In My Mailbox (8) - My Christmas Haul

Sunday, December 30, 2012 11:41 AM
In My Mailbox is hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren. Every week, bloggers post the books they have received, bought, been gifted, bargained with the devil for, etc. Of course, Christmas was this past week, and Santa was very generous. He knows how much I love books! And at last, my Amazon wish list has decreased in page length. Finally! It's been way too long lately.

-Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
-The Magician King by Lev Grossman
-A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
-A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin
-A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin
-A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
-The Swan Kingdom by Zoe Marriott
-Child of the Prophecy by Juliet Marillier
-Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier
-Dark Companion by Marta Acosta
-Unwind by Neal Shusterman
-The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
-Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm: A New English Version by Philip Pullman

-The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin
-Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith
-Castle in the Air by Diana Wynne Jones
-The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
-The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien (my second copy)
-Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
-The Sandman: Endless Nights by Neil Gaiman
-Guide to Tolkien's World: A Bestiary by David Day

-Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys

I had a wonderful Christmas, and I now have a lot of books to read! It's going to take me awhile. Plus, I also received Amazon gift cards and a Barnes and Noble gift card so more books are coming.

What did everyone else get for the holidays?

Review: Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

Friday, December 28, 2012 7:31 PM
Title: Sloppy Firsts 
Author: Megan McCafferty
Published: August 28, 2001
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Series: Jessica Darling #1
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 280
Rating: 4 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“I don't know anything about anything. The only difference between then and now is this: I may know more than I used to but my wisdom pales in comparison to that which I have yet to learn”
― Megan McCafferty, Sloppy Firsts

When her best friend, Hope Weaver, moves away from Pineville, New Jersey, hyperobservant sixteen-year-old Jessica Darling is devastated. A fish out of water at school and a stranger at home, Jessica feels more lost than ever now that the only person with whom she could really communicate has gone. How is she supposed to deal with the boy- and shopping-crazy girls at school, her dad’s obsession with her track meets, her mother salivating over big sister Bethany’s lavish wedding, and her nonexistent love life? (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
So Amanda and I decided to do our first read along, and the lucky winner was Sloppy Firsts. We've been trying to do a read along for the longest time, but we found it near to impossible since we read at different paces and are at busy at different times. But alas, it has finally happened. What a momentous moment of blogging history! Alright, I'll cut back on the dramatics. Don't forget to check out Amanda's review of Sloppy Firsts.

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me (13)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012 12:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is a freebie. Since I missed this topic a few weeks back, I figured it would be very appropriate to post it now, being Christmas and all.

Before I begin my list, I want to wish all of my followers a Merry Christmas!!! I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday filled with books and family!

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

1-4. A Game of ThronesA Clash of KingsA Storm of Swords, and A Feast of Crows by George R.R. Martin - I asked my parents for the box set of the first four books of the A Song of Ice and Fire series. I'm a huge fan of the Game of Thrones series, and it has inspired me to actually read the books because I hear such great things about Martin's writing. I cannot wait to begin this series even though I know it could be many years before it's finished.

5. Crown Duel by Sherwood Smith - My friend Amanda has highly recommended this book, and I've heard it's a must read for fantasy lovers. Therefore, I need to read this book asap. I'm hoping Santa will leave Crown Duel under the tree!

6. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss - Obviously, I asked for a lot of fantasy this Christmas. So many people rave about this book and I'm anxious to see if it lives up to all of the hype. I heard it's a pretty long book, but I'm pretty sure it will be worth it.

7. The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - Once I heard this was a modern Jack the Ripper thriller, I knew I had to get my hands on it. I've read Johnson's 13 Little Blue Envelopes, but I think this read is more down my alley. As in the alley Jack the Ripper kills his victims in! Mawhahaha (too much sugar)

8. Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier - Even if Santa doesn't bring the entire series, I really want the first book so I can start off this well-known series. I already read Marillier's Shadowfell, and I became an instant fan of her writing. She is a great fantasy writer, and I look forward to reading more of her books.

