Faves of 2011, Parts 2 & 3 Combined...
When I started looking through my read books for 2011 thus far to complete the second and third days of my friend Nomes' "sharing the love" awards, I instantly found that I kept picking the same books over and over. What good would it do to tell you AGAIN how much I love some books? (though I have heard that the more times you hear something, the more likely you are to absorb the information) With that in mind, I've sort of combined days 2 and 3 of the challenge and I'll mostly discuss only new books that are showing up on my list that I didn't already mention in my earlier post from part one.
Shirley Marr's Fury has a completely compelling first chapter. The copy on the jacket alludes to the fact that Eliza, the protagonist, is in a police station confessing to a murder. If there was an award for "jacket copy that makes me want to immediately read a book," this one would probably win that as well. Since there isn't, I'll settle for "best first chapter." I couldn't wait to see how it would all unravel.
I am not even finished reading this one and it is a shoo-in for "character I wish I could be best friends with." Leigh has my sense of humor--her reactions are similar to what mine would be and her statements crack me up. I feel like the author and I could be best friends...perhaps I should start stalking her? (Kidding!) Anyway, Leigh is fabulous. And go buy this! I just found the hardback for $6.38 on Amazon when I was linking the picture! (deal of the century...fine, deal of the day:-))
I consider myself a rather astute person. However, I didn't see this ending coming. Though I'd like to think that I did (and even now, I am considering saying that I did) predict how this one would end up...I'm confident that I would be lying. The subject of this one sounds rather dry and, honestly, the book is not a quick read despite its very short length. A student, Anaximander, is taking a 3-part exam and presenting all that she knows about a historical figure in her world. Sounds a bit Dullsville, eh? But it is philosophical, existential, and will have you thinking the entire way through--and I bet you'll be gobsmacked at the ending as well. (Edit: It's only $4.38 on Amazon right now! (6/29/11) Click the photo to go buy it!)
I picked up the first book in the Fever series on the recommendation of two of my Goodreads friends. They get progressively more addicting as the series goes on. I can't explain too much about the scene that begins the fourth installment, Dreamfever, without spoiling part of the overall story arc so let me just say one thing: you'll need a cold shower after reading the first 30 or so pages. Without a doubt, this book wins "steamiest scene."
I won't write about it again, but Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door is the most disturbing book I've read thus far in 2011. That book pretty much reads like scary scene after scary scene, though much of it is gory and horrific in different ways. It disturbs me because of the actual torture that goes on but also because of the psychological undercurrents to every action. It is probably too much for most readers.
Speaking of horror novels, my "favorite title" so far this year has to be Mendal Johnson's Let's Go Play at the Adams'. Yikes. Let me tell you what, you do NOT want to be going to play at the Adams'. Trust me. They are not playing any game that you want to partake in...unless you could be completely nonchalant about your desire to capture and torture your babysitter.
I've had several amazing reading experiences in the past 6 months but, when pressed, I think my favorites were My Most Excellent Year and Cath Crowley's A Little Wanting Song. I was staying at my sister's place in Oregon when I read it and it was absolutely perfect for my mood at the time. I'm not usually the biggest fan of books where music plays a major role but I just ate this one up. It wins the "best reading experience" award.
Nomes was polite enough to call one of her awards "can't believe I waited so long to read this book(!)" I'd probably call it the "kick myself for being so stupid" award. Jellicoe Road is masterful. Melina Marchetta weaves the past and present together in a bout of fantastic storytelling that had me engrossed the entire way through. Shame on me. I loved Saving Francesca, my first MM book...so what took me so long to pick up another one? (thank goodness I did or I would never have gotten to The Piper's Son!)
Uh oh, "embarrassing cover" time. Why are they always romances?! Oh, wait. Anyway, this is the most mortifying one I've read yet this year. However, I've read oodles that are more embarrassing than this. At least they are wearing clothes!
"Cutest couple"? Probably Anna and Etienne in Stephanie Perkins' Anna and the French Kiss. I put this one off for ages because I thought it would be a cheesefest. While it might be lacking some of the deeper tones I like in my YA, it is definitely fun and Anna and Etienne have a lot to do with that. I love their travels all around Paris! Side note: I am so looking forward to Perkins' sophomore effort, Lola and the Boy Next Door. I want an ARC so badly that I thought about buying one on Ebay. I saw one on there go for over $55.00!! Holy hell!
