Monday, December 31, 2012

13 Most Anticipated Reads of 2013

I'm featuring some of my most anticipated reads for the upcoming year today. I simply cannot WAIT for these and if I chance by an ARC, I might just faint from happiness. Seriously, this year has SO much awesomeness ahead! :)
I am a HUGE fan of Gayle Forman, so despite the mixed reviews about this one, I simply cannot WAIT! Just a few more days to go! :D 
I actually haven't read anything by Sepetys before, so hopefully I can read her debut before this releases, but if not, I'm too excited to care. I've seen nothing but gushing reviews of this one, so I'm very eager to experience her writing for myself. 
HANNAH MOSKOWITZ! Need I say more? Actually, she has TWO books out next year, but this just sounds too cute. Only Moskowitz can pull off a story like this...I know it'll be phenomenal. I just do.
Who isn't excited for this? I still don't know if I'm Team Jem or Team Will, but WHO CARES? I need this! NOW! 
FINALLY! I'd buy a dictionary if Perkins wrote it, so to say I'm excited about this would be a MAJOR under-statement. I. Need. To. Read. This. Now!
I just love the cover of this, not to mention the whole idea of it as well. I haven't read anything by Thompson before, but I'm curious to see how this one reads. 
If you haven't read the summary for this, DO IT. I can't imagine anyone not wanting to read it after such a tantalizing summary with faeries and historical settings. RELEASE ALREADY!
If you've read Shadow and Bone, I don't need to explain why this is on my list. If you haven't...what are you doing? Go read it!
Apparently, this is similar to If I Stay, only with a few twists, but it sounds remarkable. Also, that cover is beautiful. I haven't read Whitney's acclaimed Mockingbirds, but I really cannot wait to read this one. 
Dracomachia is the sequel to Seraphina, easily my favorite fantasy novel of 2012. I desperately need to get my hands on this...DESPERATELY. I will SELL MY SOUL for this! Want, want, wanttt...
Yet another book I might just cross over to the dark side for. First of all, what is up with these gorgeous covers? Plus, I neeeeed more Daniel to know what happens!
Markus Zusak. No explanation needed. I would probably hang off a cliff with just my nails to be able to write half as brilliantly as he does. Actually, make that a hundreth. 

What books are you anticipating for the upcoming year? 

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Showcase Sunday (#20): Holiday Haul!

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

Secret Santa: 
It is true: I have the best Secret Santa EVER. Seriously, just LOOK AT ALL THOSE GIFTS! Lisa at Lisa is Busy Nerding was my Secret Santa and she gifted me everything I've ever wanted. First, a Harry Potter Tote Bag because I am obsessed with Harry Potter, a Lord of the Rings Christmas Card (WITH GANDALF!), a box of Ferrero Rochers because they're my favorite chocolate, a collection of adorable holiday stickers, and, best of all, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson. I've already read Seraphina, but I've been going crazy for my own copy and now I have one! I've also heard nothing but amazing things about The Sky is Everywhere, so I can't wait to start it. Thanks Lisa! :D

Well, these are all the gifts my family got me. You should know that my parents are firm believers in borrowing books from libraries, not buying them, unless I have a gift card or saved money, so I usually get a variety of other gifts from them that aren't book for Christmas. Generally, my birthday is when I get loads of books! ;) I got a ton of movies this year, including The Dark Knight Trilogy (CHRISTIAN BALE!), Inception, You've Got Mail, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (ARAGORN!). I also got a sweater, a peacock shawl, an owl bracelet, a set of holiday earrings, and a $50 Gift Card that I will, undoubtedly, be spending on books!

Surprise Card: 
I received this beautiful Christmas card from Mandee at Vegan YA Nerds. Mandee actually lives in Australia and I was so surprised to see this in my mailbox on Christmas Day! Truly, Mandee is a sweetheart, so thank you so much, dear, for making my Christmas so special! :) 

I went to the library my first day of holiday break and got ALL THESE BOOKS! 
Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma
I already read this one and, while I liked it, I was rather frustrated by the ending. It's a very different, very strange novel, so I'd definitely recommend you all give it a try. You can read my review of it HERE
Unfortunately, this is the ONLY Marillier book my library has, but I can't wait to read it. I love her writing and I've heard this is excellent, so I'm really looking forward to starting it soon! :)
Plain Kate by Erin Bow 
Unfortunately, this was just not a book for me. I know a lot of my friends loved it, but...not me. You can read my review of it HERE
I've only read one Courtney Summers novel, This is Not a Test, and it blew me away. I can't wait to continue to be astounded by her brilliant writing, so I'm really excited about this one! 
I've heard so much about this book from Catie at The Readventurer, Leanne at The Reclusive Reader, and Maja at The Nocturnal Library, so I knew when I saw it in the library this time that I just HAD to pick it up. I really can't wait to read it! 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Review: Love-Shy by Lili Wilkinson

Title: Love-Shy 

Author: Lili Wilkinson 

Rating: 3.5 Stars 

Once again, Lili Wilkinson has managed to take me by surprise. When I first read a Wilkinson novel, A Pocketful of Eyes, I didn't expect the depth I would receive with a book that had such a cutsie-type cover and yet again, I am utterly floored by Wilkinson. With her latest novel, Love-Shy, Wilkinson delivers not a romance, but a blooming friendship. Love-Shy, in my opinion at least, isn't as strong a novel as A Pocketful of Eyes. I found myself wishing this novel would just be over so many times, until I finally began to love it by the end. Nevertheless, although Love-Shy is nowhere close to one of my personal faves in Aussie Contemporary, it is a remarkable novel of its own that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to fans of Aussie YA.

One of the very first striking qualities about Wilkinson's novels are her protagonists. Penny is unlikable from the surface as she's bossy, a topper in just about everything, and one of those people who just knows she's better than everyone else. Yet, at the same time, she is achingly relate-able precisely because of all her flaws. As an ambitious teen yearning to become a journalist, she sets out to find a boy in her school who is love-shy, or so incredibly shy that he simply cannot talk to girls. Nick, the love-shy boy in question, first comes across as rather lame. Seriously, we read his blog posts and can't help but call him sissy, roll our eyes, and want him to just pull up his socks and at least try to talk to a girl already. Yet, as life so often tells us, first appearances can be deceiving.

