Top Ten Tuesday #13

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish. Click  here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s TTT concerns top 10 books I’ve read in 2013. I’ve read under my usual number of books this year, and I might normally have a difficult time choose just 10 books. 2013, however, has not been my best year for reading–it started off well enough, and then I ran smack into one- and two-star books back-to-back-to-back. It frustrated me and stole a bit of my love for reading. I have read more books that aren’t brilliant but I do like, yet those aren’t enough to make my top ten. It’s only recently that I’m regaining enjoyment through some wonderful books, and I have some enticing reads planned out for the next few weeks. For now, though, here are my favorites of 2013:

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I am the Messenger

1. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
After reading the heart-wrenching tear-jerker, The Book Thief, I wasn’t too sure that Zusak could impress me as much as he did with his 2006 bestseller. Whether he did or didn’t is hardly the point, as I don’t believe the two novels can compare against each other. The two books are profoundly different, and the one similarity they share is the person who wrote them: the wonderfully talented Markus Zusak. I am the Messenger punched my emotions all around, and at the same time, the story of Ed’s journey and personal growth is both touching and inspiring. If you haven’t read The Book Thief, or if you  have and didn’t enjoy it, I highly recommend giving this a try.

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Teeth

2. Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz
For nearly a month, I did a little dance around the bookstore with Teeth only to sit it back on the shelf. I wanted to buy it–not just read it, but physically own it–yet I had little knowledge of the plot. All for the best, I’d say. I did succumb to the strong urge to buy Hannah Moskowitz’s book, and once I had it I read it and didn’t stop until I hit the last page. It’s gritty, it’s beautiful, and it’s bleak. Some might call the end bittersweet… I think it’s just sad, and it still gets my emotions wound up months after finishing the book. Good on you, Moskowitz — I look forward to reading the rest of her novels!

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Siege and Storm

3. Siege & Storm (The Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo
Us Grisha fans waited a year to see this book’s publication, but how I wanted it to come out sooner–and desperately. Shadow & Bone remains one of my top favorite reads from 2012, just as Siege & Storm will remains one of my favorites from this year. Leigh Bardugo surprised me senseless and silly with how much growth both the characters and storyline undergo, and my one regret in reading Siege & Storm is reading it too soon and too quickly. Why? Because now all I care for is third (and–sob–last) Grisha book, Ruin & Rising, which does not come out until 2014.

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Saving Francesca

4. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
I’m disappointed that it took me this long to read a Melina Marchetta book. I did attempt Finnikin of the Rock–and I admit that just might not be the book for me–but it is Saving Francesca that became my first Marchetta read. It’s  heart-warming and heart-wrenching all at once, and it was well worth the moments my eyes teared up–and it is certainly worth reading for all the moments it made me laugh.

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The Knife of Never Letting Go

5. The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking #1) by Patrick Ness
If anyone is searching for a gripping novel, this is for you. It’s an addicting page-turner where there is no place to pause.  The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of the best, if not the best, young adult dystopian novel I have read. Danger and risks await at every page and lurk in the margins, but more than that, I love the writing and I love the characters. Anyone who’s read this will understand my restless upset over Manchee, but I also enjoy the path that Viola’s and Todd’s friendship take. The villains are nothing but insane (and insanely evil), and more than anything, they are indestructible. (What is up with that?) Yikes.

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Warm Bodies

6. Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac Marion
No, I still have not seen the movie–but at least I read the book! I’m not sure where Marion will take this in the sequel, whether it will contain the same characters or introduce an entirely set that live in the same universe. Either way, Warm Bodies surprised me with its lucid eloquence and its equally intelligent characters. For a zombie, R shows keen perception of his environment and complex thought, and I enjoyed reading his journey of self-exploration and finding love.

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Dr. Bird's Advice

7. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos
I took an instant liking toward Rosko’s protagonist, James Whitman. He’s endearing without trying, and he’s likable on an adorable level where I’d hug him if he were real. Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets tells the story of sixteen year old James and his struggle against depression, anxiety, and life itself. (Oh, and his therapist is an imaginary pigeon.) Books of this nature are typically “gritty” and mood-dampeners, but Rosko’s novel takes after the humor found in Ned Vizinni’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story. The story is not without flaws, but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless–and I intend to give it another go this summer.

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Alanna

8. Alanna: The First Adventure (Song of the Lioness #1) by Tamora Pierce
I finally did it: I read a Tamora Pierce novel! Alanna: The First Adventure makes the one and only Pierce novel I have read, but not for long. I have the rest of the series on hand, and–if I’m lucky–I can move onto Pierce’s next series within the next few weeks. Alanna is a strong and determined character who makes an excellent role model for young readers. I wasn’t blown away by the writing or world-building, but it did entertain me — I’m eager to see where Alanna’s journey leads (and I’m excited to read through more of Tamora Pierce’s series)!

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Alex Woods

9. The Universe versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
The Universe Versus Alex Woods is the most recent book I have finished, and my review is scheduled to post soon — it’s a wonderful coming-of-age story about the very peculiar Alex Woods and his friendship with war veteran Mr. Peterson. The writing sits on the slow but steady side of pacing, yet I find the novel smart like its narrator (even if he is young and naïve).

 

Which of your 2013 reads make the top of your list?