My 5 Favorite Covers Thus Far in 2011:
Ahh, lovely covers. And for different reasons! I tend to love covers that are relevant to the story. The first one in the line above is The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith. This cover is fantastic because the kid looks just as creepy as I pictured the protagonist and the glasses are part of the storyline. (It isn't worth it for me to rehash this plot as it is all over the place...and I only just liked it, nothing more) The cover for Cynthia Hand's Unearthly is a fave because it has a silverish tinge overall and it has a lovely feel to it. I like the whimsical script as well. (did I just use the word whimsical? Ugh.) Fury's cover was definitely designed by someone who either read the book or was told details down the the absolute T. It just kills it overall. OSC's War of Gifts is on this list because I can't help but love the pictorial representation of something that I imagine what it looks like all the time! Battle School in the Enderverse! And finally, my love, my precious, The Piper's Son. I was lucky enough to read a copy from Australia so it had this cover and not the COMPLETE RUBBISH that is the US cover. The book feels wonderful--it has a sort of leathery feel to it and it is a larger paperback. (as opposed to the US hardback) This edition ralphs all over the US release and I WILL, mark my words, get my own Aussie copy soon.
So I only ended up giving out about half of the "Faves of 2011" awards but I think I've written enough. (and I'm sure you are thinking the same thing just about now!) Happy reading!
Triviadventures, Part II
I think some of you may curse me for this one. In an attempt to slim down my piles of books, the winner of this week's Triviadventures will win the ten books that are the answers to this week's questions. Ooooooh, mysterious, right? There are 4 like new hardbacks, 2 like new paperbacks, 3 very good paperbacks, and 1 former library book that is still in very good condition. They are ALL worth winning and reading and cross many genres--humor, YA, chick lit, paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and thriller. Because the box will be pretty heavy, I can only do this one within the US. (sorry:() Good luck!
Last week's winners of my first Triviadventure were Jasprit K., who picked Mira Grant's Feed (Newsflesh, #1)
and Catie C., who picked Ann Aguirre's Grimspace (Grimspace, #1)
. Congratulations to both of you! Those will be shipped within the week:)
1. This book is written by someone named Emily who abbreviates her first name with E. It is set at a summer drama camp. What book is it?
2 & 3. These two books are the first two in a series about a female serial killer in Portland, Oregon. What are they?
4. I won a copy of this book from my friend Nic @ Irresistible Reads
. She sent me Finding Cassie Crazy. Turns out, I had the same book under a different title and didn't know it. I bought it in the US--what's the title?
5. I almost pissed myself laughing when I saw this book's North Carolina-raised humorist author do a reading. This book, published in 2000, contains some of his funniest essays.
6. I mentioned in an earlier blog post that this book as one of my favorites to read when I need cheering up. The female lead is named Kate Mackenzie.
7. This book was made into a movie starring Brendan Fraser (no it isn't Encino Man. You wish!) There is a character called Dustfinger.
8. This book is the first in a series called "Women of the Otherworld."
9. This book's author is most famous for a YA series about vampires but this book is the first of hers in a different series. The name of the series is very similar to the title of a recent Natalie Portman movie.
10. This master storyteller's work could probably knock a person out if you threw it at someone. (like many of his) First published in 2009, this book is set in Chester's Hill, Maine. Tuesday Triviadventures, Part 2 will be open for entries until 9pm, PST on Tuesday, July 5th, 2011. Winner will be selected by a randomizer from all entries with 10/10 correct answers. One entry per person. Good luck!
My Faves from the First Half of 2011, Part I
My friend Nomes over at Inkcrush
is running a book blogger survey about our fave reads of 2011 thus far. She is a maniac and has long lists of award categories so I'm going to try to keep up:) The first part of the program has 20 awards to give out, so here goes...
This one kicks most other book's asses so I had to restrain myself from giving it more than 4 (5?) of the first 20 categories. As it is, I picked The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta for "favorite book read so far in 2011" , "most powerful book" , "most beautiful story", and "want to re-read already". (Also, it shares "most beautiful prose" with Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar)
While I had to think for a bit on many of these topics before I could figure out the most apt answer, my favorite read thus far in 2011 is The Piper's Son. No question. I have thoroughly enjoyed every one of the Melina Marchetta novels I've read and I am saving two of them for lulls in my reading enjoyment. I cannot say the same for any other author. She is simply amazing at conveying true feeling and multidimensional characters that feel absolutely real.