As Penny delves deeper and deeper into Nick's story, witnessing his bizarre home arrangement, the string of childhood memories that have made him the way he is today, and his own quirks, she can't help but (a) fall for him and (b) learn a little bit about herself along the journey. With Love-Shy, Wilkinson hasn't created a piece about love-shy people, aiming to expose their condition to the majority of the world who has no idea how serious their shyness is. Instead, she has taken a rare dilemma and delved into it in such a manner that she somehow makes this condition that applies only to a rare few males accessible, understandable, and relate-able to all who read her novel. Seeing both Penny and Nick grow to be better people, challenge themselves, and really come to terms with their lives is a heart-warming journey.

Contrary to what you may first think, there is very little, if no, romance at all in this novel. It is alluded to and there are plenty of discussions about love to be sure, but at the core of everything is just a simple friendship. More than just Nick and Penny though, the secondary characters in this story, from Penny's gay father, to his boyfriend, to her Asian neighbor Rin, to her mother who she barely speaks to, all played an outstanding role in this novel. I was surprised by the depth they all provided and while I would have liked for a little more insight into some of their backstories, especially Penny's mom, I was overall rather pleased. If this novel has any faults, it is simply that it lacks the signature charm of Wilkinson. It is witty, funny, and keeps you flipping the pages for sure, but after a point, both Nick and Penny begin to grate on the reader. It takes a long time for them to grow even a little, which is frustrating to say the least. Furthermore, there were times when I found myself questioning the realisticness of certain situations. Were some parents really so germ-a-phobic that they coveredeverything in the house in plastic sheets? Were there really thatmany shy people in the world who wanted to kiss/touch girls sobadly?

Either way, Love-Shy achieved its purpose and is a novel I can look back upon fondly. It's a sweet, coming-of-age story of a girl discovering her place in her world all while helping another boy find his. Although I yearned for a romance similar to the absolutely ADORABLE love story in A Pocketful of Eyes,ultimately the friendship focus in this was refreshing. I always come away from a Wilkinson novel taking a deep look into my own life, re-evaluating, and feeling a lot wiser overall and Love-Shy was no different in that respect. Its ultimate impact on the reader is one that is worthwhile to experience and I am already anticipating Wilkinson's next novel, not to mention the novels I still haven't read of hers. If this is your first foray into Wilkinson's writing, I'd recommend A Pocketful of Eyes instead. It is, somehow, a much more fulfilling novel than this one and remains to be my favorite work of Wilkinson's yet. If, however, you're already a fan of Wilkinson or Aussie Contemporary in general, Love-Shy certainly doesn't disappoint.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Book & Movie Review: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Title: The Hobbit 

Author: J.R.R. Tolkien

Rating: 3 Stars

I can never forget the first time I picked up a Tolkien novel - never. I was only thirteen, but I read through the entire Lord of the Rings Trilogy, appendixes included, in just eight days. Yes,eight days. As you can imagine, I did nothing but read those books, for they kept me utterly riveted to the page. The Hobbit, on the other hand, took me over eight weeks to read. In fact, it felt like a solid eight months. Sure, I have more work now that I did when I was thirteen and less free time to read, but for a novel as short as The Hobbit is, eight weeks (or more!) is a looong time. Needless to say, I never thought I could be disappointed by a Tolkien novel, but I was wrong. 

You should, straight up, that I worship the very ground Tolkien walks on. I've read nearly all his books, from The Lord of the Rings, to The Silmarillion, to The Children of Hurin. Thus, for me to say that The Hobbit was disappointingly boring, believe me, it was boring. In fact, if you plan to read a Tolkien novel, do not start with The Hobbit. Instead, start with Lord of the Rings. I say this for a few reasons, most notable because The Hobbit was written for children - and this, I suspect, is the root cause of my disappointment with it. 

The Lord of the Rings is a trilogy filled with darkness, with desperation, with fierce hope, and courage, and strength. It is masterful, it is genius, and it is a legendary timepiece of literature at its finest. The Hobbit, on the other hand, is a rather comical, bumbling tale of Bilbo Baggins who finds himself accompanying a group of dwarves on their quest to retrieve their treasure that is currently being hoarded by the dragon Smaug. On their journey, they meet a variety of creatures and obstacles and, as usual, Tolkien excels in his imagination. It never ceases to amaze me the depth of creativity that he uses in his stories and his writing quite literally transports you to Middle Earth - the only reason I am giving this novel three stars. 

Nevertheless, in terms of character-building, this novel suffers. Although it has fewer characters than the entire Lord of the RingsTrilogy, I felt this one lacked more of everything. First we have the dwarves, the majority of whom we can forget for their names only appear again in passing and as individuals, they possess no character. Gandalf, while remaining to be the enigmatic wizard we knew and loved from The Lord of the Rings, seems to only exist to save everyone from doom. Bilbo, as a hobbit, only dreams of food and warm fires, until, of course, Gandalf leaves and he suddenly becomes the savior of all the dwarves. Needless to say, there is a severe lack of growth which I found disappointing - the book is, after all, called The Hobbit! We barely get a glimpse into the actual hobbit's growth or impact of this journey on him. 

In many ways, The Hobbit serves as a means to better The Lord of the Rings. Certain scenes, such as Bilbo's meeting with Gollum and his ultimate possession of The Ring was very interesting while others, such as his meeting with the dragon Smaug, felt all too hyped-up and anti-climactic. Thus, while The Hobbit is a must-read for all fans of Tolkien, or just all nit-picky readers who refuse to watch the movie before reading the book, I wouldn't recommend it as the starting point for any fantasy lover. It was a relatively slow, boring, and forgettable tale that I know I won't be returning to in the future. I fear that this will be one of the few moments in life where I will find myself admitting that the movie is far, FAR better than the book. I can't see how it can't be, especially since more time is spent developing the characters themselves. While The Hobbit was a disappointing read for sure, I still reveled in being back in Middle Earth and if there's any reason to read this, then it's that. Truly, there is no place that feels quite as home as Middle Earth does - for me, at least.

Title: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 

Director: Peter Jackson 

Rating: 5 Stars

I'll admit it: the movie is better. I never thought I'd say that about any novel until I read The Hobbit, but Peter Jackson makes a droll novel like The Hobbit, one that is barely three hundred pages long, seem like an epic saga - because in his eyes, through his vision, it is. With "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," Peter Jackson breathes life into the flat, underdeveloped characters of Tolkien's children's novel. Not only that, but he gives them character, purpose, and a startling realistic quality that renders them remarkable heroes on their own right. While The Hobbit focused merely on Bilbo Baggins as he agreed to join a group of dwarves on their journey to reclaim their lost treasure, Peter Jackson turns this into a journey of reclaiming a lost homeland, a place to belong, and a fight for one's own land. 

