Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 13 of 2013

The time has come, my friends, for us to look back on our year of reading and acknowledge the books that we considered "the best of the best." These are my top thirteen picks of 2013.

*Just a warning: I did cheat when it came to comprising this list, simply because I read or completed so many amazing series this past year and could not pick just one book out of the 3+ that made up the story.

13. Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik. This contemporary retelling of Pride & Prejudice was sweet, sugary and downright adorable. I absolutely adored all of the characters and it has definitely earned a spot on my 'favorite contemporary reads of all-time' list.

12. Beautiful Creatures quartet by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. Admittedly, a few of the books in this series were a tad slow and a bit hard to get into, but I really enjoyed this quartet overall. Ethan Wate has become one of my literary crushes and I quite liked the dark, paranormal aspect of these books, despite all of the romance. I definitely plan on reading the spin-off series, Dangerous Creatures when it comes out.

11. The Scorch Trials + The Death Cure (Maze Runner #2-3) by James Dashner. When I started the first book in this trilogy, The Maze Runner, back in 2012, I was quickly put-off by the weird language and crazy plot—there were so many twists and turns! However, I am very, very glad that I continued reading because, had I not, I never would have discovered how fantastic a book it really was, and wouldn't have picked up/read the final two books in 2013. This series does have a lot of mixed reviews (surrounding the final book in particular), but I really enjoyed myself while reading and have recommended this series to quite a few people since completion.

Suffice to say, I am extremely excited for the movie (and Dylan O'Brien as Thomas).

10. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. One of my goals this year was to read more Science Fiction books; hence The 5th Wave. Despite the BookTube/Goodreads review controversy, I absolutely adored the main character's sarcastic and cynical sense of humor, as well as the dual-chapter perspectives. The alien invasion, though a classic Sci Fi idea, was so complex that I was guessing what would happen and who was working for whom until the very end. I am definitely looking forward to reading more!

9. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. Paralleling the talents of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Robyn Schneider writes a book that takes an extremely real look at love, high school, tragedy and how we define ourselves.

8. Across the Universe trilogy by Beth Revis. Another series labeled 'Science Fiction' that I would have probably missed out on had I not made that goal. These books were AMAZING, in a word. The plot is one that revolves around a pretty classic Sci Fi idea; a spaceship loaded with frozen humans en route to a new planet, and takes things like love, betrayal, family and friendship to a new level. Despite the fact that this book presents itself as a story revolving around the relationship between Elder, the leader of the ship, and one of the (un)frozen passengers, the romance does not take away from the action and suspense, but rather adds to it. I thoroughly enjoyed this series.

7. Shatter Me + Destroy Me + Unravel Me (Shatter Me #1-2) by Tahereh Mafi. Helloooo, gorgeous covers! Tahereh Mafi's ability to create amazing, complex characters is inspiring. Seriously. Even though I definitely have my favorites (Warner), I am so sucked into the story that I have a hard time picking and choosing between the people that are telling it. Mafi blends Science Fiction and the paranormal well, and though the romance between two of the characters can get a tad annoying, I am always on the edge of my seat (or floor/bed; whatever) because I generally have absolutely no idea what is going on.

6. The Knife of Never Letting Go + The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking #1-2) by Patrick Ness. Let's be honest: I picked the first book up because bits of the inside writing were so visually pleasing and ended up staying for the amazing story. Even though I only managed to make it through two of the three Chaos Walking books during 2013, I am so very much in love with this story that I could not not give it a spot on this list. Todd and Viola are such beautiful characters and I cannot wait to see how their story ends. For now, however, the first two books will remain a favorite of the year.

5. House of Hades by Rick Riordan (Heroes of Olympus #4) by Rick Riordan. This book and its place on my list does not really require much of an explanation. It was amazing, I love Rick Riordan, and THE PERCABETH FEELS! are really all that is needed.

4. The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. Go ahead. Tell me off for not having read this book sooner... Truthfully, I had heard over and over again how heartbreaking and raw this story was and I was terrified of the FEELS! I would undoubtedly experience while reading. However: I made it one of my 2013 reading goals to cross this book off of my TBR and finally (finally) managed to discover what exactly I had been missing out on. This book was, indeed, a very emotional and sincere read and I absolutely loved it.

3. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. Always a fan of circus books, I picked this darling up after hearing a bunch of great reviews (and experiencing a bit of CoverLOVE!) and was immediately entranced. This story is so completely beautiful and magical, instantly sweeping me away by the alluring idea of a circus that is only open at night, and the many tricks and wonders it could hide around dark corners. I am still in awe of this book, seven months later.

2. Clockwork Princess (Infernal Devices #3) by Cassandra Clare. Obviously this one would make the list. The third book in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy, Clockwork Princess was the perfect end to a perfect story. I do not know if it is because I read this series before Clare's The Mortal Instruments or because the characters are just so much deeper and... more, but I have always preferred these books to TMI. I was saddened to be saying goodbye to Will, Jem, Tessa and everyone in the London Institute, but Cassandra Clare ended the books in such a way that I was able to receive the proper amount of closure, while still being able to imagine my own ending to the Shadowhunter's lives.

1. The Darkest Minds + Never Fade (The Darkest Minds #1-2) by Alexandra Bracken. And the number one spot goes to books one and two in Alexandra Bracken's The Darkest Minds trilogy! I remember seeing The Darkest Minds in the store and thinking that it looked really intimidating, with its black and orange colors. It took several visits before I finally bought the book and only a few chapters for me to fall in love. Ruby is an amazing female lead; very strong and independent and—like in the Across the Universe trilogy—the romance in this book, though a big part of the plot, never takes away from the action/darker aspects of the story. I love Liam and Chubs and Vida and all the other characters, and constantly find my heart being ripped out of my chest by the things that happen in these two books, even months later. I look forward to discovering how this story ends.

Honorable Mentions:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth
Seven Minutes in Heaven (The Lying Game #6) by Sara Shepard
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke

Which were your favorite reads of 2013? Any books in particular you are looking forward to in the next year?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Christmas wish list

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they update their blog with a list of ten things that have to do with a predetermined topic.

This week's topic is: Which ten books would you be thrilled to discover under your Christmas tree tomorrow morning?

1. Harry Potter (Special Edition) Paperback Box Set by J.K. Rowling: So gorgeous... /drools. I have been eying these babies since they were first released, but because they are so very expensive I have not found the desire to cough up enough money to buy them (especially because I do have older, beat-up versions that are still plenty functional).

2. I Am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak: I finished The Book Thief a few days ago and Fell. In. Love. Definitely on a mission to attain this book sometime in the near future (you hear that, Santa?).

3. Cinder by Marissa Meyer: I have been meaning to pick this book up for quite a while now. Why is this not in my collection?!

4. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo: Every time I make the trek to Barnes & Noble, I see the second book in this series, Siege and Storm, and each time I'm like; "I really need to buy the first book." But have I? No. Because I'm lame.

5. Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier: Christine over on BookTube has been raving about this series and I would really, really like to start it soon.

6. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick: I've been meaning to read this book since the movie came out. It seems really interesting and has some great reviews!

7. The Curiosities by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff: This book has been on my TBR list for a good while and I just never got around to buying it for myself. Weird stories and Brenna Yovanoff = WANT.

8. Defiance by C.J. Redwine: A story about a kick-ass female and her cute male companion? Yes, please!

9. Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard: Again, an old addition to my TBR list that I still have not purchased.

10. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: I have been trying to branch out of my usual YA contemporary/dystopian reads this year and pick up more adult-y, science fiction books, and this one has been a Want for quite a while.

. . . .

Which books are you hoping to get for Christmas? Or, if you do not celebrate, which ones are at the top of your to-buy list?

Happy Holidays! x

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-me authors

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created at The Broke and the Bookish. Each week they update their blog with a list of ten things that have to do with a predetermined topic.

This week's topic is: What ten new-to-me authors did you discover in 2013?

1. Alexandra Bracken, author of the Darkest Minds trilogy. I picked up The Darkest Minds earlier this year and instantly fell in love with Alexandra Bracken's unique writing style and her ability to create an action-packed, emotional adventure with a dash of romance; one that remains important without overpowering the plot.

2. Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me trilogy. Not only is Tahereh Mafi's writing poetic, raw and heartbreaking, but the physical appearance of the Shatter Me series is extremely appealing, with the scratched-out bits of thought. Also, she creates characters that are so complex, I cannot help but fall in love with each and every one of them; the good and the bad. I cannot wait for Ignite Me!

3. Patrick Ness, author of the Chaos Walking trilogy. I am ashamed that it took me so long to pick up The Knife of Never Letting Go because It. Was. Amazing. Patrick Ness, a well-seasoned writer already, is definitely one of my favorite author-discoveries of this past year.

