Saturday, December 31, 2011

2nd Annual End of Year Book Survey - 2011

I participated in the survey last year, hosted by Jamie @ The Perpetual page Turner, and thought I'd try it again this year.


1. Best Book You Read In 2011?

Overall: Blood Red Road

Contemporary: The Sky is Everywhere

Adult: Fingersmith



2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?


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

Vampire Academy. This one got so much hype that I was afraid. But I really enjoyed it!

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?

Leviathan, The Maze Runner, Rot & Ruin, Forest of Hands & Teeth, What Happened to Goodbye, The Help,  (I'm a librarian -- I make LOTS of recommendations.)

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?

Vampire Academy, Rot & Ruin, Forest of Hands and Teeth, Dustlands, Leviathan, 

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?

Moira Young, Lauren DeStefano, Veronica Roth, Antony John, Kendare Blake 

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

My comfort zone is pretty big, but I'll say Fablehaven, since I'm not a big fantasy fan, AND this one is more middle school (young for me.)

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?


9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?


10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?


12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?


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


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


15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?

I'm not a big "quoter" but The Sky is Everywhere just blew me away....

Lennie on why she can’t talk about what she’s going through: “I can’t. I need a new alphabet, one made of falling, of tectonic plates shifting, of the deep devouring dark.” (p. 12)

Lennie talking about Joe: “I’m impressed at how quickly he’s caught on that there is nothing to do but grab a wing when Gram’s aflight with fancy.” (p. 88)

“There are families all over the world staring at beds that are no longer slept in, shoes that are no longer worn. Families that no longer have to buy a particular cereal, a kind of shampoo. There are people everywhere standing in line at the movies, buying curtains, walking dogs, while inside, their hearts are ripping to shreds. For years. For their whole lives. I don’t believe that time heals. I don’t want it to. If I heal, doesn’t that mean I’ve accepted the world without her?” (p. 168)



“It’s not about them, really,” I said. “It’s just about me.”

I knew how monstrous that sounded—I knew September 11th wasn’t about me. But my reaction to September 11th—that was entirely about me. (p. 59)

I can tell: These are people like me. The relocated. They have not been sleeping in their own beds. They are wrecked by the devastating side effects of such helplessness, most notably insomnia. …..I don’t make eye contact with them. I’m afraid of their stories. That’s what it’s been like lately—we have the ability to glimpse each other as souls. Damaged, frightened, confused, caring souls. (p. 71)

I think that if you were somehow able to measure the weight of human kindness, it would have weighed more on 9/11 than it ever had. On 9/11, all the hatred and murder could not compare with the weight of love, of bravery, of caring. I have to believe that. I honestly believe that. I think we saw the way humanity works on that day, and while some of it was horrifying, so much of it was good. (p. 106)


16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?

I'm also not a big re-reader. I would probably read at least parts of The Lover's Dictionary.  

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The end of Part 1 of Fingersmith. And a bunch of other scenes in that book....

Looking Ahead...
1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?

Daughter of Smoke & Bone
Shatter Me
Lola & the Boy Next Door
Name of the Star

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?

Hallowed and Pandemonium

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?

I always hope to comment more on the reviews I read. I also hope to have more author interviews (this was a goal last year too.) I don't really think I can read more in 2012, so I just hope I can read as much as I did this year.






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Friday, December 30, 2011

TGIF, Year-End Summary -- Best Books and Statistics

My 12 Books of Christmas countdown ended on Christmas Eve, but I never had a chance to summarize for you.  Here's the list:


1.  Blood Red Road,  Moira Young
2.  Divergent Veronica Roth
3.  Goliath Scott Westerfeld
4.  The Sky is Everywhere Jandy Nelson 
5.  The Dark and Hollow Places,  Carrie Ryan
5.  The Dead-Tossed Waves,  Carrie Ryan
5.  Forests of Hands and Teeth Carrie Ryan
6.  Dust &Decay Jonathan Maberry
7.  Virals Kathy Reichs
8.  Scorch Trials James Dashner
9.  Forgotten Cat Patrick
10. Misfit Jon Skovron
11. Hate List Jennifer Brown
12. Sisterhood Everlasting,  Ann Brashares 


I've read 180 books this year, which adds up to 56,790 pages. This is an average of about 156 pages per day. This doesn't include the pages of several I didn't finish and a couple of ebooks that didn't have page counts.

I had 20 books with a "5 Hat" rating (that's about 11%)

My average book rating was 3.6, which may seem high, but my lowest rated books got "2 Hats."  If they were below that, they were a DNF and I didn't rate those.

I participated in one challenge this year -- the 350 Page Book Challenge. I read 61 books with over 350 pages. I didn't really set a goal, but I'm pretty happy with that total!

I'm having trouble getting annual statistics for my blog. They all date back to the beginning, which was over a year ago. If you know an easy way to do this, please leave a comment. Thanks!

