Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Ten of 2011

Someday, I will learn to write my posts in advance. Some-freaking-day. *shakes head* Normally I would not have had trouble keeping up with something like this. But it's not exactly "normal" to get sick at Christmas, and that's what happened to me this year. Our whole family has a nasty cold bug and it's knocking everyone on their butt.

So that's why all of my stuff is in one post. Thanks so much to anyone who decides to check this out, because it's bound to be a little bit lengthy. I bet you can all guess what my first New Years Resolution is going to be as far as blogging goes. (Hint: hopefully *this* won't happen again.) Anyway, enjoy! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and that the new year is full of nothing but awesome!

Top Ten Books of 2011:

I started my blog in June and started focusing it as a book blog in August. I have focused more on reading whatever looks really interesting to me, as opposed to strictly reading what has released this year. So my list contains some books that were released in 2011 and some that I read for the first time this year. Read on to see what books made my "I Love It!" list. 

1. The Sky Is Everywhere
by Jandy Nelson
My review is here.
Why I Love It: First up, you can write a hero who's name is Joe. Enough said there. Second: This is one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read in any genre. Third, the grief these characters feel is so raw that you can almost *feel* it, yet the book is about hope. That's not easy.
2. Divergent
By Veronica Roth
My review is here.
Why I Love It: First up: Four. Is any more explanation required? Second, Tris is a strong kick-ass heroine that I immediately clicked with. Third, the world building and social structure designed here are fascinating.
3. Obsidian
by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My review is here.
Why I Love It: First, Daemon. I still don't know if I want to kiss him or kill him, but I do know I still think about him / what will happen in the next book. That's a good thing. Two: Katy didn't put up with Daemon's crap and stayed reasonably consistent throughout the book. Third, aliens haven't been this much fun since Farscape.
4. Shut Out
by Kody Keplinger
My review is here.
Why I Love It: First, the characters are real and easy to relate to. Second, the dialogue was both believable and very funny at times. Third, Cash was a totally awesome guy from start to finish, so what's not to love? ;)
5. The Scarlet Dagger
by Krystle Jones
My review is here.
Why I Love It: First, Sloane is a completely kick-ass heroine who keeps it together despite having some really tough stuff thrown at her. Second, Aden is a hero that you want to love but that you are never totally sure it's 'okay' to love until the time is exactly right. And third, vampires + dystopian fiction = win. This was a really interesting combination that made both very fresh.
6. Dearly, Departed
by Lia Habel
My review is here.
Why I Love It: I think I'll just sum this one up with the quote I used when I made it October's book of the month: "Dearly, Departed made me fall in love with a zombie. Clearly, this book is a winner." Need I say more?
7. Tiger's Curse
by Colleen Houck
My review is here.
Why I Love It: I'll try to keep this short, but it's going to be hard. First, absolutely fabulous world building. I felt like I was there. Second, Ren. And Kishan. (As I said in my review, I think Kelsey and I can work this out. :p *kidding*) Third, I love the way that the adventure and romance elements interact, strengthen and balance each other. That makes for a very strong book.
8. The Key
by Felicia Rogers
My review is here.
Why I Love It: First, this book has one of the most original and well thought out paranormal creatures / mythologies I have ever seen. I didn't see it coming and I took great care not to spoil it in my review. Wanna know, huh? Go read it! Second, Chase was such an amazing hero. I totally loved how protective and caring he was toward Maggie. It fit the story well. Third, Dougal. There is a lot more to him then meets the eye. I love how he grew throughout the story and his choice at the end was moving. 
9. The Iron King
by Julie Kagawa
My review is here.
Why I Love It: I'm a gamer. Some of you know that, some of you possibly didn't. What really grabbed me about The Iron King was how well Julie was able to balance emotions and character growth with action and adventure. I also liked the way that the characters interacted, worked together, came and went. It reminded me of old school role playing games. And I'm saying that as a compliment. It's not something I notice often in books. Oh, and Ash is pretty fascinating, too. ;)
10. Catching Fire
by Suzanne Collins
My review is here.
Why I Love It: The middle of a trilogy is often the hardest part to read, but I did not find that here. Catching Fire did all of the things a good mid-book should: it expanded on the characters from book one, it showed consequences for what had happened, and it paved the way for the final book. Yet unlike many mid-books, Catching Fire was such a strong and solid read on it's own. By far my favorite in the Hunger Games trilogy.

Top Ten Book Covers of 2011:

As with the books, I am not restricting myself specifically to this year. The books that I have chosen are all things that I bought this year and that are currently on my shelves. Some of these I've read, some I'm still waiting to read. They say a picture is worth a thousand words and I think I'll let these lovelies speak for themselves.


Top Ten Book Boyfriends of 2011:

1. Joe Fontaine (from The Sky Is Everywhere). To anyone who says you can't have a leading man named Joe, I must politely disagree. Yes, yes you can.

