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Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 End of Year Book Survey

Jamie of The Perpetual Page-Turner has put together an End of Year Book Survey. Here are my answers:

Note: I reread Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows this year but have decided to exclude it from the running of this survey because I could pretty much use it to answer every question.

1. Best Book You Read In 2011?
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This was the last book I read in 2011, and also the best, most heart-breaking, and most interesting. I'm going to say this, and I don't say it lightly: The Knife of Never Letting Go is the best book I've ever read, after Harry Potter. Those that know me - and have eyes and know what my blog is all about - know how truly significant that statement is.

2. Most Disappointing Book/Book You Wish You Loved More Than You Did?
I didn't love Possession by Elana Johnson, Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney, and XVI by Julia Karr. Premises with great promise, all of them, but ultimately, they weren't the books for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2011?
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey. Who knew I could ever love an all out horror story with that much gore?

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2011?
Same book it's been for the past few years now: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Finally, pretty much everyone I know has read it now, so I can move on.

5. Best series you discovered in 2011?
The Chaos Walking Trilogy by Patrick Ness and The Monstrumologist Series by Rick Yancey.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2011?
Patrick Ness and Rick Yancey (seeing a pattern here?).

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. I don't do contemporary, I don't do romance, and most definitely DO NOT do contemporary romance. But I loved this.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2011?
Across the Universe by Beth Revis and Divergent by Veronica Roth. Addictive.

9. Book you most anticipated in 2011?
Divergent by Veronica Roth. So much hype and thankfully, for me, it lived up to it.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2011?
Across the Universe by Beth Revis. I would love to see more reversible covers in 2012.

11. Most memorable character in 2011?
Manchee, the talking dog, from The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness! Manchee is a legit dog who says things a dog would actually say - none of that ridiculous sarcastic talking dog stereotype to be had here.
Also, Lisbeth Salander from The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. A fascinating enigma, and the only real interesting part of the Millennium Trilogy in my opinion, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Lisbeth giving all the men who ever abused and raped her their rightful comeuppance. Dang girl. Good on you!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2011?
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and The Monstrumologist Series by Rick Yancey. A large part of the reason I love them so.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2011?
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I had to stop reading at one particular moment in this book and I did not continue, nor read anything else, for a few days until I had calmed down. A huge impact.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2011 to finally read?
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. This was recommended to me as my ideal book years ago. I should have listened.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2011?
Can I just put the entirety of The Monstrumologist Series by Rick Yancey in this space here? Every single sentence was a masterpiece.

16. Book That You Read In 2011 That Would Be Most Likely To Reread In 2012?
Delirium by Lauren Oliver. It was the first book that I read in 2011 and as such, the least fresh in my mind. Plus, I adored it.

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 ending of Delirium by Lauren Oliver!

Looking Ahead...
1. One Book You Didn't Get To In 2011 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2012?
The last two books in The Chaos Walking Trilogy, The Ask and the Answer and Monsters of Men, by Patrick Ness, Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, and Blood Red Road by Moira Young.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2012?
Lots. Probably Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver, Insurgent by Veronica Roth, and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare the most.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2012?
Reading: I would like to not get so caught up in the newest, hottest releases of 2012 and completely forget about the books I had sworn I'd read before. Also, I would like to read at my own pace and not feel so frantic all the time to get as much reading done in every spare moment because I tried that and I found it very stressful.
Blogging: Similarly, I would like to keep blogging at a good pace, bearing in mind my busy schedule, but not ever feel too pressured or stressed. Because then blogging would become a chore for me and I don't ever want it to be that. 2011 was a great blogging year: I passed two major milestones (though never posted about them) - my one year Blogoversary and reaching 1,000 GFC Followers. Thank you to anyone who ever took the time to stop by my blog and read a review, comment, or just browse around in 2011. Here's to another great year in 2012!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Challenges Wrap-Up and 2012 Challenges

I'm proud to say that I managed to complete or surpass every reading challenge that I signed up for in 2011 (with the exception of the 2011 A-Z Reading Challenge... somehow, forcing myself to complete this challenge became much less important to me than reading books that I actually wanted to read). Then again, I only signed up for four (including the Goodreads Challenge). So for 2012, I'm going to be challenging myself harder by signing up for 13 reading challenges! Yeah, this probably means I'm going to have the potential to fail, and fail hard, but isn't the point of a reading challenge to actually challenge yourself? Here they are, in alphabetical order:

I want to add some variety in my reading, so I hope to listen to 12 Audiobooks (Level: Going Steady) in 2012. I have a hard time reviewing audiobooks however, so I'm not sure I will be doing so for each audiobook that I listen to.