4. Stephanie Perkins, author of Anna and the French Kiss and its companion novels. Probably one of my favorite contemporary authors, Stephanie Perkins seems to share Sarah Dessen's knack for creating heartwarming stories full of emotion and fluff.

5. Beth Revis, author of the Across the Universe trilogy. Again, why did I wait so long to pick these books up?! Beth Revis takes a classic Sci Fi idea, inter-galactic travel to a new world, and turns it into a tale of betrayal, love, loss and survival. I could not put any of her books down—you get so attached to the characters!—and finished the entire trilogy in about a month. She is definitely on my author radar.

6. Rainbow Rowell, author of Eleanor & Park. Having only read two books by Rainbow Rowell, I am already well on my way to considering her one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. She seems to have a talent for creating extremely real and touching scenarios with relatable/loveable characters.

7. Robyn Schneider, author of The Beginning of Everything. With humor and wit comparable to that of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, Robyn Schneider is definitely someone whose work I intend to follow.

8. April Genevieve Tucholke, author of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea. Much like Brenna Yovanoff, Tucholke's writing is very dark and Gothic; a mixture of paranormal and real-life. I loved Between!

9. Rick Yancey, author of The 5th Wave. Being the type of reader who generally tries to stay away from anything Sci Fi, Rick Yancey has turned me on to a whole new genre with his remarkable writing. Not just a story about the classic "Aliens invade Earth," The 5th Wave is a struggle; between humans and their otherworldly oppressors, killing and being killed, survival and death. I connected with every single character in this book and adored the cynical humor of our narrator, Cassie. I decided well before finishing that I would most certainly be checking out the rest of the series as it is published, as well as Yancey's other works.

10. Brenna Yovanoff, author of The Replacement and Paper Valentine. I loved Yovanoff's ability to merge reality with the paranormal; taking an old tale about children being snatched away in the night, giving it a contemporary twist, and then turning it into something remarkable, outlandish and creepy. Both Paper Valentine and The Replacement were just twisted enough to creep me out, and sweet enough to be charming.

. . . .

Seriously though, why am I only just discovering some of these authors now?! Where have I been; under a  rock?

What authors have you discovered (or rediscovered) this year?

Monday, December 16, 2013

Bout of Books 9.0


I really enjoyed myself during the last Bout of Books—which was, coincidentally, the first read-a-thon I had ever participated in—and while I do not think I will be setting any specific goals for myself this time around, I definitely plan on having fun. And lots of it.

Bout of Books

The Bout of Books read-a-thon is organized by Amanda @ On a Book Bender and Kelly @ Reading the Paranormal. It is a week long read-a-thon that begins 12:01am Monday, January 6th and runs through Sunday, January 12th in whatever time zone you are in. Bout of Books is low-pressure, and the only reading competition is between you and your usual number of books read in a week. There are challenges, giveaways, and a grand prize, but all of these are completely optional. For all Bout of Books 9.0 information and updates, be sure to visit the Bout of Books blog. - From the Bout of Books team

Will you be participating? I hope to see you there!

❄ TAG: Winter Wonderland ❄

In an attempt to get myself—and this blog—in the Christmas spirit, I thought I would participate in JackEatsBooks' Winter Wonderland book TAG! Oooooh, wintry~

(Also, its been about a week since I've posted anything...)

1. What book is so happy and sweet that it warms your heart?

Sarah Dessen seems to have a knack for writing heart-melting novels so, really, any of her books would do just fine (particularly Along for the Ride or The Truth About Forever). Epic Fail by Clare LaZebnik—a retelling of Pride and Prejudice—is also one of my favorite fluffy, contemporaries reads.

2. What is your favorite book with a white cover?

While I did not love Eleanor & Park as much as everyone else on the planet seemed to, it is still a fantastic book and I absolutely enjoyed its incredibly real look at high school, first love, and the complexity of family and friendship.

3. You're sitting in a nice comfy chair, wearing a onesie with a lovely, warm hot chocolate; what MONSTER read are you reading?

Probably either Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare, Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl or one of the Harry Potters.

Oddly enough, I do not seem to have too many "monster" reads, as most of my books average at about 300-350 pages. Huh.

4. It started snowing, so you decide to have a snowball fight! What fictional character would you love to have the snowball fight with?

William Herondale. Without a doubt.

