Archive | December, 2012

2012 End Of The Year Survey – Looking Ahead + Resolutions

Image and meme property of Perpetual Page Turner
I came across the End of the Year Survey as hosted by Perpetual Page Turner and LOVED it. There are so many lists I could make, but this one seems to pull together the highlights. It’s a pretty long list, and I’m a bit wordy, so I’ve split up the list across several days so I don’t bore you all.
This is part four of the survey. You can find part one, two, and three, as well as my Favorite Secondary Characters interlude.
Some questions have been broken down into subquestions (again, because I’m wordy), and I try to link all books mentioned back to their review at least once in the list. Enjoy!
31. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number One Priority In 2013?
The moment the calendar flips back to January, I need to get started on my debut novels for the DAC 2013. The ones I’ll read first will probably be Prophecy by Ellen Oh and Vengeance Bound by Justina Ireland, since they’re the ones sitting on my shelf.
32. Book You Are Most Anticipating In 2013?
I give you my list. Tada!
33. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?
I give you my list of resolutions, which may or may not be completely blog-centric.
1. Continue to remind myself not to play the numbers game or compare myself with other bloggers.
2. Go to BEA 2013 in May.
3. Keep up with my new post scheduling system.
4. Find more contemporaries that I like and can recommend to others.
5. Move to New York.
6. Land an internship with a literary agency or publishing company.
7. Find some baby bloggers to help. (Anyone want to volunteer? Let me love you!)
8. Be more proactive about writing my reviews after finishing a book (as opposed to waiting a week or two.)
9. Get you all to open up more about what you’d like to see on the blog. (I live for feedback.)
10. Continue to learn, grow, and try new things.
~~*~~

Well, that’s all, folks! I hope you’ve enjoyed this survey. Thank you all for a great year. I look forward to finding out what 2013 has for us all.
10

2012 End Of The Year Survey – Book Blogging/Reading Life In 2012

Image and meme property of Perpetual Page Turner

I came across the End of the Year Survey as hosted by Perpetual Page Turner and LOVED it. There are so many lists I could make, but this one seems to pull together the highlights. It’s a pretty long list, and I’m a bit wordy, so I’ve split up the list across several days so I don’t bore you all.
This is part three of the survey. You can find part one and two here, as well as my Favorite Secondary Characters interlude.
Some questions have been broken down into subquestions (again, because I’m wordy), and I try to link all books mentioned back to their review at least once in the list. Enjoy!
21. New Favorite Book Blog You Discovered In 2012?
Thankfully, I don’t even have to try to answer this question. I’ve already done an entire post that will answer for me! Prior to 2012, I followed mainly agent blogs, so every blog on this list is a valid entry (I think.)
22. Favorite Review That You Wrote In 2012?
Oh sad. It’s like picking a favorite child. I will say that I’m proud of myself for being able to review Code Name Verity in a semi-decent, non-spoilery fashion. And for being able to do the same for The Girl of Fire and Thorns despite my urge to gush.
And, if I’m being very honest, I’m pleased with my review/rant combo for Quarantine: The Loners. [Note: I’m also a bit tickled at my formatting for my review of Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst, but you all won’t see that until 2013, so keep your eyes peeled.]
23. Best Discussion You Had On Your Blog In 2012?
I’m tickled pink at the current discussion on the blog, the one involving New Adult. I’m so proud of you guys. Not everyone agrees with me (in fact, many of you don’t!), but you all are providing thoughtful, in-depth, well-mannered comments. With all the news of bad blogger behavior floating around the web, I LOVE you all for being so awesome.
I also was thrilled with the reaction you all provided to my Ginormo Blogger Love post. I wanted to show some love to great bloggers, and you guys were all over it!
24. Most Thought-Provoking Review Or Discussion You Read On Someone Else’s Blog?
Oh drat, you’ve got me. I’m awful at remembering where I read what. But I have an out, because most everything I read that really makes me stop and think can be found in YA Highway’s weekly Field Trip Friday posts. (I promise to be better at this next year.)
25. Best Event That You Participated In? (Author signings, festivals, memes, etc.)
I haven’t participated in any real-life events this year (I know, I know), but I’ve very much enjoyed participating in the various memes, especially Top 10 Tuesday. What can I say? I love lists!
26. Best Moment Of Book Blogging In 2012?
Goodness. Well, I squealed like a piglet when I discovered Sounis for the first time, and again when my first author followed me on Twitter. (Love you, A.C. Gaughen!) Having Ms. Wendy Darling of The Midnight Garden compliment me on my Stormdancer review and Ms. Robin LaFevers tell me I was awesome made me blush pretty hard, too.
27. Most Popular Post (By Views Or Comments) On Your Blog This Year? [Note: I am not counting giveaway posts.]
27a. By Views?
As of 8:43 PM, December 22, 2012, my New Adult; Or There Be Rough Waters Ahead, Matey! post is leading with 709 views. Astonishingly (awesomely), the much newer Ginormo Blogger Love post is right behind with 708 views!
27b. By Comments?
As of the same time stamp above, it looks like New Adult; Or There Be Rough Waters Ahead, Matey! may be the winner again with 31 comments. Of course, half of those are mine, thanks to my reply policy.
28. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
Well, I love love in general, and I especially think posts from my early days could use some extra affection. However, the one that I often think of wistfully is my Mockingjay Debate post, arguing the appropriateness of the end of the Hunger Games series. Please note that there are spoilers in that post, so proceed with caution. Also, I’m leaving my old, wonky formatting as is as an exercise in humility. Oy.
29. Best Bookish Discovery? (Book-related sites, bookstore, etc.)
Hands down, my best personal discovery was rediscovering how fantastic the clearance section of a bookstore can be. Also, thrift stores. Thrift stores are fantastic.
30. Did You Complete Any Reading Challenges Or Goals That You Had Set For Yourself At The Beginning Of The Year?
I didn’t set any goals other than don’t completely fail at starting a blog. So yes, yes I did.
~~*~~
Thus ends part three of my End of the Year survey. Come back tomorrow for the final installment.
2

