Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: The Best of 2013

It's the end of 2013, and to celebrate it, Top Ten Tuesday is all about the best books read this year.  I read so many good books, but there were some that were so much better than all the rest.

The Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

  • The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
    • I read both this and Girl of Fire and Thorns this year, and they were amazing.  (I still haven't gotten to the third book; what's wrong with me?)  I love the characters (especially Hector), the vivid descriptions, and the storyline.
  • Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
    • This is one of those books that I can't believe I didn't read until this month.  It was so good!  I cannot wait to get my hands on the next book.
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
    • This book is beautifully written.  Stiefvater's writing is so good that the story could have been terrible, and I still would have liked it.  Fortunately the story was also great, so this book was a gem.
  • Divergent by Veronica Roth
    • Another book I cannot believe I didn't read til this year.  I'm still not too sure about the movie version coming out in March though.
  • Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
    • I loved Cinder, but Scarlet is even better than the first book.  And people keep saying that Cress is even better than that.  I'm so jealous of all you people who've read it already.  February 4th can't get here soon enough.
  • Splintered by A.G. Howard
    • Alice in Wonderland retellings are always so much fun, and this one is one of my favorites.  The writing, the descriptions - Wonderland came to life in this book.
  • Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
    • One of the most romantic books I read this year for sure.  I'm totally in love with Perry.  I just got swept away into this book.  And it was so awesome meeting Veronica Rossi, who is such a cool person.
  • The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer
    • And now for the funniest, laugh-out-loud book of the year.  I really was literally laughing out loud while reading this book.  I love Heyer's regency romances because they're usually witty and sarcastic and fun, but this one is probably the absolute best when it comes to witty banter.
  • Amber House by Kelly Moore, Tucker Reed & Larkin Reed
    • I loved how different this book was.  I don't usually read paranormal books, so I didn't really think I'd like this.  But I loved it!
  • Legend by Marie Lu (and Prodigy too)
    • And last but certainly not least, Legend and Prodigy were such great books.  Great characters, lots of action and adventure, and a heart-wrenching cliffhanger.  I seriously need to pick up Champion to see what happens to Day and June.
And those are my personal favorite reads from this year.  How about you?  Have you read any of these?  Did you like them too?  I'd love to know!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Review: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Title:  Throne of Glass
Author:  Sarah J. Maas
Genre:  YA fantasy
Series:  Throne of Glass #1
Publisher:  Bloomsbury USA
Pages:  404, paperback
Acquired via:  BEA giveaway


Synopsis (from goodreads):  In a land without magic, where the king rules with an iron hand, an assassin is summoned to the castle. She comes not to kill the king, but to win her freedom. If she defeats twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition, she is released from prison to serve as the king's champion. Her name is Celaena Sardothien. 

The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her. But something evil dwells in the castle of glass--and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival, and a desperate quest to root out the evil before it destroys her world.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Why did it take me so long to read this?!  I had to go to jury duty the past two days, so I figured I'd bring a book for all the time you spend waiting.  I grabbed the first book in my TBR pile that caught my eye, and it was this one.  As soon as I started reading it, I was hooked.  I didn't want to put it down, even when they called me to be possibly selected for a jury (I wasn't).

Throne of Glass is an amazing fantasy novel with great characters, good world-building, and a fast-paced & exciting plot.  I'm practically hitting myself for not picking up Crown of Midnight at BEA too, because then I could be reading that right now.

I love the characters in this book so much.  They're three-dimensional and interesting, and Maas does a good job with character development.  As more details about each of the characters were revealed throughout the story, I got more and more attached to them.  Celaena is a kick-ass heroine with more depth to her than simply just being a killing machine.  And I was so worried that Prince Dorian was going to be one of those typical handsome and smug ("sexy-and-I-know-it") princes that would annoy me.  But then his personality turned out to be so much better than that.  Mostly though, I love Chaol Westfall - the strong, silent Captain of the Guard.  Definitely my favorite character thus far.

The writing and the world-building are also fantastic.  The way Maas describes Celaena's world just made me feel like I was there.  I also enjoyed the way she builds up the history throughout the book, rather than having a long introductory prologue or chapter that goes on and on.  It kept the book from losing its fast pace.  The story's constant movement made the book "unputdownable".

And of course the romance.  How can I talk about this book without bringing up that romantic tension?  It's built up slowly and realistically (hooray for no insta-love), and while it is definitely a love triangle, it's a really well-written one, one you could actually see happening.  Especially since both of the men in the triangle are great characters, and you could see Celaena with either one of them.

