The Compulsive Reader: 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Favorite Books of 2012

Let's be honest...it's pretty much impossible for anyone to compose a list of the top ten best books released in any given year. And yet, there must be that end-of-the-year top ten list. So, how about this--here is my selection of my top ten favorite contenders for what I think are the best-written, most entertaining books of 2012, in no particular order!

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This pick is obvious--only John Green can make you cry and laugh equally as hard in the space of just a few pages. Not many writers can pull off such a tragically sad book as this and still inspire readers to call it funny.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

This is probably the most surprising book I read this year, but also one of the most brilliant. I am in awe of Wein's talent for storytelling, and how she wove two different narratives together, one riddled with deceit, to tell an amazing story of love and friendship.

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman

When I think of fantasy books, I think of swords and daggers and evil and action. which is why this book surprised me a little. Seraphina may not have a ton in the way of swords and daggers, but evil and action (and political intrigue and magic) abound in this clever and unusual story of the assistant music mistress in a great palace with an affinity for dragons and a big secret to guard. I absolutely adored this book.

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

I fell in love with Cashore's writing after reading Graceling, and by the time I finished Fire, I was head of over heels. Bitterblue, the sequel to Graceling and companion to Fire, is yet another brilliantly plotted and emotional book. Cashore's writing really speaks for itself--just read the first few pages.

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

It seems to me that the more Maggie Stiefvater writes, the better she gets! I was blown away by her incredible talent in the opening chapters of The Raven Boys, and completely sucked into the story. Her twists and turns, emotional characterizations, and special brand of weirdness are so enticing, and I cannot wait for the next installment!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by emily m. danforth

There were so many things about this book that surprised me--the protagonist, the setting, the length of time the book spanned--but I couldn't help but get completely sucked into Cameron's world. Danforth is an incredible writer, and I hope to read more by her in upcoming years!

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

King has rapidly become one of those authors I absolutely trust to deliver a story that I will like, no matter what it's about. She's surprised me on occasion, but luckily for me, I needed no convincing to fall in love with this book. King is just so sharp and smart and she knows exactly what to say to get you thinking.

Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham

I love a comedic, light, and fun summer read, and this book fits the bill perfectly. It has three used-to-be best friends, a road trip, a boy band, a green VW bus...really, what's not to love? This book is probably one of the most entertaining ones I've read in a very long time!

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

Jennifer E. Smith takes all of the conventions of insta-love and throws them out the window in her book about romance, love, and serendipity. This book isn't so much about romance and rush of finding love as it is about chance (and second chance), and not being afraid to live life. I loved it.

34 Pieces of You by Carmen Rodrigues

This book surprised me so much when I first read it that I had to immediately read it again. This story of back-and-forth between three characters over the death of their friend and sister spans a lot of time and was brilliantly paced, with some surprises I didn't see coming. I loved this book, and I hope to read more by Rodrigues soon!

What were your favorite books of 2012?

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Julia intends on making the absolute most out of her class trip to London, but her plans are complicated when Jason is assigned to be her partner on the trip. Jason is a rule breaker and isn't serious in the least about all of the learning opportunities that Julia has highlighted in her guidebooks. But when Julia starts receiving mysterious texts after an illicit party their first night in London, all of Julia's preconceived notions about rules, travel, life, and love are challenged.

Meant to Be is a charming and romantic novel, and Morrill brings London vibrantly to life through Julia and Jason's escapades. The plot seems a bit formulaic at first, but the banter between Julia and Jason is genuinely witty and fun and the trouble that they find and narrowly avoid is so entertaining that the questionable logistics of the high school class trip and lack of supervision is easily overlooked. Morrill's characters are well rounded, and Julia's past experiences and the loss of her father contribute to her "meant to be" theory, which is gradually pulled apart at Julia falls for Jason. Morrill ends with a twist and a very satisfactory, romantic ending for the couple. Forget Paris--after reading Meant to Be, London will be the city occupying readers' imaginations.

Cover Comments: This cover is absolutely gorgeous! I love all of the colors, the green hill, and the London skyline. Such a perfect combination!