What makes "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" such a remarkable film is, first and foremost, the way it has been shot. I saw this film in 3D and the vision was remarkable. It truly felt as if I was in Middle Earth myself, not sitting in a theater seat with a giant bag of popcorn in front of my face. Yet, what I liked best about Jackson's movie is that he added his own flair into it. As I mentioned before, we only witness what happens to Bilbo in The Hobbit. We sense no desperation from the dwarves to reach The Lonely Mountain except for a greed of gold and Thorin, the leader of the dwarves, has no personality whatsoever. In the movie, however, Jackson begins by telling us the tale of the dwarf kingdom that Smaug razes to the ground and overtakes; he tells us of Thorin, son of Thrain, and his childhood of watching his grandfather and father perish before his eyes and lose the kingdom that he is the rightful heir to; he tells us of the orc that kills Thrain and renders Thorin an orphan; he tells us of how Thorin builds a new life for the dwarves he is responsible for and how he bides his time, waiting to reclaim his lost home. Thus, in a matter of minutes, Thorin becomes, to us, as significant, heroic, and great a leader as Aragorn is. 

Furthermore, the troop of dwarves that follow Thorin become much like the beloved Fellowship, helping one another, adding Bilbo to their circle of friends, and joining together for a greater cause, all under the wise leadership of Thorin. Perhaps, best of all, however, is how Thorin underestimates Bilbo and how, in reality, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a tale of friendship where the novel was not. It is the story of how Bilbo comes to find in himself a greater courage and power than he thought possible and the general theme of home, of a place to belong, is so aptly felt. Jackson adds on a storyline that wasn't prevalent in the novel, but one that works perfectly with the plot, never changing the actual adventures that Bilbo faces. Instead, he only alters them ever-so-slightly to give them more depth and shows us what occurs to Thorin and Gandalf whenever they are separated from Bilbo. 

In this manner, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a long film, but one that doesn't feel that way. In fact, I would have sat in that theater for nine hours if it meant watching the entire film and now I am itching to at least see the trailer for the next movie, which I am certain will be just as bold, brave, and remarkable as the first. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" is a must-see for all fans of the "Lord of the Rings" movies or books and even if you're not a fan, I'd encourage you to give it a shot. In my eyes, it's the best movie of the year - even better than "The Dark Knight Rises", which is saying a lot since I am crazy about Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan and just Batman in general. Believe me, this is one movie you'll want to go see in the theater again and again and again - it is like nothing you've ever experienced before. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

2012 End of the Year Book Survey!

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? 
Is this a trick question? Really? ONE BOOK? Yup...I'm going to just cheat! ;) 

Australian Contemporary: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta 
YA Contemporary: Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard 
Urban Fantasy: Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews & Shadowfever by Karen Marie Moning. 
YA Fantasy: Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
Dystopian/Futuristic: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna
Paranormal Fantasy: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Post-Apocalyptic: Angelfall by Susan Ee
Adult Romance: Tempt Me at Twilight by Julie Klepas & Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
I hate to say it, but...Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. Cashore is my favorite author EVER. Fire is a novel I love practically more than Harry Potter itself and Graceling too is a book I just keep re-reading, so when I heard Bitterblue was releasing this year, I was BEYOND excited. I pre-ordered the novel and it now just gathers dust in my attic because I was so disappointed by it. It had the potential to be great, but Cashore's flawless execution was I still love her though and would probably kill to meet her... I also follow her blog religiously and she watches Indian movies! AND her favorite Indian actor is MY favorite Indian actor! :D It doesn't seem like much, but when you have similarities with your favorite author, it's a BIG DEAL. 
3. Most Surprising (in a GOOD way!) Book of 2012? 
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, hands down. I wasn't even planning to pick this one up, but the cover was so beautiful, so I figured I'd give it a go thing you know, I was in tears. Seriously, this book was amazing! I can't watch Peter Pan the same way again, but in the best possible way. SO much love for this book!
 4. Book You Recommended to People Most in 2012?
Hmm...I'd say Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley because it was SO GOOD, Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard because it took my breath away and made me FEEL, and EVERYTHING written by Melina Marchetta because she is a Goddess. I kid you not. 
 5. Best Series You Discovered in 2012?
Uhh...The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning because BARRONS is so freaking hot amazing, The Kate Daniels Series because Kate & Curran are perfect for each other, The Downside Ghosts Series by Stacia Kane because TERRIBLE is so, so, SO perfect, Sloppy Firsts because MARCUS FLUTIE and of course, all the new series that started this year and are bound to be amazing. (Such as, Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, which I can already tell you, has a great follow-up novel since Through the Ever Night is AWESOME. Also, this list includes awesome-sauce-icle books like The Diviners, Unspoken, Sevenwaters, Angelfall, Seraphina, Ruby Oliver, Something Strange and Deadly and yes, I know I am TOTALLY cheating!) 
 6. Favorite New Authors You Discovered in 2012?
Melina Marchetta - I wound up reading ALL her books this year and loving them ALL. Gosh, can this woman write! I can't think of one book of hers that hasn't received a 5 Star Rating from me... Yup, she's just THAT good. 
Juliet Marillier - I wound up receiving an ARC of Shadowfell, but before that, I'd never even heard of Marillier. Needless to say, I've read three of her books by now and intend to read all of them next year because I just LOVE her fantasy books. Yet another author who is both skilled in creating realistic characters and slow-burn romances. 
Megan Whalen Turner - Yet another fantasy author I just discovered this year, read all her books, and fell in LOVE. I can't recommend Turner's The Queen's Thief  Series enough. Although the first book isn't all that mind-blowing, I promise you, the next two novels are phenomenal and took my breath away with their brilliance and depth. Turner's novels have made their way into my heart, so I'm so glad I discovered her and plowed through her first novel to finally read some her truly brilliant works. 