I cannot wait until I can get my hands on the next book, because this one was so awesome!

Monday, December 9, 2013

2013 End of Year Survey

We're coming to the end of 2013, which means it's time for an End of Year Survey!!  The survey comes from Jamie over at the Perpetual Page-Turner.  If you want to participate and/or read her answers, please visit her blog here.

2013 End of Year Book Survey

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (I had a 3-way tie)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 
  • The Host by Stephenie Meyer.  I didn't expect to like this book, since it was by Stephenie Meyer, and I'm not a fan of what she did with the Twilight series.  But this ended up being so good.
4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

  • Rae Carson or Veronica Roth

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

  • Wolf from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  • Four/Tobias from Divergent by Veronica Roth

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.  I love Stiefvater's style of writing in this book.  The prose is so beautiful and descriptive.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

  • Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  After reading this book, I've made more of an effort to eat less processed foods, to try to shop more at the local farmers' markets, and to buy certain foods organic.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

  • Divergent!  I'm still shocked that I put off this book for so long.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

  • The opening to Splintered by A.G. Howard  -  "I've been collecting bugs since I was ten; it's the only way I can stop their whispers.  Sticking a pin through the gut of an insect shuts it up pretty quick... Crickets, beetles, spiders...bees and butterflies.  I'm not picky.  Once they get chatty; they're fair game."

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

  • Longest -  The Host by Stephenie Meyer at 619 pages
  • Shortest -  The Son of Sobek by Rick Riordan at 40 pages (I know it's technically a story, and not a book, but it's the shortest thing I read this year.)
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.) Be careful of spoilers!
  • The twist at the end of Insurgent by Veronica Roth!  Even though my mom's never read the books, I had to tell her all about it, just so I could tell SOMEONE.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

  • There were just too many great romantic relationships in the books I read this year, but my absolute favorite was Sarah Thane and Tristram Shield from The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer.  They're sarcastic and witty, which means they have the best dialogue ever, and they complement each other perfectly.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

  • The Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer.  I've read so many of her books, but this one was spectacular.  Her books are usually fun and witty , but this book surpassed them all as far as amazing dialogue is concerned.

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

  • It's a toss-up between fantasy and dystopian.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

  • Prodigy by Marie Lu.  The ending of this book just killed me.  I'm scared to read the final book, because I just know it's going to be emotional.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

  • Altered by Jennifer Rush.  Every time I saw the title Altered on someone's blog, I'd get excited because I thought they were talking about Rush's book, but it was always a review or mention of Gennifer Albin's book instead.

Looking Ahead to 2014

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

  • The House of Hades by Rick Riordan.  I'm still so ashamed that I haven't gotten to this yet.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

  • Again, there are so many, but Cress by Marissa Meyer is probably #1.

3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

  • Posting more regularly would be nice.  Getting this new feature I've been working on up and running would be great too.
Please feel free to let me know what your answers would be, and if there's any here you agree with!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Must Reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.  This week's topic is 2014 releases that I'm dying to read.

Top Ten Nine 2014 Must Reads
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
    • The Lunar Chronicles is such a great series, and I'm really looking forward to the next book.
  • The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
    • Cannot wait!!!  Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors, and this series has been so incredible.
  • The One by Kiera Cass
    • I think all of the books on my list are in series.  I'm hoping Cass ends this series really well.
  • Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
    • Perry!  I'm seriously in love with him, and I'm so excited for the next book.
  • Unhinged by A.G. Howard
    • I really enjoyed Splintered, and hopefully this book will be just as unique and fun.
  • The Seeker by Stephenie Meyer
    • So it's not definite that this book is actually coming out in 2014, but I'm including it anyway.  My feelings on this book are mixed.  I loved The Host and would love to read more about those characters, but at the same time, it ended perfectly and I don't want Meyer to mess with that.
  • Neverwas by Kelly Moore
    • I had no idea what to expect from The Amber House, and it turned out to be so good.  Please let this book be as spooky and surprising and awesome!
  • Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman
    • Anything with dragons, and I'm hooked.  Looking forward to this sequel, which will hopefully have way more dragons in the story.  (Technically they pushed the publishing date to 2015, but maybe they'll come to their senses and go back to the original 2014 date).
  • Erased by Jennifer Rush
    • Another sequel that I can't wait to read.  I need to know what's going to happen to Sam, Cass, Nick, and Anna.
And that's my list.  What do you think?  What are you looking forward to reading in 2014?