9. Unwind by Neal Shusterman - I'm especially psyched about reading this book sometime in the future. A freaky book exploring the possibility to abort (unwind) someone later in life? Definitely my cup of tea! I love freaking myself out, and how could the premise be any stranger? 

10. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin - When I was looking for some quality fantasy to read, I found so many positive reviews for this series. After reading the synopsis, I knew I had to read this book. Vicious power struggle? Gods and mortals? I love when books have gods actually in the book (almost like Greek gods that always interfered with humans' lives). 

My Amazon wish list was so long (encyclopedia long), but I managed to pick these top ten. I hope everybody gets what they want for Christmas! I will be posting my book haul soon enough.

Review: Lady Knight by Tamora Pierce

Sunday, December 23, 2012 10:59 AM
Title: Lady Knight
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: August 27, 2002
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Series: Protector of the Small #4
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 411
Source: Gift
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for First Test, Page and Squire*

“You are the Protector of the Small. You see real people in the humans and animals overlooked by your peers. There will always be work for you.”
― Tamora Pierce, Lady Knight

Keladry of Mindelan has finally achieved her life-long dream of being a knight. But it’s not turning out as she imagined at all. With the land of Tortall at war with the Scanrans, she has been assigned to oversee a refugee camp. But Kel has had a vision in the Chamber—a vision of the man behind the horrific battle machines that her fellow knights and friends are now fighting without her. She is torn between a duty she has sworn and a quest that she feels could turn the tide of the war. . .(Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Wow! What a finale for such an amazing series! Lady Knight had to be my favorite book in the Protector of the Small series (although Squire was right up there too). The rest of the series interlaced the positive with the negative, offering the ups and downs of a kingdom on the brink of, and eventually in the midst of, war with the Scanrans (Tortall's barbaric neighbors in the north). Yet Lady Knight was the darkest read of the entire series, offering an eye-opening view of the war and its casualties. I was not surprised in the slightest when my friend Amanda informed me that Pierce's writing was influenced by the 9/11 tragedy (which occurred during the creation of Lady Knight). The darker scenes made more sense to me after realizing the influence.

In My Mailbox (7)

9:21 AM

In My Mailbox is hosted by The Story Siren. With In My Mailbox, you post the books you've borrowed, received, etc over the past week. I cheated once again because I received a couple of these two weeks ago. Shhhh...don't tell.

-Sweetly by Jackson Pearce
-Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
-The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
-Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones

-Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty

-The Shack by WM. Paul Young

And this is definitely book related so I had to include my Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead (a present from the boyfriend)!

What was in your mailbox this week?

Review: Squire by Tamora Pierce

Wednesday, December 19, 2012 12:24 PM
Title: Squire 
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: May 22, 2001
Publisher: Bluefire
Series: Protector of the Small #3
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 399
Source: Gift
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for First Test and Page*
“I'm sick of this. Call me what you like, say I'm without honor, I don't care. I'm not getting on any more horses to whack you people with a stick.”
― Tamora Pierce, Squire

Fourteen-year-old Keladry of Mindelan is not your average squire. For one thing, she's a girl. For another, she's almost six feet tall. And most important of all, her ability to pass the Ordeal that soon confronts her may determine her kingdom's future.

When Kel is chosen by the legendary Lord Raoul to be his squire, the conservatives of the realm hardly think she’s up to the job. Kel earns respect and admiration among the men, as well as the affection of a fellow squire. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
I have to say that Squire, the third book of the Protector of the Small series, was my favorite so far of the series. Finally, Kel has left behind her training as a page, meaning she can also leave behind the palace, the page wing, and the training grounds. Don't get me wrong. As I said in my earlier reviews, I loved First Test and Page, but I was ready for a change of scenery and Squire brought just what I needed.

