Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Top 13 of 2013

It's that time of year, where we talk about our favorites. A bit delayed because I've been on a reading binge for two weeks and wanted to count as many of those titles as possible. And of course, now that I’m done, I’m cheating a bit. I combined my three favorite companion series into one listing, because honestly, think about it, if I read three books by the same author in one year (more in some cases) don’t they deserve it? I also decided to let the 4 books on this list that I read in 2012, but came out in 2013, a bit separately so I could have my 13 for this year. The list isn’t in favorite order, but some approximation of order I read them.

Read in 2013: 

The Archived by Victoria Schwab - Oh Victoria. The world she created in this series is so entirely different from any other I’ve experienced. And her characters were so rich and vibrant. I also had to appreciate that, while there is a sequel, the plot of this book was very much wrapped up. Often I read the first book in a series and feel like I have to read the sequel because the story wasn’t finished. I only want to read The Unbound because Victoria’s a good writer and I love these characters.
The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson - Speaking of sequels, this is the best end to a trilogy I have read in my life so far. I’ve loved Hector and Elise for a long time. All of the books in the series have made my Top lists, in fact. But the way Rae Carson ended this story? It’s magical, guys. I’ve never read such a complete, well thought out end. Ugh. Just ugh. Go read this series.
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith - I fell in love with Jennifer’s last book, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. This one sounded even more like my kind of book because it has a famous person in it. And it’s also like three times as long and practically perfect in every way. I got her older YA, You Are Here, for Christmas and may or may not be prepared to kill a man for her next, The Geography of You and Me.

Picture Perfect/Subject to Change/Drop Everything Now by Alessandra Thomas - Picture Perfect was my first NA. Ever. And it’s probably my favorite. Except then I read Alessandra’s other books in this companion-ology and now I’m really not sure which is my favorite. In each story, the main character has legit college/20s related struggles, not just relationship problems. They’re all so incredibly realistic and about more than just sex and there’s fantastic character development and ugh. Ugh. I’m refusing to wait for her next book. REFUSING.
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell - I picked up this book after watching Rainbow and David Levithan act out a scene from the book. I decided after that magic that it had to be good. And oh, friends. I sat in my bed, procrastinating homework, and read the crap out of that book. Then I finished it and stared at it for several minutes, trying to not cry. Then I shoved my face in a pillow. Then I threw it on to my roommate’s bed. The amount of regrets I have about not sticking around that night to get it signed are immense. IMMENSE.

Infinityglass by Myra McEntire - I know I mentioned perfect endings to a trilogy with The Bitter Kingdom. But this one’s pretty much tied because it went about things in a different way. The perspective was from one character who was rather minor in the previous books and one character we’d never met. They had this amazing chemistry and incredible voices and the stories they had combined beautifully with the overall story arch and it was kind of a masterpiece.  

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell - Yet again, a scenario in which I already loved the author, but this time the plot line was SO more my style. Fangirl is kind of my life. Not word for word, but in spirit. I felt for Cath SO MUCH and then there was Levi. LEVI. And this book is so incredibly perfect I don’t want to hear a single word that says otherwise.

The Distance Between Us by Kasie West - This was definitely a case of Right Book at the Right Time. It was adorable and fluffy and the characters were so wonderful. It’s a really light read that on a normal day may have just been a fluff read, but with the incredible characters and story line and just being read at the right time, it became an instant favorite and Kasie West’s contemporaries will forever be on my shelves.

Beautiful Bastard/Beautiful Stranger/Beautiful Player by Christina Lauren - I’ve talked about my history with this series before. It’s long and immense and the authors are two of my favorite people ever. I don’t think I can really say anything else except that this series just got better with each book and I’m eagerly waiting for both their YA and their next adult series. 

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu - This was a bit of a surprise for me. I expected to enjoy it. I like Corey and a reading she did impressed me. But I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much. I groaned for Bea many times, feeling for her. This also came at a time someone in my life was being diagnosed with OCD after their own rather extreme event, so I really felt like I was getting it. I was getting OCD. It was really incredible how Bea was portrayed and I have to admire Corey for that so much. 

The Book Thief by Markus Zusack - I finally jumped on the bandwagon after being invited to the movie screening and Oh. My. God. Oh my God. This book. THIS BOOK. I was up until 6 am reading it and crying and now I’m making all my family members read it before seeing the movie. Another family member has since read it and then gifted it to another family member the same day she told a third family member to read it. DO IT.