2. Ash (from The Iron King). I love watching a character be redeemed. While we do not see a 100% reversal in Ash during this book, this is part of a series and I look forward to watching him grow. Plus, how many heroes in romance get their own book? (The Iron Knight) That really intrigues me.

3. Four (from Divergent). For some reason Four makes me think of part of Don Quixote by Gordon Lightfoot: "He is wild but he is mellow / He is strong but he is weak / He is cruel but he is gentle / He is wise but he is meek" Not all of these necessarily represent Four. It's the contrasts and layers of his character that made me think of the song.

4. Ren & Kishan (from Tiger's Curse). Each is equally swoon worthy in his own way and is totally unique and interesting. Kelsey is welcome to Ren. It's Kishan that has caught my interest. :p

5. Aden (from The Scarlet Dagger). I loved watching Sloane and Aden slowly come together. It's not often that a paranormal book takes its time, but there was no insta-love here and that was really refreshing.

6. Rephaim (from the House of Night series). I've been crushing on Rephaim since before I had a blog. I love the theme of love redeeming people and this is one of the finest examples I have ever seen.

7. Linden (from Wither) Oh. My. God. I had to go back and give this book an extra heart on account of this character. I couldn't -- okay, still can't! -- stop thinking about him. Which is shocking because I was prepared to hate him. What happened to him ripped out my heart. I hope by the end of the trilogy he can have some happiness.

8. Carlos (from Rules of Attraction). My favorite hero from the Perfect Chemistry trilogy. They were all fabulous but I really loved seeing Carlos and Kiara get together the most for some reason. A bad boy with a heart is always a win in my books.

9. Bram Griswald (from Dearly, Departed). The zombie who stole my heart. Bram is an amazing hero because despite the facts about him (Lia Habel's zombies aren't 'prettified') his personality is so uplifting and intriguing that I couldn't help cheering for him and Nora -- or falling for him myself. Very impressive!

10. Roland (from Mortal Obligation). A Dark One with a conscience, Roland has a difficult past that was alluded to during Mortal Obligation that makes him an interesting part of one of the best love triangles I have ever read. I cannot wait to find out more. Anyone know when Nichole Chase is releasing the next book?

Top Ten Must-Reads for 2012:

by Lauren DeStefano
Rhine and Gabriel have escaped the mansion, but danger is never far behind.

Running away brings Rhine and Gabriel right into a trap, in the form of a twisted carnival whose ringmistress keeps watch over a menagerie of girls. Just as Rhine uncovers what plans await her, her fortune turns again. With Gabriel at her side, Rhine travels through an environment as grim as the one she left a year ago - surroundings that mirror her own feelings of fear and hopelessness.

The two are determined to get to Manhattan, to relative safety with Rhine’s twin brother, Rowan. But the road there is long and perilous - and in a world where young women only live to age twenty and young men die at twenty-five, time is precious. Worse still, they can’t seem to elude Rhine’s father-in-law, Vaughn, who is determined to bring Rhine back to the any means necessary.

In the sequel to Lauren DeStefano’s harrowing Wither, Rhine must decide if freedom is worth the price - now that she has more to lose than ever.

I must know what happens! Wither ended with some pretty crazy things set in motion and I am very curious to see the results of the decisions that characters made.

by Veronica Roth
One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris's initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

New York Times bestselling author Veronica Roth's much-anticipated second book of the dystopian Divergent series is another intoxicating thrill ride of a story, rich with hallmark twists, heartbreaks, romance, and powerful insights about human nature.
I devoured Veronica's debut, Divergent. I absolutely loved everything about it. So of course I am anxious to get my hands on the sequel. I can't wait to see what will happen next and how the characters will grow and change.

by Megan McCafferty

It’s been thirty-five weeks since twin sisters Harmony and Melody went their separate ways. And now their story has become irresistible: twins separated at birth, each due to deliver twins…on the same day!

Married to Ram and living in Goodside, Harmony spends her time trying to fit back into the community she once believed in. But she can’t forget about Jondoe, the guy she fell for under the strangest of circumstances.

To her adoring fans, Melody has achieved everything: a major contract and a coupling with the hottest bump prospect around. But this image is costing her the one guy she really wants.

The girls’ every move is analyzed by millions of fans eagerly counting down to “Double Double Due Date.” They’re two of the most powerful teen girls on the planet, and they could do only one thing to make them even more famous:

Tell the truth.

Bumped was great but left me hanging off the edge of a cliff going "What?!". I normally hate it when books do that, especially when the wait is going to be huge, but I loved Bumped so much that I actually didn't mind. Is Thumped going to be a day one purchase for me? Absolutely! 

A Midsummer's Nightmare
by Kody Keplinger
Whitley Johnson's dream summer with her divorce dad has turned into a nightmare. She's just met his new fiancee and her kids. The fiancee's son? Whitley's one-night stand from graduation night. Just freakin' great.

