Friday, December 30, 2011

My Favorite Reads of 2011

I read a lot of books this year. According to GoodReads I read 60+ (and that doesn't include the HP or HG series re-reads that I did). Of all the books I've read this year these are my favorites.

I usually do these lists without declaring a absolute favorite but I have to admit that Hourglass was my favorite book of the year. I can not put into words how much I loved this book! I have quite a few friends who have book blogs and they all gave it glowing reviews so I knew it was good but I had no idea just how amazing it was going to be. I adored this book with it's sassy heroine, swoony boys, supportive family and quirky & extraordinarily talented support cast. If you haven't read this book yet you're missing out!! Do it now!!

The rest of this list is in no particular order because I love them in different ways for different reasons.

I don't think I can do the beauty of this book justice. On the surface this is a cute teen love story but it's SO much more. There is the teen love story, which is delicious (serious swooning!!), but it's also a story about family, trust, being true to yourself, and more. I can't even put it into words- just read this book NOW!!! (Actually, if you haven't read Anna and the French Kiss you need to read that one first)

Divergent was another book that all my book blogging friends were raving about. I was feeling slightly burned out on the dystopian genre so I wasn't all that excited to read it but based on my friends recommendations I gave it a try. WOWZA!! I was blown away!! Divergent is the kind of book that will keep you up late at night because you need to read "just one more chapter" and then at the end of that chapter there is no possible way you can't read the next one. The action and adventure is non-stop. Plus there is a really swoon-worthy boy in it, so of course I loved it ;)

I love a good paranormal romance but if the book makes me laugh it takes the book to a whole new level. Sophie's sarcasm made me a fan of these books from the first page. I adore her! Add a swoony boy who isn't all that he seems, a pink obsessed vampire roommate and a whole lot of trouble and I'm hooked. I can't even explain how much I love these books- take my word for it. You'll love them!!! 

I picked up Nightshade in January because Andrea was coming to Salt Lake as part of the Breathless Reads Tour. I was leery about reading yet another wolf book but the Guardians are completely different than any other wolves I've read about. The world and characters that Andrea has created are beautiful and heartbreaking. The themes that are present in the books have fueled many hours of conversation with my friends. I'm so excited to see where the story goes in Bloodrose, which is out next week.

Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder

One of my all time favorite series is the The Poison Study series so when Maria announced she was starting a new series I was ecstatic. But to be honest I was also worried. I loved the Poison Study series but only liked the Storm Glass series and the Inside Out series so I tried to not get too excited about this new book. My fears were in vain. Touch of Power is Poison Study good (if you've read PS you'll know what I mean). It has all the elements I was looking for- a kick ass heroine, a love interest that took my breath away, sidekicks that stole my heart, a villain that made my skin crawl and a magical mystery. It is SO GOOD!!

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

Oh my goodness!!! Sometimes a book completely takes me by surprise and I fall head over heels in love with it. I put The Near Witch on my to-read list after watching videos of an author retreat that Victoria attended. I was intrigued by her description of the book. This book is so beautiful and haunting!! Victoria's writing is so descriptive and rich. I could see the Moors and hear the wind rushing through town. I could see the little rock wall surrounding the town. I can't say enough about this book- read it!!

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
I knew when I picked up Clockwork Prince that it was going to be good. I adore all of Cassie's books so I knew this wouldn't be any different. I was not disappointed. I have to admit that although I love the Mortal Instruments that the Infernal Devices are where my heart truly lies. I love the setting of Victorian London and the characters have wormed their way into my heart in a way that the MI characters never have. Clockwork Prince made me cry, swoon and laugh. My heart broke in several ways as I read this book. I'm a die-hard Team Will girl so those of you that have read it will understand part of my heartbreak. I can not wait to see where Cassie takes us in Clockwork Princess.