Ginger at GReads! has a TGIF question related to our End of Year Summaries:

First & Last: What was the first book you read in 2011 and the last you finished in 2011? How do you feel about these books? Would you recommend them to other readers?

The first book I read was Linger, and I gave it a 5/5 rating! So, yes, I would definitely recommend it, although you need to read Shiver first.

My last book read is Racing the Devil. I really enjoyed this murder mystery and I rated it a 4/5. This is the first in a new detective series, and I'll recommend it, and look forward to the next one.

How about you? How was your year, book-wise? Leave a link, so I can visit your post. Happy New Year, and may 2012 be filled with BOOKS!!!





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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Book Review: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

Cinder has a resilient main character and a plot that keeps moving, making the book difficult to put down.

Cinder is loosely based on the Cinderella fairy tale. There's a wicked step-mother, a prince who is having a ball, and Cinder isn't allowed to go to the ball. But there's a lot more to this story. Cinder is a cyborg -- part human but part mechanical parts since she had an accident when she was young. Cinder is also a mechanic who fixes all kinds of gadgets and technical things. The story takes place in a future "New Beijing" and Prince Kai brings his malfunctioning android for Cinder to fix.

There's a plague for which there is no cure that is killing many citizens, including the Emperor -- which means Kai will be taking over the throne. There is an international dispute between Queen Levana from Luna (the  country on the moon) who wants to join their kingdoms by marrying the prince. Lunars (as they are called) have special powers to be able to influence others' minds. This makes it difficult for Kai to resist the Queen.

So, as you can see, there's no shortage of plot here. Meyer brings it all together in the end, and yes, by about 1/4 of the way through the book you have it figured out. But you just don't know all the details of how everything will be discovered, and the characters and details are unique enough to keep you reading.

This book is the first in a series, and given that we are left a bit hanging at the end, I can't wait for the rest of the story. I think teens who love a kick-ass heroine, some sci-fi techno details, and a fast-paced plot will be drawn to this one. I'll definitely be recommending it!

Published by Feiwel & Friends, January 3, 2012
eBook ARC obtained from Netgalley
400 pages

Rating: 4.5/5




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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Book Review: Uncommon Criminals, by Ally Carter

If you enjoyed Heist Society,  then you will surely want to add Uncommon Criminals  to your list. Kat and her crew are at it again.

This time Kat and Hale and all of our favorite characters are trying to steal the Cleopatra Emerald. Well, of course, their intentions are noble, because this emerald was stolen from the tombs of Egypt, and Kat wants to return it.

Of course things go right, and then they go wrong, and then right again, as the plot twists and turns. And along the way we get to know Kat and Hale a little better, and perhaps the romance we have all been waiting for will begin -- perhaps??

The story is easy to read and follow. There's not much stopping of the action as we try to figure out just how this is going to be executed. The teens act older than teens but still have some youthful charm, and you will get so wrapped up that you will finish this one quickly.

I think you could read this one without reading the first book, Heist Society, by I'd still recommend reading them in order just to get the character backgrounds and to understand all the references made in Uncommon Criminals. Teens who enjoy heist books, a la Ocean's Eleven, should be directed to this series.

Published by Disney Hyperion, June 21, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
298 pages

Rating: 3.5/5




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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Book Review: Irises, by Francisco X. Stork

The beautiful characterizations are what makes Irises worth reading.

Kate (18) and her sister, Mary (16), have led a sheltered life in El Paso, Texas. Their father is a minister at a local church, and they have never had to make any decisions -- he has made all decisions for them. Their mother lives at home in a persistent vegetative state being kept alive by a feeding tube.

A visiting nurse comes in every day to check on things, but most of their mother's care is the responsibility of Kate and Mary. Kate has dreams of going to Stanford and becoming a doctor, and Mary is a very talented artist, but neither of them have been able to pursue their dreams since their mother's accident.

When their father dies suddenly, their world changes drastically. Suddenly they must move out of their house. They have little money and even though Kate gets a full scholarship to Stanford, where will Mary go? Who will take care of their mother?

Guiding these decisions are the girls' Aunt Julia, who comes to stay for a while and help out. Andy, the new pastor, is also involved. The minor characters contribute to the plot, but really Kate and Mary receive Stork's emphasis in this story.

They are wonderful characters, and well-written. They both change very much throughout the story, and these changes are slow, and subtle and totally believable. That's really what kept me reading. There isn't much of a plot here. The girls need to figure out what to do, and they do figure it out. It's the journey to these decisions and the growth of the characters that shines in this story.

I think this book has limited appeal to teens, but there are those that will identify with the story. Girls mostly, who enjoy stories about teens struggling to find their way and growing up as they do, will relate to this one.

