December 30, 2010

End of 2010 Survey

Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner created this 2010 reading survey, and I've seen so many other bloggers participating I thought I'd join in.

1. Best book of 2010? Argh, I can’t choose. Mockingjay for its epic-ness, Paranormalcy for its creative fun, and both The Body at the Tower by Y. S. Lee and Jasmyn by Alex Bell for unputdownability and entertainment value.

2. Worst book of 2010? Well, I don’t really want to label any book ‘worst’ so I’ll just skip this one.

3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010? I think it’s a toss-up between Beautiful Creatures and Firelight.  Both had tons of buzz but failed to deliver for me. Runner-up would be The Maze Runner.

4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010? Either Paranormalcy (because I really wasn’t too sure I would like it) or Nothing by Janne Teller (it had no publicity, but packed a punch for me). Also Nevermore, because it was so much more intricate and developed than I had anticipated, without falling prey to some of the stereotypical tropes of paranormal YA.

5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? Probably The Hunger Games series.

6. Best series you discovered in 2010? The Agency series by Y. S. Lee, since I’ve quite enjoyed the first two. Other series that have potential (but so far only have one book) are: Paranormalcy, Matched, and Nevermore.

7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Kiersten White, Ally Condie, Y.S. Lee, Kelly Creagh

8. Most hilarious read of 2010? I don’t actually recall reading many laugh-out-loud, side-splittingly-funny books this year… I should remedy that in 2011!

9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010? Well, I devoured Mockingjay. Also, I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning to finish The Body at the Tower, and I found Jasmyn by Alex Bell to be very addictive – I just had to keep reading to find out what was happening.

10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? Like almost everyone else: Mockingjay. I was so excited for this one…it almost rivalled my anticipation of the final Harry Potter book.

11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? 


12. Most memorable character in 2010? I really can’t decide. Most of the books mentioned already have memorable characters, which is probably why they keep popping up in these lists!

13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? Twenty Boy Summer, Plain Kate and Matched get to vy for this title.

14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010? Still Alice by Lisa Genova was a very scary, well-written and emotionally moving read. And Mockingjay had me thinking about it for a few days after I’d finished.

15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read? I can’t think of one for this category, really.

December 29, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Putting Makeup on Dead People

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

This week's pick:

Putting Makeup on Dead People by Jennifer Violi

Goodreads' description:

"It's been four years since Donna Parisi's father passed away, but it might as well have been four days. Donna makes conversation and goes through the motion, but she hasn't really gotten on with life. She's not close with anyone, she doesn't have a boyfriend and she's going to college at the local university with a major that her mother picked. But one day Donna has an epiphany. She wants to work with dead people. She wants to help people say goodbye and she wants to learn to love a whole person—body and soul. She wants to live her life and be loving, at grieving and at embalming and cremating,too. Even as she makes the decision, things start to change. Donna makes friends with the charismatic new student, Liz. She notices the boy, Charlie, at her table and realizes that maybe he's been noticing her, too. And she begins to forgive the rest of her family for living their lives while she's been busy moping.

Jennifer Violi's gentle, moving story of a girl who finds a life in the midst of death will appeal to any reader who's felt stuck and found inspiration in an unexpected place."

I really like the sound of this one because it's so *different* from everything else out there. For one thing, she's at college - yay! There are far too few books with college-aged protagonists. Secondly, she wants to work with dead people. How can you not want to read this book? It sounds so quirky!

What books are you waiting on?

December 27, 2010

What I Got For Christmas Was...