Hannah Harrington - I first read Saving June by her and I loved it. It's one of my all-time favorite road-trip/contemporary romances, but Harrington blew me away, once again, with her sophomore novel, Speechless. While I didn't enjoy Speechless as much as I did Saving June, it was still an INCREDIBLE novel. I can't recommend Harrington enough...she writes unlikable protagonists who are SO realistic and makes you love them by the end of her books. I can't wait for her third novel now!
7. Best Book That Was Out of Your Comfort Zone Or Was a New Genre For You?
I'd have to say Split by Swati Avasthi. It was a tough book to read, simply because the subject matter dealt with domestic violence, but it was such a beautiful, touching, and heart-wrenching read. I loved it and really can't recommend it enough. Even now, months after having read it, I have no words to describe its sheer brilliance. 
 8. Most Thrilling Book in 2012?
Umm...I really don't read that many page-turners. I'm one of those crazy people who likes slow-burning novels, but I guess I'd say Angelfall by Susan Ee, Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning, or Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews. 
 9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:
EVERYTHING! (Kidding!) I'm definitely planning to re-read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater since I need to read it again before the sequel releases. I'm also planning to re-read The Diviners by Libba Bray since it was WAY too much fun, Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard because I have so much love for that book, and likely The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna because I'm just going to hope she writes a sequel or companion novel. I've already re-read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, and The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner this year, so I can assure you that they get ever better upon re-read and yes, John Green still made me sob the second time I read the novel I lost my John Green Virginity to. I also desperately want to re-read Heart's Blood and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I can't fully wrap my mind around their truly amazing qualities yet. 
10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2012?
Not surprisingly, two of my favorite covers this year were Australian Covers. Since they're not available in the US, however, I'll cheat and post them and then cheat again and post my two favorite US Covers! ;) 

I think the reason I love these covers as much as I do is because they're all so beautiful, eye-catching, and still manage to stay relevant to the novel. Queen of the Night is so ethereally beautiful, like the book itself, and the Aussie Cover for The Piper's Son is a breathtaking image that captures the bittersweet tone of the novel perfectly, all while making you want to never look away from it. North of Beautiful is pretty in its simplicity and the outline of a compass, which is ideal for the story, and Tiger Lily, of course, needs no explanation. I doubt I've seen a more beautiful font or contrast of color on a cover in a very long time. Also, in case you had a doubt, yes, these are all four more favorites from this year. I am such a cheater... ;)
11. Most Memorable Character in 2012? 
....I'm supposed to CHOOSE? Well...I guess Evie from The Diviners because she's so different, kick-ass, and unique, but I also LOVED Jessica Darling from Sloppy Firsts, Francesca from Saving Francesca, and Amelia from Good Oil. OH, and Seraphina from Seraphina. ALSO, Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest because she is one of the strongest and most inspirational characters I've come across. 
12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2012?
EASY! Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor. If you're not inhaling the words and swooning over the beauty of the prose in this novel, I don't know what's wrong with you. It's BEAUTIFUL! Also, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I'm telling you, this novel has the most underlined passages EVER. It's just...gorgeous. As is The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan which is simply stunning in its prose. 
13. Book That Had the Greatest Impact on You in 2012? 
Since we're all pretending I haven't been cheating all this time, I'm just going to go ahead and cheat again! ;) 
Aussie Contemporary: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta. I know this isn't Marchetta's best work, but it had the greatest impact on me for sure. Somehow, I could relate to Frankie so well and her blooming friendships, changing relationships with her family, and just struggles while growing were so beautifully written that I actually did sob my eyes out when I read this...I can't explain why, but it spoke to me somehow. 
Sci-Fi/Dystopian: The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna. I couldn't get this book out of my head. It was moving, touching, and beautiful beyond belief. A definite must-read. I can't even go on to talk about it because it was such a deeply emotional read. LOVE. 
Fantasy: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. I discovered Marillier this year and have never been so happy. DotF is exquisitely written and it's one of my favorites, mostly because of its compelling heroine, Sorcha. I can't even put into words my love and admiration for her, not to mention what an inspiration she is. Also, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is AMAZING. I cried in this one too, so you can tell it affected me a LOT. Seraphina is one of my favorite characters EVER! :)

YA Contemporary: Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard spoke VOLUMES to me. Bria's journey was a breathtaking one, full of self-discovery, slow-burn romance, and realistic hurdles that all truly struck a cord within me. I also have to mention Gayle Forman's If I Stay and Where She Went which made me think and reflect and shed tears and, of course, Sloppy Firsts which is practically a diary of my own life, not Jessica Darling's. 
 14. Book You Can't Believe You Waited UNTIL 2012 to Finally Read? 
Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: I feel like Sarah Dessen is an author everyone had read back in middle school...except me. I was never into contemporary, but after loving The Truth About Forever, I decided to give this one a shot's my favorite Sarah Dessen novel yet. Sure, I've only read three of them, but I've re-read this one quite a few times already and can't get enough of it. I seriously can't believe it took me this long to pick it up! 
 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 
When I first read this question, all I could think was, "I don't know." Well, then I went through my favorite quotes on GoodReads and all my favorite books, and now I can't pick just one or two...I need to pick ten. I did my best though, so, without further ado, the most breath-takingly beautiful quotes I've read this year:

"Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories. Like we may as well just be words on a page, because we're only what we've done and what we are going to do." ~ Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson 

"He would have told her - he would have said, it matters not if you are here or there, for I see you before me every moment. I see you in the light of the water, in the swaying of the young trees in the spring wind. I see you in the shadows of the great oaks, I hear your voice in the cry of the owl at night. You are the blood in my veins, and the beating of my heart. You are my first waking thought, and my last sigh before sleeping. You are - you are bone of my bone, and breath of my breath." ~Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier

“I missed you every hour. And you know what the worst part was? It caught me completely by surprise. I'd catch myself just walking around to find you, not for any reason, just out of habit, because I'd seen something that I wanted to tell you about or because I wanted to hear your voice. And then I'd realize that you weren't there anymore, and every time, every single time, it was like having the wind knocked out of me. I've risked my life for you. I've walked half the length of Ravka for you, and I'd do it again and again and again just to be with you, just to starve with you and freeze with you and hear you complain about hard cheese every day. So don't tell me why we don't belong together," he said fiercely.” ~ Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 

“But she stepped forward and placed a finger to his lips and there it was before him. The greatest prayer to the gods he could muster with a heart so broken. Don't let me outlive this woman. Don't let me exist one moment without her.” ~Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

“And through all the misery, she said that some of us in this lifetime experience a moment of beauty beyond reckoning. I asked her what that was, and she said, "If you're one of the lucky ones, you'll know it when you see it. You'll understand why the gods have made you suffer. Because that moment's reward will make your knees weak and everything you've suffered in life will pale in comparison.” ~Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