2012 End Of The Year Survey – My Favorite Secondary Characters Of 2012

Image and meme property of Perpetual Page Turner

Welcome! If you’ve been following along like good boys and girls, today is the interlude of my End of the Year Survey, as hosted by Perpetual Page Turner. Yesterday, I wrapped up the books portion of the survey but found I needed more time to talk about the most memorable characters of the year. More specifically, I find myself captivated by secondary characters even more than protagonists in many cases, so I thought they deserved their own list.

This is the secondary characters interlude section of the survey. Here are parts one and two of the survey, if you missed them.

My rules for deciding who would make the list:

  • First, they must be secondary characters. That means no slipping in a protagonist’s love interest (so no Jack Dandy or Warner, sadly) or any arch-villains (don’t hurt me, Billy Dent!). 
  • Second, they must be well-rounded. How well-rounded varies by how much page time a character was given. 
  • Third, while I did look back through my reviews to jog my memory, I didn’t need to see any more than a name for why I liked the character to come flooding back.
  • Fourth, they have to be cool enough that I would follow them to their own book. Tall order, eh?

With all that in mind, I give you my favorite secondary characters of 2012.

Attribution: black-pool.tumblr.com

David from Shadow and Bone. The main love triangle between the Darkling, Mal, and Alina gets the most attention from fans, but I spent most of my time in Ms. Bardugo’s world trying to sneak a glimpse around the Darkling at David, the tinkerer who is the object of Genya’s affections. Described as quiet, intellectual, and painfully oblivious, as well as charmingly handsome, David is the type of guy who would attract my attention in real life. Besides, there’s always the question of just how much he really notices around him. In Siege and Storm, I’m hoping for more David!

Nox is the center figure. Attribution: leafette.tumblr.com

Nox from Throne of Glass. Nox is a tricky little bugger who ends up becoming Celaena’s ally in the contest to become the new royal assassin. He’s clever, smart, athletic, and good-hearted, or at least as much as a potential royal assassin can be. Best of all, he isn’t framed as a tertiary love interest behind Dorian and Chaol. A girl just needs proper guy friends now and then.

Couldn’t find fan art of Mott, so here’s Pol as a stand in.
Attribution: ~Deisi

Mott from The False Prince. Ah, Mott. Originally cast as a rough-and-tumble goon, I was delighted to watch Mott’s character unfold through his interactions with Sage. He has a good heart, despite the crappy situation he finds himself in, and is always on hand to administer some tough love. As I mentioned in my review, he reminds me of Pol from The Thief, which is a high compliment indeed.

Attribution: Cheryl Ann

Lady Aisha from Stormdancer. Lady Aisha is the sister of the Shogun, the supreme ruler of the islands. When we first meet her, she is a vacant-eyed doll of a woman with an unbearable fondness for pocket-sized dogs. However, we soon find out – SPOILER! – that she is a startlingly calculating and ruthless woman with a passion for justice and change. She is woman, hear her roar, my goodness. Anyone who can foster a rebellion right under the nose of someone as paranoid and delusional as the Shogun has my admiration.

Attribution: Cathy Briezh

Loud Lad from Seraphina. Seraphina is fair brimming over with excellent secondary characters, so I was sore tried to keep from including all of them. The group of grotesques are especially enchanting, and my favorite of all is Loud Lad. I can’t tell you much about his character (it’s a surprise), but I will say that he’s loyal, brave, and such a sweetheart.

Eye Eater is on the left. Attribution: leafette.tumblr.com

The Eye Eater from Throne of Glass. I suppose Eye Eater’s one of the more wistful choices on this list. We learn very little about him in ToG before he exits the scene. He’s a serial killer, and his M.O. was to eat the eyes of his victims. Not that I condone that in any way, of course, but he sounds like such a delicious baddie (no pun intended.) I would have loved to learn more about him. Hey, Ms. Maas, maybe he could get his own prequel novella?

Attribution: from the book

Dr. Barlow from the Leviathan series. In my review, I described Dr. Barlow as almost certainly being the daughter of Dr. Doppler and Captain Amelia from Treasure Planet. She has Captain Amelia’s take charge, no nonsense attitude along with Dr. Doppler’s keen scientific intellect. The woman was a joy to read.