...stomach flu. Yep. This year we had stomach flu floating around my house. Which meant I was feverishly sick in bed on Christmas Eve, so we had to postpone our celebrations for another day. I'm still recovering but definitely over the acute phase! Hope all of you had illness-free Christmases :)

But aside from stomach flu, I also got some fabulous gifts for Christmas, including (of course)...books! So just to wrap up my little "All I Want For Christmas Is..." meme, here's what I got:

From my wishlist and featured in my meme picks:

Jasmyn by Alex Bell
Where the Truth Lies by Jessica Warman

From my wishlist but I didn't get around to featuring them in my meme picks:

An Accomplished Woman by Jude Morgan
Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly
Stork by Wendy Delsol

And a couple more practical books, not from my wishlist:

Networking for People Who Hate Networking by Devora Zack
Higher Education: On Life, Landing a Job, and Everything Else They Didn't Teach You in College by Kenneth Jedding

So yay! These should keep me busy for a while. Which books did you end up getting for Christmas? Did they match some of the ones on your wishlist? Link up below! :D

Oh, and thanks to everyone who participated in my meme! It's the first meme I've tried and I had a lot of fun with it - hope you did too :)

December 22, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: A Tale of Two Castles and A Need So Beautiful

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

This week's picks:

A Tale of Two Castles by Gail Carson Levine

Goodreads' description:

"Mysteries abound, especially in Two Castles.

A handsome cat trainer, black-and-white cats, thieves on four legs and two, suspicious townsfolk, a greedy king, a giddy princess, a shape-shifting ogre, a brilliant dragon. Which is the villainous whited sepulcher?

Elodie journeys to the town of Two Castles to become a mansioner—an actress—but luck is against her. She is saved from starvation by the dragon Meenore, who sends her on a dangerous mission inside the ogre's castle. There, disguised as a kitchen maid at an ogre's feast, she finds herself cast in the role of a lifetime and pitted against a foe intent on murder.

Newbery Honor author Gail Carson Levine weaves an entrancing tale of a fearsome ogre, a dragon detective, and a remarkable heroine, who finds friendship where she least expects it, learns that there are many ways to mansion, and discovers that goodness and evil come in all shapes and sizes."

Okay, so I'm sure everyone knows how much I adore the book Ella Enchanted. My paperback copy has started to fall apart because I've read it so often and taken it so many places. So I am definitely looking forward to this new one by Gail Carson Levine! Plus I love the cover, it looks so perfect for this fairy tale–esque story.

A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young

Goodreads' description:

"Charlotte’s best friend thinks Charlotte might be psychic. Her boyfriend thinks she’s cheating on him. But Charlotte knows what’s really wrong: She is one of the Forgotten, a kind of angel on earth, who feels the Need—a powerful, uncontrollable draw to help someone, usually a stranger.

There have been others before who’ve felt the Need, but they’re gone—erased from the memories of everyone whose lives they had touched. It's as though they never existed. This is the fate that awaits Charlotte. But the last thing Charlotte wants to do is disappear, to be Forgotten. She wants to stay with her best friend, whose life is spiraling out of control. She wants to lie in her boyfriend’s arms forever. She wishes she could just ignore the Need, but she can’t. And as everyone important in her life begins to slowly forget her, she has to decide if she’ll fight the Need in order to remain herself—no matter how dark the consequences."

I admit at first I just kind of dismissed this one as a typical YA angel read, but then I took a closer look at the description. I love the idea of her *needing* to help someone and being unable to resist this desire. I think it'll put a different twist on angels, and it sounds like the protagonist is in a pretty difficult situation, so I can't wait to see how it all plays out...

What books are you waiting on?

December 21, 2010

An Award and a Nomination!

I was given The Versatile Blogger award a while ago by Bev at My Reader's Block - sorry I took so long to post this, and thanks so much!

Rules of the award:
  1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you this award.
  2. Share 7 things about yourself. 
  3. Pass the award along to 15 bloggers who you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic for whatever reason! (In no particular order...) 
  4. Contact the bloggers you've picked and let them know about the award.

Seven things about me (I thought I would make this a holiday version, photos all mine):

1.) One side of my family is of German descent, and so we have plenty of German traditions for the holidays. We always have an Adventskrantz (Advent wreath), with 4 candles - 3 red, 1 white. In the days leading up to Christmas Eve, we light the candles (one more each night, saving the white for Christmas Eve) and sing Christmas carols (one on the first night, two on the second night, and so on). On Christmas Eve we light all 4 candles and sing 4 songs, with the last song always being Silent Night.