Review copy provided by publisher.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Cover Talk: Wake, Fade, Gone

I've been a big fan of Lisa McMann's first series, the Dream Catchers trilogy, ever since it came out. The writing is intense and thrilling, and I love that it's set in my home state of Michigan. I know that the books have been popular for guys and girls alike, probably because the original covers were simple and gender-neutral. Check out the originals:

I was a little bummed to see that the books have recently undergone a cover lift. Here are the new covers:

 I like them, but...

The black and white image, with the colored title, is really cool. I like that Janie and Cabel don't look like stereotypical models that end up on YA covers, but I just am not crazy about the covers. They look a little generic in my opinion. However, if they appeal to new readers and the series gains some more fans, I'm not complaining!

What do you think?

Plus, read my reviews of Wake, Fade, and Gone!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reading Rants: What is New Adult?

I've been wanting to write about this "new adult" trend that seems to be pretty big right now, but I've been at a loss as to what to say. To be honest, I still don't know what "new adult" is. One of the great things about YA books is that they have defied stereotypes and resisted pigeon-holing for so long. I don't want to define new adult in a few words, or even sentences, but I do find is very interesting that this genre has evolved around the same time that 50 Shades of Grey became so inexplicably popular.

I've been a fan of YA books that go beyond high school for some time now (you can see my post about some of my favorite YA college books here), and I have always wanted to see more of those types of books. Not because they dealt with "adult" themes (on another note, what is an adult theme?), but because you have this character that is still young, inexperienced, and questioning the world and all of the sudden they're expected to act like an adult, make important decisions, and hold jobs or attend college, and figure out what they believe in, usually removed away from their parents. It sounds...an awful lot like YA books we already read and love. Only, beyond high school. Because let's be honest here, most YA bloggers and readers started out reading YA in high school, and now we're adults. We've grown up, and in a way, so has YA.

It is a dangerous assumption to make that "new adult" = YA + sex. And I am not exactly saying that it is, because sexy YA books existed even before anyone thought up of the term new adult. But it does discourage me that I scroll through the internet and find so many books labelled new adult, along with the warnings that such books contain mature sex. Since when does the amount of sex in a book determine what sort of book it is? Shouldn't a book be about more than sex?

As a bookseller, I know how incredibly hard it is to classify a book, and perhaps how dangerous that whole process is. It's very easy to misrepresent a book, or limit it in some way just because of a one word description or the shelf it happens to sit on. I am just curious, what do you think of when you see the term "new adult"? Do you think of characters that are out of high school, or in some way dealing with more mature themes? Does the amount of sex in the book play any role in its designation? And, do you think that new adult books are separate from YA books, or adult books?

I want to know your thoughts! Comments below or email me!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin

Anya Balanchine knows what it's like to find herself on the wrong side of the law, and after her latest stint at Liberty Children's Facility, she's determined to follow a straight and narrow path. Unfortunately for her, the family business won't let her go so easily, even if her cousins would rather not have her actively involved. When she's forced to flee New York, Anya discovers just how much her family is influenced by the chocolate they produce, and perhaps she can even find a way to take a hold of the family business in an entirely new way.

In All These Things I've Done, Zevin chronicled Anya's descent into crime as she struggled against forces beyond her reach. But in Because It Is My Blood, Anya begins to fight back. Always looking out for her siblings' best interest, Anya uses her family's shady connections to protect them, even as she gets herself into deeper trouble with the law. In the midst of the cons, schemes, and corruption, Anya tries her best to do what is right, and along the way learns what it is about chocolate that has ensnared her father and the rest of her family for so many years. The unusual narrative is engaging and entertaining, and completely perfect for the story, although it is a little rocky at the very beginning of the book. It doesn't take long for the twisted plotline, shifting alliances, family secrets, and of course, forbidden love, to engross readers, and the story unfolds smoothly. Zevin's conclusion, and Anya's ultimate solution to her involvement in the family business, is clever and exciting, but Anya's story is far from over, and readers will have a lot to look forward to in the third installment of the Birthright series.

Cover Comments: I am not a huge fan of this cover. It does make Anya look edgier and dangerous, more like a rising star in her crime family, but that's not her character. And even though the jungle-like scene fits a setting in the book, it just looks off to me.