“'Our bodies aren't strangers,' he said, his voice ragged. 'Our spirits aren't strangers.' He held her face in his hands. 'Tell me what part of me is stranger to you and I'll destroy that part of me.'
And she wept to hear his words.” ~Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta
 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
Longest: The Diviners by Libba Bray. I'd be surprised if there was anything longer than this out there! ;) 
Shortest: A Straight Line to My Heart by Bill Condon. Yes, this was short, but it also packed so much punch into it and was incredible, so I loved it! 
 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.) 
Unspoken's ending, without a doubt. Luckily, I did talk about it with Rachel and Sam, otherwise I might have gone crazy. I also felt the need to desperately talk to someone about Gone, Gone, Gone by Hannah Moskowitz because it was SO surprisingly brilliant that I wanted to dissect its incredible-ness. It took me completely by surprise as it's so unknown, but so, SO good. 
18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
Friendship: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Gosh, this whole book is devoted to one of the most heart-warming friendships I've read and it made me sob, but it is SO perfect and wonderful and GOOD. 
Romance: ...TOO MANY! I'd probably go with Kate & Curran since these two had so many cute swoon-worthy moments, as did Aria and Perry. I re-read Bria and Rowan's slow-burn romance in Wanderlove all the time though and the relationship between Gen and Attolia in The King of Attolia is so complex in its beauty. Not to mention ALL the romances in Juliet Marillier's novels, Poppy and Harry's romance in Tempt Me at Twilight by Lisa Kleypas, and the romance between J.D. and Payton in Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James. If you want my full list, just check out my GoodReads Shelf HERE. I'm telling you, there are WAY too many good ones! :)
19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously
The Diviners by Libba Bray and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan. It surprises me how many new authors I've tried this year since really, most of the books I read this past were all new or I read the first novel and the sequel both this year itself, like with Blood Red Road by Moira Young, but Bray's and Brennan's work I'm familiar with and their novels this year definitely did not disappoint. 
20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:
Heart's Blood by Juliet Marillier is another fantasy favorite, recommended to me by Leanne and I adored it. Excellent! I also read I've Got Your Number on recommendation from my friend Inge, who is a Sophie Kinsella fan, and I fell in love with it completely! Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier was recommended to me by Heidi, who, by the way, is solely responsible for my huge TBR-Pile. I know I read House of Shadows by Rachel Neumeier and The Kate Daniels Series on her recommendation too. Maja was also responsible for that recommendation, along with The Scorpio Races which I just LOVED. Devyani, another friend of mine from GoodReads, recommended Practice Makes Perfect by Julie James to me, which wound up being my favorite Julie James novel and it's a romance I know I'll re-read many, many times in my life. 

Looking Ahead…

 1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?
The Storyteller by Antonia Michaelis. I actually traded a book for an ARC of this one and I'm really looking forward to picking it up next year, along with The Griffin Mage Trilogy by Rachel Neumeier since I adored her newest novel, House of Shadows, immensely. 
2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?
Just One Day by Gayle Forman. If the world ends this month, I will be SO PISSED OFF because I NEED TO READ THIS BOOK! It's GAYLE FORMAN! AAAHHH! 

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?
Uhh...make more blogging friends, attend a book signing/author event, meet more bloggers in person, possibly attend BEA, start up some more new features and...stop writing so many black sheep reviews since I hate practically all the hyped-up novels you can think of. (Yes, I really did NOT like Cinder or The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer or Unearthly. I don't know what's wrong with me! :/ Also, I just realized the question said ONE thing and I cheated on that too...oh, dear!)

A huge thanks to Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner for putting together this survey! It made my life just about a million times easier since I'm terrible at ranking novels! (As you can see from all my cheating!) What are some of your favorite novels of the year?? 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Review: Blood, She Read by Sara Hubbard

Title: Blood, She Read 

Author: Sara Hubbard 

Rating: 3 Stars

It isn't unusual to come across a book, every so often, that you read and simply know that you'd have loved it, if only your expectations had been a little different. In fact, one of the best things about reading those types of books is the knowledge that you'll go back to it in the future, maybe a couple of months or years down the line, and truly just love it. It happened to me very recently, with Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier, and seems to have happened again with Hubbard's debut, Blood, She Read.For me, the main factor preventing me from enjoying Blood, She Read more than I did was the mere fact that I was constantly anticipating for the plot to focus more on the alluded murder mystery in the synopsis. Now, don't worry - it's certainly there and very present - but unlike other novels, it isn't the sole focus. Instead, Blood, She Read is a paranormal mystery that is more character-driven than anything else and this unique change made it an extremely interesting read, to say the least. 

Hubbard's debut opens up by introducing us to Petra Marras, our protagonist who has descended from a long line of witches and has the power to read people or objects with a mere touch. When the trail of the murder of a teenage girl goes cold, the police come knocking on Petra's door for help. Petra, whose father is estranged from her family, has been forced by her father to use her powers for a variety of evil deeds. As such, she feels responsible to use her powers for good and help in any way she can, but, as most good deeds, this winds up backfiring. Not only do the police nab the wrong guy, the murdered girl's secret boyfriend, but Petra begins to be threatened by his older brother in school, not to mention the police officer keeps blackmailing her for more information and accidentally gets fed a love spell by her mother. Just to make matters worse, though, strange Petra who is usually given a wide berth in school makes a new friend, only to have him be the best friend of the murdered girl and a rival of the girl, Josie's, boyfriend, Finn, who happens to like Petra. In a world so confusing where Petra doesn't know who to trust, the killer could be lurking right around the corner and maybe, this time he's coming after her...

Although the driving force behind all the events in Blood, She Read is the murder of Josie, a local teenage girl, it isn't the main plot thread at all. Instead, as I mentioned before, this paranormal mystery is more character-driven than anything else. Petra's life has been far from normal with a father who has exploited her powers and a mother who shies away from affection. Thus, finally away from her father, all Petra wants is normal. Yet, since her mother inherited the house of Petra's aunt, who made it publicly known that they were a family of witches, Petra continues to be the odd one out. One of the first things that struck me about this tale was how complex the relationship between Petra and her mother is. It isn't your usual mother-daughter relationship and although they could behave like best friends at times, there was an undercurrent of tension throughout the novel for here are two women who don't know how to relate to one another. More than anything else, their interactions and their journey was a driving and compelling force behind this tale that, in my opinion, truly captured the heart of the teenage girl. 

