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The Compulsive Reader: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

Favorite Books of 2010

You might be sick of these looking-back posts already, but I couldn't resist throwing in my own two-cents. Here are my top twelve books of 2010, one for every month of the year!

StarCrossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

I have been a fan of Bunce's work since A Curse Dark as Gold released in 2008, and I was overjoyed when StarCrossed hit shelves this year. More of a classic fantasy story than fairy-tale retelling, StarCrossed is action-packed, witty, and sharp, and it will keep you completely enthralled until the very end. If you're a fan of Kristin Cashore's Graceling and Fire, definitely check this one out! I adored it.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

This book has all of the fixings for the ideal YA romance novel without being dumbed down or too clichĂ©. It's charming, funny, and just so, so perfect. Plus, the Parisian setting is not only totally romantic and magical, but it also manages to be a little educational--despite my French language classes, I even learned a couple of things about Paris. Stephanie Perkins is definitely an author to watch--her next book, Lola and the Boy Next Door will be out September 2011! Oh happy day!

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

Every so often a book comes along that is so different and quirky and just plain lovable that you can't help but gush about it, and this is it. The Sullivan family is so wacky and entertaining, and these sisters are so honest and endearing, you can't help but fall in love with them. The unique confession-letter format and Standiford's style will make it impossible for you to put this one down.

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O'Brien

This is probably one of my favorite dystopian novels to release in 2010. The world and the flawed society is very well-drawn, the mystery is so absorbing, the action is tense and suspenseful, and there is one heck of a code to break. I love the surprises O'Brien throws in at the end, and I am eager to see what's up next for her--hopefully something soon in 2011!

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

Oh, what can I say about this book? It's a novel about the French Revolution, and what is so remarkable about it is how flawlessly Donnelly connects the past with the present. There are so many little details and plots with subplots and subplots with subplots, but yet it is never confusing, and everything comes together seamlessly in the end. Donnelly is an extraordinary writer, and this is a beautiful book.

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

When it comes to trilogies, I am usually a tiny bit wary of second books. Too often they end up only being stepping stones from a strong beginning to a dramatic ending, but this is definitely not the case with Linger, sequel to Shiver. Stiefvater throws in two more narrators, and the issues and threats that every character faces gets even more complicated. It's a beautiful sequel, and I enjoyed it even more than Shiver!

After the Kiss by Terra Elan McVoy

I really loved McVoy's first book, Pure, so I was delighted when this one came out, and even more so when I discovered that it is a novel in verse. McVoy uses two very distinct and very different styles of poetry, and the result is a powerful book about growing up and facing some of the harder issues life throws your way.

The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June by Robin Benway

We found out in Audrey, Wait! that Robin Benway knows how to write humor and write it extremely well. Her latest book has just as many laughs, but also a great trio of sisters with superpowers. This book is pure smart fun, and you won't want to leave April, May, and June at the last page.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Originally published in Australia and the UK, this book made its debut here in the US in May, and it blew me away. Everything about this book is just so fascinating and gripping, from the format (a girl's letter to her kidnapper) to the amazing descriptions of the setting. This book demands to be read in one sitting.

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn

This is my favorite book written by Cohn and Levithan so far, for many reasons. First, Lily is such a lovable character. She's smart but not brilliant, confident, but not really outgoing, and she really doesn't have many friends, but she is so real and honest. Second, it takes place during Christmas, the best time of the year. Third, the opening scene takes place in The Strand, one of the coolest bookstores ever. And then of course there's they fact that this book manages to be light-hearted and funny and meaningful and serious at the same time. I love it.

Rosebush by Michele Jaffe

I love a good mystery, but either I've become a more jaded reader or the quality of YA mysteries has been declining, because I usually am able to figure everything out by page 120. Not so with Rosebush. This is one mystery where I had so many different theories and ideas, yet I never could nail one down because Jaffe kept throwing in another tiny little detail that would make me second-guess everything. Plus, the attempted murder, car accident, and temporary amnesia just make this one even more intriguing--I loved it!

