divergent, Unearthly, and Memento Nora all spring to mind as series I might need a refresher for before I read the next book. In terms of a re-read purely for fun, Anna and the French Kiss :)

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.) Be careful of spoilers!

Tighter by Adele Griffin and Popular by Alissa out for big revelations in both of these! Also, I had to tell my parents all about Forbidden after I'd finished it because it was so darn sad I had to share :(

If you'd like to join in the fun, head on over to Jamie's post here to see all the details and link your own post up!

Guest Posting At Esther's Ever After!

Hey everyone,

Just a quick heads-up that today I'm guest posting over at Esther's Ever After, as part of her holiday blog event! I'm sharing some of my most anticipated 2012 releases, and I'd love it if you'd drop on by and share which books of next year you're most looking forward to. Head on over to Brenna's blog here to join the discussion :)

December 26, 2011

What I Got For Christmas Was...

It's time to wrap up this little holiday feature of mine...with showing you guys which books I actually received for Christmas! It was a very bookish Christmas this year (yay!!) and I was given a lot of the books on my wishlist :D

So, without further ado...on to the books!
The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott
Dear Jane Austen: A Heroine's Guide to Life and Love by Patrice Hannon
Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien (I've already read this one, got totally sucked into it!)

Nightspell by Leah Cypess
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (I read this one at the beginning of this year but wanted a copy of my own!)
Legend by Marie Lu
Children of the Lamp: The Akhenaten Adventure by P. B. Kerr
Ecstasia by Francesca Lia Block

Crossed by Ally Condie
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh
The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta

And then there was a big surprise from my dad...

...he bought my mom, my sister, and me all Sony e-readers! I admit I have been resisting e-books because I love physical books so much — but now that I have an e-reader I really have no excuse. I suppose I shall have to give in and accept the inevitable!

Anyway, between all these books from Christmas and books I have for review, I now have an absolutely massive (and kind of overwhelming) number of books sitting in my room, dying to be read! So I am going to be very busy over the next little while...

What books did you receive over the holidays? If you'd like to share, feel free to leave a link to your post in the comments!

December 21, 2011

All I Want For Christmas (8)

This is a feature/meme where I choose a book each week leading up to Christmas and say why it's made it onto my wishlist. I'd love to see what books everyone else is hoping to get (maybe I'll add a few of them to my own list!) I'll be posting my pick each Monday, but feel free to link up and visit other people's posts all through the week.

It's the last one of these before Christmas!! Just a few more days now...anyway, my final pick is:

Crossed by Ally Condie
From Goodreads: "The hotly awaited second book in the dystopian Matched trilogy

In search of a future that may not exist and faced with the decision of who to share it with, Cassia journeys to the Outer Provinces in pursuit of Ky - taken by the Society to his certain death - only to find that he has escaped, leaving a series of clues in his wake.

Cassia's quest leads her to question much of what she holds dear, even as she finds glimmers of a different life across the border. But as Cassia nears resolve and certainty about her future with Ky, an invitation for rebellion, an unexpected betrayal, and a surprise visit from Xander - who may hold the key to the uprising and, still, to Cassia's heart - change the game once again. Nothing is as expected on the edge of Society, where crosses and double crosses make the path more twisted than ever.
I really enjoyed the first in this series (read my review of Matched here) and am looking forward to seeing how Cassia's tale continues in Crossed! I've been avoiding reviews of this one for fear of getting spoiled, so I hope it lives up to the hype :D

December 19, 2011

Faves of TwentyEleven: the Characters

You may recall Nomes from Inkcrush created several lists of her favourite 2011 books halfway through this year, and invited everyone to join her. I did so here, and since the time has come now for the final end-of-the-year lists, I'm participating once more! I love the categories she's created.

1. Favourite female main character

Wanderer of The Host by Stephenie Meyer, for her transformation from detached "soul" to emotive being with a distinct identity.

2. Favourite male main character

Oh, I really loved Lochan of Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Admirable, honourable, and struggling under the weight of burdens he shouldn't have had to carry. 

3. Best couple <3

Loved Clara and Tucker from Unearthly by Cynthia Hand, and Anna and Étienne from Anna & the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Clara and Tucker are just plain adorable, and as a reader it was both frustrating and wonderful to watch Anna and Étienne's journey to being together.

4. Who I so want to be best friends with

I think it'd be fun to be friends with Kat from Heist Society by Ally Carter! She's totally different from me in personality, and while I think it would take a while for her to let her guard down and trust me with anything, once we were friends I think she'd be extremely loyal. 

5. Who I fell completely in love with (new literary crush)

Étienne St. Clair! (Seriously, who *didn't* fall for him?!) 

Also, Ian from The Host and Tod from If I Die by Rachel Vincent are both pretty swoon-worthy :D

6. Worst (best & baddest) villain

Cole from Bitter End by Jennifer Brown....I really loathed him, he was despicable. Grrrrrrrrr.

7. Best character twist (who you loved then hated or vice versa)

Isabel from Mistwood by Leah Cypess — While I certainly never hated her, I did find her difficult to understand and connect with at the beginning. It was very enjoyable to see her develop her emotional side and I ended up really liking the character she came to be. 

Also, honourable mention to Cecily from Wither and Fever by Lauren DeStefano, for being a character much more complex than she appears on the surface.

8. Best kick-arse female

Deuce from Enclave by Ann Aguirre! She was totally awesome, very tough physically and mentally but still learning to be vulnerable emotionally.

9. Best kick-arse male

Gideon from Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier, for his mad fencing skillz. (Okay, Fade from Enclave could take him down in a fight in a minute, but I wanted Ruby Red to get a mention, LOL.)

10. Broke your heart the most

Lochan... :(

  11. Favourite pet/animal character award

I don't have a really strong contender for this one, but I guess I'll go with the horse Midnight from Jackie Morse Kessler's Hunger. Honourable mention to the unusually conscientious wolf in "The Little Red Headache" story from Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde.

12. Best YA parents award

Many of the YA books I read this year have the parents conspicuously absent or causing problems for the protagonist. If it were the WORST YA parents award, I'd definitely have some nominees, but as it is I'll have to leave this one a blank.
13. Favourite sibling relationship

Frankie and her younger brother from Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. I just wish we'd seen more of them together!

Also, for extremely complicated relationships: Lizzie and Tess from Without Tess by Marcella Pixley, and Lochan and Maya from Forbidden

14. Favourite best friends/friendship award

The quartet of Frankie, Tara, Justine, and Siobhan from Saving Francesca. I loved watching them bond!

15. Best/worst character names

Terrible character names always strike me much more than excellent ones, so I'm just going to list the worst: "Four" from Divergent by Veronica Roth (okay, so it's more of a nickname...but still), "Nordica" from Popular by Alissa Grosso, and "Sandinista" from The Sharp Time by Mary O'Connell. "Deuce," "Fade," and "Lochan" are also questionable.

Bonus: Best love triangle

It's more of a love rectangle or something, but the Jared-Melanie-Ian-Wanderer conundrum in The Host. In a love triangle competition, one involving two personalities sharing a body can't be beat.

What are some of your choices for these character categories from the books you've read this year? And if you would like to join in the merriment (and why wouldn't you?!) head on over to Nomes' blog here for the details.
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