In addition to Petra's relationship with her mom, her friendship with Dylan, the best friend of Josie, was a vital aspect of this novel. In Dylan, Petra finds someone she can trust and rely on and for her, this is a huge deal. I love that Petra was very strong outwardly, exhibiting a cool exterior that showed others that their dislike of her didn't bother her in the least, while inside, she was every bit as vulnerable as expected. It was Petra's constant growth throughout the novel that was so realistically portrayed and really made me a fan of her. Even Petra's romance with Finn, although going through its ups-and-downs and not being the main focus of the plot, was very sweet and nicely done. It allowed us to see both Petra and Finn as individuals before seeing how their interactions together made them better people. Furthermore, Hubbard addressed issues such as Finn being a suspected murder target, not to mention someone who might simply be using Petra or taking advantage of her because they too were now un-cool, very well. 

Nevertheless, despite my adoration of the characterization in this novel, I did have some minor qualms that, when added up, took away from this story. For one, there is no real plot to Blood, She Read. Now, that doesn't mean it's a haphazard novel, but it isn't focused on finding the murderer and nor is it focused on romance or friendship. It's a little bit of everything, which is fine, and it never lags or bores the reader, but it does leave a slightly more solidified plot thread to be desired. In addition, for a novel that is marketed as a murder mystery, there is a shocking amount of world-building that is lacking. We never even realize that we need this until the last fifth of the novel, but after finishing the book, I am increasingly curious about Petra's world. Furthermore, I found that Blood, She Read was excruciatingly predictable. On one hand, it was never irritating to wait while Petra figured out the murderer that the reader had already known, for it was a difficult choice for Petra to really acknowledge and accept, but at the same time, I can't help but wish that it hadn't been so obvious. In my mind, there were way too many clues strewn about and constantly repeated, which simply detracted from the novel. Even the plot twists surrounding Finn were deceptively easy to figure out, all making for a read that lacked a shock-factor. 

Ultimately, however, with some altered expectations about the murder mystery, Blood, She Read is a debut that won't disappoint. In Petra, we find a heroine that is strong, yet realistically vulnerable and a mother-daughter relationship that puts most others to shame. It is these character dynamics, explored so vividly and with such attention to detail, that make this novel the gem it is. If you're a fan of paranormal romance with a dash of mystery and a heavy dose of characterization, Blood, She Read is the definite book for you. 

A huge thank you to Sara Hubbard for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan

Title: The Brides of Rollrock Island 

Author: Margo Lanagan 

Rating: 5 Stars 

The Brides of Rollrock Island is one of those novels that left me with the thought that there is no possible word in the English language that could even attempt to summon up the strange, ethereal, and mystifying experience that is chronicled in this book. As my first venture into Lanagan’s world, I have to admit that Brides simply blew me away, leaving me utterly breathless. It is a slow, intriguing tale that often reminded me of Darwin’s An Origin of Species, since, in many ways, Lanagan seems to be recording the evolution of the magic on Rollrock Island through her multiple PoVs, characters, and generations. Brides is a story that sucks you in from the very first page and just keeps sucking the emotions, feelings, and deepest desires of your soul right out until you close the last page, a secret smile upon your face as your mind is a little more intelligent, your heart a little more accepting, and your world a little more different than ever before.

It is difficult to properly summarize The Brides of Rollrock Island in any way that could possibly do it justice or cease to reveal one-too-many spoilers. It is suffice, I hope, to say that much like Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races is a tale of the island of Thisby and its deadly water horses, Brides is a tale of Rollrock Island, a mystical island on which seals loiter about, giving way to the legend of beautiful brides emerging from these seals, only to pine for the ocean every waking hour they spend away from it. It is on this island that Misskaella is born, to a family like any other except for the stark difference that a generation’s buried affinity for magic has been successfully suppressed, until the birth of Misskaella herself.

It is these two seemingly un-similar occurrences – a forgotten legend and the birth of a woman with magical abilities – that spark the story arc of Brides. Within her latest novel, Lanagan weaves a complex tale of carefully extracted revenge, using seven different PoV’s to transition between past, present, and future; woman, child, and man. Each PoV is unique, different, and surprisingly deep. As each one unfolds, the overarching arc of the novel becomes clearer and clearer as Lanagan carefully peels back the intricate layers of her world, its psychology, its people, and its world in and of itself. The Brides of Rollrock Island is not a tale of happiness, but neither is it one of despair. If anything, it is bittersweet at its finest, a blend of subtle joy sprinkled amongst a sea of troubles, injustices, and unfairness’s. Yet, at its core, it is a beautiful and touching story, one that gives strength, lends hope, and leaves you thinking for hours afterwards. 

The Brides of Rollrock Island, despite being a story of revenge, is not a story that puts blame on any one person or group of people. In fact, Lanagan masterfully weaves her story in such a way that it is impossible to tell right from wrong. All we are able to glean from this novel, at the end, is that its course was inevitable. Any one of us, if thrown into the positions of these characters, would have mostly likely reacted the same way, making this a strangely believably tale. Furthermore, the undertone of doom, of history living on to repeat itself again and again, of men falling prey to the beauty that is beheld by eyes and not the heart or mind, to women falling prey to trust of men who woo them with words, of children falling prey to the prejudices of their parents…all this is within human nature and its cycle will repeat itself and the events that occur on Rollrock are all bound to occur yet again, in another hundred years or so. If anything, it is this theme of being unable to control one’s fate that is so aptly felt.

Yet, the subtle undertones of this novel indicate otherwise. Whether it be the women of Rollrock Island who have the strength and courage to leave her husbands who want beautiful sea wives to a new life in a foreign town, or the children of the sea wives who find it in themselves to defy the fathers they look up to and grant their mothers the happiness they seek, or whether it is the witch of Rollrock herself who finds a way to love and happiness despite her estrangement from society which was granted to her based solely on her appearance and gift of magic she couldn’t control, The Brides of Rollrock Island is full of characters who take fate into their own hands. Of characters who decide to mold what they want from life, despite what circumstances have thrown at them. It may be a story of aching sadness and despair, but it is also a novel of so much strength and hope and courage that one cannot help but come away from it an inspired individual.  