I'm not sure how well the book would come across without reading its companion Saving Francesca beforehand, so I recommend you start with that one and then make your way to Piper.
Leila Sales' Past Perfect shares award #3, "brilliantly funny", with Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. Both of these YA books cracked me up--the former because of the hilarious jokes about anachronisms in a reproduction village and the latter because of the dialogue and quirky cast of characters.
Teeeears. I very rarely cry in books but these two made me sob. Before I Die chronicles a girl's attempt to finish a bucket list before she passes away from leukemia and If I Stay tells the story of a girl who, after a horrible car accident, evaluates her life and decides whether she wants to live or let go. Read them with tissues. They get the "best achey, heartbreaking, tear-jerker read" award.
. Whoa, action. So much action. This one easily wins the "adrenaline-fueled, unputdownable
" award. Though it is near 500 pages long, I read it in one sitting! I am so grateful to my friends at the bookstore for allowing me to read an ARC of it...I could barely contain myself with the excitement I had to start it. (I am currently feeling the same way about Marie Lu's upcoming Legend
)Boston, how I miss you. I kept putting this book off for some reason, even though many of my reader friends kept recommending it to me. I am ashamed that I never picked it up before I did because I just adored it. It was heartwarming, funny, and beyond endearing. The characters were each refreshing and the relationships spot-on. It made me want to immediately move back to Boston. For that, My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger gets "delicious, rainy day comfort read."Sigh, Wyoming. Even though the category "I-so-want-to-go-to-there" would usually make readers want to pick a fabulous imaginary world or a fantastic fantasy, I picked Cynthia Hand's Unearthly because it is set in one of my favorite parts of the United States--the Yellowstone/Teton parks section. I love going there and I wish I was there all the time. DJ Schwenk of the Dairy Queen series by Catherine Gilbert Murdock might just be the most realistically endearing narrator I've ever read. I listened to the first two installments in this series in January and adored both of them. Read them. DJ wins "most memorable voice."
I'm probably in the process of reading over 40 series. No, seriously, I think that is an accurate guess. Two that I am really enjoying are the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning and the Hex Hall series by Rachel Hawkins. Despite its embarrassing cover, Darkfever kicks off an addicting adventure with nearly every paranormal element possible and the hottest literary male lead. Hex Hall, a YA series, is up to two installments and both were solid. For that, I give both series the "series I am loving" award.
Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman)'s Rage and Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door were both disturbing, but on different levels. The former is scary because it imagines a student going on a shooting rampage in school. (scary because it could've happened at the time it was written and actually did happen afterward) Ketchum's novel is scary because it is based on an horrific crime that occurred--so much torture is involved. Both of these stories will stay in my mind for years to come and that is why I pick them as "most haunting."
Blood Red Road "would make the best movie." From the setting to the dialogue, to the action, to the characters, this entire book lends itself to the cinema experience. I really hope it becomes a movie in the future because I would love to see this world imagined on the big screen.
Lucy Christopher's Aussie book Stolen wins the "outside my comfort zone but gosh how I loved it" award. I was so skeptical going into this one because it is about the kidnapping of a teenage girl and other readers told me I would sympathize with the abductor. I categorize this as outside my comfort zone only because I did end up agreeing with them--it isn't often when I read books where I am so conflicted about the bad guy/good guy duality. In actuality, very little (if anything) is outside of my comfort zone.
Ultraviolet is a pretty amazing book. It is not yet released but I had the chance to read it as an ARC and loved it. It wins the "I had no idea I would love this so" award because I went into it basically blind and came out completely wowed. RJ Anderson switches up the entire feel of the book (and the genre!) and I was amazed at the fact that I stayed interested and enjoyed the entire thing. I also give this one the "completely awesome premise" award.
Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue is the runner-up for my favorite book thus far in 2011. The writing is fabulous and I could feel everything--the waves, the colors, the feeling. I really hope Penguin USA will release this in the US (it is only available in Aus right now) so it can reach a wider audience. I mentioned earlier that it shares the "beautiful prose" award with The Piper's Son but I also want to give it the "most atmospheric and vivid setting" award. (Runner up: Like Mandarin by Kirsten Hubbard)
I don't even know how to describe Genesis. It is a deeply philosophical and existential trip. The entire book is the examination of one student, whose project has been studying one historical figure from her world. It is extremely short but filled with discussion points. I think this is definitely my "best under-appreciated, hidden gem book" and perhaps "most original and imaginative" (though I feel I probably should be picking a fantasy or sci-fi book for that one. Whatever!) I have to shoutout to Lyndsey, though--she's been pushing this book for ages.
I really highly doubt that anyone is still reading at the end of this epically long posting but I wanted to do it for posterity's sake. Thanks Nomes for thinking up such great award topics!
So, I changed up the look. Sadly, in that process, I lost the comments that were part of the original look. Sad times.
Tomorrow, my first trivia contest ends and I will get my act together and answer my friend Nomes' massive book survey about my favorite reads thus far in 2011. (I've read 89 books so far!)
I'm Lovin' It?
What a stupid slogan. Then again, "I feel like complete crap after eating it" doesn't really roll off the tongue, nor does it sound good in advertisements. Anyway, you know what I'm loving? Reading everyone's little notes when they turn in with their trivia answers. There's only a few of you so far but we still have the week to finish out. I just wanted to say thanks for being adorable. I'm still playing around a lot and uploading tons of content but I suppose blogs are always a work-in-progress.
Today, I pose a question to you: What book do you read when you need cheering up? Do you have a go-to?
As for me, I know it right away. I read The Boy Next Door and Boy Meets Girl by Meg Cabot.
There's just something about her sense of humor. I've read both of them at least 5-10 times and they never fail to crack me up. And it doesn't hurt that both are written in epistolary format so they are a breeze to get through--just a few hours. My favorite part of both of them are the emails that go back and forth between the siblings and their parents. As one of four children, I can and do totally relate to them.
I've been disappointed by the last two Meg Cabot books I've tried--Insatiable and Avalon High (which was an older YA book though I read it rather recently). Even though I've been disappointed as of late, I will still keep reading her new releases, hoping for more work like these two. That way, if I ever have a complete mental breakdown, I'll have enough reading material.
My favorite thing to watch when I need cheering up? SUMMER HEIGHTS HIGH. I have no clue if people in Australia think Chris Lilley is funny but I nearly die from laughing every time I watch it...and the amount of times I've watched it through is pretty alarming. I mean, look at this:
What say you? What cheers you up? Bueller? Bueller?
To celebrate the start of my new blog, I'm going to give away a book to TWO lucky winners. Since this is the beginning of something for me, I think it is fitting to give away the first book in a series. That said, here are the choices: Vampire Academy
by Richelle Mead Mind Games
by Carolyn Crane Undead and Unwed
by Maryjanice Davidson Graceling
by Kristin Cashore
Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning Hex Hall
by Rachel Hawkins Gone
by Michael Grant Grimspace
by Ann Aguirre Dead Until Dark
by Charlaine Harris Magic Bites
by Ilona Andrews Sloppy Firsts
by Megan McCafferty Feed
by Mira Grant Friday Night Bites
by Chloe Neill Uglies
by Scott Westerfeld The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
by Stieg Larsson
(or you can pick your own but there must be at least 2 books in the series already published in the US)
The contest will open internationally to anywhere The Book Depository
Now, on to the fun part! This is the first of hopefully many Triviadventures! (see what I did there? I amuse myself) To enter, you'll have to get your book trivia on and answer these five questions. The answers are easily found on the internet, on Goodreads, Amazon, or in your memory. Feel free to ask people who've read the book! (besides me, of course) 1. In what town and state is Henry David Thoreau's Walden Pond located? 2. What is the character Ashley obsessed with eating in Lish McBride's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer? 3. What poem does John Hannah read at his deceased boyfriend's funeral in Four Weddings and a Funeral? 4. What is unique about the writer Ilona Andrews? 5. What book is the character Conor Larkin from? Tuesday Triviadventures, Part 1 will be open for entries until 9pm, PST on Tuesday, June 28th, 2011. Winner will be selected by a randomizer from all entries with 5/5 correct answers. One entry per person. Good luck! CONTEST CLOSED. WINNERS TBD.