Attribution: masqueradesnbonesaws

The Croven from Under the Never Sky. Again, not that I condone this sort of thing, but those darn charismatic cannibals were one of my favorite parts of UtNS. I don’t know why. Perhaps because they were so unexpected (cannibals are sadly underutilized in YA lit), or because they were so charming. You must admit, cannibals aren’t usually charming, but grunting savages these were not.

Attribution: Nino Estrado

Rosario from The Girl of Fire & Thorns and The Crown of Embers. It’s very difficult to capture me with a child character. They’re usually superfluous, so I just don’t care. However, Elisa’s stepson Rosario is charming in every way. At first surly and spoiled, he quickly warms to Elisa’s firm hand and is at turns believably frightened and brave as only a little boy can be.

Attribution: Sepultribal

Orma from Seraphina. I just had to slip in one more character from Seraphina. The title character’s uncle Orma is a dragon living in the human kingdom of Goredd. As such, he’s required by law to fold himself into human form. I love Orma. He is so distinctly dragon as only Ms. Hartman’s dragons can be, but at times he slips into a show of human sentimentality, which, of course, horrifies him to no end.

Attribution: Wikipedia

Duchess Anne from Grave Mercy. Duchess Anne is definitely a character I would follow to her own series once the His Fair Assassin series has ended. Still a young girl, she carries herself with maturity and determination as the fate of her country rests on her shoulders. In many ways, she reminds me of the young queen Bitterblue from the Graceling series. Wise far beyond her years, she nevertheless allows herself moments of release around those she loves and trusts the most, especially her older half-brother Duval.

Attribution: Mandi Alcurrie

Death from Bitterblue. Speaking of Bitterblue, her royal librarian Death (pronounced “deeth”) was by far my favorite character in the third book of the Graceling series. He’s dry and comes across as a stick in the mud at first, but his passion for and knowledge about his library is unparalleled. Thanks to his photographic memory, he becomes one of Bitterblue’s most powerful allies in her search for the truth regarding her father’s crimes.

Attribution: Hannah Abram

Much from Scarlet. Quiet, unconfident, and maimed, Much is easy to lose behind the shining bombast that is John and Rob. However, I kept finding myself begging for more. I want to know more about his past, his family, his hopes and dreams. Now that A.C. Gaughen’s book is set to become a trilogy, I can only keep my fingers crossed that one of those books will be devoted to good old Much.

Matt Bomer as Roar <3
Attribution: Sandra Boyet

Roar from the Under the Never Sky series. Mmmm, Roar. I ignored you horribly during Under the Never Sky (I blame the cannibals), but you stole my heart during Through the Ever Night. He’s handsome, he’s funny, he’s strong, he’s brave. He always knows the right things to say (or not say), and despite suspicions to the contrary, he’s the best non-romantic guy friend Aria could ask for.

NOT how I see him, but as close as I can get.
Attribution: deadwrestlers.net

Beast from Grave Mercy. I seriously adore Beast. Unlike many of the other characters on this list, Benebic de Waroch, a.k.a. Beast, is NOT handsome. In fact, he’s downright ugly. He is described thusly:

The largest man I have ever seen steps into the room. Half a head taller than Duval, he is travel stained and road weary and looks like an ogre who has strayed out of a hearth tale. His face bears the roughened texture of pox scars; his nose – broken at least twice – is a lumpen knob. His hair is shaved close to his head, and his eyes are creased in a permanent squint.

Seriously beastly. But the Beast is a good man. He treats every woman like a lady unless she proves otherwise, and rather than being ashamed of his looks, he uses them as a test for friendship. I want to be Beast’s friend.

~~*~~

My End of the Year Survey will return tomorrow, but until then, answer this question: What secondary characters stole your heart this year?

6

2012 End Of The Year Survey – Best In Books, Pt. 2

Image and meme property of Perpetual Page Turner

I came across the End of the Year Survey as hosted by Perpetual Page Turner and LOVED it. There are so many lists I could make, but this one seems to pull together the highlights. It’s a pretty long list, and I’m a bit wordy, so I’ve split up the list across several days so I don’t bore you all.

This is part two of the BEST IN BOOKS section. You can find part one here.
Some questions have been broken down into subquestions (again, because I’m wordy), and I try to link all books mentioned back to their review at least once in the list. Enjoy!
11. Most Memorable Character In 2012?
Oh goodness. I’m a character-driven reader. If a character isn’t memorable, odds are I won’t like the book. Also, I tend to connect more with secondary characters. I don’t know why. In fact, I’ll be posting a list tomorrow of my favorite secondary characters of 2012, but here’s my shot at this question now.

11a. Most Memorable Protagonist?
I think, if pushed, I’d pick Scarlet from A.C. Gaughen’s Scarlet. Her particular dialect just sticks in your head after a bit.

11b. Most Memorable Villain?
It’s a tie between the Commander from C.J. Redwine’s Defiance and King Leck from Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue. Those men scared the living daylights out of me, and Leck doesn’t even appear “on screen!”

A dubiously honorable mention goes to Billy Dent from Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers. Again, he scared the living daylights out of me. Holy cow.

12. Most Beautifully Written Book In 2012?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Hands down. The writing just kills me.