White Cat by Holly Black

You simply cannot top this imaginative plot: an alternate world identical to ours with one exception--some people possess the ability to work curses, and they usually are a part of the mob. Cassel's voice is unique, sharp, and completely entertaining as he maneuvers his way through life as the only non-worker in a family of workers with mob ties. And the major twist? You'll never see it coming.

What were some of your favorite books of 2010? Let me know in the comments, and....Happy New Year!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Trapped by Michael Northrop

Scotty just wants to go home the Tuesday morning school is canceled due to the snow piling up outside. But his friends Jason and Pete convince him to stay a little longer to work in the shop, just until four o'clock when Jason's dad will pick them up. But the school slowly empties and the storm gets worse, and as the hours stretch into the evening, it becomes clear that no one is coming.

Sevens teens are stuck in the high school in the worst blizzard in a century, and no one knows that they're there. At first, it's not too bad--they have access to plenty of food and they can wait it out. But then the power and the heat go out, and the snow continues to pile higher and higher, compromising the building . The snow has them trapped inside, but even the building isn’t safe anymore—will it be too late for Scotty and his friends?

Trapped is one of those gripping and chilling reads that will make you question just how likely you would be able to survive if thrust into the same situation. It's quite a spectacular story of survival, but it's very well-described, showing that Northrop really thought this situation through inside and out. His writing also shows that he really understands teens; the attitudes, the feelings, and the interactions are all done very well, and the emotions and tensions that everyone feels due to their entrapment and despair are all very realistic. Northrop also makes really good use of foreshadowing as Scotty alludes to some fatal consequences of the storm at the beginning of the story, making the book seem a bit foreboding before the snow even really begins to fall. The ending was powerful and abrupt, but it does leave you wondering about the fate of so many people, most of which aren’t revealed, or are left up to the reader’s imagination. This is a quick, unsettling read that will be easy to get into, but not so easy to leave once you’ve finished.

Cover Comments: How very appropriate this cover is! I love how the title letters are place in the snow and are sort of covered. The height of the snow and the dark colors really play into the dark mood and atmosphere of the book!

ARC received from publisher.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

(Digital) Books to Buy

For those of you who missed my post on Sunday, I got a Kindle for Christmas, and so far I am loving it. You can read my preliminary thoughts here, and keep an eye out for a more in-depth post about my thoughts and a comparison to the Nook.

Now that I've gone digital, I promise not to go Kindle-crazy and make all of my blog posts completely inaccessible to those of you who read solely print versions of books. But, this digital craze is infectious. In reading all of your comments and emails, I've found that a lot more of you own e-readers than I thought, which makes me more inclined to want to indulge in blog posts like this every so often. So, without further ado, my e-reader-owning friends, here's a list of great books that cost less than a paperback!

Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Free for a limited time! From now until January 3rd, you can download Wish for free on any device, just in time to read before the companion novel, Wishful Thinking, releases on January 1st!

The Dark Divine by Bree Despain

In case you haven't read this one, but have been hearing a lot of hype about it's sequel, The Lost Saint, today, you can now get this one for only $2.39!

Need by Carrie Jones

If you haven't started reading this amazing series about killer pixies yet, now is the perfect time! Need can be downloaded for $1.99! And if you prefer print, there are some cool bargain deals on the hard copies ($4 for the paperback)!

Unbroken Connection by Angela Morrison

This is the sequel to the amazing, powerful, and perfectly romantic book Taken by Storm, and it's only $2.99! Totally worth it for all of the romantic tension and emotion you're sure to get in this book!

The Mediator series by Meg Cabot

Okay, so I just was talking about how awesome this series is! If you've not read it yet, you can now download the books for $3.99! That's yet another steal for such fantastic books!

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry

If fantasy is more your thing, then you can get this read at only $4.88! Sweet!

And if you follow me on Twitter (@compelletoread), then I guarantee I'll be tweeting about more deals I stumble upon, both print and digital!