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Top Ten Tuesday #12

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by  The Broke and the Bookish. Click  here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s TTT is: 10 books at the top of my Summer TBR list, and frankly, it’s a bit impossible for me to give anyone a straight answer. I have more books I want to read than books that are coming out this summer, and I often choose what I read on whim — I’m more of a mood-reader than anything else. This list is mostly comprised of older books with just a few ones set to release in these upcoming months. I look forward to all, however! Several weeks ago I wanted nothing but light chick-lit before moving on to “gritty” contemporaries, and now all I care about are fantasy and steampunk titles. I guarantee that this list will change–just give me another week or two and I’ll find a different genre to obsess over.

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Wildwood Dancing

1. Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier
Marillier’s Wildwood Dancing was recently recommended to me, and I’ve wanted to read it ever since. Caught in a web of ARCs and other books to review, though, I am grudgingly holding off. In the mean time, I steal as many glances as I can at its beautiful cover and enticing summmary.

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Airman

2. Airman by Eoin Colfer
This is one book I recently stumbled across on my own, and its steampunk aspect is only half of the appeal. When Conor, the main character, attempts to intervene in a conspiracy against the king, he is branded a traitor and locked away. The only hope to escape imprisonment and off the island lies in flight, and Conor must put his designs in luck’s hands as he tests his designs. The Artemis Fowl series never grabbed my interest, but Airman certainly has my intrigue.

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Crown Duel

3. Crown Duel (Omnibus) by Sherwood Smith
I first discovered Crown Duel on one of my many book-hunts on Goodreads, and I fell for the summary. Not only that, but as a devout fan of Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina (watch out, because I will push and push this book on you, and then I will push some more even after you’ve read it), this book has come recommended to me by other readers of Seraphina. I attempted Crown Duel once before, but I was sidetracked into sitting it down. Hopefully that will no be the case the second time around.

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Image courtesy of Scholastic Canada

Image courtesy of Scholastic Canada

4. ANYTHING and EVERYTHING by Tamora Pierce
No one will gasp in horror and shock anymore. I will read Tamora Pierce. I will. I’m due to pick up her Song of the Lioness series at the library, even–and yes, that is the entire series I’m picking up.

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The Ghost Bride

5. The Ghost Bride by Yangsze Choo
I am particularly excited to read Yangsze Choo’s book, and for reasons that I can’t pin-point. Plots that handle the afterlife and incorporate folklore or fairy tales, and introduce creatures that spook you in the night–spirits, demons, and even dragons–are irresistible to me. Choo’s novel is not a purely unique story, as you can find several like it, but I’m curious to see Choo’s own twist on this tale.

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Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

6. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
The less I know about this series the more I will enjoy it–that’s what I gather from Jemisin’s trilogy. Sometimes, when I let the criticism and insight of other readers sink in, I feel like my curiosity and interest becomes clouded. From what I do know, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms sounds wonderfully different and fresh, and I look forward to getting lost in its pages.

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The Bone Season

7. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
For someone who’s been dubbed “the next J.K. Rowling,” I think Shannon’s The Bone Season has pressure bearing down on it. Although why Samantha Shannon and her work have been compared to Rowling, I can’t say, because the only similarity between these two writers seems to be a seven-part series. Some hype is rumbling, however, and I’m catching it. You can say I’m eager to read The Bone Season for myself, but the excitement bubbling in parts of the book blogging community hasn’t prevented my skepticism. I’m excited all right, but wary, although I do hope to enjoy Shannon’s book when it’s released.

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A Darkness Strange & Lovely

8. A Darkness Strange & Lovely by Susan Dennard
Us SS&D readers are still waiting on this! And I want it this instant. A Darkness Strange & Lovely is the sequel to Susan Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly, and while it took several months for the first book to grow on me after completing it, I am eager to see where Eleanor Fitt’s journey to Paris takes her. (I will not deny that I am also hoping for a spectacular steampunk gadget-hand! Those who read the first book know what I’m talking about. Cue for all-knowing wink: wink.)

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Image courtesy of Brain Foggles

Image courtesy of Brain Foggles

9. Harry Potter Books # 2 – 4 by J.K. Rowling (re-reads)
I finally went through on my promise to at least re-start Harry Potter when I read and reviewed the first book. Back when Harry Potter & the Deathly Hollows was first released, I made it through about half of the book. A friend spoiled me silly, school started, and horror of horrors: I couldn’t recall what a horcrux was. I didn’t think it was possible for to forget something so vital, but it is. In an effort to reach and finish the last book, I’m venturing through all the HP books again. Because I want to read hoards of books, I hope to read up to the fourth book this summer.

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The Orphanage of Miracles

10. The Orphanage of Miracles by Amy Neftzger
I won a free copy of Neftzger’s book through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewers’ May giveaway batch, and I was delighted to open my mailbox this week to find it. I was hoping The Orphanage of Miracles would arrive while I’m still on a fantasy-high, and it did — I can’t wait to start reading this!

>>Notable Mentions:

Which books do you want to read this summer?