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012 (12)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 12:00 AM
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme has you post a top ten list with a bookish theme. I'm particularly excited about this one because I get to reminisce on this year's top books. Plus, how awesome is it that the top books of 2012 is my 12th top ten tuesday? Almost makes me want to do a top twelve instead of a top ten.

Top Ten Books I Read in 2012
The winners of 2012 are...drumroll please. And these are in no specific order of awesomeness.

1. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers - First off, the author's name is beautiful. ;) Secondly, this book was fantastic. I'm not a huge zombie fan, but this book was more about the humans than the zombies. It was such a wonderfully emotional book that left me craving more. Definitely a new favorite.

2. Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo - This Russian inspired fantasy literally took my breath away. I loved the Grisha and the Shadow Fold, and I cannot wait to read Siege and Storm so I can revisit Ravka. Bardugo excels in her storytelling and world building, and I was very impressed.

3. 11/22/63 by Stephen King - With 11/22/63, King has proven that he is skilled not only in writing horror but historical fiction as well. Every one of these 800 pages was worth the sacrifice of trees. It was wonderfully done, and my eyes were glued to the pages from start to finish.

4. The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson - I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book, and I'm not usually a fan of contemporary YA. I'd much rather pick
up a fantasy or horror book. But The Sky is Everywhere was so beautifully written and well-done, I wanted to reread it right after finishing. It was an emotional, gripping read!

5. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor - A favorite of almost everyone who reads it, Daughter of Smoke and Bone is truly a masterpiece of fantasy and the supernatural. With Taylor's skill, Prague comes alive with magic and paranormal forces. I didn't have a single complaint.

6. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson - I enjoyed this book even more than Girl of Fire and Thorns. The world building was wonderfully done, and I absolutely adored Elisa. She has to be one of my favorite heroines of all time. I raced through this book to the finish, and I immediately wanted The Bitter Kingdom.

7-8. Eon & Eona by Alison Goodman - After reading this series, I have had all the dragons I will ever need. Goodman excels in writing fantasy, and I thoroughly enjoyed this Asian inspired series. The breathtaking descriptions and excellent character development left me more than satisfied.

9. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness - What a horrific, shocking book! It left me reeling even after I finished, and I immediately purchased the rest of the series. I cannot wait to devour those books as well. Ness's writing has definitely left a lasting impression on me.

10. The Passage by Justin Cronin - I rave about this book far too much, but I can't help myself. Cronin has made a fan out of me with this truly terrifying vampire thriller. If you want horror and substance, The Passage offers both. There were 800 pages and I enjoyed every single one. I cannot wait to read The Twelve.

Of course there were many honorable mentions (Blood Red Road, Angelfall, The Scorpio Races, and Jellicoe Road) and it was hard to select just ten, but I finally did!

What are your top books of the year?

Review: Page by Tamora Pierce

Saturday, December 15, 2012 11:45 AM
Title: Page
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: May 23, 2000
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: Protector of the Small #2
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Pages: 288
Source: Gift
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

*Warning: This book review contains spoilers for First Test*
“Neal had a gift for making someone want to punch him just for saying hello”
― Tamora Pierce, Page

Kel fights to maintain the rigorous regimen of a page while confronting the prejudices that come with being a female in a man’s world and coping with a crush on her closest friend, Neal. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Let me begin by saying the synopses for this series are not the best. The longest one I found on Goodreads was ridden with spoilers (at least what I consider spoilers), so I decided to avoid that one.

In Page, Book 2 of the Protector of the Small series, Kel is no longer under probation. She has returned for her second year of training as a page, and has taken many of the people in court by surprise, including her training master and fellow pages. They had expected her to give up the previous year under the pressure of bullying and rigorous training, but Kel finished with flying colors. Now, she finds herself feeling differently about her friend and fellow page Neal, noticing his good looks while she wishes he could feel the same way. She also finds her gender brings some unwelcome changes. While new challenges present themselves, Kel discovers that Joren and his crew are not finished with their bullying, and Kel feels honor bound to defend first year pages from their unfair hazing. She makes new friends, but she still has to prove that a female can hold her own as a page. An opportunity to show her leadership skills presents itself when a group of bandits attacks some of the pages during a summer trip. Kel must take charge in order to save their lives.