2.) When I was younger and we lived on the prairies, we used to go into the woods, stomping through thick drifts of snow, to choose and cut down a tree for Christmas. We'd get so freezing cold but eventually we'd agree on one, and then back in the car we'd warm up with hot chocolate and Timbits (donut holes). Now, living in Vancouver, we don't have the luxury of heading into the wild to pick a tree, unfortunately.

3.) My mom bakes up a storm at Christmas. She must make at least 20 varieties of cookies. For Christmas Eve, we pile these large plates full of cookies, chocolates, candies, and fruit, and eat them during the opening of presents and over the following days. (These are called Bunte Teller in German, translating to "colorful plates").

4.) The youngest in our family always gets to open the first gift on Christmas Eve (that would be me :D)

5.) I am lacto-ovo-vegetarian, but around Christmas I admit that I always miss the smoked salmon (with cream cheese on bagels) that we used to have back when we ate fish. It's expensive so we only ever had it at Christmas, and I wish someone would come up with a vegetarian taste-alike!

6.) Another German tradition we have is the Weihnachtspyramide. These beautifully crafted wooden structures spin by the heat from the candles alone. We always set these to spinning as we read the Biblical story, and then keep them going for a little while before the candles burn down too low.

7.) On New Year's Eve, we also have a special tradition. Each person in the family writes down 3 wishes for the coming year. Then we take a big bowl full of water, set the wishes (folded) along the rim of the bowl, and set half a walnut shell with a lit candle inside. Starting once again with the youngest (yes, I did always like that tradition :D), each person in turn moves the walnut boat by creating waves in the water, while never letting their fingers touch the boat. When the shell settles next to a piece of paper (or even catches it on fire, which has been known to happen!) we know that this is the wish we're meant to pick. Then we read it aloud, often to large amounts of laughter if we have gotten someone else's wish. We keep doing this until all the wishes have been taken - it's a lot of fun!

I'm passing this award on to a few awesome bloggers I've discovered:

Musings of a YA Reader
The Darcy Review

And in other news, I found out today that my blog has been nominated for the Best New Blog 2010 category of the Readers' Choice Awards 2010 at Mindful Musings. Thank you so much to whoever nominated me - I'm very flattered to be in such good company with these amazing bloggers!

You can check out all the details and vote for your favorite blogs here!

Oh, and I should add that you can be entered to win a prize if you vote :D

And just for fun...what are some of your holiday traditions?

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Want For Christmas

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is the books you're hoping to get for Christmas!

I've been picking a book I'd like for Christmas each week in my "All I Want For Christmas Is..." meme. That ties nicely into this week's topic so I think I'll link to most of those picks:

1.) Give Up The Ghost by Megan Crewe

2.) The Three Loves of Persimmon by Cassandra Golds

3.) Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

4.) Jasmyn by Alex Bell

5.) Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

6.) Where The Truth Lies by Jessica Warman

7.) The Twin's Daughter by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

8.) Must've Done Something Good by Cheryl Cory

9.) The Thornthwaite Inheritance by Gareth P. Jones

10.) This last one didn't make it onto my official Christmas wishlist, but having seen all of the glowing reviews, I'd like to get my hands on it: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

What books are you hoping to find under the tree?

December 19, 2010

In My Mailbox (11)

In this meme, hosted by Kristi at The Story Siren, we share the books we've received, bought or taken out from the library.

I had an awesome mailbox week!


Matched by Ally Condie - from Books in the Spotlight (thanks so much!) I was really excited to read this one, and have already posted my review here. So happy that I have my own shiny hardcover copy of it :D

Real Mermaids Don't Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau - from a Twitter contest (thanks Helene!)

From the library:

Pegasus by Robin McKinley

Confessions of the Sullivan Sisters by Natalie Standiford

December 17, 2010

How do you like your endings?