I'm going to stop here. I could list more books but that would make this post completely out of control. If you're interested in what other books I've loved make sure we're friends on GoodReads. I track everything that I read there.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Sneak Peek at 2012

My friend Kate went to NCTE and got a bunch of books while she was there. When she posted a picture of all the books she got I jokingly listed a few of the ARCs that I would like to read. She was kind enough to loan them to me after she read them. They arrived just after finals so I've been able to devour them during the break. Here are my thoughts on Take a Bow, Everneath, Pandemonium and The Rivals.

I'm a huge fan of Elizabeth Eulberg's books so I went into this with really high expectations- they were blown away! I absolutely adored this book!!!

As with Elizabeth's prior books Take a Bow captures the teenage years perfectly. This book is the story of four students in a performing arts high school. I wasn't a performer in high school but the majority of my friends were in choir or theater so much of the competition and drama that takes place in the book was very familiar to me. The joy, the passion, and the heartbreak was all spot on. These students journey to discovering who they truly are and what they really want to be is one that is familiar to everyone even if they aren't into the performing arts.

When I finished this book I had tears in my eyes and a huge smile on my face. I honestly loved or hated all the characters in the book. I can't really say more without spoiling anything but take my word for it you want to read this book. You will love it!!

One last note: I'm not a fan books that are written from multiple points of view. I find them to be confusing and very rarely do they flow well. I admit that I when I realized that Take a Bow was from more than one point of view I rolled my eyes and inwardly groaned. But I was very pleasantly surprised that I never had to question who was speaking, each character had a very distinct voice and the story flowed naturally.

I've been hearing buzz about Everneath by Brodi Ashton for a while so when my friend offered to let me borrow her ARC I jumped at the chance. I'm not sure what I was expecting going into the book but it certainly wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

Everneath a sad, desperate story about the repercussions of a bad choice. I am not usually a fan of sad books, they usually take forever for me to read, but I couldn't put this one down. The underlying story of the possibility of redemption, love conquering all, heroes and hope kept me turning the pages until late at night.

Everneath is not one of those books that will sweep you away from the world. It's not easy to read but it is well worth the journey. The story is beautifully written. The characters are the kind that you talk about as if they are real. And the lessons learned are ones that apply to everyone.

I'm really looking forward to where this series goes.

Oh, one last thing. Those of you that know me know that I am a fan of the bad boy. They are my weakness. I was very surprised to find myself rooting for the good guy this time.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver is the sequel to Delirium, which I devoured in one sitting earlier this year. This series is a dystopian story where love is considered a disease and at age eighteen everyone receives the "cure". This medical procedure removes a persons ability to love. The idea of love being a disease is fascinating to me and these books do a beautiful job of exploring the repercussions of removing love from a society. I don't want to say much about this book because I don't want to spoil anything but I can say WOWZA!! Lauren managed to blow me away again! I loved this book! It's very different from Delirium but it's just as good. I loved seeing Lena figure out who she is now that she's out on her own and able to make her own choices. Based on my experience with Delirium I was fully expecting the cliffhanger ending but even knowing it was coming the end of the book made me say a few not very lady like words ;)

The Rivals by Daisy Whitney is the sequel to The Mockingbirds. I loved The Mockingbirds. I loved that it addresses the topic of date rape with class and respect without making the crime any less horrific. I wasn't sure what I would think of the sequel- how could the author top the emotional journey that takes place in The Mockingbirds? I was very pleasantly surprised that the next installment of Alex's journey was just as heartfelt and moving. Alex is still struggling with what happened to her last year plus she is dealing with the pressures of senior year and leading The Mockingbirds. Throw a boyfriend, a male friend who she's not sure how she feels about, a couple of bullies, an unsupportive school leader and her first big case with The Mockingbirds into the mix and you get a story that requires its main character to really figure out who she is, what she wants from life and where her loyalities lie. As with The Mockingbirds this book isn't always an easy read but the lessons learned are well worth the extra effort.

Huge thanks to Kate for giving me this little sneak peek at the books coming out next year! I loved each of these books. If these books are any indication, 2012 is going to be a great year for books. Make sure you add them to your to-read list!