2012 End of Year Book Survey

1. Best book you read in 2012?

I gave the following books five stars on Goodreads:

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn’t?

Eve & Adam by Katherine Applegate and Michael Grant. Love Katherine Applegate, but this one wasn’t really my cuppa.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

Claudia and Mean Janine by Raina Telgemeier, only because The Truth about Stacey was always my favorite BSC book, so the fact that I liked Claudia’s story more in graphic novel form surprises me every time.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Probably The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. I told almost all of my classes that I read it and liked it.

Oh, and I got both of my parents to read The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

The BSC graphic novels are kind of cheating, even if they are amazing. Soooo, I guess I’ll have to go with Saving Francesca/The Piper’s Son since they’re companion books. And word on the street is a third book is on the way.

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Melina Marchetta. I did read Jellicoe Road back when it came out, but with Saving Francesca, I legit fell in love.

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

The Count of Monte Cristo. (a) It’s super long. (b) It’s classic literature.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

The first and last thirds of The Count of Monte Cristo.

Saving Francesca, for different reasons.

9. Book you read in 2012 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

None. Not a big re-reader.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Jane by April Lindner  Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

Grandpa Noirtier from The Count of Monte Cristo. So badass, so amazing.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Probably a tie between Saving Francesca and Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 

Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover. I have an emergency fund! I’m about to start paying down my debt! So…yeah.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

Kristy’s Great Idea only because, seriously, it was on my shelf for way too long.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2012?

If I can only pick one, it’s got to be this one from Code Name Verity:

It’s like being in love, discovering your best friend.

But I’m trying to figure out a way to work this quote from Saving Francesca into a conversation one day:

“Go away,” he orders. “Rehearse the part where Lady Macbeth throws herself off the balcony.”

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2012?

Not counting picture books, the shortest was The Enchanted Truth by Kym Petrie. Longest was Count of Monte Cristo.

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!

Yeah, so I was totally texting my friend Jasmine during Count of Monte Cristo. I may have live tweeted it a bit, too.

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)?

Queenie & Maddie from Code Name Verity, the friendships and familial relationships in Saving Francesca & The Piper’s Son, Claire & Einar in Son, Vera and her dad in Please Ignore Vera Dietz

19. Favorite book you read in 2012 from an author you read previously?

Saving Francesca, The Lover’s Dictionary

20. Best book you read that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?

None of the books I read count. The closest one is The Count of Monte Cristo because of Revenge and my friend Jasmine talking about her re-read of the book.

Wrap Up: Reading Challenges 2012

Don’t worry; this post is going to be short. Mostly because I failed spectacularly at all the reading challenges I signed up for. I didn’t complete a single one. Not one! No, not even the Harry Potter one. Which is fine, really. I mean, I did read The Count of Monte Cristo, which was the biggie. And I got rid of a bunch of books on my shelf that I wasn’t going to read anyway, so you know.

That said, the one thing I wanted to do this past year was read more contemporary YA lit. I was so over fantasy and paranormal and dystopia. Obviously, I still read a few from each genre, but I got back to what I love reading. Very smart.

So next year, I am not doing any reading challenges. I’m just going to read what I want, when I want. Which is what I did anyway. That doesn’t mean I won’t sign up for something that completely pushes me out of my comfort zone (Tea & Books, for example, did help me commit to reading a big ‘un), but I’m going to keep my obligations to a minimum.

Good luck to everyone else on completing all of your challenges!



Book Review: As You Wish

“Well, it’s just that it’s impossible to be a broken or whole person. You can only be a person. You can only exist, you can only belong to yourself, and you can only be responsible for your own happiness or belonging or whatever. That broken-part-piece-whole thing is just a trick of the mortal mind.”

As You Wish by Jackson PearceAs You Wish by Jackson Pearce is a cute, fun romance about a girl, her gay ex-boyfriend/best friend, and a genie. Since Viola is trying desperately to get over the heartbreak of losing Lawrence as a boyfriend, she inadvertently summons Jinn, who has to grant her three wishes.

Like I said, the story is cute and fun. It’s not entirely predictable–I mean, sure, Jinn was obviously going to fall in love with Viola and vice versa. But what keeps the story from being predictable and rote are the three main characters: Viola, Jinn, and Lawrence.

What I like the most about Viola is that she’s smart and thoughtful. She’s very careful with her wishes, not wanting to wish for something she knows she needs to change within herself nor does she want to wish for anything that could hurt someone else. That carefulness creates excellent conflict for her relationship with Jinn who wants to do nothing more than grant her three wishes quickly so he can get home. He doesn’t understand her thoughtfulness because he’s used to dealing with shallow people. More importantly, he doesn’t understand what it means to be human. Where he comes from conflict has mostly been removed, days blur into each other, and time mostly stands still. There is no heartache, no love, no deep longing for anyone or anything. Everything just is.

And then there’s Lawrence. Lawrence who regrets hurting Viola and wants nothing more than for her to be happy again. He has new found popularity now that he’s out and thoroughly himself, but that also means Viola is mostly excluded from his world. She isolates herself and is unhappy, and Lawrence feels responsible for her happiness in a way that’s not entirely fair for him but makes them very believable friends.

So, yeah, I liked the characters. In fact, the characters are what will stick with me about this book. That, and it’s like a fun take on Aladdin. You know how Aladdin’s all, “What would you wish for?” and Genie’s all, “To be free.” Well, Jinn is like, “For you to hurry up so I can go home and stop getting old.” Hahahaha.