Nevertheless, what I loved most about The Brides of Rollrock Island, is, without a doubt, its ending. For once, here is a novel that starts out strong, builds and keeps getting better, and ends with the strongest note of all. If there is such a thing as a perfect novel, it is probably this one as its prose is beautiful, its story mesmerizing, its characters three-dimensional, and its capacity to make you open your mind and think and revel and accept is simple astounding. I just cannot recommend this novel enough. It is a story that will stick with me for a long time to come and one that I will undoubtedly return to in a matter of years, confident that I will come away from it with even more knowledge, more questions, more wisdom, and more mind-blown than ever before. If you choose to read just one Margo Lanagan novel or one Aussie Fantasy or just one book, let it be this one. It lacks the capacity to disappoint; trust me. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Review: And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host

Title: And All the Stars 

Author: Andrea K. Host

Rating: 4 Stars 

And All the Stars and I got off to a slow start. For some reason, it was nearly impossible to get me to pick this one up. Perhaps it was because I didn't think anything with aliens could captivate me the way Doctor Who does or perhaps it was the fact that whenever I tried to read past the first page, my mind just drew up a giant question mark. Either way, I encourage you all to give this novel a chance for, truly, it is spectacular.

One of the biggest downfalls this novel has going for it, in my opinion at any rate, is its beginning. It throws you into an apocalypse at once, leaving you confused and puzzled for a few chapters before the pieces slowly begin to come together. While I know many readers love this method, I was rather thrown off by it, but as I kept reading, I became captivated with the story. Maddie, an artist aspiring to win a prestigious award, is on her way to her cousin's house to paint him for her competition. Suddenly, dust begins to coat the streets and before anyone can even begin to find their bearings at the strange occurrences, an alien invasion has happened. In it, Maddie and many others who were outside and infected have been split into two groups, distinguished by the rapidly changing color of their skin: Blues and Greens. Now, it is a race for both survival and a journey to band together to somehow save Planet Earth before their race dies out.

In And All the Stars, Host proves her worth as a writer by gently peeling back the multiple layers of her world. Maddie, a powerful Blue, meets and join Noi, who in turn is joined by another group of people who stay together and experiment with their developing abilities. None of them know who the aliens are, what they want, or what has happened to them, but they try to make the best of their situation. Each of these characters is very complex and Host depicts them in such a manner that the reader both simultaneously knows them and doesn't know them completely. As the narrator, Maddie is the most understandable of all the characters and I loved gleaning insight into her artistic mind, observant capabilities, and unique way of thought. Without even knowing it, I was slowly drawn into the characters of this tale, feeling for them and their plight in ways I didn't think were imaginable. It was this strong connection to the characters themselves that truly made this novel as astounding as it was for me. I found myself fist pumping, cheering, and generally joining them on their race for survival as newer and newer difficulties cropped up as their duration as Blues and Greens continued.

Fisher, one of the young men who joins Maddie and Noi, is an enigmatic and quiet person who Noi affectionately nicknames "Science Boy." Needless to say, I doubt there is anything more attractive than a nerd except a hot nerd and Fisher fits the bill perfectly. Maddie and Fisher's relationship was very slow, drawn-out, and extremely realistic. Both of them acknowledge that they may have never gotten together unless the apocalypse had occurred and furthermore, they don't even label their relationship as "love." Best of all, perhaps, is the fact that Maddie slowly begins to fall for Fisher because he understands her in a way no one else does, appreciating her artwork and taking the time to understand her unique persona that is built around that hobby. Maddie, much like us bibliophiles ourselves, is very easily drawn into the life of her art, tuning everything else out and remaining anti-social - until now. Thus, it is Fisher who understands her tendencies to be alone, to focus solely on her artwork, and her gradual change into a person who trusts and works with others as well. I found Maddie's entire journey to be very compelling and the outside perspective we were witness to from Fisher's reactions towards her was an eye-opener as well.

And All the Stars is a novel that will appeal to everyone. It has a beautiful, blooming romance that is done to near perfection; it has heart-pounding action and edge-of-your-seat suspense; it contains a healthy dose of sci-fi and intrigue that will keep you flipping the pages frantically; its narrator is a unique protagonist unlike any other; its secondary characters are well fleshed-out and real, but best of all, it's a story you are not likely to forget. It has plot twists, sacrifice, friendships, laughter, romance, fear, hope, distrust,'s a perfect blend of everything and I have been rendered speechless by it. I can't recommend this novel enough and although this is only my first Host novel, it certainly will NOT be my last.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Review: Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters, #1) by Juliet Marillier

Title: Daughter of the Forest (Sevenwaters, #1) 

Author: Juliet Marillier 

Rating: 5 Stars

Incredible. I know I've said I've been speechless when reading books before, but this time, I genuinely don't have the words to express what a masterpiece this novel is. I actually finished this novel early today morning, at around 1:30, but it was only at 2:30-ish that I actually got up to go to sleep. I couldn't get this story out of my head; I simply kept thinking about it. If Juliet Marillier hadn't already made a fan out of me with Heart's Blood, then I'd be tripping over myself to fall at her feet for truly, this book is remarkable. 

Daughter of the Forest is known to be one of the best fantasy novels out there, but it's hard to believe just how good it is until you read it. From its cover, it seems to be a simplistic fairy tale re-telling, but it's a fairy tale like no other. We don't have any knights in shining armor; instead, the princess has to save herself. We don't have an innocent girl for whom circumstances clear up and solve her problem; we have a broken girl who has to struggle to find happiness. Sorcha is the youngest of seven children, six of whom are boys. Thus, she has grown up sheltered, loved, and cared for by her siblings. When her father re-marries, however, bringing Lady Oonagh, a deadly sorcerer, into their peaceful abode, Sorcha's life is turned upside down. Lady Oonagh turns her beloved brothers into swans and the only way for Sorcha to break the spell is to weave six shirts made of a prickly nettle and remain silent for her entire ordeal. It is only when the shirts have been made and worn by her brothers that the spell will be broken, but the journey that Sorcha will embark on will change more than just her future, it will change her very being and shatter her to her core. 

Daughter of the Forest starts out slowly, introducing us to Sorcha, her world, and her close relationship with her brothers. Thus, when her brothers are turned into swans, we, as readers, feel just as much pain as Sorcha herself. I could feel myself visibly wincing every time Sorcha was reminded of her past life with her brothers, full of happiness and delight. Daughter of the Forest is a dark tale. A very dark tale. I sobbed for a solid five minutes at one point in this story because of the utter horror of the situation. Yet, despite all the darkness, there is a subtle undercurrent of hope, of happiness, of love. It's all so beautifully interwoven that one cannot help but be reminded of life itself with its ups and downs and darkness and light. 