A very honorable mention goes to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Not only is the writing beautiful, but her word choices are so much fun!

13. Book That Had The Greatest Impact On You In 2012?
I’m sure this was meant in a positive, uplifting way, but I have to pick I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga for temporarily turning me into a nervous wreck.

A dubiously honorable mention goes to Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas for making me mad enough to write a screed decrying the normalization of misogyny in the text.

14. Book You Can’t Believe You Waited UNTIL 2012 To Read?
The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot. I tried to read the first book back in high school but couldn’t get into it. This time around, I enjoyed myself immensely.

A very honorable mention goes to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and everything Ally Carter has ever written.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?
This question made my brain short circuit. I’m not one to memorize and quote full passages. The one quote I do remember clearly is from The Book Thief, and it was the exact moment when I knew I would keep this book in my pocket for life:

All told, she owned fourteen books, but she saw her story as being made up predominantly of ten of them. Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.

Just take a moment and breath in the beauty of that very last description. Can’t you taste it? I’m sure there are other quotes I can dig up, but I’ll leave you with just one, one that made me laugh from Jay Kristoff’s Stormdancer:

RAIJIN, TAKE ME NOW.

She shot Buruu a withering glance as he rolled over on his back and pawed at the sky.

HAVE MERCY ON ME, FATHER. TAKE MY WINGS. CHAIN ME TO STINKING EARTH. BUT THIS TORTURE I CANNOT ENDURE.

Oh, shut it.

16. Shortest And Longest Book You Read In 2012?

16a. Shortest?
Girl, Stolen by April Henry at 213 pages. Yet it was still long enough to bore me.

16b. Longest?
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore at 563 pages. Long but beautiful.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a holy cow moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
Again, lots of these. I need to break it down.

17a. Steamy kisses?
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. Hector, I love you. Pages 189-190 are especially good.

17b. A HOLY COW! moment?
The big explanation in Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore and that one scene in Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. I’m sure there are more, but those are the ones I come up with first.

17c. A my-heart-is-breaking moment?
A many-way tie between “the wagon scene” in Defiance by C.J. Redwine, the entire end of Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, and the end of The Assassin and the Empire novella from Sarah J. Maas (a novella prequel to Throne of Glass). (When you read these books, you’ll know which ones I mean.)

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012? (Romantic, friendship, etc.)

18a. Friendship?
For me, the friendship between Maddie and Verity from Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein takes the cake. The entire book revolves around the theme of friendship, and Ms. Wein gives us an excellent pair to root for.

Very honorable mentions go to Yukiko and Buruu from Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff and Aria and Roar from Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. Both sets are hilarious and fiercely loyal pairs that were a pleasure to read.

18b. Romantic?
Mmm, Elisa and Hector from Rae Carson’s The Crown of Embers, you two are where it’s at. Deeply rooted mutual respect, a long-lasting friendship, clear feelings on both sides, but logical opposition? Yes.

A very honorable mention goes to Celaena and Sam from the Throne of Glass novellas by Sarah J. Maas. I get a little choked up just thinking about them.

18c. Familial?
Seraphina and Orma from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. As a dragon, Orma isn’t the most demostratively affectionate, but I enjoyed the displays of mutual love that flowed between the two characters.

A very honorable mention goes to Perry and Talon from Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. This uncle-nephew duo is too sweet.

19. Favorite Book You Read In 2012 From An Author You Read Previously?
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the only author that I’d read prior to 2012 was Shannon Hale, and I’m pleased to be able to pick her magical Palace of Stone.
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Someone Else?
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. Sadly, I don’t remember who specifically recommended this book, but I do know that I initially had no plans to read it. Thank goodness I got over my own stubbornness.

Very honorable mentions go to Vessel by Sarah Beth Durst (not yet reviewed and another one that was pushed on me by a forgotten person) and The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen. Thank you Sounis community for the latter book!

~~*~~

That’s part two of my End of the Year survey! Come back tomorrow for a slight detour into my favorite secondary characters of the year, and then return for part three of the survey on Sunday.
4

2012 End Of The Year Survey – Best In Books, Pt. 1

Image and meme property of Perpetual Page Turner

I came across the End of the Year Survey as hosted by Perpetual Page Turner and LOVED it. There are so many lists I could make, but this one seems to pull together the highlights. It’s a pretty long list, and I’m a bit wordy, so I’ve split up the list across several days so I don’t bore you all.

This is part one of the BEST IN BOOKS section.

Some questions have been broken down into subquestions (again, because I’m wordy), and I try to link all books mentioned back to their review at least once in the list. Enjoy!

1. Best Book You Read in 2012?
It should come as no surprise that my favorite book of the year is Robin LaFever’s Grave Mercy. Ms. LaFever’s world is impeccably researched and constructed, her plot is taut and exciting, her protagonists are daring and relatable, and her secondary characters are some of the most charming and well-rounded people I’ve ever had the pleasure to experience.

1a. Historical fiction?
Other than Grave Mercy, I completely lost my heart to The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I wish I could absorb it via osmosis so the words could be a part of me always.

A very honorable mention goes to Code Name Verity by the delightful Elizabeth Wein. Keep tissues handy.