ARC picked up at BEA.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas!

To my wonderful readers:

Thank you so much for reading this blog! I appreciate all of your comments and recommendations and the opportunities for excellent discussions. I love connecting with you all, and I appreciate that you've stuck with me, especially the past four months. I want to apologize again for the sporadic posts (the last semester of school required a LOT of studying and late nights in the library and non-blog reading), and I am happy to say that my final semester of undergrad looks lighter (and more YA-filled)!

I wish you all have a very merry Christmas! I hope your day is filled with lovely times with friends and family, good food, and many books!

Merry Christmas!


P.S. I have more reviews coming your way later this week, plus the requisite Favorite Books of the Year post! It's been so incredibly hard to narrow it down to just ten this year!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

What We Saw at Night by Jacqueline Mitchard

Thanks to a severe allergy to sunlight, Allie Kim has gotten used to living her life at night. Luckily for her, she has two best friends, Rob and Juliet, to spend her nights with. Juliet is not content to live life passively, especially in the face of the health issues the three must face daily, so she convinces Allie and Rob to learn Parkour. One night, while jumping off a new condo building, the three witness a crime. But even more frightening, the perpetrator seems to see them as well. Allie can't let go of what she saw, but she finds that investigating what happened that night reveals dark secrets about her community, and the people she loves.

Jacquelyn Mitchard's What We Saw at Night is pulse-pounding and unconventional. Her characters' genetic disorder is explained well without weighing down the narrative, and it adds a unique perspective and depth to the setting of the story. Mitchard also details the emotional toll of living at night in an interesting manner; Allie feels chained to her hometown because of her condition, but she struggles with hoping and planning for a future in the face of uncertainty. Parkour is partly how Allie, Rob, and Juliet deal with their restlessness, and it's an excellent element to the story. The stunts that are pulled are breathtaking, and they give the characters believable power, especially as they are pitted against the dangerous stranger, who appears to know how to get to each of the characters, and isn't afraid to kill or maim to get what he wants. In the midst of this mystery, Allie's relationships with Juliet and Rob are tested and shifted, and as secrets come to light, the tensions between the three friends heighten. What We Saw at Night is an excellent thriller: surprising, dramatic, high-stakes, and dangerous. Mitchard ends on a good note, but readers will be anxious for the sequel, What We Lost in the Dark.

Cover Comments: I love the cover for this one--the silhouettes on the roof and in the window are subtly creepy and very beautiful!

What We Saw at Night will be available on January 8th, 2013!

ARC provided by publisher.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Weather Outside is Frightful...

Here in Michigan, we've undergone a flurry of wintry weather. In between snow, sleet, ice, and more snow, the roads are treacherous and the wind chill jarring. Plus, what with Christmas coming up next week, I thought it might be pertinent to direct your attention to this post I wrote a couple of years ago, with wintry weather book recommendations. Check it out if you're looking for something to read, plus these additions:

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

Click here for my review.

These three writers are enormously talented in their own right, but they also have excellent chemistry together and their respective stories flow together so well! This is a great holiday pick-me-up, or an even better gift!

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

Click here to read my review.

Levithan and Cohn wrote Nick and Norah's Playlist, and they're excellent at tagteam style novels. This one takes place in New York City during Christmastime, and after reading this book you must agree with Lily--New York City at Christmas must be an amazing place!

Crash by Lisa McMann

Click here to read my review.

For an after-the-holidays perk, pick up McMann's latest thriller, out in January! Crash takes place in a wintry Chicago and is a page-turner! This one might actually challenge Wake's position as my favorite McMann book...

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Struck by Lightning by Chris Colfer

I've been curious about this one since I saw Chris Colfer speak at BEA with John Green, Lois Lowry, and Kadir Nelson, so I decided to pick it up, especially after I saw how funny the trailer for the upcoming movie is (out in January)!

Carson Phillips knows exactly what he wants in life, and sticking around his hometown of Clover is not in his plans. In order to achieve his goals, he needs to go to Northwestern University. In order to get into Northwestern, he needs to accomplish something unique—like starting a literary journal at his high school. The only problem? He can't even get anyone to write for the school newspaper. But Carson has spent almost eighteen years in Clover, and he and his friend Malerie observe things that other people might miss. And Carson is so bent on getting accepted, he won't rise above blackmailing his fellow students to get what he wants...