Top Ten Tuesday #10

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt concerns books I’m sure I would go crazy without, and those are all the light and fun novels out there. Life becomes hectic, and sometimes the best relief I find comes in the form of quick, fun books. Here are some of my favorites to recommend:

1. Something Strange & Deadly by Susan Dennard

Okay, I unwrapped the mystery on this one. Dennard couldn’t fool me, but she did satisfy my never-ending reading obsession. The plot fell weak in my opinion, but the story overall holds a light tone with a hint of adventure prickling the air. As the sequel won’t be released until July, I look forward to the short story of A Dawn Most Wicked, which comes out next month.

SSanD

2. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Siege and StormShadow and BoneShadow & Bone makes me want to chuck it at people and make them read it. Bardugo’s writing is pinched in the right amount of detail with swift pacing, and my only regret is that I read through her book too quickly. I tried, I really did try, to slow down, but I realized Shadow & Bone is one of those books I couldn’t walk away from. That’s not to say the story is perfect — near the halfway mark it becomes easy to spot the antagonist and uncoil his plot. Regardless, it didn’t detract from my reading experience, which was rather fun. Now I’m left counting down the days for its sequel — out this June!

Anna and the French Kiss3. Anna & French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

I don’t usually recommend chick-lit, yet alone read it very often. Anna & the French Kiss, however, is equally light and fun riddled in some proper drama. I remember reading this smack in the height of stress during a biology course, and this book was the perfect remedy. Perkins kept me sane. I think Anna is a relatable character, if not frustrating at times, and although the book is predictable, it accomplishes what it should for its genre.

4. The Gathering Storm by Robin Bridges

The Gathering Storm reminds me of a cross between Bardugo’s Shadow & Bone and Dennard’s Something Strange & Deadly. The story follows Duchess Katerina Alexandrovna through the glitz and glam of Imperial Russia’s high society as she comes to terms with a disturbing power: necromancy. Filled with creatures from faeries to vampires, Bridges also includes romance and conspiracy. It sounds like a lot to bundle, yet it’s surprisingly light and fast-paced. I still have the sequel to read, and the third and final installment comes out this August!

TGS

5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

I suppose this isn’t exactly “light” in context, eh? I’m cheating a bit here. Despite its violence, which –and correct me if I’m wrong, because it’s been a while — felt tamed, The Hunger Games is suspenseful and action-packed. It’s not the same type of  “light and fun” as other titles I mentioned so far, but I promise it is highly addicting. With the second film coming out this year, I highly encourage those who haven’t read the books to read them now. If you like the movies,  you’ll enjoy the series. (I warn you, though, Mockingjay is a depressing one.)

The Hunger Games

The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate6. The Merchant & the Alchemist’s Gate by Ted Chiang

At 60 pages, Chiang’s novella might be short but it’s bound to make readers think. I always intended to review this story, and maybe someday I will, but for now it remains on my shelf of beloved books. Within this story lie several other stories with a prominent theme. Overall, this is a very easy-flowing and enjoyable book to sit down with, have a cup a of tea, and relax. To provide a sense of what The Merchant & the Alchemist’s Gate is about, I think its Goodreads summary best describes it:

It’s a story that includes not just buried treasure and a band of thieves, but also men haunted by their past and others trapped by their future; it includes not just a beloved wife and a veiled seductress, but also long journeys taken by caravan and even longer ones taken with a single step. Above all, it’s a story about recognizing the will of Allah and accepting it, no matter what form it takes.

Angus Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging7. Angus, Thongs, & Full-Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison

If you are in need of a good laugh, I recommend the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. I’ve only read the first book in the series, but it gave me plenty of genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Anyone who’s lived through an awkward adolescence will appreciate the humor, and Georgia just might provoke your own pre-teen flashbacks with a laugh.

The Importance of Being Earnest8. The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

I still have a collection of Oscar Wilde plays sitting on my desk (yes, my desk, because I’m so certain I’ll read it “soon” that I refuse to place it back on the shelf), but The Importance of Being Earnest remains the only one I have read. It’s smart, witty, and precise — a brilliant little play that mocks high society with light satire and humor that’ll have you coming back for seconds, possibly more. Wilde’s play is a classic I never tire of and simply adore.

Don Juan9. Don Juan by Molière

Yet another little play that I had fun reading for the light atmosphere and charming humor. Don Juan, or Dom Juan (also called The Feast with the Statue), is the third play in Molière’s hypocrisy trilogy. I can’t say I’ve read the first two plays, although I do have my eye on them. Until then, I’m left with the fond memories of reading Don Juan, which remains a work of literature I continually recommend.

Lips Touch10. Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor

This is a compilation of three short stories, each one different from the other yet connected by thematic elements. I must admit that I never did finish the third story, and maybe someday I will return to it. However, I did enjoy the second story quite a bit (it remains my favorite of the three), and the book overall is a light, pleasurable way to pass time.

››Notable Mentions:

The Melancholy Death of Oyster BoyThe Last MusketeerDr. Bird's Advice for Sad PoetsAn Idiot Girl's Christmas

Top Ten Tuesday #9

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Guess what this week’s Top Ten Tuesday’s prompt is all about? My favorite thing: book recommendations! And here are ten I suggest the most:

Between Shades of Gray How to Say Goodbye in Robot SeraphinaIt's Kind of a  Funny Story Looking for Alaska The Arrival The Book Thief 2 The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Sadly, I’m always too wrapped up in other books to read Ruta Sepetys’ debut novel a second time. At some point, which I hope is this year, I would love to re-read and even review it. Ruta is one talented writer who, despite the stark atmosphere of this novel, manages to sprout hope between the pages. With writing so swift and striking, it’s no wonder that I recommend this book so often. It’s not that Between Shades of Gray is only well-written and tactful–and with a great protagonist to top it off–but the novel sheds light on a piece of history that’s been hidden in the shadows. Whether you have or have not read this book, I also highly recommend that anyone watch the ‘promotional trailer’ of sorts here.

2. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
Another book I recommend often is Natalie Standiford’s How To Say Goodbye in Robot. As far as young adult contemporary/realistic fiction goes, I have yet to encounter any similar book and I don’t think I ever will. Standiford’s novel stands alone, which–regardless of its flaws–is great. I discuss a little of the book in this post, but I of course prefer that you check out the book instead — and read it!

3. Seraphina (Seraphina #1) by Rachel Hartman
I was crazy about Seraphina before it was published, and now I’m all sorts of crazy amplified by ten just waiting on the sequel. Although I’ve been successful in persuading others to read Hartman’s glamorousandkick-ass novel, I don’t think any amount of converts will please me because I just need to talk about this book ALL THE TIME. Hands down, I adore Seraphina as a character — she is an intensely smart, observant individual who is not simply relatable, but beautiful inside and out. My review can be read here, but I also mention Seraphina in this post as well.

4. It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
First, I desperately plead, do not judge this book by its movie. The two are quite different in my opinion, and in all places where the movie flounders the book prevails. Out of many young adult novels I’ve read that deal with mental health, I feel that Vizzini nails it. Craig embodies the emotions of those who live with and have experienced depression, and what I admire most of all is how Vizzini works in humor. Yes: this is a novel about depression that is not depressing. Who’d have thought? Instead, the book is an uplifting story as it follows a boy’s one-week stay in a mental hospital after choosing not to kill himself.

5. Looking for Alaska by John Green
I may never love another John Green novel as much as I love Looking for Alaska, because I’m still waiting for its equal. This book, alongside one other, is what hooked me into exploring young adult literature. Miles “Pudge” Halter is a rather sentimental guy, quite thoughtful, and he undergoes a memorable coming-of-age experience. Off at boarding school, he finds his place among life-long friends and in a sad turn of events, loses one. This novel is sincere but balanced well by John Green’s trademark wit, and I have the feeling that Looking for Alaska will have a special place on my shelf for years to come.

6. The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Shaun Tan’s work in The Arrival stunned me speechless. However wordless (that goes for the book and myself), Tan shows the wonder in his artistic ability through cinematic-like images. The story follows a man as he journeys away from his homeland only to arrive in a foreign world, filled with odd devices and customs, and even odder creatures. It’s an old tale to tell: the story of an immigrant, and what sets The Arrival apart is how Shaun Tan breathes life into it with impressive images. A lot of work–you might not think–went into creating this book, which you can read about (and view pages from the book!) by clicking here.

7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Maybe some day I will get the knots out of my tongue to properly review this page-turner. Until then, I will slap it across the head of anyone willing to listen. You might think a smack from a 550-page book would hurt, but that is nothing in comparison to what its words and characters do to your heart. Death, as a narrator, does a spectacular job — even when he spoils the ending way ahead of time — because he’s much more human than he likes to think, and I swear there’s a heart and soul trapped in the pages.

8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
This is one of those book that, if I catch you insulting it, I will smack you silly across the face. …In my head. I won’t really abuse your face til it’s red and raw, but I’m rather attached –unfortunately?–and I will judge. There are people who easily dismiss Chbosky’s book because of its lasting popularity, and I’m happy to say that I picked this up on whim. I had no previous knowledge of this book, but a friend listed it as one of her favorite reads. Trusting her taste, I gave it a go as well and fell in love.

There Are No Children Here A Monster Calls

9. There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz
There Are No Children Here was required reading for my sociology class, and reading it had me deeply interested in the lives of these two boys. Far from simply informative, it’s heart-wrenching and mind-opening — even more so because it isn’t fiction. This is the true story, as told by Alex Kotlowitz, of Lafeyette and Pharoah growing up in “the other America.”

10. A Monster Calls written by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd, and illustrated by Jim Kay
I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s honest and keenly written with certain awareness. From the moment I started reading I could see no happy ending, which–to be honest–was not what I’d expected. Unaware of the story, I believed a spooky tale lie ready for reading, and how completely wrong I was. It is unusual for me to like a book, and more to love a book, when initial expectations are struck down, and it’s not often that literature brings real tears dripping down my face.

Which books do you recommend most often?