1b. Fantasy?
The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson. I read the first book in the series, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, this year as well, but CoE was EVEN BETTER.

A very honorable mention goes to Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. The best dragon story I’ve ever read, no exaggeration.

1c. Dystopian?
Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi. It’s not out until January, but I’ve already read the sequel to Under the Never Sky, and it’s fantastic.

A very honorable mention goes to Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. The writing, you guys, the writing.

1d. Steampunk?
Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff. Japanese steampunk with thunder-tigers!

A very honorable mention goes to Leviathan by Scott Westerfield. Revisionist WW2 steampunk!

1e. Contemporary?
Heist Society by Ally Carter. I adore both of Ms. Ally’s series, but the first Heist book beats the first Gallagher book hands down.

A very honorable mention goes to The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade. Read the fun, fluffy book!

1f. Thriller?
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga. Very gruesome but very fun, IHK lets us into the head of the son of a sociopathic serial killer. See? Tons of fun.

A very honorable mention to Ten by Gretchen McNeil, a very tense retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I’ve had several of these, sadly. I call them my “lone reed” moments. (It’s a You’ve Got Mail reference. Look it up.) I think my big “lone reed” moment goes to This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers. It was the first book I ever received from a publisher, and I was SO EXCITED to read it. Sadly, I just couldn’t connect.

A dubiously honorable mention goes to The Selection by Kiera Cass. Bleck. So much wasted potential.

3. Most Surprising (In A Good Way!) Book Of 2012?
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman BLEW ME AWAY. I was a silly, snobbish girl and thought I wouldn’t be wowed just because I wasn’t a fan of the cover (which I now like very much, by the way.) Even after the good reviews start pouring in, I was a skeptic. No more! This book is wow dipped in a heavy sauce of holy cow.

Very honorable mentions go to Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama (my first really good mermaid book) and I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have To Kill You by Ally Carter (my first Ally book).

4. Book You Recommended To People Most In 2012?
This one was a four-way tie. As a bookshelver I recommend a lot of books to people both online and in my real-life job. My forever recommendation is always The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. I push that book on kids, teens, and adults. I also push Grave Mercy a lot, seeing as it’s my favorite book of the year. I really hyped The Crown of Embers online especially (HECTOR!), and, of course, was a Code Name Verity champion everywhere I went.

5. Best Series You Discovered In 2012?
There’s another tie here between Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series and her Heist Society series. Both are funny and exciting. (The boys are pretty cute, too.)

A very honorable mention goes to Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky series. Perry! Roar!

6. Favorite New Authors You Discovered in 2012?
With the lone exception of Shannon Hale, literally all of the authors I read this year were new to me. I know, I know. And with very few exceptions, I loved them all, so I can’t fairly answer this question. 2012 rocked.

7. Best Book That Was Out Of Your Comfort Zone Or Was A New Genre For You?

7a. Out of my comfort zone? 
Definitely Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. It’s contemporary, it made me cry, and it’s full of profanity and situations that left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ll never read it again. But it was well-written, well-plotted, and just a good book from an objective standpoint.

7b. New genre? 
Definitely my winners for the steampunk category, Leviathan and Stormdancer. This year I attempted to read steampunk for the first time, and I think I’m going to legitimately enjoy myself, if the two aforementioned books are any indication.

8. Most Thrilling, Unputdownable Book Of 2012?

8a. Most thrilling?
Clearly, my pick for best thriller, I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.

8b. Most unputdownable?
I book binged on so many books this year. Considering I read Monstrous Beauty in less than 24 hours, I’m going to have to go with that one. Such an intense book! Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen was pretty high up there, too. 

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You’re Most Likely To Reread Next Year?
Um, all of them? I have an internal timer goes off when a certain amount of time has passed between rereadings. Since I know I want to go through it with a highlighter, I’ll have to pick The Book Thief, but I honestly will probably reread all the books from this year, if I can.

10. Favorite Cover Of A Book You Read In 2012?
Oh dear. You all know I love covers. I’m drawn to covers. Therefore, most of the books I read have excellent covers. Because it made me gasp aloud when I saw it in person (and the details mean SO much more once you’ve read it), I’m going to have to pick Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein.

Very honorable mentions goes to Grave Mercy for the crossbow and Cinder by Marissa Meyer for… everything.

That’s part one of my End of the Year Survey! Come back tomorrow for part two.
14

Wishlist Wednesday #19

Hosted by Pen to Paper

Merry day-after-Christmas, everyone! I hope your holiday was fantastic. In the off chance any of you have slept off your Christmas crazies, here’s my Wishlist Wednesday pick for the week:

There are people in this world who are Nobody. No one sees them. No one notices them. They live their lives under the radar, forgotten as soon as you turn away.

That’s why they make the perfect assassins.

The Institute finds these people when they’re young and takes them away for training. But an untrained Nobody is a threat to their organization. And threats must be eliminated.

Sixteen-year-old Claire has been invisible her whole life, missed by the Institute’s monitoring. But now they’ve ID’ed her and send seventeen-year-old Nix to remove her. Yet the moment he lays eyes on her, he can’t make the hit. It’s as if Claire and Nix are the only people in the world for each other. And they are—because no one else ever notices them.