Published by Arthur A. Levine, January 1, 2012
ARC obtained from the publisher for an honest review
288 pages

Rating: 3/5





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Monday, December 26, 2011

Monday Memories: Night Before Christmas


Welcome to my meme, Monday Memories, where I feature favorite books we've loved from the past. You can link to an old review, or write something new about a beloved book from your past. Really, what's important is not the book, but why it is memorable to you. So, have fun reminiscing, and leave a comment below, so we can all enjoy your memories.

I also wanted to let you know about another wonderful blog that you should check out. Ashley @ Books from Bleh to Basically Amazing does a weekly post called Memory Monday. She has been posting about her childhood memories of books. What's great about Ashley's site is that she is asking for guest posts for her Memory Monday event!  So hop on over there and check it out.



Night Before Christmas, by Clement Clarke Moore

I am the youngest of four children, and I believe this book may have gone through all four of us. But I was the one that took a black marker and defaced the front cover (thank goodness I didn't scribble all over the inside.) I wrote my name, colored his eyebrows black, and outlined the title, as well as just generally scribbling over everything. I don't know why. I don't recall doing this to any other books. I have no idea what I was thinking. What's that weird face in the middle of his beard??? Both of my children have enjoyed this same book (they are both in their 20s now, so it's been around a while.) I love the illustrations, and I've included a picture of my favorite one. I loved that the book was shaped like Santa, and his hat on the cover, is fuzzy (and, yes, there is a bit of fuzz still left.)


Share one of your cherished book memories!

You can do a Monday Memories post on your blog. Copy my button and link back here, so others can see all the other posts.  Leave a comment below with the link to your post.

Or, just leave one of your Monday Memories right here in the comments.

Be sure to visit some other blogs that have posted their links. Thanks!





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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!


Just wanted to take a minute to wish you all a Very Happy Holiday, and I hope you get to relax and spend some time with family and friends (and reading, of course.)

I've completed my 12 Books of Christmas countdown, and next week I will be doing some year-end wrap up posts, and I'll be looking forward to reading yours too.

Take care, and enjoy!




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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The 12 Books of Christmas -- Book #1 -- My Favorite Book of 2011!!!

I've been counting down my 12 favorite books of 2011, and  today we are ready for #1. To clarify, these are book I READ in 2011; they weren't necessarily published in 2011. I have rated 18 books so far this year with a perfect 5 out of 5 hats. So my top twelve books were a bit difficult to determine. My #1 book of 2011 is:
Blood Red Road, by Moira Young

Click on the title to read my full review. I don't know where to begin with this book. I loved EVERYTHING about it. The characters, the dusty, bleak setting, the bad guys, the action, the love interest. Most of all, I loved the dialect. I think this is what made this book feel so real to me. It didn't bother me at all, and I felt like I was living this adventure with the characters because of this technique. From my review:


The plot moves rapidly and is very exciting, as Saba embarks on an epic journey to places she had no idea even existed. But what also is compelling is the change in Saba. She becomes a warrior—tough and hard. She rises to every challenge that comes her way, no matter how impossible the odds. She makes friends and enemies along the way, and each character is well portrayed and important to the story.

Saba has a pet crow named Nero and you will fall in love with him. He’s an important character, and I totally believed in his abilities. Emmi, the younger sister, is totally frustrating. She never does what she’s told, and I really wanted to slap her several times. Jack is Saba’s romantic hero, and he’s perfect too. I could go on and on about these wonderful characters.

This is apocalyptic and dystopian. It's an adventure and a thriller. It's a must read. For sure. I need some more from Moira Young....please???



Feel free to link up your favorite books in the comments, if you want. Thanks for following along. What are some of your favorites of 2011?







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Book Review: Everybody Sees the Ants, by A.S. King

A.S. King has done it again with Everybody Sees the Ants.  Her characters just fill your heart. I want to be Lucky's mom. What an exceptional character.

Lucky has been bullied by Nader McMillan since he was seven years old, and no one will do anything about it. Nader's father is a powerful attorney whom everyone is scared to confront. Lucky's parents just want him to ignore it and move on.

When Lucky is dragged across the concrete floor by Nader and seriously injurred, his mother has had enough and they go on a three week trip to visit his aunt and uncle in Arizona. Lucky has a lot of time to grow and change, with the help of his aunt, his uncle, and a girl named Ginny.

Lucky is also on a mission to save his grandpa, who never came home from the Vietnam war. So he escapes   to Vietnam to save his grandpa in his dreams.

It's hard to describe this book. The characters are quirky and the plot is a bit malleable. Much like Vera Dietz, the book is weird. It's not a straight-forward "this is what happened" story. But it's beautifully written, unputdownable, and won't let go of you for a long time.