I was thinking the other day about how my tastes in book endings have changed over the years. When I was younger, it was happy endings all the way. Sad endings were just depressing, bittersweet a little unsettling. And if the author finished the book ambiguously - i.e. choose your own ending - that actually bothered me the most. I guess I figured since they'd written this much, why couldn't they complete the story properly? Did they not *know* how it was supposed to end? It frustrated me, having to guess how the characters' lives continued without knowing for certain. The story just didn't feel done.

Now that I'm older, I can more fully appreciate the irony and heartbreak inherent in a sad or bittersweet resolution to a story. I don't tend to seek out really sad-sounding books (for instance, where the main character is terminally ill and you know they're going to die in the end), but if an author can make me cry? That's a sign to me of emotionally engaging writing.

Bittersweet is even more poignant in some ways, because it highlights all the might-have-beens and what-ifs of the story; you know the characters could have been happier, but for whatever tragic reason, they can't be. And while I can appreciate the power of a sad or bittersweet story, I admit that I am less likely to re-read those. I am still a sucker for a happy ending, but it must feel genuine, not forced.

As for ones that end in a vague manner the reader is left to interpret...well, if I can see the point the author is trying to make, and the reason they chose to let it dangle, then I don't mind so much. But if it seems like they just couldn't decide how they wanted to finish it up, so they pulled the old let's-make-it-ambiguous-and-then-it-will-seem-all-deep-and-philosophical stunt...that just feels like a cop-out. The trick is distinguishing between the two!
Yep, sometimes the last page just seems like a dead end.

What about you, fellow readers? Do you like your endings happy, sad, bittersweet, or left up to you? How does it affect your reading experience? Does it make a difference to whether or not you'll re-read the book? Have your tastes changed at all?

Book Blogger Hop (21)

It's time again for the Book Blogger Hop! This awesome meme is hosted by Crazy-For-Books and this week's question is, "What do you consider the most important in a story: the plot or the characters?"

Good question! Well, usually it takes a bit for the plot to get going in a book. But I'm with the characters right from the start, and if I can't relate to or dislike those...I'm going to be tempted not to even bother continuing on to find out if the plot is a good one. 

That said, I may last longer if the characters are phenomenal - but if there is absolutely nothing happening, I could end up putting the book down and later forgetting I was ever reading it. 

I guess my answer ends up being that I need solid characterization to entice me from the beginning, but a well-written plot to keep me interested in the characters' journeys. But if I had to pick one, I think I'd go with characters.

Recent posts on the blog:

Matched: In A Nutshell

All I Want for Christmas Is... (10) - Getting into the holiday spirit? Share a book from your Christmas wishlist each week in my "All I Want For Christmas Is..." meme! Link your post up for this week here. This is the last post of this meme before Christmas, but after I'll be posting a "What I Got For Christmas Was..." and seeing how many books on my list made it under the tree! I'd love to see what everyone else got too :)
Waiting on Wednesday: Forgotten 

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books of 2011
Enchanted Ivy: Review

Hopping time!

December 16, 2010

Matched: In A Nutshell

Cassia is set to enjoy everything about her Match Banquet: her green silk dress, the delectable food, the excitement of it all. Her only worry is exactly who the Society will pair her with. When it turns out to be her best friend Xander, she couldn't be happier.

That is, until she inserts her microcard into her port to find out more about her Match...and there's a different boy's face on the screen. Someone she knows. Ky Markham.

Is it all a mistake? Or is there something else going on? Distraught, Cassia begins to question...and soon enough she has much more serious worries.

Matched by Ally Condie

One sentence sum-up: the story of a girl struggling to find her place in a society determined to find it for her.

My reaction: The hype around Matched was huge and I was definitely really excited for it. While it wasn't quite what I expected (what highly anticipated book ever is?), it was still a beautifully written novel. I was a little lost at the very beginning, but soon enough I started to get a feel for the Society and Cassia's life there. It is written all in present tense, which is not my favorite format, but Condie's prose is gorgeous and powerful, and you get the sense that she thought carefully about every single sentence she crafted. Even some of the smallest scenes are imbued with symbolic meaning.