Carson Phillips is a hilarious and sarcastic character and his misadventures in Struck by Lightning won't fail to amuse and entertain readers. Colfer tells Carson's story in a journal format, which is a little choppy, but this choppiness is perhaps appropriate considering the form. The characterization develops gradually, as does the plot, but readers won't mind terribly; Colfer's writing reads like a string of genuinely funny stand-up comedy routines with surprisingly acute insights on life and high school. The actual blackmail part of the story unfolds nicely and is a bit sly and a little unrealistic, but readers won't help but feel a little bit triumphant for Carson as he finally stands up to the people that have pushed him around for years and starts figuring out life. Of course, life never works out the way one expects, which is something that Carson struggles with, especially at the end of the novel, leading up to the surprising ending. Struck by Lightning is unexpected, unconventional, and perhaps a bit unrealistic, but incredibly witty and satisfying nonetheless.

Cover Comments: I love how the broken pencil is arranged to look like lightning--very smart. This cover has a movie poster feel, which isn't entirely surprising considering the audience or author, but it turned out well. I like it a lot.

E-book purchased.

Monday, December 17, 2012

YA for Beginners

Recently I've become a member of Riffle, and the best way I can describe it is saying that it is sort of like Pinterest for books. It's a very image-based way of sharing what books you've read and liked, and still in the invite-only phase, but it's a great way to recommend books and compile various lists. Seeing as I am a compulsive list-compiler in addition to a compulsive reader, it's been a lot of fun.

One such list that I created last week that has been drawing a lot of attention is one that I titled "YA for Beginners." I created it with the idea of having a manageable list of YA books that attempts to represent what YA is all about. (Major emphasis in the word "attempt.") The list is a mix of some personal biases and some major hits, but I think that these ten books do a decent job at showcasing the talent, voice, and depth of the YA category. Admittedly, I sort of came up with this list quickly, so it's not exactly perfect...which brings me to why I'm showing it to you.

I want your thoughts, not because I think that we can pigeon-hole YA in a list of ten books, but more because I want to know if you agree with some of these selections, and if not, what YOU consider to be absolutely-you-must-read-this-book-or-die recommendations.

So, here we go!

Looking for Alaska by John Green

John Green is, to quote Chris Colfer, "the Justin Bieber of literacy," only much cooler in my opinion. His immense web presence is almost as popular as his amazing literary accomplishments, and his first book, a Printz Award winner, is probably my go-to book when it comes to recommending YA books at the bookstore. You can't go wrong with anything by John Green.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

In many ways, Speak paved the way for YA lit being regarded as serious and important, with the power to change lives. Published in 1999, it was a National Book Award finalist, and had an entire YA imprint named after it. All that, and the story is phenomenal. Melinda, the protagonist, stops speaking after a traumatizing event at the end of the school year...now in high school, her peers won't speak to her and no one understands her. I dare you to put this book down.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

This book burst onto the scene not long after The Hunger Games was published, and it was wildly popular because of its complex plot, amazing world-building, and its protagonist Katsa, the unconventional and tough heroine hardened by her special abilities to kill. Cashore writes brilliantly, but she also creates a fantasy story that is complex but never confusing, emotional but not overwrought, and action-driven but rounded out with plenty of other crowd-pleasing elements. If you only read one YA fantasy novel, it better be written by Cashore.

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Oftentimes I feel as if Jellicoe Road is an overlooked book, despite winning the Printz Award here in the US and being published first in Australia (where it also won some major awards). The reason I love it so much is that is deals with complex issues of identity, loss, grief, friendship, and trust in an affecting way, and the writing style is so unusual, yet heartrendingly beautiful. Perhaps the only criticism is that you must be willing to be a little confused as first, but trust me--it'll be worth it. You must, must, must read this book!