Published by Little, Brown & Co, October 3, 2011
Copy obtained from the library
279 pages

Rating: 4/5






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Friday, December 23, 2011

The 12 Books of Christmas -- #2

I've been counting down my 12 favorite books of 2011, and  today we are ready for #2. To clarify, these are book I READ in 2011; they weren't necessarily published in 2011. I have rated 18 books so far this year with a perfect 5 out of 5 hats. So my top twelve books were a bit difficult to determine. Book #2 is:
Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Click on the title to read my full review. Divergent had one of the most colorful, kick-ass heroines that I've ever read. The book is action-packed, but still has enough interesting plotting to make the story real. From my review:

Roth writes characters that just jump off the page. My heart pounded right along with Tris, and I felt her pain as she made a decision about her faction. All of the side characters brought out strong emotions – whether hate, love, heartbreak, or tension. She really gets you inside all their heads.

For dystopian lovers this is a must read. And for those who aren't quite sure, this book might make you a believer. Give it a try.



Feel free to link up your favorite books in the comments, if you want. Tune in tomorrow for number #1!






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Happy Friday! Happy Christmas Eve Eve

Ginger at GReads! has a Christmas question for us today:


Dear Santa: Which books made it to your Christmas wish list this year?

It's difficult for me to decide. It always depends on what I can get at the library, and what I really want to own as opposed to just borrowing. Truly, my favorite thing to get is a gift card because I love the shopping experience. But, if I had to pick two books today, right now, they would be:

Shatter Me, by Tahereh Mafi


Daughter of Smoke & Bone, by Laini Taylor

I've read so many great things about these, and I can't wait to read them!

Parajunkee and Alison have asked a difficult one -- at least for me -- this week:


If you had to spend eternity inside the pages of a book which book would you choose and why?


I read a book called The Love Goddess' Cooking School, which took place on Blue Crab Island off the coast of Maine. I'd love the spend eternity in some place like that with friends like that. I know the popular answers will be Harry Potter, or some other paranormal settings, but I just want a normal, romantic place. Another one is Crystal Cove State Park in Moonglass or Bainbridge Island on Puget Sound in The Violets of March. All of those settings sound great to me!

How about you? I'll bee looking forward to reading your answers to these questions! Thanks for visiting. Have a great holiday weekend!




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Thursday, December 22, 2011

The 12 Books of Christmas -- Book #3

I've been counting down my 12 favorite books of 2011, and  today we are ready for #3. To clarify, these are book I READ in 2011; they weren't necessarily published in 2011. I have rated 18 books so far this year with a perfect 5 out of 5 hats. So my top twelve books were a bit difficult to determine. Book #3 is:

Goliath, by Scott Westerfeld

Click on the title to see my full review.This is a series that each consecutive book got better than it's predecessor. Goliath just blew me away. I'm not big on illustrations in books either, but these are just stunning and mesmerizing. Some quotes from my review:

The twists and turns of the plot are creative, ending up taking us pretty much all the way around the world, meeting famous (and infamous) people, and experiencing an adventure at ever stop. The ending is completely tied up and doesn’t disappoint.

How Westerfeld depicted the Clankers’ machines and the Darwinists’ beasts is beyond my comprehension. I don’t know where he came up with all this, but boy it is good stuff. 

This series has wide appeal.. Girls and boys, historical, adventure, or science fiction lovers would all love these books. I can't see why anyone wouldn't love these books!


Feel free to link up your favorite books in the comments, if you want. Tune in tomorrow for number 2!





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Book Review: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, by Michelle Hodkin

I fell victim to the "over-hype" when it comes to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer. Don't get me wrong--I loved this book, but I was expecting a twisted, surprising premise, and I didn't get that.

Mara wakes in the hospital and finds out that she was with three of her friends when they were killed in a building collapse. Mara was the only one to survive, and she remembers nothing.

Mara suffers from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and to assist her recovery her entire family (parents and two brothers) relocate to Florida. I found this a bit far-fetched, and really unnecessary to the plot. I don't think any mental health professional would suggest that a family needs to move across the country to deal with the trauma the Mara was experiencing. So, weird, but not important to my feelings about the book.

I loved Mara's character, and I thought her reactions and fears were very realistic. I liked how her older brother, Daniel, stuck up for her and helped her. I thought Noah was a bit strange, but that's part of the story. Jamie was a great character, and added a lot to Mara's experience. Too bad he disappears halfway through the book. I would have liked him to be a part of the entire story.

I guess what was most disappointing about this book is that I figured Mara out fairly early in the book. I kind of thought it was obvious what was going on. Noah was a surprise, however, so that helped.

The book is masterfully written so that it draws you in. I couldn't believe how fast those 450 pages went by. I was surprised by the twist at the end, and I'm in for another story. I need to find out what happens to Mara and Noah (and some other characters.)

Published by Simon & Schuster, Sept. 27, 2011
Copy won from Heidi @ YA Bibliophile (autographed!)
452 pages (qualifies for my 350 Page Book Challenge!)

Rating: 4/5





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