Top Ten Tuesday #8

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s TTT is… Top 10 series I’d like to start but haven’t yet. Similar to these book series, I have exams I should be studying for at this very moment — especially since I will take two of them tomorrow. As anyone may guess, I haven’t started a cram session yet. I sigh! And, internally, I scream. Luck, I hope, is on my side for the next few days, but in the meantime I will also be daydreaming about cuddling up in my special reading spot with these babies:

Underdog1. Wolfe Brothers by Markus Zusak

Zusak’s The Book Thief made me feel all sorts of horrible, sad emotions, but I love him for it. Mist glossed my eyes and I tried to hold in the tears, but the tears poured out regardless, and — after all this time — I continue to feel the tug and pull of his characters’ fates. To feel truly moved and touched by a book in that way doesn’t happen all too often for me, and now I am left waiting, waiting, waiting. I need more Zusak in my life. Recently, I read I am the Messenger, which anchored my adoration for Markus Zusak’s writing more deeply. Until he and his people decide his next book is ready for print, the only Zusak books left to explore are those belonging to his Wolfe Brothers series. As far as I know, Underdog is his first published novel — something that I’m both eager but cautious to approach. How does this series compare to his two most recent books? I hope to find out.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone2. Daughter of Smoke & Bone series by Laini Taylor

I will admit that, upon skimming the summary, this is not a kind of book I would typically pick up. However, as I’ve kept track of reviews, the buzz that surrounds this series isn’t easy to ignore. Daughter of Smoke & Bone sat on my to-read list for nearly a year, and I never so much as looked for it at the bookstore or requested it from the library. For shame. A few weeks ago I did (finally!) purchase it, and I’m excited to read it soon. I sincerely hope that Time wants to be pals with me so that I can read the the first book before summer.

The Knife of Never Letting Go3. Chaos Walking by Patrick Ness

I have ALL of the books! The Chaos Walking trilogy sits in a special spot on one of my shelves, positioned just so — sticking a tad ways out. For quite some time, I itched to own this series, but I’ve wailed about wanting to read them for longer. A Monster Calls remains as the only encounter I’ve had with Patrick Ness, and even then: Ness worked off an idea from Siobhan Dowd. It will be interesting to see any differences in writing technique, I am sure, but mostly: a) I heard The Knife of Never Letting Go is good, b) YA dystopian, and as I know very well… c) Good + Dystopia = My Thing.

The Maze Runner4. The Maze Runner series by James Dashner

And here I have yet another YA dystopian series that I also hear is good. Naturally I own the set, unless we count the prequel. I first picked up The Maze Runner from the library, and I read an estimated one-fourth of the book before classes practically tore it away. Since then I’ve made one or two more attempts, though I feel dread at re-reading and re-reading and re-reading the same pages — it always seems that I’m setting it down for one reason or another. Once I make it past those already-read pages, I’m certain the hook will reel me in once more.

The Golden Compass5. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

A very clear memory of sixteen year-old me perusing the mall’s main bookstore and refusing to leave without The Golden Compass still remains. Sometimes, when I’m honest with myself, I quietly admit that the real reason I unleashed my death grip that day all centers on the book cover. It’s pretty eye-candy, really. Sadly, attractive book covers are not enough to make me read the actual book. Sigh. A number of people have recommended I try His Dark Materials, and I like to think that someday I’ll follow up on that recommendation.

6. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

I’ve seen all but the last released film (and I’m busy feeling upset the remaining Narnia books won’t be adapted?!), but I have only read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I was twelve, and enjoy brooding over the fact that my literature teacher was not impressed by my pop-up and paper-made wardrobe. I thought it gave my book project creative pizazz; my teacher begged to differ. Fine, whatever — I had fun making the mini-wardrobe, but I had even greater fun reading the book. For whatever reason, I never carried on to finish the series. It’s a sad fact that I do not wish to remain a fact. Some day I’ll return to the first book and begin a Narnia adventure through all seven books.

The Chronicles of Narnia

Barnes & Noble leatherbound edition of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series

Johannes Cabal The Necromancer7. Johannes Cabal series by Jonathan L. Howard

Johannes Cabal: the soulless necromancer who wants his soul back! If only Satan was easier to bargain with. No, wait — ! His soul is back where it belongs, but now he’s on the run from the government. …And then? His necromancy powers are purchased by “The Fear Institute”?

In all honesty, I’m smitten with the cover. I’m smitten with the covers of all three books, and I’ve come close to buying these pretties on more than one occasion. As of yet, I’ve backed away from all buying opportunities, and the rest of the time I am busy forgetting that this series exists. At some point I’d like to set down all three books in their beautiful glory on my shelf. There’s no feeling like the feeling of ownership, but I’m just as eager to read this fantastical trilogy. First thing is first: it might help if I would actually remember to pick them up for reading.

A Tale Dark and Grimm8. A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz

As a fan of Brothers Grimm fairy tales, I kept an eye on the first book, A Tale Dark & Grimm, for months before I knew a sequel would come. I don’t know if there are any more books planned for future publication, but I’m mostly always down for fun re-tellings of favorite classic fairy tales. In A Tale Dark & Grimm, readers journey alongside Hansel and Gretel through 8 tales, followed by the companion novel: In a Glass Grimmly, in which Jack and Jill step in to lead roles. The books seem well-received, fun, and enjoyable, and I look forward to discovering the Grimm-based and inspired world.

The Monstrumologist9. The Monstrumologist series by Rick Yancey

Another book to dose readers up on a healthy serving of spooks, or so I hear. Only recently did I realize The Monstrumologist is just one of several books, although I am not entirely sure if this series is a good match for me. There is allure in entering a mysterious world full of strange creatures and horror that will make you gasp, however, and I’m interested. Monstrumologist be ware; I’m coming for you.