I don’t know. It amuses me.

Source: Library

Book Review: The Girl in the Wall

Good luck 2nite.

Think it may kill me I write back.

wallLet me just say that I know (I know, I KNOW) that The Girl in the Wall by Daphne Benedis-Grab isn’t the best written novel. For one thing, the alternating first-person narrative isn’t distinctive enough (Sera and Ariel sound exactly the same). For another, it’s more plot- than character-driven which isn’t normally my thing.

But. BUT. It’s an action novel that hinges on two former best friends learning to trust each other again so they can survive. In fact, on Goodreads, I said the book was like Die Hard. Which it is if John McClane were two teenaged girls who haven’t spoken in nine months and four days.

In case you haven’t guessed, the main reason this book works for me is the estranged best friends! Learning to work together again for survival! Their love/friendship must overcome all! Plus they are kind of badass (not unrealistically so) and though there are two boys in the story, the boys don’t take over the action and the girls figure out/plan how to get out of the bad situation themselves. I mean, yes, some chivalry is there, but mostly the girls save themselves (and save the boys sometimes too).

Love interests are around, but they’re realistic as can be given the circumstances. Think Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in Speed (and I know I’m dating myself with all of these action movie references, SORRY).

What else? Oh, right. I thought Benedis-Grab makes the story as plausible as possible (I believed why Ariel would automatically run, I believed the two girls missed each other, I believed the love interests). Could’ve used a bit more show than tell, but overall a fun ride.

Also, this book would make an AWESOME movie. As long as they didn’t try to give all the awesome stuff to boy characters. In which case, yuck.

Source: Library

Book Review: Cinder

It was not her fault she was cyborg.

She would not apologize.

Cinder by Marissa MeyerCinder by Marissa Meyer is a sci-fi retelling of the Cinderella tale with Cinder, the main character, cast as a cyborg who works as a mechanic in the futuristic New Beijing.

There is a lot to like about this book! Great characters, excellent setting, nice pacing. Also, Meyer nicely (and unexpectedly in some cases) weaves in the classic Cinderella tropes: the pumpkin, glass slipper, evil steps, etc.

I just wish I had more to say about it.

My favorite thing is probably how well drawn the step-family is. They’re not flat villains–nor the real villains in the story. Though, they do not take up a huge part of the narrative, I found that both stepsisters and the stepmother were well-drawn, even sympathetic in some instances.

My least favorite thing is that I saw alllll of the plot twists coming. Every single one of them. Except, maybe, the motivations of Dr. Erland.

As usual, I say that with the caveat that I am a fairly sophisticated reader with lots and lots of book reading and soap opera watching under my belt. My daughter probably would not have the same reaction.

Speaking of which, she would probably like this book a lot.

Anyway, I’m rambling now. Fun, fast read. Great characters. If you love sci-fi, you will probably love this book. I’m not a huge sci-fi fan and liked it.

Also, I think Meyer hinted at a Rapunzel story? At least I read the introduction of that one character (no spoilers!) as Rapunzel. I know the next book in the series is Red Riding Hood (Scarlet), so I’d be interested to see where the stories go.

I guess that means I might check out the next book. So there you go.

Source: Library

Mini Reviews: End of Semester Round-Up

After posting (almost) every day in November, I fell off–mostly because I was caught up on back posts, but also because the end of the semester happened. For those that don’t know, the end of the semester is an onslaught of grading, grading, and more grading. And then calculating and posting grades. And catching up on the things that happened while grading was going on. Oh, and if you have a kid (like I do), all of the winter programs happen.

But! Now the semester is over! And since my last post, I read a handful of books that I’m going to post a bit about now.

1. Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid: Daughter of the Diva by Yvonne Collins & Sandy Rideout: This book is super cute and fun. A total beach read. Leigh is a fun character, and Collins & Rideout never let her become maudlin. It would’ve been easy for the book to devolve into spoiled, whiny rich kid territory, yet they avoided that. I appreciate it, for sure. Plus, always fun to read books set in a different country.

Source: Library

2. The Cardturner: A Novel about a King, a Queen, and a Joker by Louis Sachar: I liked the first half because that’s where all of the relationship and character development happened. Also, it was really easy to ignore all of the bridge. And, really, there is A LOT of bridge. Just…a lot. You know how in the Harry Potter books sometimes the explanations of Quidditch go on too long? Now imagine a book about, say, Oliver Wood. That’s what the entire second half of the book was like. Yeah.

Source: Library

3. A La Carte by Tanita S. Davis: I think I would have enjoyed this story more if Lainey hadn’t spent so much of the book alone. Also, I wanted more character development for Topher and Simeon. On the plus side, Lainey’s mom was awesome, and I want to try the zucchini latkes. Mmm, latkes.

Source: Library

4. Girl Meets Boy: Because There Are Two Sides to Every Story edited by Kelly Milner Halls: Pretty uneven short story collection. While I liked the concept, the execution was sometimes lost. Fast read, though.

Source: Library

So no real standouts, though I did enjoy the Diva book the most.

I have been attempting different books lately, but nothing is sticking with me. Sometimes at the end of the semester, I don’t want to do ANY brain activities. We’ll see if that changes before the end of the year.