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

I tend to think that this book sells itself based on how staggeringly popular it has become in the few short years since its release, and its subject matter. Like a few other books on this list, this book deals with death, particularly suicide, in an unusual manner that sucks you right in, and it has the perfect mix of elements to appeal to a broad range of teens and adults alike.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is a tremendous writer who knows how to get at the heart of the most complicated matters, and she writes seamlessly about those experiences. While The Truth About Forever is not my favorite book by her, it is one of her most popular, and one of her best written. This book has a certain amount of charm to it that is nearly impossible to resist, and will most likely send you searching for more by Dessen (lucky for you she has ten other books!).

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

What I love about Forman's book is how she boldly addresses what it means to live in this book, with all of its joys and heartbreaks and complicated questions. Her protagonist is put in the impossible situation of deciding whether or not to keep on living in the face of unspeakable pain and tragedy, and Forman handles the subject with grace, sensitivity, and wisdom from a unique perspective. This is one novel that you can't help but talk about.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

It may seem a little silly to include this book on this list (yes, yes, we all know how awesome and popular this book is), but here's the thing...too often books receive fame and movie attention and become bestsellers and, well...they're really not that well-written or the story is lacking in some way. The Hunger Games is not one of those books, and neither are its sequels. This is one book that lives up to the hype; the characters are tangible, the world is breathtakingly real and frightening, and the writing is incredible. The question at this point shouldn't be, "Have you read The Hunger Games?" but "Why haven't you read The Hunger Games?"

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

This is another book that I feel might be too often overlooked, but it's an incredibly important book. The protagonist, Marcelo, has an unusual form of Asperger's and is high-functioning, but he still struggles with living in the real world. He's quite comfortable with his routine, until he's forced out of it by his father, and discovers that the real world can be harsh, unjust, and incredibly hard to navigate...but he also discovers that he can figure it out and he can live in the "real world." We might not all have Asperger's syndrome, but I think everyone feels daunted by the world like Marcelo, making his story all the more personal and important.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King

King is definitely an author to watch in YA. Everything she writes is wonderfully weird and smart and so good. Please Ignore Vera Dietz is a Printz Award finalist, and it is remarkable for its unusual and magnetic style. What I loved about it was its unexpected emergent theme of the relationship between Vera and her father, and how they manage to find a way to get over Vera's mother's abandonment together. Really, I'd recommend anything that King writes, particularly Ask the Passengers, but this book is probably one of her weirdest and most accessible (that description may see like an oxymoron, I assure you that it is not).

I don't intend for this book to be a list of the "ten best YA books ever" (that would be impossible to manage), but rather a springboard for jumping into the YA genre. Which books would you put on your own "YA for Beginners" list?

ETA: If anyone wants an invite to Riffle, shoot me an email!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cinder Paperback + Blog News

Earlier this year, I reviewed Marissa Meyer's debut book, Cinder! It's a fun, futuristic twist on the Cinderella story, with cyborgs, intergalactic politics, and secret identities, and it was a great mix of sci-fi and classic fairy tales. You should definitely pick it up, and if you need extra convincing, click here to read my review and learn more about the book! The next book in the four-book series, Scarlet, will be out in February.

Cinder is also being released on January 8th, 2013 in paperback, and there will be some cool new bonus features (extra incentive to pick this one up!):

-Special bonus story, entitled "Glitches"

-Q&A with author Marissa Meyer

-Reader’s Guide

-Sneak peek of Scarlet

PLUS...a blogger thank you page! And my blog is featured! Can you spot my blog name?

I love talking about books that I enjoy reading, and this was a lovely surprise. It may seem cyclical to respond to this with yet another thank you, but thank you to Marissa Meyer and Macmillan for the shout out and for producing such awesome books that capture our imaginations and spark conversations. This is what I love about YA--the community! 

So go forth, read this book, and spread the YA love!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab

Ariel's birthday party is going to be the event of the year, but her ex-best friend Sera would rather skip out on it. Ever since Sera divulged one of Ariel's secrets, she's been an outcast at their elite high school, and being at Ariel's party is just one more cruel reminder of the friend she's lost. The party takes a deadly turn when a group of masked men with automatic rifles hold the guests hostage, and in the mayhem, Ariel slips away. She is the target, and her disappearance has made the men with the guns very unhappy. Only Sera knows where Ariel is hiding, and she must use that information to figure out how to help everyone escape—before time runs out.