At first I wasn't too sure how well I would connect with the main character, partly because the writing style is distancing; Cassia thinks about herself almost as though she's outside looking in. While normally this would make me say, "Show, don't tell," I realized that for a dystopian novel, this approach could work. It's like we can see the effect of being brought up in the Society through Cassia's style of contemplation. Her personality at the start is muted, her worries defined by the confines of the life she has always known. But she grows throughout the novel, her emotions awakening as her relationship with Ky blossoms and she starts to think more critically about everything she once took for granted.

I've heard some remarks that Matched was too close to The Giver, and certainly I can see some similarities. But that's to be expected with any dystopian, I think. Matched also made me think of Fahrenheit 451, Brave New World, 1984, and We (although not all at the same time!) So what? It's still its own story. I really enjoyed the fact that Condie creates a society that at first glance doesn't seem all that bad. Indeed, at one point I distinctly remember thinking, "Well, it kind of makes sense that they do it this way, what's so terrible about that?" The point is later driven home, however, that it's the very nature of such a society - controlling with the illusion of choice - that is so dangerous.

Best aspect: The romance. For more spoilery specifics, highlight the white text:

The sweetly illicit love between Cassia and Ky. Condie didn't need any steamy elements to create a relationship that feels true, and she conveys quite a lot with only glances and brief touches. I loved that Cassia and Ky connected intellectually and emotionally, that they had things in common: their enjoyment of hiking, their appreciation of poetry. It felt like a perfect fit. I really liked Ky's character. He nicely balanced strength and vulnerability, and he is the trigger for Cassia's growth. Plus, he managed to pull off remarkably romantic lines without sounding sappy. (Team Xander? What's that? In my mind there really wasn't any love triangle. You can tell from the beginning who Cassia is truly drawn to.)

Also, just generally the characters were very mature in this novel, which is a nice change. They're teens, but because of the way they've been brought up, they don't angst nearly so much as you find in many YA novels. (There is still some angst because of the uncertain nature of particular relationships, of course.) They have jobs and they're Matched at seventeen, so they seemed to understand responsibility more.

If I could change something... Well, I was expecting more action in Matched. For a dystopian novel, it grows gradually and subtly, and the end of the book is really only the beginning for Cassia. I'm sure there'll be lots more to come in Crossed, because I got the feeling that Condie has planned this series thoughtfully. She's laid all the groundwork in Matched for a bigger story, but Matched itself focuses more on the characters, their relationships and introducing readers to the Society than it does on plot. This being the case, a lot of time is spent on Cassia's budding awareness of her world and worry about her future, so that did get somewhat repetitive.

Also, some of the messages were a bit too obvious and overstated for me (though I might have noticed this less when I was a teen), and I thought Cassia came to a few of her realizations rather suddenly. Still, these are fairly minor quibbles.

Hopes for the sequel? More Ky! More action! Also, answers to lots of spoilery questions (highlight to read): What happened in the past that no one but Xander can remember? Who put Ky in the matching pool and why? Who is the "Enemy" and how did this war start?


I could pull practically any line from this book and it would make a good quote. But here's one I quite liked:

For what is the point of having something lovely if you never share it?

It would be like having a poem, a beautiful wild poem that no one else has, and burning it.

After a moment, I open my eyes and glance over at Ky. He doesn't look back, but I know he knows I'm watching. The music is soft, slow. His chest rises and falls. His lashes are black, impossibly long, the exact color of his hair.

Ky is right. I will never hear this song the same way again.

Recommend for: anyone who falls for a tale of two people trying to be together despite the odds. Especially when the Society claims they can predict those odds.

Final verdict: 4.5 shooting stars.

