Monday, December 31, 2012

Summing Up 2012

2012 was quite the year in books for me. I read a personal best of 179 books (of course, the five months of unemployment helped that total a lot). That was a total of 51,903 pages. The books I read averaged 351 pages each. That also included 275 hours of audiobooks. It was very hard to narrow it down to ten favorites out of 179 books because there were a lot of awesome books this year but I think my favorites were these (and they're in order by author's last name):

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I've seen this book at the top of lots of bloggers favorites list and it should be. This book made me laugh, cry and feel and that's all that I can ask of a good book. 

A Discovery of Witches and Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness. Yeah, I know, this is actually two books but I read both of them this year and loved both of them. Harkness creates a beautiful and magical world. She also develops her main characters and lets Diana and Matthew slowly fall in love. Then, the second book successfully travels back in time and shows us a terrific imagining of what the past could have been like. You know, if such things as witches and daemons really existed (wink, wink). I haven't seen a series of books so hard to classify into a specific genre since Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series (which I highly recommend also). Also, I met Deborah Harkness at YallFest and she was wonderful.

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. I knew without a doubt this one would be on the list. I've recommended it to everybody who has asked me which book they should read this year. I loved it. Ismae and Duvall were wonderful and I still think one of the most romantic lines all year came from this book:

“Whenever you are ready, or if you never are, my heart is yours, until Death do us part. Whatever that may mean when consorting with one of Death’s handmaidens.”

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. This is one of those books that I was supposed to have read in high school but I am so glad that I never did. I don't think I would have appreciated it's beauty and message as much as I do as an adult. Wonderful book.

Legend by Marie Lu. This is what dystopic fiction should be. I loved June and Day. They're drawn perfectly. I felt for both characters and want both of them to win. Oh and another favorite quote of all time is in this book:

"Each day means a new twenty-four hours. Each day means everything's possible again. You live in the moment, you die in the moment, you take it all one day at a time."

Finnikin of the Rock and Froi of the Exiles by Melina Marchetta. So I discovered Melina Marchetta this year and fell in love with her. I think these two books were amazing and absolutely cannot wait until Quintana of Charyn is released later this year.

The Game of Thrones series by George R. R. Martin. Yes, I'm including the entire series here. I conquered them this year. Well, all except for A Dance with Dragons which still has not been released in paperback. There were times when I absolutely hated these books. (How in the world could Martin kill that character. By the way, there's about 20 characters that would fit into that line). Oh, and Martin tricks you and plays with you and makes you angry and I swear I'm going to quit him but I keep going back.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer and The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin. I loved these books. Noah is such an amazing guy. And Hodkin does this terrific job of keeping the writer completely confused as to what's going on. She makes Mara an unreliable narrator and you want to believe that Mara is being truthful but I can't quite be sure that Mara knows the truth to begin with.  Oh yes, I realize that she's totally out of order. Guess I'm not too good at alphabetizing, am I?

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. This was the second book I read this year and I still think it's probably the most beautiful. I can still see the drawings in my mind and every single time I see the words "yew tree" I think of this story. And I think I will for the rest of my life.

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi. I read this book in one sitting. It was impossible to put down. I loved Perry and Aria and I have wished more than once that I had the time to go back and reread this book. Rossi created an unique word and tells the same  end of the world story but in a totally new way.  I probably will reread it before Through the Ever Night comes out.

Hmmm, that doesn't quite add up to ten, does it? Oh well. I also want to take just a few seconds and mention my favorite audiobooks of the year. I get so much enjoyment out of audiobooks and think that absolutely everybody should give them a try. There are times when a book comes to life so much more during an audiobook than it ever could on the written page. Proof of that is in two of my favorite audiobooks this year:  The Wizard of Oz narrated by Anne Hathaway and The End of the Affair narrated by Colin  Firth.  Hathaway did amazing voices for each of the characters in The Wizard of Oz and painted the picture so well. It was better than watching any movie. As for The End of the Affair, I don't think I could have ever made it through that book but Colin Firth read it with so much emotion and feeling, I couldn't quit listening. 

In Before I Wake and The Golden Lily I got two more books featuring my two favorite guys in books: Tod Hudson and Adrian Ivashkov. These two guys are amazing and they have no fear about telling the girls they love how they feel. I'm hoping Tod and Kaylee make it through the final book in 2013 and that Sidney gets over her vampire phobia and realizes just how amazing Adrian is in The Indigo Spell.

11-22-63 is all that's great about Stephen King. It's a great story with flawed characters that you can't help but feel for and root for them. There's some scary crap that goes down and the entire fate of the world rests on the shoulders of the main character who never fails to be the average every day guy that could just as easily be you. Yeah, this is why I love Stephen King.

I also got devoured the Night Huntress series by Jeaniene Frost this season. I love this series of audiobooks and highly recommend them to any paranormal fiction/urban fantasy fans. Bones and Cat are just perfect but Frost goes a step beyond her main couple and creates a whole group of characters that are fleshed out and interesting.