Okay, yes, this synopsis sounds like it suffers from a case of instalove. I’m willing to give Ms. Barnes the benefit of the doubt and hope that it’s a case of insta-connection or insta-understanding instead, because either of those are far more believable and far less irritating.

This synopsis reminds me a bit of the parents’ backstory in Spy Kids, so I’m willing to give it a chance. Besides, you all know anything with assassins has my attention.

What are you wishing for this glorious post-Christmas Wednesday?

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Top 10 Tuesday: Books I’d Play Hooky With

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Merry Christmas to all! I’m sure most of you are gathered with friends and family and won’t even peek at the internet for the next few days, but I didn’t want to leave anyone wandering by high and dry without a post to read. This week’s TTT is a freebie, so I chose one in the holiday spirit of curling up with a good book: Top 10 Books I’d Play Hooky With.

Attribution: The Infernal Devices

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. By the time this post airs, I’ll know whether or not I received TBT for Christmas. If I did, hooray! If I didn’t, I’ll run out and buy it. But whenever I get it, I’ll break out a pack of highlighters, squirrel myself away in some corner, and not emerge until I’m finished highlighting every last breathtaking line.

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’d HAVE to play hooky to get through TLOTR again. It’s so gargantuan, but so very worth it. Tolkien has delicious phrasing, and his words burrow right into your brain.

Attribution: Anorien Undomiel

The Graceling Realm series by Kristin Cashore. I just bought myself Graceling and am hoping to add Fire and Bitterblue to my collection soon. I’d love to be able to chuck work aside long enough to reimmerse myself in Cashore’s world.

Attribution: Petrichor and Pie

The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I think it’s physically impossible for me to make a TTT list without mentioning MWT. In my pre-blogging days, I read The Queen’s Thief series once every three months or so. Not so now. In trying to get a new review out each week, there’s very little time to reread old favorites. The thought of spending a day (or two or four) visiting with my pal Eugenides would be fantastic.

Gustav Gloom and the People Taker by Adam-Troy Castro. The underlying theme of this list is “books I don’t normally have time to read.” I think Gustav Gloom looks like a load of fun, and it’s sitting on my bookshelf making eyes at me. I’ll get to you soon, Gustav, I promise!

Whyyyyyy isn’t the US cover this cool?!

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. I have an internal timer that goes off after a certain amount of time passes between rereadings. It’s time to reread ToG. I need more Chaol. ‘Nuff said.

Attribution: roranicused

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. My internal timer has gone off for this one as well, but it’s even more urgent because the sequel is coming out! Yaaaay Warner!

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers. I’ve already only half-jokingly announced my intention to skip work when I get my hands on this book. Really, it’s a moral quandary. I like being dependable, and I won’t lie to my employer. BUT THIS BOOK!!

Whatever I’m reading now. Except for weekends, I really only read during my lunch breaks at work. It’d be glorious to be able to just sit and read for an entire day as much as I’d like. Heavenly, I say!

What book would be enough to tempt YOU to play hooky?

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Mini-Review: THE PRINCESS DIARIES by Meg Cabot

With wry, observant wit, Mia chronicles her rocky first month of high school. First she finds out she’s the crown princess of a European principality, then there’s a first kiss from her big crush, an empowering ice-cream-cone shove into the sweater of her nemesis, and a meltdown in the ladies’ room of Manhattan’s Plaza Hotel.

Okay, time for another semi-embarrassing confession. I don’t have a single Meg Cabot book on my shelf. I watched The Princess Diaries movie and adored it (Anne Hathaway! Julie Andrews! That guy who plays Joe!), but the book? I tried to read it once but can only remember being mortified to the depth of my nerdy little soul at the mention of the dad’s cancer-riddled testicles. (Yeah, the dad doesn’t die in the books. Color me surprised.)

But a month or so ago, I had eye surgery, which meant NO READING. I nearly died. Thankfully, my father pitied my blind mewling and found me an audiobook of TPD to listen to.

Oh my gosh. Granted, I blame some of my more extreme reactions on the drugs, but what a fun book! Mia is so authentically teenagery with her dramatic highs and lows. As a braniac artsy kid, she balances the fine line between precocious and idiotic that most teenagers walk. I mean, when I was fourteen, I wanted to be a geneticist and could recite all kinds of facts about genomes. I also did and said really dumb things. I was tickled by how perfectly Ms. Cabot portrays all of the paradoxes that come with being a teenager.

Also, as a fan of the movie, I was intrigued by how different the book was in some major aspects. Mia, for instance, is fourteen instead of the decidedly older character played by Anne Hathaway. Fresh out of middle school, she’s the prime character to deal with all the awkwardness mentioned above. She’s also described several times as being flat-chested and having hair that looks like a triangle, something that I would love to have seen onscreen. Oh, and who knew SHE was as much of an activist as her pal Lilly? Seriously, she’s against the meat industry and all sorts of other things. Lilly is the instigator for many of the stunts pulled for her public access TV show, but Mia is right there with her. Who knew!

Oh, about Lilly… She’s a braniac, too? Like, 10x smarter than Mia? Again, who could tell from the movie? Not me! And a big part of the conflict in the book revolves around Lilly being a snotty pain after the whole princess thing comes out, something that’s resolved after one scene in the movie.