 

Hold Me Closer Necromancer10. Necromancer series by Lish McBride

I don’t always have time for reading the books I want to read, and I reach a breaking point when several days becomes several weeks of hardly consuming few pages at a slow pace. That’s when I seek quick, fun books that are light but complex enough to still hold interest. From what I hear, Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is good entertainment that leaves readers wanting a sequel. Well, a sequel was released last year, and the third (and fourth?) book is expected. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll get around to the first two books in time to join the rest of the fans for book three.

 

Which book series do you have your eyes on?

Top Ten Tuesday #7

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

This week’s TTT prompt is: Top 10 books I resolve to read in 2013. Considering all the books I own yet never read — while I continually purchase more — has, on occasion, motivated me to read a select few off my shelves. Last year I challenged myself to read at least 10 dusty bunnies and failed miserably, which is why I’m daring myself to read only 5 in 2013. Out of all the books I do own, however, here at the top ten I am most eager to read (which was a difficult decision in the first place… I want to read them all):

1. Crown DuelCrown Duel by Sherwood Smith
Young Countess Meliara swears to her dying father that she and her brother will defend their people from the growing greed of the king…” Okay, Smith, you had my attention by the second word, and you had me hooked by the synopsis’ end. Just give me some extra time to tear my eyes away from the pretty cover, and I think this book and I will get along just fine.

I have pined for this book and flirted with its pages for months, but I have yet to read one page. I’d love to pick this book up next… I haven’t the slightest clue as to why I haven’t read it yet.

2. When I was Five I Killed MyselfWhen I was Five I Killed Myself by Howard Buten
This is the kind of book I can read in one sitting. Just me, a cup of good tea, and this book. I especially like the idea of wrapping myself in a warm blanket at my favorite reading spot as the soft patter of rain hits the windows. (I’d rather have snow, but my faith in this happening has all but died.)

From the summary: “This is Burt’s story as written in pencil on the walls of Quiet Room in the Children’s Trust Residence Center, where he lands after expressing his ardent feelings for a classmate.” I’m disappointed that I did not make room for Buten’s novel over break, although I’m almost afraid to learn what Burt did to his classmate as I am curious to find out.

3. FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Shelley
No book on this list gets me quite as excited as this classic. Naturally, because it is the oldest literary work of the bunch, it is therefore the one book I’ve wished to read for the longest amount of time. With classes quickly approaching, I’d rather hold off and include Frankenstein as part of my summer reading instead — a less hectic time of year when I can lose myself in a book without thoughts of assignment due dates bearing their weight on my shoulders. Everyone I know who has read Shelley’s masterpiece highly regards it, and I hope to value it just as much.

4. Battle RoyaleBattle Royale by Koushun Takami
As far as I am concerned, whisperings of Battle Royale seemed to come straight out from nowhere and grew louder. Before I knew it, people were discussing it. Everywhere. “Silence your ignorance, fool. Collins CLEARLY ripped of the much sexier, more violent and better Battle Royale!”

…Well, I quite enjoyed The Hunger Games trilogy, and while I am not interested in doing a Battle Royale vs. THG comparison, I am hooked on Takami’s premise and fancy the idea of reading it (preferably this year or so help me).

5. Un Lun DunUn Lun Dun by China Miéville
I just want to read this book already. Period. The end.

Un Lun Dun is a place where words are alive, a jungle lurks behind the door of an ordinary house, carnivorous giraffes stalk the streets, and a dark cloud dreams of burning the world. It is a city awaiting its hero, whose coming was prophesied long ago, set down for all time in the pages of a talking book.

…Yes, I want to read it. Soon. Decidedly soon.

6. StormdancerStormdancer by Jay Kristoff
Oh, the ARC reviews on this one! I’d say the pre-release hype hit an extreme high. Reviewers rained Kristoff’s debut in so much praise that all I could do was soak it in like a dehydrated sponge, and I desperately needed to read this, too! Unfortunely the book hit stores shortly before classes began. I knew there was no way time would allow me to read Stormdancer and top the experience with a thoughtful review. So: reluctantly, I sat the book down and returned it to the library from whence it came. Now I own the book (I oogle at the cover frequently) and can only hope I enjoy it as I know many other readers do.

7. The Maze RunnerThe Maze Runner by James Dashner
A new fact I learned about myself in 2012: I love dystopian novels, and the only thing I love more than a dystopian novel is a really good dystopian novel. I started Dashner’s The Maze Runner last year, yet schoolwork and exams once again got in my way. This book reeled me in so quickly, and I instantly found myself smitten with everything I was reading. I had no trouble trying to force the book onto friends, though I had little success. I’m eager to start once again from the beginning and finally finish to the end this time, however.

8. Harry Potter & the Deathly HallowsHarry Potter & the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
It’s only proper that I finish the last Harry Potter installment. It isn’t right, otherwise. How can someone work her way up through all the books and abandon the final book midway? Harry Potter defines a period of my life like nothing else, and it was the best part of my childhood. The disappointment I feel towards myself for not finishing off book 7 is tremendous.

Of course, I will re-read books 1 through 6… and at last: book 7. Fist pump!