Author's website:

All I Want For Christmas Is... (10)

This is a feature/meme where I choose a book each week leading up to Christmas and say why it's made it onto my wishlist – and I'd love to see what books everyone else is hoping to get! I'll be posting my pick each Thursday, but you guys can link up and visit other people's posts all through the week.

This week's pick:

The Thornthwaite Inheritance by Gareth P. Jones

From Goodreads:

"Ovid and Lorelli Thornthwaite have been trying to kill each other for so long that neither twin can remember which act of attempted murder came first. But whoever struck first, trying to take each other's lives is simply what they do. Until one day a lawyer arrives at their house to take stock of its contents, and his accompanying son attracts their attention. Soon a new battle evolves - one in which the twins have to work together to solve the mystery of their parents' deaths. Can Lorelli and Ovid overcome their old animosities, and will they ever get to finish that game of chess?"

This pick is a little outside of my usual selection - it's a middle-grade book that leans toward the macabre. But it sounds so quirky, darkly humorous, and different from anything else that it ended up on my list!

What books are you hoping Santa brings you? Link up your posts below! :D 

Oh, and this will be the last post for this meme before Christmas (next week is going to be crazy busy here!) But after Christmas I'll be posting a "What I Got For Christmas Was..." and seeing how many books on my list made it under the tree! I'd love to hear how everyone else made out too :D

December 15, 2010

Waiting on Wednesday: Forgotten

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and features books that we just can't wait to get our hands on!

Just one this week:

Forgotten by Cat Patrick

(These are the U.S. and Aussie covers. I really like the UK cover but I couldn't find an image of it that I could upload here).

Goodreads' description:

"Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies."

There's a slightly different blurb on the author's website:

"Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her memory of that day is erased.  In the morning, all London can “remember” are events from her future and the people who will play a part in it.  In order to get by, London relies on reminder notes and a trusted friend to navigate relationships and high school life. Adaptable by nature, she tries to view her memory loss as a fact of life rather than a condition. But when London starts experiencing disturbing flashbacks, or flashforwards, as the case may be, she realizes that in order to understand her present and her future, she must solve the mystery of her past. Part psychological thriller and part romance, Forgotten is for every reader who enjoys pondering life’s great “what-if” questions."

Okay, I was immediately intrigued by this premise. Playing with memory like that? Awesome. It sounds like an intense read.

 What books are you waiting on?

December 14, 2010

Top Ten Tuesday: Most Anticipated Books of 2011

The "Top Ten Tuesday" meme is hosted by The Broke and The Bookish, and this week's topic is your most anticipated books of 2011.

Okay, this week the problem wasn't coming up with enough picks for the Top Ten was narrowing them down! I tried to include books from a variety of genres but as usual it is skewed towards fantasy and dystopian :D

1.) Delirium by Lauren Oliver — after all the glowing ratings of this one, I simply have to get my hands on it.

2.) Divergent by Veronica Roth — ditto!

3.) The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab — I've been intrigued by the sound of this one from the beginning, can't wait to read it!

4.) Abandon by Meg Cabot — We all know Meg Cabot is amazing, and I really want to see what she does with the myth of Persephone. And I don't even have words for the beauty of that cover.

5.) Shadows on the Moon by Zoe Marriott — I love the idea of a retelling of Cinderella set in feudal Japan! 

6.) Supernaturally by Kiersten White — I really enjoyed Paranormalcy, and I am definitely looking forward to seeing how Evie's story continues. Plus, I want more Reth :D

7.) Dark Mirror by M. J. Putney — I love fantasy and I love the Regency period, so a book combining the two? Oh yeah.

8.) Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis (aka. A Most Improper Magick) — Ditto! Also this one's been recommended quite a bit, and it just sounds so fun.

9.) Choker by Elizabeth Woods — I thought I should include at least one contemporary novel on here, and this one has an intriguingly vague description. But apparently it is a psychological thriller, and I am always up for one of those...

10.) Wither by Lauren DeStefano — again, heard great things about this one and I'm interested to see how the scientific/genetic angle is handled. Plus the cover is amazing.

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