5. Sadly, your fire is beginning to go out. What book would you tear the last few chapters out of to throw into the fire?

Normally, I would not condone ripping anything out of a book but, since this is hypothetical, I think my answer would definitely have to be Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins; the last book in the Hunger Games trilogy. That whole book, really, had me so angry that I would gladly throw it into a fire for this TAG - particularly the last few chapters.

6. What book is so close to your heart that you would gift to someone this Christmas who hasn't read before but wants to get into reading?

This Christmas I am giving my sister the first three books in the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare and one of my brothers the Maze Runner trilogy by James Dashner, as both series are the perfect combination of suspense, adventure and heartbreak. However, both of my siblings read (albeit, not much), so if I were to give a book to someone who has never really "read" before, then I would hand them Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling. This book was the start of it all for me, and I feel like it is the perfect beginning for new readers of all ages.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday [December 10]

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. All you have to do is grab your current read, open to a random page, and share two teaser sentences (that don't give too much away).

This week's teaser is brought to you by The Book Thief:

"That's the sort of thing I'll never know, or comprehend—what humans are capable of."

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (page 25)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

November 2013 Wrap-up [spoiler free!]

To say that I have been in a rut, reading-wise, this month would be a colossal understatement. Lingering colds coupled with painful headaches have left me sick, bedridden, and in absolutely no mood to read. Hence the four books.


1.Velveteen by Daniel Marks. Probably not the best book to begin November with, Velveteen was most definitely my least favorite read of the month. Though the premise, in its simplest form—ghost-life in purgatory—was interesting, the actual follow-through, development, characters, and romance were so awful that it completely took away from the crazy/creepy serial killer vibe and made the story unbearable. It took me almost a week to get through this 464 page book and, after finishing it, I practically had to force myself to pick up another. If you are into cheesy, clich├ęd, annoying paranormal romances about Insta!Love and whiny female leads, then this book is for you. To see my full review, click here.


2. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Finally, amiright? Aliens purging Earth of the human race is a pretty classic and overused Sci Fi idea, but this story was so interesting and complex that I remained impressed from start to finish. I absolutely adored the characters and found the dual POV—usually confusing and/or annoying—really helpful in keeping the story fresh and action-y. Cassie's sarcastic, cynical voice and humorous remarks were fun to read and really helped me relate to her character, placing her at the top of my (ever growing) favorite female characters list (Velveteen, she is not). It did take me a little longer to warm up to Evan (with only one chapter from his perspective, it was a little hard to get to know the guy), but I got there eventually, and I absolutely adored Ben. The writing was so beautiful and descriptive and my only regret was that it took me so long to pick this book up.


3. The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. This book, comparable to those of John Green and Rainbow Rowell, was sweet, funny and witty; a tale of friendship, high school, love, tragedy, and how we define ourselves. The characters in this story were complex individuals, each with their own untold stories, and were so relatable and reminiscent of my own high school peers that I could actualy imagine them as real people. Ezra was a great narrator and I found myself completely falling in love with his character and story from the very beginning; feeling every betrayal and heartbreak as if it were my own. This book was, without a doubt, my favorite read of November and definitely one of my favorites of the year. Miss Schneider, I look forward to reading more of your work.


4. The Shadowhunter's Codex by Cassandra Clare and Joshua Lewis. While this might technically be considered more of a "guide," The Shadowhunter's Codex delves deeper into the Nephilim world than we have ever been - with explanations of why, exactly, the angel Raziel created the Shadowhunters in the first place, a detailed explanation of the variety of Downworlders and demons, the importance of choosing the perfect weapon and how one should go about asking a Warlock where their mark is. The written-in comments from Simon, Clary and Jace are a unique and, let's be honest, completely hilarious addition, the illustrations were absolutely gorgeous and, though I am pretty sure my eyes glossed over during the more monotonous, information-y parts, I really enjoyed learning (and relearning) a bit more about the Shadowhunters and their history. I would definitely recommend this book if you are a fan of Cassandra Clare and are interested in discovering more about the elaborate, complex world of the Nephilim.

. . . .

November Stats:

Read 4 books (and 53 pages of another)
Read 1,556 pages

Upcoming Releases:

Fracture Me (Shatter Me #2.5) by Tahereh Mafi -- December 17, 2013
The Initiate (Divergent #0.2) by Veronica Roth -- December 17, 2013

What book(s) did you read in November? Did you have a favorite?