I was surprised at how easily I completed the 2011 Debut Author Challenge, so I feel like I will have no problem completing 12 2012 YA/MG Debuts.

Dusty Bookshelf Challenge
I get so caught up in reading the latest new releases that I often forget about the books that are literally or figuratively in my TBR pile. I hope to read 10-15 Books from my TBR (Level: Cobwebs) in 2012.

Dystopian (post-apocalyptic and non) was the most common genre I read in 2011, so I feel it shouldn't be too hard to read 8-14 Books (Level: Medium) in 2012.

Again, I want to add some variety to my reading style, so I hope to read at least 10 E-Books (Level: Fun Size) in 2012.

I hope to finish up at least 3 Series (Level 3) in 2012: Chaos Walking, The River of Time Series, The Infernal Devices, and The Monstrumologist Series are possibilities.

1st in a Series Challenge 2012
I read tons of firsts in a series in 2011, so I figure it should be easy to read 12 Firsts (Level: Series Expert) in 2012.

It's embarrassing how little contemporary I read, even though I am constantly getting recommendations. In 2012, I hope to read at least 5 Contemporary Books (not very many, I know, but for me, this will be a challenge).

2012 Mammoth Book Challenge
I hope that by signing up for this challenge, it will encourage me to not shy away from mammoth-sized reads. I hope to read at least 6 +450 Page Books (Level 3) in 2012.

I read lots of debuts in 2011, so I'm hoping it won't be too difficult to read 10 Sophomore YA/MG Books in 2012.

I adore time travel so I know I'm going to love participating in this challenge. I hope to read 4-6 Time Travel Books (Level: Great Adventure) in 2012.

I've downloaded quite a few free ebooks from Amazon since I've started blogging, but have read very little of them. I am going to attempt to read 12 Free Ebooks (Level: Coupon Clipper) in 2012.

And of course, the Goodreads Challenge. These are all that I've signed up for currently, but it may be that I just forgot about or didn't know about other reading challenges, which I might sign up for later.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Review: Across the Universe (Across the Universe #1) by Beth Revis

Publisher: Penguin
Published: January 11, 2011
Pages: 398
Source: Won from Looksie Lovitz (Thanks!)
Rating: 5 STARS

Seventeen-year-old Amy joins her parents as frozen cargo aboard the vast spaceship Godspeed and expects to awaken on a new planet, three hundred years in the future. Never could she have known that her frozen slumber would come to an end fifty years too soon and that she would be thrust into the brave new world of a spaceship that lives by its own rules.
Amy quickly realizes that her awakening was no mere computer malfunction. Someone - one of the few thousand inhabitants of the spaceship - tried to kill her. And if Amy doesn't do something soon, her parents will be next.
Now, Amy must race to unlock Godspeed's hidden secrets. But out of her list of murder suspects, there's only one who matters: Elder, the future leader of the ship and the love she could never have seen coming.

In short: Across the Universe by Beth Revis was a completely enthralling novel, with stellar world building and a fascinating story.
This is going to be an odd review because though I did in fact find a few faults with Across the Universe, the positives managed to outweigh the negatives resulting in a five star rating, surprisingly. Ultimately, I was just so enraptured by the world building, the dual narrative, and the story written so wonderfully by Beth Revis that despite some problems, Across the Universe still managed to rank as one of my favourite reads this year.

My main fault with Across the Universe was the mystery surrounding the identity of the murderer on the ship: it was so incredibly obvious, which is so incredibly unfortunate. However, I was happy at least that the motivations of the murderer were a mystery to me right up until the end. Furthermore, even with the main mystery being spoiled, there were plenty of surprise reveals and plot twists that made Across the Universe a very fun and exciting read.