Worse, she totally doesn't fit in with her dad's perfect new country-club family. So Whitley acts out. She parties. Hard. So hard she doesn't even notice the good things right under her nose: a sweet little future stepsister who is just about the only person she's ever liked, a best friend (even though Whitley swears she doesn't "do" friends), and a smoking-hot guy who isn't her least, not yet. It will take all three of them to help Whitley get through her anger and begin to put the pieces of her family together.

Filled with authenticity and raw emotion, Whitley is Kody Keplinger's most compelling character to date: a cynical Holden Caulfield-esque girl you will wholly care about.

I am so eager to read this that I'm listing it even without a cover image. Need I say more? 

Lenobia's Vow
by P.C. & Kristen Cast
The second in the enthralling new mini-series of novellas from the #1 bestselling authors of the House of Night, Lenobia's Vow tells the gripping story behind the House of Night's enigmatic riding instructor – and one of Zoey’s closest allies against evil

The House of Night is an international publishing sensation; with almost 12 million books in print, and an incredible 120 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, the series has taken the world by storm. Now, the excitement continues as the Cast mother-daughter duo shares the back stories of a few of the House of Night's most important – and mysterious – characters. The second of the House of Night Novellas brings us Lenobia, the strong, beautiful horseback riding instructor, who guides Zoey through some of her darkest hours, and has a dark secret buried in her own past...

In a small southern town at the turn of the century, young Lenobia is developing into a beautiful young woman with ideas of her own. But when she is Marked as a fledgling vampyre, her world turns upside down, and she is drawn to the musical streets of New Orleans. There, she learns of the city’s dark underbelly, ruled by powerful black magic. As Lenobia experiences her first love – and loss – and discovers a passion for horses to sustain her, she must come face-to-face with Darkness itself. And she may not escape without scars.

Those who've been hanging around my blog for any length of time know I am madly, passionately in love with the House of Night series. So for me this is an absolute must read, especially after the fantastic setup that was done as one of the subplots in Destined. 

by Marissa Meyer
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, a ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . .

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

In this thrilling debut young adult novel, the first of a quartet, Marissa Meyer introduces readers to an unforgettable heroine and a masterfully crafted new world that’s enthralling.

I have two things to say about this one. First, I have it sitting on my bed and I'm having quite the time sitting on my hands to keep from reading it. (Chapters had it on Boxing Day. How on earth did that happen?) Second... Cinderella + Cyborgs? Sign. Me. Up.

Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi
Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers abarbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure.

This book has had my attention from the first moment that I heard about it. I love books that involve some form of adventure (and trying to rescue someone often does) and I also love books where the characters have to gradually come to accept each other; alliances or loves that are earned rather then instant. I can't wait to see what I think of this when it releases. 

Grave Mercy
by Robin LaFevers
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae's most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Handmaiden of Death. Did you all stop reading right there and add this to your GoodReads? I've been intrigued by this book since the first time I heard about it. The premise sounds utterly fantastic. I was incredibly fortunate and won an ARC a while back, but I don't want to review it too early so it is waiting (not so patiently) to be read.

Of Poseidon
by Anna Banks
Emma and her friend Chloe are spending vacation in Florida. When Emma (literally) runs into a hot guy named Galen on the beach, little does she know he’s a prince of the Syrena. Galen and Emma both feel something strange – is it attraction? – and Galen suspects that Emma might well be the girl he’s heard of – a human who can communicate with fish.

What follows is a deadly scene with a shark in which Galen witnesses Emma’s gifts. He must know more about her, and follows her back to New Jersey, and high school, to find out for sure if she’s the key to saving his kingdom. Soon, Emma can’t deny her feelings for him, but can’t explain them, either – and both she and Galen must learn more about where she comes from and what her powers are before they can trust one another and their feelings.

Anything with people who live beneath the sea is -- pun totally intended! -- a siren song to me. I love stories about merfolk and other aquatic beings so this immediately grabbed my interest. I can't wait to check it out. 

The Selection
by Kiera Cass
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

This sounds incredibly interesting. But the question remains... Is this Prince worth all the trouble? If I was in this girl's shoes I think I'd have a hard time taking anyone like this at all seriously. If these girls have been selected for him it makes him seem indecisive and lazy. And if he needs, or feels he deserves, to have 35 girls put their lives on hold for him then he has a tremendous ego to boot. Going to be interesting to see whether I can be convinced otherwise. ;) 

Anyway, thanks for sticking around for all of that. :) I had a lot of fun putting this all together and I am incredibly excited to see 2012 get underway! I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday season and that the new year brings great things.


  1. Great post. I added a few of these books to my goodreads list (which is getting way too long... haha). Grave Mercy looks like it will be really great, you're so lucky that you have it already!
    - Jayde

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