9. Tales of the Madman UndergroundTales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes
I have ten fingers and ten toes to count on, but there are too many ways a moody, “dysfunctional” teen narrator can create a disaster of a novel. That is why I absolutely love it when such a novel proves itself a worthwhile read. One-star reviewers can say whatever they like about Tales of the Madman Underground, because I can’t be dissuaded. Karl Shoemaker sounds disturbed, all right, but this story sounds right up my alley.

Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act – and be – Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative.

10. The PostmortalThe Postmortal (a.k.a. The End Specialist) by Drew Magary
The year 2019: “Imagine a near future where a cure for aging is discovered and-after much political and moral debate-made available to people worldwide. Immortality, however, comes with its own unique problems…” This is like sci-fi / dystpian-ish post-apocalyptic awesome blossom come at me End Specialist, I wanna read you.

I had checked this out in particular from the library over the summer, but the book’s due date beat me to it. Maybe this year will be the year?

 

Share if you care: Which books do hope to finally knock off your TBR list?

Top Ten Tuesday #6

Top Ten Tuesday is an original weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Click here to read more and join!

How people manage to run their book blogs when school’s in session is something I haven’t figured out. Obviously. The last time a TTT post was spotted here was back in early September, before classes started and statistics temporarily ruined me. And book reviews? I didn’t have proper time to read, let alone review — and let me not forgot about keeping update on memes and other blogs. At the very least, I had hoped to rejoin the weekly TTT several weeks ago. I unfortunately did not foresee that multiple tests a week plus life with the bonus of I AM NOT SLEEPING?!? equals REJECT EVERYTHING THAT IS ADULTHOOD AND RESPONSIBILITY. But thank goodness finals week is done! I mean: I can blog? I can blog and read and LIVE without cramming for exams. I am undergoing this wonderful sensation, and I think it’s called “not feeling [as] stressed.”

Now, without further procrastination, I move to the real point of this post: Top 10 books that I read in 2012. Here I go!

1. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman
SeraphinaIf I am tired of hearing myself rave about Hartman’s debut YA fantasy novel, I know everyone else must be as well. But honestly, can anyone not expect me to shower this book in a thunderstorm of more praise? Lightning bolts are at the ready — they shoot out from eyes like killer beams and electrify anyone’s anti-Seraphina commentary to the death. (Just kidding, or not.) In short, the reason I am still very much in love with Seraphina comes from the lasting impression. It’s first-class. Top notch. Superior to everything. (Well, maybe not everything.) You get the idea, I am sure.

Hit me over the head with another YA title that not only tops Hartman’s world-building craft, but her all-around pure talent and ability. Do it. I haven’t encountered another book this year — except Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief — that has won my entire devotion quite like this. I am prepared to sell my soul for even a snippet of Dracomachia‘s draft.

2. Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Between Shades of GrayWhoa, there, grab a tissue! What did you do to me, Sepetys? There is watery substance dripping down my cheeks. My eyes are leaky, broken faucets. Fix this. I think I have… tears? But I can’t stop reading.

Lina’s story punched me in the heart at every turn of every page, and it hurt. Lord, did it hurt, because I cried. Crying, I note, is not something that too many authors can make happen. Sepetys’ style flows from one sentence to the next, packed with such details, emotional sentiment, and stark pain that it all came at me in swift blows. By then it was too late to set the book down. (How could I? I have feelings for this whole story.) Every atom of me was invested in Lina’s life, her journey, and her story, so it is no surprise that I found myself reading until morning light peeped through the blinds and drowned my room. What is sleep?

I recommend that anyone read this, especially if you love young adult literature and/or historical fiction, because this is one tragic yet beautifully written book.

3. How to Say Goodbye in Robot by Natalie Standiford
How to Say Goodbye in RobotYou might say Bea is my fictional twin — teen-version me, except a thousand times cooler than I’ll ever be — and Jonah is the best friend I wish I had. The friendship these two share appears controversial based on what I’ve read by other reviewers. I observe a great deal of baffled readers who view Jonah as a ‘territorial (boy)friend,’ despite that Bea and Jonah’s relationship is strictly platonic. Sitting opposite is me, because rarely — never, actually — have I encountered something special like what these main characters share.

Boyfriend is such a stupid word. No, I’m not your boyfriend. I thought we were way beyond that. What we are cannot be described with trivial words like boyfriend and girlfriend. Even friend doesn’t come close to describing it.

But who cares about fitting into labels when you have a good, quirky book like this? It’s one book I would love to read again and find time to review, if only to share my thoughts — I certainly do have quite an attachment to it.

(If the library had not put Standiford’s novel on special display, there is an uncomfortably high chance that I would have gone the rest of my life and never learned of its existence. This likelihood disturbs me, because I first read How to Say Goodby in Robot at the very beginning of 2012, and yet… Amazingly, I still feel strong affection for both the characters and storyline. I adore every part of this book, flaws and all. The only thing I find upsetting is that I cannot convince another  human being to read this book. Why?! I am more than willing to make a surprise attack and buy it for someone.)

4. Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Shadow and BoneWoooo, everyone, it’s the Darkling! Whose real name, as Leigh Bardugo has informed via her Tumblr account, will be revealed in the final book. I pray it resembles nothing generic, like, say… Fred. I once had a terrible, fleeting crush on a boy at the ice skating rink when I was ten. That is, until I discovered his name. Hence “fleeting crush,” and yes: you are free to call me shallow, but I’d built up a full 30 minutes imagining him as a Charlie. Fred ruined everything.