And Grandmere! She’s not the stern-yet-twinkly-eyed Julie Andrews I’ve grown to love. No, she’s a wig-wearing totalitarian with tattooed eyebrows!

But back to Mia. The girl is the meat of the entire book. I felt like I was back in early high school again as I rode the wave of her emotions. Sure, the princess thing is a little over the top, but so much of what she’s going through is typical teenage stuff. There’s that one guy who won’t give her the time of day, the mean girl who makes her life miserable, the other guy that she kinda sorta secretly likes but not that she’ll admit it. She has grownups telling her what to do and messing with her already complicated life. She has beliefs and passions that she wants to pursue but feels powerless to do so. She’s trying to figure out who she is and what she wants from life, and all she knows right now is that it involves better hair and boobs. And oh my gosh, algebra! Ugh, algebra.

A fairly accurate representation of Mia’s emotions

Like I said, I listened to the audiobook version, and I highly recommend it. I HATE audiobooks, but this version was narrated by Anne Hathaway herself, and it was perfect. I must caution you all not to listen to too much in one sitting, however, or her voice will never leave your head. Maddening.

Mini-Points Added For: Mia’s very teenage emotions, Meg Cabot’s writing style

Mini-Points Subtracted For: Mia is a bit high-strung at times, which can be annoying.

Good For Mini-Fans Of: Fun, light teen lit, The Princess Diaries movie.

Mini-Notes For Parents: Mia has very strong, liberal opinions that can be off-putting to some readers. Also, Grandmere smokes and drinks.

Buy The Book Now at The Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

8

The New Adult Category Revisited

In case you guys missed it, within the last month or so New Adult “officially” became a category. I’m not ready to fly the Mission Accomplished banner yet, but I am thrilled. Back in May, I set forth an argument in favor of New Adult, and the most common response I received was “That’d be awesome, but it won’t come for a long time.”

Tada! Here it is!

Of course, with progress, so comes the snark.

I normally don’t mind snark too much. With every new thing comes worry and confusion, and snark is often the way people choose to publicly express those feelings while avoiding vulnerability. I have to admit, though, that this latest round got under my skin a bit.

The snarky argument in the Twitter-verse and elsewhere is that the New Adult label is restrictive and even insulting. The snarksters throw out jokes like “What’s next, geriatric fiction?” and sarcastic comments like “Yes, because readers should only read books with characters exactly like them. I’m 32, so therefore my protagonists must be 32 and have three kids and a chinchilla!”

Variations on the last comment are the most prevalent, and the thumping noise you hear is me banging my head on the wall. The point of age categories is not that kids should ONLY read books about kids or teens should ONLY read books about teens. It’s about stages of life and having someone to relate to. A kid in the fifth grade doesn’t have the same issues as a sixteen-year-old. In the same way, a twenty-something fresh out of college is living in a completely different world that the aforementioned sixteen-year-old.

Arguing that the fight for NA fiction limits readership is akin to the argument that having a non-white protagonist limits readership. It very well may to those who are close-minded, but isn’t the risk worth it? Readers should have protagonists with whom they can connect. A well-written protagonist is relatable regardless of age, gender, or race, but does that mean that diversity should be dismissed?

Adding a new age category does not limit readership any more than adding the YA age category limited readership back in the day. I think most all of us can agree that allowing YA to grow by giving it its own category greatly enhanced the possible reading experience rather than restrict it. In the same way, NA fills in the neglected and tumultuous time of life that falls between the heyday of teenhood and the (relatively) settled life of full-blown adulthood.

Here are a few more arguments/concerns regarding New Adult that I would like to politely dismiss.

1. Gap? What gap? You’re either a teen or you’re an adult. Or, as the much-loved Ms. Kelly from Stacked puts it, all the stuff post-high-school “is simply called adulthood.” WRONG, I say! Legally, yes, that time of life is defined as adulthood, but emotionally, mentally, socially, culturally? Not so much.

USA Today posted an article on “emerging adults,” or those in the age range of 18-29. That’s an actual phase on human development being studied by researchers, thank you very much. In addition to putting off marriage and parenthood, emerging adults are also defined by their contact with their parents and the present economy. When asked if they felt like adults, the majority (46.8%) of emerging adults polled said “in some ways yes, in some ways no.”

I’ve talked with friends from college, and very few of us feel like “true” adults. Some of us still live at home. Few of us are completely financially independent. All of us are still going through that weird transition time with our parents. None of us have begun careers in our chosen fields. College, grad school, part-time jobs, and full-time jobs elsewhere for the sake of a paycheck are still very much in the picture. We’re not kids. We’re not happy-go-lucky teens. But we’re not adults either. The law might call us grown up, but we don’t feel grown up, and that’s what New Adult addresses.

2. There’s a gap, but they didn’t need books before, so they don’t need books now. There wasn’t always a gap, just as there wasn’t always a socially accepted age bracket for “teenager” or “child.” But there is now. The world has changed. Social structures, the economy, and many other factors have combined together to make this gap. Call us Millenials. Call us boomerang kids. Call us young whippersnappers, we don’t care. But we exist, and if we exist, we read.