My other problem with Across the Universe was that there were a few plot points that weren't entirely scientifically believable... I won't go into them here though. People who know me know that when aspects of the plot are not scientifically accurate, it can severely affect my enjoyment of a book or movie. Surprisingly however, this was not the case with Across the Universe. I was so caught up in the story and stellar world building that I found I didn't even care if there were some inaccuracies, which is quite impressive indeed.

Overall, despite finding fault with the obvious mystery and scientific inaccuracies, the captivating world building and intriguing story in Across the Universe won me over. I can't wait for A Million Suns, coming out January 10, 2012.

Other Reviews:
The Bookworm is Here!
Unputdownable Books

Author Links:

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Review: XVI by Julia Karr

Publisher: Penguin
Published: January 6, 2011
Pages: 325
Source: Won from Logan E. Turner (Thank you!)
Rating: 2 Stars

Every girl gets one. 
An XVI tattoo on the wrist--sixteen. 
Some girls can't wait to be sixteen, to be legal. Nina is not one of them. Even though she has no choice in the matter, she knows that so long as her life continues as normal, everything will be okay. 
Then, with one brutal strike, Nina's normal is shattered; and she discovers that nothing that she believed about her life is true. But there's one boy who can help--and he just may hold the key to her past. 
But with the line between attraction and danger as thin as a whisper, one thing is for sure... 
For Nina, turning sixteen promises to be anything but sweet.

In short: XVI by Julia Karr was an unfortunately obvious satire that suffered from awkward writing and a lack of urgency.
XVI by Julia Karr is set in a world where the government is controlled by the Media and girls are encouraged to seek out sex when they turn sixteen. This makes for a rather ham-fisted and obvious satire, unfortunately, and this was my main problem with XVI. It's not that I don't agree with the overall message presented, it's just that I don't need to be hit over the head with it. A more subtle approach would have been much more appreciated.

I did like Nina as the main character, however. She was a strong and moral girl, determined not to be just like every other teenaged drone. She had an admirable ability to stay strong and not break down in the face of terrible events and her love and protectiveness she had for her little sister was sweet. Still, she had a few TSTL moments.

Julia Karr's writing was a miss for me. It was awkward and repetitive. There was also a distinct lack of urgency throughout the novel that made for a bit of a boring reading experience. Despite the seemingly serious events that would routinely take place in XVI, Nina would be back to normal and hanging out with her friends the next day. And I lost count how many times Nina and friends would get together and rehash the situation again and again, barely progressing.

Overall, XVI didn't work for me. Though I appreciated Nina as a strong, female character, I was put out by the obvious satire, the awkward writing, and the lack of urgency. I will not be continuing with this series.

Other Reviews:
A Blog About Nothing
Avery's Book Nook
That's Swell!

Author Links:

*Read as part of the 2011 Debut Author Challenge
*The Letter X in the A-Z Reading Challenge

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


It's time to announce the winner of the Book Lover's Giveaway Hop! There were a total of 163 people who entered and 455 entries. And the winner, according to random.org, is:

I mean, what are the chances? I swear on my life that I did not rig this. I hope people believe me. Anyways, congrats Small! I hope you find the Hush, Hush series at least as entertaining as I did. Please email me with your address within the next 48 hours at ayleejaine(at)gmail(dot)com.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop!

Hop! Welcome to my blog! The Book Lover's Holiday Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Kid Lit Frenzy and runs from December 2nd to 6th.

For this hop, I am giving away Hush, Hush and Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick!

Full disclosure: I won these in a giveaway, read the first one and found it to be a very addictive read, but I feel no compulsion to finish the series. It just wasn't for me, but I can definitely see why other people love the Hush, Hush Series.

1. To enter, fill out the form below
2. Open Worldwide
3. Ends December 6, 2011 at 12:00 AM EST
4. Entrants must be at least 13 years old
5. The winner will be announced on the blog and have 48 hours to send me an email with their address or else I will choose someone else.
Note: Hush, Hush is a paperback and Crescendo is a hardback.

Good luck!