So, yes, 2012 was a great year of reading for me. 2013 is looking pretty darn good also from the stack of books piled up beside my bed. I'm sure I won't read near as many books next year as I did this year but I think they're going to be just as good. I'm hoping you guys stick around for the journey.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Get Steampunk'd 2013 Reading Challenge

BA's Get Steampunk'd Challenge. Grab me!

So I was into steampunk before steampunk was cool. I have been so excited about seeing all the various steampunk themes popping up in books over the past year. Some have disappointed me a bit. But others have thrilled me. I've also noticed a number of steampunk books and series that I haven't quite got to yet and I would really like to read. So I've decided to join the Get Steampunk'd 2013 Reading Challenge hosted by Bookish Ardour this year.  I'm hoping this challenge will inspire me to grab some of those series and start reading them.  I'm going to go for the "Cogged" level which is 15 books but I'm hoping that I can read more steampunk books than that. I'm just not sure that I can come close to 30. 

You can keep up with my progress on my 2013 Challenges page. You can also go over to this link at Bookish Ardour and join in.

2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

2013 YA Audiobook Challenge

If you're a regular reader of this blog, then you probably know that I love audiobooks and I'm not really sure I could get through life without audiobooks. They're essential for my daily commute to work. I've decided to try to listen to more YA Audiobooks this year and to help me along with that, I'm going to join the 2013 YA Audiobook Challenge hosted by A Book and A Latte. I'm going to aim for the Rock'N Out Level of 24 audiobooks. This will be a definite challenge for me as I usually listen to about 25 or 30 audiobooks a year and at least half of those are normally urban fantasy. I'll have to finagle some extra listening hours in somewhere. You can get all the details and join the challenge here.

I'll keep a running tally on my 2013 Challenges page so check in on me regularly to see how I'm doing.

2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

I've got way too many books laying around the house waiting to be read so this challenge may be just what I need to get some of them read. I'm going for the Married With Children level on it which means that I need to read 41-50 books that I already own. That might almost clear the stack beside my bed. 

You can get all the details on the challenge and sign up at this post at the Bookish blog. Wish me luck!

Tommy Taylor and the War of Words

Author:  Mike Carey & Peter Gross
Series: The Unwritten, Volume 6
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
Year: 2012
Pages: 240

Goodreads Description:
In this volume, Tom Taylor goes to war against the cabal that has tormented, imprisoned and tried to destroy him. To have a hope of winning, Tom must use every weapon he can get hold of, but even storybook magic carries its own risks. Tom's crusade plays out against the backdrop of the cabal's sinister secret history and delves deep into the dark past of some of the series' major players. When it's all over, very little will remain "Unwritten."

Next to Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, The Unwritten is my absolute favorite graphic novel series. I love these stories. Mostly, I love how they talk about the power of stories and how stories and words shape what is reality. They just really give me something to think about. Plus, there's lots of really great action and some terrific lines.  I think these are a must read for any literature lover - - especially if you're a pretty well read English  major like me.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Vincent Brothers

Author:  Abbi Glines
Series:  The Vincent Boys, Book 2
Year: 2012
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Pages:  279

Goodreads Description:
Hot romance is the cure for heartbreak in this sequel to The Vincent Boys.Getting a boy to fall head-over-heels in love with you isn’t easy. Especially when he’s been in love with your cousin for as long as you can remember.
Lana has lived her life in her cousin’s shadow. Ashton always made perfect grades, had tons of friends, and looks model-perfect. And she’s always had Sawyer Vincent—the only boy Lana’s ever wanted—wrapped around her finger. But now things are different. Lana has a chance to make Sawyer see her, and she’s taking it. If only he’d get over Ashton—because Lana is sick of second-best.
Sawyer’s heart is broken. He’s lost his best girl to his best friend. And then Lana comes to town. Ashton’s cousin has always been sweet and soft-spoken, but now she’s drop-dead gorgeous as well. Sawyer doesn’t know if Lana can heal his broken heart, but spending time with her might at least make Ashton jealous.
What starts as a carefree fling becomes a lusty game of seduction. Sawyer and Lana may have different motives, but their scintillating hookups are the same kind of steamy.

It's a pretty close call but I think I liked this book better than the first one. I enjoyed the different emotions that we got to see from Sawyer and his dealing with Ashton and Beau's relationship. Also, his and Beau's relationship growing and mending was good to see. I felt like there were more feelings in this book if that makes any sense. Good series that I conquered in one evening.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Vincent Boys

Author:  Abbi Glines
Series: The Vincent Boys, Book 1
Year:  2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pages:  259

Goodreads Summary:
There was something wicked about Beau that drew me to him. What was wrong with me? Why did I want to sin so badly?
Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it’s his cousin Beau who catches Ashton’s eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she’s ever seen, and even though he’s dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.
Beau loves his cousin like a brother, so the last thing he wants to do is make a move on Sawyer’s girl. Ashton is off-limits, absolutely. That’s why he does his best to keep his distance, even though he’s been in love with her forever. When Ashton wants to rekindle their childhood friendship in Sawyer’s absence, Beau knows he should say no.
Ashton and Beau don’t want to hurt Sawyer. But the more they try to stay away from each other, the more intense their urges become. It’s getting way too hard to resist.