Thankfully I trust Bardugo enough not to disappoint, however.

But in other Shadow & Bone news: Wow, did I ever have trouble setting this book down, and it had everything to do with characters more so than plot itself. I say this because I find the plot settles more on the predictable side — it is not difficult to see where the story ultimately leads, but I still enjoyed becoming an instant Genya fangirl (no matter where her loyalty lies) and the chemistry between characters. As a plus: Bardugo wraps the first of a trilogy well, patching the story together like a complete book. At the same time, she leaves just enough dangling details to rope us into Grisha Installment #2 —  another book of many that I am excited to read next year.

5. The Last Musketeer by Jason
The Last MusketeerWhatever it is that you are doing: STOP. Pause all current activities and find a graphic novel by Jason. (That is “Jason,” simply Jason, the pseudonym of John Arne Sæterøy.) Request it at the library, buy it from a bookseller, steal it from a friend — I do not care about your book-obtaining methods. All I care is that someone else on this planet gives this artist and his books a chance.

While I have only read a measly three graphic novels from him (the first being I Killed Adolph Hitler, which has less to do with Hitler than you’d think — that is not a bad thing!), The Last Musketeer is my favorite by far. A subtle and fair dose of good-natured humor greeted me on every page with charm. It’s impossible not to smile, at the very least.

The Last Musketeer by Jason

The Last Musketeer by Jason

6. I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly (illustrated by J.M. Ken Niimura)
I Kill Giants

I find giants. I hunt giants. I kill giants. So you’ll forgive me if ‘motivating’ a room full of losers with no self-esteem out of their hard earned money doesn’t hold much interest.

If there is one type of story I love, it is a good coming of age story and the elements that accompany it. How these stories are told — whether they stand out among the heap or blend in — depends on how the writer chooses to use those elements, to plant twists and spin originality.

I Kill Giants is another graphic novel I read and almost instantly adored. Barbara Thorson is your average Queen Misfit Extraordinaire, which may as well translate into The Greatest Giant Slayer to Exist. Defending the world from dangerous giants is a full-time job — an occupation, I add, that leaves little room for to cope with personal demons. This battle is beyond Thorson vs. Giant, as the story delves into the imagination of a troubled girl who struggles to accept what reality has in store. Bonus points: I could stare at the illustrations all day and still not get enough. (I fancy the idea of an IKG anime…)

Written  by Joe Kelly & illustrated by J.M. Ken Niimura

Written by Joe Kelly & illustrated by J.M. Ken Niimura

7. A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd’s idea, and illustrated by Jim Kay

A Monster CallsThis quickly earned a rightful spot on my favorites list, and whenever I can possibly order my thoughts in a coherent manner, I swear I will review this brilliant book. Until then, I am happy to have read it — period. Jim Kay’s illustrations are quite catching, and I’d pay for poster-size versions of his A Monster Calls artwork simply to hang on my walls! It is not only the story, however, that I can love and connect to on a person level, but I find that honesty is something to appreciate. However different the circumstances my situation are from Connor O’Malley’s, comfort lives inside these pages. This is just one example of why no one should let the “children’s book” label stop you from reading. This book is not only for children. It’s a book for anyone, of any age, who knows the grief of losing a loved one.

Your mind will believe comforting lies while also knowing the painful truths that make those lies necessary. And your mind will punish you for believing both.

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Book ThiefZusak did something much worse than rip my heart out and stomp all over my emotions. No. He first staked me over and over, slowly, and willed pain waves upon my soul with every jab. Then he stitched a time bomb inside me and watched emotions explode.

Beat me all you like, Zusak. I’m an empty piñata now. (So why do I love you so much for it? I can’t wait to read I am the Messenger, which a certain lovely gal gifted me — a dozen thank yous!) The Book Thief, for me, is one of those books that genuinely leaves me speechless, because I have no idea where to begin. How do I explain what makes this book wonderful? Or why I adore it? Every speck of this book is a fantastic, and often at times emotional, experience. The reasoning? Just because it is.

9. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar ChildrenI think I articulated my feelings on this book quite well when I said:

Here’s the thing: my favorite books are almost as precious to me as my cat. They’re like my adopted children, only more endearing because they aren’t germ-spewing factories that shout, cry, and scream. It’s like when someone declares the smallest of a semi-but-not-really-insult about your mother.

Oh, no, protective mother hen! I kid, though. This book is not for everyone, and I can understand why. But for whatever and all reasons, which I discuss in my disgustingly long review, I clicked with Jacob.

10. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Northanger AbbeyI have adored just about every Austen-based movie and mini-series I’ve watched. What is not surprising is that I have read very little of Austen’s novels. As part of the “Austen in August” reading challenge this summer, I got my hands on a few Austen classics: Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and finally: Northanger Abbey. The latter, unfortunately, is the only Austen novel I could fit into my August reading. While I do plan to read Austen’s other works, I am happy to have read and enjoyed Catherine Morland’s story. Mostly, I think I felt surprised to find myself so quickly engrossed in this “love story” for the first half of the novel. Catherine, you Tilney-infatuated book nerd! That girl has a wild imagination.

So tell me: what are your favorite books read in 2012?