The Girl in the Wall has a lot of tension—between Ariel and Sera, Sera and her classmates, the gunmen and the hostages, and the romantic entanglements that Ariel and Sera experience with two unlikely guys. The book is short and packed with action and many characters, but Benedis-Grab does a good job at balancing the narrative between Sera and Ariel's perspectives, juggling multiple characters, weaving the past few months' experiences in with the present drama, and keeping the story moving. It's clear from the beginning who the target is, but the mystery is in who exactly is orchestrating the affair and how it ties in with Ariel's past. The true crutch of the book, however, is how Ariel and Sera work together through the crisis and somehow manage to repair their friendship through the tragedy. Although the ending seems a little abrupt, The Girl in the Wall is a fast-paced thriller with high stakes, courageous characters, and a touch of romance that readers will race through.

Cover Comments: I like the colors in the cover! I think it captures the fear and the tension of the story quite well.

ARC provided by author.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Bookish Gifts

The obvious answer to "What do you want for Christmas?" is BOOKS, but here are a few items that aren't bound books (but no less literary) to add to the list, just for variety's sake.

Everyone knows that authors are rock stars, but declare it loud and proud with this limited edition t-shirt of Poe rocking the raven and the round frames. Oh yeah. Twenty dollars covers the shirt, tax, and shipping in the US.

If you're less of a t-shirt person, then you can still get the same great rock star awesome-ness, only in calendar form to last you all year long! Grab this at an indie bookstore near you, or online.

Just in time for your trip to the theaters to see Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby! (I'm not completely sold on this casting, but I am excited for this movie!) I love this tee, and the website selling it. If you're not a Gatsby fan, then check out the "Holden Caulfield Thinks You're a Phony" tee!

Make a statement by proudly displaying your Jane Austen action figure! Her talents include pen-wielding, crafting subtle and wickedly funny prose, and coming up with perfect happy endings. Really, why wouldn't you want this? Get it here.

I am an incurable romantic, and when I saw this locket necklace, inspired by the e.e. cummings poem, I melted a little. It reads, "i carry your heart / i carry it in my heart." If the locket doesn't please you, then check out this teeny tiny book, which actually has the entire poem written within in. I don't know which one I love more!

Click here and here to visit etsy for the necklaces.

For a necklace that is less romantic but no less literary and cool, check out everyone's favorite character, the ampersand! Elegant, polished, and totally useful! Plus, everyone will think you're being literary and mysterious when you wear it. Also, knowing that this little thing is an ampersand and not referred to as "an and symbol" will increase your nerdiness. Click here to get it.

When you're a poet or writer, inspiration can strike at any time. Be ready with the Magnetic Poetry Kit. Great for composing masterpieces on your refrigerator, free-writing in classrooms, or leaving peculiar messages for housemates! Find it at an indie bookstore or online here!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

Karou finally learned the truth about her shadowy past, and she has discovered that her home has been destroyed and her people are being hunted down by the seraphim. She joins the tiny resistance force and takes up Brimstone's work, but as long as she is still branded a traitor, she'll never be safe. Akiva is devastated by Karou's rejection and rejoins his brother and sister, but he still clings to the hope of a new world and a better future. It was once Karou that taught Akiva about hope, and now Akiva will have to convince his siblings, his comrades, his enemies, and even Karou that their dream isn't dead.

Laini Taylor confidently delves into the world of Eretz and the tumultuous territory of the tenuous relationship between Akiva and Karou in this sequel to Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Eretz is not as magical as it once seemed; the chimaera are being hunted, and the brutality of both races is revealed as the chimaera struggle for survival and the seraphim grapple for control. The landscape is described beautifully as Taylor details the continual struggle between the two races, even after the war is supposedly over. Pain and betrayal are prominent throughout the book, especially where Karou is concerned. She's still reeling from her new memories, and she is torn between ensuring the survival of her race, no matter what the cost, and transcending past events...if she can even find a way to trust Akiva again. Unlike its prequel, Days of Blood and Starlight is not just Karou's story—it's Akiva's as well, and now it is his turn to discover who he really is and what he is capable of. Taylor keeps this beautiful and frightful story moving with many different character perspectives, and fans will be gratified to see that she doesn't abandon smaller plotlines from the first book. Her writing is gorgeous, emotional, and exciting, and the finale to this strange and lovely trilogy can't come soon enough.