So this book is 100% guilty pleasure. I think I was slightly in love with Beau halfway through this book and I definitely thought I'd be a much better match for him than Ashton :) but in reality, Ashton and Beau were great for each other. If you're looking for a fun and sexy romance that's a great light read, I recommend this book. It's my first introduction to Abbi Glines but I'll definitely be reading more.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn
Year:  2012
Publisher:  Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Pages: 419

Goodreads Summary:
Marriage can be a real killer.

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.
On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

I went into this book a little bit leery. I'd read all the rave reviews and from the reviews, I feared this book was going to be a bit like Mr. Peanut. Yes, I did think Mr. Peanut was good. It had a brilliant premise but the middle of the book was just plain boring. Not so with Gone Girl. This was a fast paced thriller that kept me guessing and what happened in the middle of the book? A complete twist that changed the entire story. I loved this book. It was so . . . twisted . . . and it had one of those endings that I can't say anything more about. The only other thing I want to say is that it was so good to read a different mystery that left me surprised. And I'll probably be thinking about it for a while.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Black Box

Author: Michael Connelly
Series: Harry Bosch, Book 18
Year: 2012
Publisher: Hachette Audio
Narrator:  Michael McConnohie

Goodreads Description:
In a case that spans 20 years, Harry Bosch links the bullet from a recent crime to a file from 1992, the killing of a young female photographer during the L.A. riots. Harry originally investigated the murder, but it was then handed off to the Riot Crimes Task Force and never solved.
Now Bosch's ballistics match indicates that her death was not random violence, but something more personal, and connected to a deeper intrigue. Like an investigator combing through the wreckage after a plane crash, Bosch searches for the "black box," the one piece of evidence that will pull the case together.

This is another solid entry in the Harry Bosch series. I always look forward to these books. I think Connelly is a brilliant crime writer and I love the way he does the one thing that I feel many series crime writers fail to do: he lets Harry grow and change emotionally. The Harry Bosch in book 18 is way different than the Harry Bosch of book 1. And I love Harry. 

But Hachette Audio did through me for a loop here. They changed narrators on me and I so loved Len Cariou so I was not happy with the narrator change at first. But, turns out, Michael McConnohie is pretty good. I ended up being just fine with the narrator.

If you're looking for a good crime series, I suggest giving these books a try.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Winner Announcement: End of the World Giveaway Hop

And the winner of the End of the World Giveaway Hop is:

I have emailed Dita and she has chosen the Last Survivors trilogy which I'll be getting in the mail to her. Thanks to everybody who stopped by and entered and keep your eyes open for future giveaways. I had a blast on this one and can't wait to do more.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

One Grave at a Time

Author:  Jeaniene Frost
Series:  Night Huntress, Book 6
Year: 2011
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Narrator:  Tavia Gilbert

Audible Description:
The grave is one wrong step away.
Having narrowly averted an (under)world war, Cat Crawfield wants nothing more than a little downtime with her vampire husband, Bones. Unfortunately, her gift from New Orleans’ voodoo queen just keeps on giving - leading to a personal favor that sends them into battle once again, this time against a villainous spirit.
Centuries ago, Heinrich Kramer was a witch hunter. Now, every All Hallows Eve, he takes physical form to torture innocent women before burning them alive. This year, however, a determined Cat and Bones must risk all to send him back to the other side of eternity - forever. But how do you kill a killer who’s already long dead?

I'm so addicted to this series and so very, very disappointed that I am now caught up with the Night Huntress books. There's still the Vlad book but it looks like it's going to be a while before I see another Cat and Bones book.  :(  So sad. This series keeps getting better and I have to admit that it ranks pretty high on my favorite series (and is definitely one of those "guilty pleasures."  I loved the way this book took a different turn and this time Cat and Bones weren't fighting other vampires but instead were fighting a ghost. Tyler was a wonderful addition to the cast and I hope he sticks around for a while. I recommend that anybody who loves paranormal fiction/urban fantasy that hasn't already started these books start reading them now!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky
Year: 1999
Publisher:  Gallery Books
Pages:  213

Goodreads Description:
Charlie is a freshman. And while he's not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it.

Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix-tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite.

But Charlie can't stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

I went into this book pretty blind and not really knowing anything about what the book was about except that it was a coming of age story so I was pleased with what I got. It's a beautiful book with some lines that mad me just stop and think about how beautiful they are. It was much more poignant than I expected and I felt so connected to Charlie.  I felt all his emotions both good and bad and so wanted things to turn out good for him. I highly recommend this book.