3. There’s a gap, but the gap doesn’t matter. This particular belief irritates me for two reasons. First of all, it’s not true. Sarah over at CEFS repeats the widely known yet crucial observation that teens tend to read up. A fourteen-year-old might read about another fourteen-year-old, but odds are she also wants to read about seniors and all the super-cool things they’re doing. That’s all fine and dandy until suddenly the seniors reach the end of the YA line and find themselves staring at an abyss.

According to their books, life ends with graduation, disappears into unforeseeable nothingness, and then reappears from the void as a life full of kids, cheating husbands, and journeys where one must eat, pray, and love to find oneself again. Apparently, 17 is cool, but once you hit 18 or 19 you’re nothing until you find yourself a solid job and a good man. (Or a rake, if you’re into romance books.)

The second reason this argument makes me grit my teeth is because, essentially, I’m being told that I don’t matter. The gap doesn’t matter; I’m in the gap; therefore, I don’t matter. I don’t matter as someone with an experience to be shared, and I don’t matter as a consumer. Who the heck are you to tell me that I don’t matter?

In talking about YA lit, Read Now Sleep Later quoted a blogger (Tammy Blackwell of Miss Tammy Writes) who encapsulates why having YA fiction is so very important for teens. While her quote is true for teens, I believe it is also VERY true for emerging adults. Here’s a part of the quote:

I think it’s important for teens to feel like there is something just for them, that reflects their experiences. Most of them are struggling to find where they fit in in this world, and YA books reflect that journey and help them find their way.

Now replace “teens” with “emerging adults” and “YA” with “NA.” I believe so many emerging adults continue to read YA because of this issue. We desperately are trying to find a way to fit in and find our place. That struggle doesn’t end in high school; instead, it grows and stretches to envelope even more issues.

4. Writing about the gap is useless, because no one’s buying. Oh, you silly skeptics. Publishers are actively seeking NA lit. Agents are putting it on their wishlists. Why? Because people ARE buying! Dahlia of the Daily Dahlia wrote a bit about the growing market and Stacked put together a small list of published books that can be classified as NA. Leanna at Daisy Chain Books also has some recommendations.

5. We don’t know where to shelve the books! Valid point, but a bit weak. Trish Doller of Something Like Normal fame wrote a bit about this issue from a shelver perspective. Basically, there are NA-type books already out there (see point #4), but they’re shelved in YA or adult, so a new section isn’t necessary. I believe this issue will iron itself out with time as the number of NA titles grows. If my store can find a special place just for nature essays, it can find a place for NA books. Having a section that puts NA books together will aid with browsing, which is how I find many of my books. I don’t want to wade through 20+ snoozy adult lits about crumbling marriages and forgotten childhood traumas to find that one NA book.

6. New Adult (NA) is a stupid name. I’ll give you that one, but it’s not like it’s set in stone. Titles change.

To be honest, I probably won’t read a lot of the current NA titles, as the newest batch seems to focus a lot on sex. I don’t like sex in my books. But I do believe that, as the category expands, its focus will grow as well. Right now, NA has a lot of contemporary college books. This will not always be the case.

My hope is to one day find NA filled with as much diversity and adventure as YA. I want a twenty-year-old knight fighting dragons and a twenty-six-year-old explorer discovering a new planet and a nineteen-year-old graduate moving away from home for the first time. Life does not end at eighteen, nor does it begin again at thirty. Life is happening HERE. NOW. We’re living it, and our stories deserve to be told.

What do YOU think of New Adult?

Articles mentioned in this post:
Bookshelvers Anonymous – New Adult; or, There Be Rough Waters Ahead, Matey!
Clear Eyes, Full Shelves – The “New Adult Genre”: Thoughts + Questions
Daily Dahlia, The – Whose “Failure” is New Adult?
Read Now, Sleep Later – YA Shame and Stigma
Stacked – Some thoughts on “new adults” and also “cross-unders”
USA Today – Many ’emerging adults’ 18-29 are not there yet

30

Cover Love #18

It’s been four years since I slept, and I suspect it is killing me.

Instead of sleeping, Parker Chipp enters the dream of the last person he’s had eye contact with. He spends his nights crushed by other people’s fear and pain, by their disturbing secrets—and Parker can never have dreams of his own. The severe exhaustion is crippling him. If nothing changes, Parker could soon be facing psychosis and even death.

Then he meets Mia. Her dreams, calm and beautifully uncomplicated, allow him blissful rest that is utterly addictive. Parker starts going to bizarre lengths to catch Mia’s eye every day. Everyone at school thinks he’s gone over the edge, even his best friend. And when Mia is threatened by a true stalker, everyone thinks it’s Parker.

Suffering blackouts, Parker begins to wonder if he is turning into someone dangerous. What if the monster stalking Mia is him after all?

So maybe this is less Cover Love and more Cover-Freaked-Me-Out. THAT EYE! It gives me the heebie-jeebies. On the other hand, this cover does grab my attention, and it looks as though it fits the plot fairly well, which means it does everything a cover should. However, when I do get around to reading this book (and how can I not with such a hook?), I may have to cover the cover.

What cover do YOU love this week?

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