Cover Comments: The red of this cover is very appropriate, and I like how it keeps with the same theme as its prequel's cover, but has a dangerous edge to it. Beautiful.

Review copy purchased.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Ten 2013 Releases I'm Looking Forward To

As the year winds down, I always get really excited about the prospects of brand new books and worlds to discover! The year 2013 is shaping up to be an excellent one for books, and here are a few that I am excited about reading!

The Color of Rain by Cori McCarthy

May 14th, 2013

I am beyond excited for this book--I really like science fiction, and The Color of Rain looks like it will be a bit different from most science fiction in the YA and New Adult markets. On top of how awesome this book sounds, I've had many conversations with Cori about books and writing, and she is very lovely, smart, and funny, and I'm sure her writing will reflect that.

Entangled by Amy Rose Capetta

Fall 2013

There isn't much info floating around the web about this one yet, but I do know that it will be out later in 2013 and it is sci-fi with space travel, guitars...and I think pirates. I've also met Amy Rose and she is intelligent and very sweet, and her description of the book completely sold me! No cover for this one yet, but you better believe I'll be blogging it once I see it!

Burning by Elana K. Arnold

June 11, 2013

I was initially drawn to this book by its cover--it reminds me of the cover of The Story of Us by Deb Caletti--and the description of a gypsy girl that tells fortunes really intrigued me. I'm going to be very curious to hear more about this book!

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead

March 1st, 2013

English major confession time: I've not read Walden by Henry David Thoreau, although I have read many of his essays and some excerpts. However, I just love the idea of a YA novel incorporating Thoreau's work and the edge of the mystery of who the protagonist really is.

This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

April 2, 2013

I love, love, love Jennifer E. Smith's books, especially The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight! Smith is just so good at writing romances with a touch of serendipity and a lot of heart. This book looks like it will have the same elements that made me fall in love with her last book, and I can't wait to get my hands on a copy!

Invisibility by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan

May 7, 2013

I've never been able to get into Andrea Cremer's Nightshade books, but I really enjoy David Levithan's work, and I am loving the concept of an invisible male lead only visible to the female protagonist. I am so excited for this collaboration, and I am loving that cover!

Also Known As by Robin Benway

February 26th, 2013

Robin Benway is without a doubt one of the funniest YA writers I've ever read. Audrey, Wait and The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May, and June are among my favorite YA books. I was so excited to see that she has a new release in 2013, and although I am not crazy about this cover, I can't wait to see what Benway will do with a daughter of spies!

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

February 5th, 2013

My favorite supernatural/steampunk series of all time is Gail Carriger's Parasol Protectorate, and I was heartbroken when the series ended this past year. Luckily for us, Carriger is releasing her first YA book in Etiquette and Espionage, and the story is set in the same world as her other series! Yay!

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

May 7th, 2013

Sara Zarr is such a talented writer; How to Save a Life and Once Was Lost were two books that I fell in love with immediately, and I continue to recommend as often as possible at the bookstore. The Lucy Variations is about music prodigies, which will be very interesting, and the mystery of why Lucy stops playing is intriguing.

Golden by Jessi Kirby

May 14th, 2013

I wasn't wild about Moonglass, but I really enjoyed In Honor and I love the literary influences in this book! The protagonist is a descendant of Robert Frost, and a good girl who plays it safe, until she must solve a mystery in the town she lives in. I love the sound of that! And I'm guessing that the title is taken from Frost's poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

It goes...

Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold. 
Her early leaf's a flower; 
But only so an hour. 
Then leaf subsides to leaf. 
So Eden sank to grief, 
So dawn goes down to day. 
Nothing gold can stay.

This is just a small selection, and doesn't include the 2013 books I've already read, nor the sequels and final books by Lauren Oliver, Laini Taylor, Gayle Forman, Maggie Stiefvater, Jenny Han & Siobhan Vivian, and Tahereh Mafi that I plan on reading!

What are you looking forward to reading in 2013?