You see, Daughter of the Forest is a painfully realistic tale. Sorcha has an incredible trove of inner strength. I admire her immensely and she's one of those heroines I'll never forget. I could simply be in the supermarket having a bad day and Sorcha is one of those protagonists who will come to mind and I already know I'll tell myself, "If Sorcha could go through all that, I can get through today." Sorcha isn't a saint - she's only human and that is felt so palpably despite the ordeal she manages to go through. Thus, despite the seemingly amazing feats she manages to achieve, Marillier weaves this tale in such a way that she is able to convey that each and every one of these ordeals is possible to overcome, just as anything is with the right dose of love, faith, and perseverance. 

Nevertheless, one of my favorite aspects of this novel is, hands-down, the romance. If Marillier is the Queen of Slow Burn Romance, I am the Glutton of Slow Burn Romance. I can't get enough of it and Marillier writes it to pure perfection. What I loved about the romance in this novel, particularly, is the fact that it manages to happen all without Sorcha uttering a word. Somehow, against all odds, Sorcha manages to find someone who understands her very soul, who sees her task as a brave ordeal she is facing, and who can understand her with little difficulty, despite her silence. Furthermore, Sorcha never even realizes that she's falling in love. As the reader, we can see this romance unfold in front of our eyes, but Sorcha's task remains to be the main plot thread, until eventually, Sorcha comes to realize the love she had and how, despite not realizing it before, she needs the very presence of her lover to calm her. For, to be in love isn't necessarily to crave physical affection or even understanding, but often, it comes from the most basic, innocent, and true primitive instinct of needing that other person's presence and strength by you. It is this that Marillier manages to embody so beautifully within this novel and I can't get enough of it.

Daughter of the Forest is a dark, emotional, and achingly bittersweet fantasy like no other. It is one that kept me on the edge of my seat with a box of tissues within the grasp of my hand and a warm blanket draped over me. It's one of those stories that continues to plague you long after you've read it as you marvel over both the author's creativity and skill along with the characters and their complexity. I can't recommend this book enough, but really, everyone should read this. Everyone. Like all fairy tales, Daughter of the Forest contains a trove of themes and lessons and Marillier conveys all this in a subtle and beautiful manner that touches and stays with you like nothing else quite does. Truly, if there's one book you should make yourself read before you die, it's this one. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Showcase Sunday (#19)

Showcase Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by Vicki at Books, Biscuits and Tea. Its aim is to showcase our newest books or book related swag and to see what everyone else received for review, borrowed from libraries, bought in bookshops and downloaded onto eReaders this week.

For Review: 
pic name pic name
pic name
pic name
Unsurprisingly, this series just keeps getting better and better! I loved this new installment even more than the previous ones and am counting down till Origin, the fourth novel (mostly because of that EVIL cliffhanger ending!). You can check out my review HERE
Although Level 2 and I had a bit of a rough beginning, I was captivated by this tale. It's unique, well-written, and has some of the most complex characterization I've come across in a debut. I should have my review up closer to the release date! 
I've heard SO much about this one, so I'm very excited to start it. I love the cover and could probably just stare at it all day, to be honest!(; 
I saw this on NG and couldn't resist requesting it. It looks like such a fun, adorable, and quirky read, so I'm hoping to sneak this in over my holiday break. (One more week of classes left...urgh!) 

pic name pic name pic name
I seem to have been on a historical romance streak with these books. I read them all in a week and I loved them! The Hathaways is a phenomenal series in this genre and even if you're not a fan of this genre, I'd encourage you to give it a shot. It converted me for sure! ;) It has a LOT more depth than its covers would lead you to believe and it's simply a wonderful series overall, romance aside. You can check out my reviews HERE, HERE, and HERE
pic name pic name pic name
My mom and I have been eagerly waiting to read this book ever since the hype about it started trickling in, but we totally despaired since we were both in the 100s on our library waiting list. Well, it turns out we've gotten an early Christmas gift since our library finally called to tell us it was here, so after my mom reads this, I'm next in line! ;)
I loved Anna and the French Kiss and with the release of Isla and the Happily Ever After looming ahead, I desperately need to tear into this one. I can't wait! 
King first earned fame with Please Excuse Vera Dietz, a novel I still have to read, but I'm hoping I'll enjoy this. I'm more than a little curious to sample her famed writing! 
pic name pic name pic name
I love, love, LOVED Martinez's debut, Virtuosity, so I can't wait to read this one! :D
Well, this is the last Stiefvater series I have to try, so I'm hoping I fall in love with it like I did with The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys. *fingers crossed* 
Yet another novel both my mom and I have heard a LOT about and were pleasantly surprised to find waiting for us in the library. I'm really excited for this one, especially since it's a fantasy! 
pic name pic name pic name
I loved Juliet Marillier's Heart's Blood, a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast, so I'm hoping I'll enjoy this re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. It's gotten some excellent ratings, so I'm excited to start it. 
Ilona Andrews...need I say more? I absolutely devoured The Kate Daniels Series by this husband-wife duo earlier this year, so I'm eager to check out their other series, which I hear has a bit more romance and is set in the same, intriguing futuristic universe. 
I was actually drawn to this book because of its cover alone. I mean, just LOOK at it! It's gorgeous, with the blues and the paintbrush-like image. From the reviews I've read, it seems to be just as good as its cover promises, so I'm curious to start this one. 

Well, it turns out my first audiobook was a success! I tried Feed by Mira Grant on audio earlier this year, but was disappointed. I loved this one though and it's my favorite of the series as well, simply because it's so much more complex, deeper, and bittersweet than the other tales in this series. Needless to say, it's VERY highly recommended from me. You can check out my review HERE

If you follow me on GoodReads, you'll know that I fell head-over-heels in love with Marillier's first novel in this series, Daughter of the Forest. I proceeded to trade for the second book at once, but it seems to have been lost in the mail for awhile...until now! It just arrived on my doorstep yesterday and I couldn't have been happier. I'm thrilled to be back in Marillier's world and, truly, if you haven't read this author, you're missing out. 

I successfully resisted from buying any books for myself this week, but on my next Showcase Sunday post, be prepared to see my entire Christmas Haul! ;) What books did you get this week? Link me up! :D