Review: First Test by Tamora Pierce

Thursday, December 13, 2012 12:33 PM
Title: First Test 
Author: Tamora Pierce
Published: June 7, 1999
Publisher: Laurel Leaf
Series: Protector of the Small #1
Genre: Children's Fantasy
Pages: 256
Source: Gift
Rating: 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“You know, ogres only sound stupid. Most are pretty smart."
"And it's a shallow person who judges anyone by the way they sound. I'm so shallow I'm surprised I don't reflect myself.”
― Tamora Pierce, First Test

When Alanna became the King's Champion, it was decided that girls would henceforth be allowed to train for the knighthood. But ten years have passed, and no girls have come forward. Now, however, someone is about to change all that. Her name is Kel. In this first book in a new series from popular children's fantasy writer Tamora Pierce, we are introduced to a strong, adventurous new heroine who will win the hearts and minds of fantasy fans. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Tamora Pierce has to be one of my favorite fantasy authors. Time and again, she has transported me to the magical realm of Tortall and it's always difficult to return to reality after finishing one of her books. I'm ashamed to admit that I've had the Protector of the Small series sitting on my bookshelf for years, and I'm just reading it now. I loved Pierce's Song of the Lioness and Daughter of the Lioness series, and so far, I'm loving the Protector of the Small series.

Review: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Tuesday, December 11, 2012 10:31 PM
Title: The Raven Boys 
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Published: September 18, 2012
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Series: The Raven Cycle #1
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 408
Source: Purchased
Rating: 3.5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“She recognized the strange happiness that came from loving something without knowing why you did, that strange happiness that was sometimes so big that it felt like sadness.”
―Maggie Stiefvater, The Raven Boys

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
As with every other Maggie Stiefvater book, The Raven Boys starts off slow. Stiefvater loves to ease into the story, allowing the characters and the setting to settle before the plot advances considerably. Despite the slow beginning, I really enjoyed the first half of the book. The characters were richly developed, as Stiefvater detailed all of their quirks and oddities. While I found some of the names a little over the top and somewhat distracting, (Blue? seriously? my fish is named Blue) the premise and magical elements were insanely wild. The characters kept me guessing and I found them endlessly entertaining, especially the raven boys.

Review: The Running Man by Richard Bachman

Friday, December 7, 2012 12:51 PM
Title: The Running Man
Author: Richard Bachman (Stephen King)
Published: 1982
Genre: Adult Thriller, Dystopian
Pages: 241
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Borrowed
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
“In the year 2025, the best men don't run for president, they run for their lives. . . .”
― Stephen King, The Running Man

It's not just a game when you're running for your life.

Every night they tuned in to the nation's favorite prime-time TV game show.

They all watched, from the sprawling polluted slums to the security-obsessed enclaves of the rich. They all watched the ultimate live death game as the contestants tried to beat not the clock, but annihilation at the hands of the Hunters. Survive thirty days and win a billion dollar jackpot - that was the promise. But the odds were brutal and the game rigged. Best score so far was eight days.

And now there was a new contestant, the latest Running Man, staking his life while a nation watched. (Goodreads)
My Thoughts
Once again, Stephen King has blown me away with his writing. The Running Man was a fast-paced, action-packed thrill of a ride! As you can imagine, seeing as the book is a run for your life scenario, there is not a single dull moment. From beginning to finish, I was fascinated with the world King so grimly portrays - a world that enjoys watching a man get hunted down by the entire population. And that premise! So creative! So wild! The Running Man reality show makes Survivor look like a walk in the park. I'd rather be sitting on some island eating white rice with lice in my hair than ever be in Ben's position.
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