Sex with the Queen by Eleanor Herman - This was a bit of non-fiction fun for me. I’ve been really into non-fiction for the past couple of weeks, and this is my favorite so far. The writing style is phenomenal and it balances telling a lot of stories with fleshing out the stories really well. I’m incredibly impressed with Herman and have ordered one of her other books with my Christmas money.

A Little Too Far/A Little Too Much/A Little Too Hot by Lisa Desrochers -  Lisa and I go way, way back to the first year or so of this blog. So when I found out she had an NA series? I was THERE. I mean, her YA was incredibly sexy and steamy, so imagine her NA. And she did not disappoint. At all. A Little Too Hot technically comes out next month, but I think it’s my favorite of the three. Mostly because of the plot twist I genuinely didn’t see coming. They’re so, so good guys. SO GOOD.

Read Before 2013:

Deception by C.J. Redwine - Maybe I’m biased, but C.J.’s series is one of my favorite dystopians ever, as proven by the fact I didn’t stop after book 1 and I actually remember what happens. There’s this wonderful balance of action and romance and friendship and it has a fantasy twist to it and just…love. All the love. Logan 4eva.
Spies and Prejudice by Talia Vance - I love Pride and Prejudice, so I was obviously on board. It’s also mixed with Veronica Mars, which I love. WHAT COULD POSSIBLE GO WRONG FOR ME? Nothing. Nothing went wrong for me. The characters and the storyline and it was fun and a nice twist on Pride and Prejudice and I loved it so much. I’ve been craving a reread for ages and that really does need to happen. Soon.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi - Another sequel! Another YA dystopian I adore and remember well. Tahereh has an incredible, distinct writing style and I love her villain. LOVE. This book just gets more twisty and crazy than Shatter Me was and I eagerly wait for Ignite Me. EAGERLY WAITS. *stares down anyone who gets in my way of this book*

Asunder by Jodi Meadows - Basically, 2013 was the year of Book 2 YA Dystopias Julie Loves. This is another that has a fantasy bend to it, but it’s still so different. I think I have a thing for dystopias that don’t fall in line as much. This one is…”softer” I guess? Still has a lot of action, but it felt less intense and violent, but still every bit as addicting and page turning. And the romance between Sam and Ana is one of my favorites ever. EVER.  

So, that was my year. There were some romance novels, other NA books, other contemporary YA, and non-fiction titles that almost made the cut, but not so much. And since I loved talking about these books, I may do some full reviews soon.


It doesn't feel like I've read many books this year. But, of the books I have read, there's been quite a few good ones. There's even been a few additions to my favourites shelves.

I'm not going to say anything about the books, like I usually do, because with some of them they seemed amazing when I read them but my feelings have dulled a little and I'm not sure which counts for more--that initial reaction, or the way I feel about them now (I will say which ones have made my all time favourites list though, my feelings for those haven't dulled at all).

These are in the order I read them in (I think), not order of preference:

1. Just One Day by Gail Forman
2. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
3. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell (Favourite)
4. The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
5. Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys
6. Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty (Favourite)
7. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein (Favourite)
8. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
9. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simmons (Favourite)
10. Carter Reed by Tijan (Favourite)
11. The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty (Favourite)
12. Poison by Bridget Zinn
13. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (Favourite)

And a few honorable mentions:
  • Regency romance novels by Eloisa James. I hadn't really read any of this genre until this year, but I read one of hers and basically, she sparked a love of the genre. I really recommend her fairytales and Duchess in Love quartet (not every book in each series is really good, but they're all enjoyable).
  • Jellicoe Road audio book. This is the first audio book I've ever listened to. Jellicoe Road is one of my favourite books anyway and I figured it'd be a good audio book to try first because I already love it. I didn't think I could sit and have a story read to me, but once you get used to having to pay attention to someone else's voice and get over the novelty of it, it's actually really good.
So...yeah, you should go check those out if you haven't already. What were some of your favourites from this year?


Stock image credit.

Monday, 23 December 2013

From Page to Screen (6)

I think it was the end of September that I last did one of these posts? So most of these updates are probably old news now, but I like to gather them all together in one place anyway in case anyone missed anything.

Plus, I wanted to ask you all what you thought of a couple of adaptations that have been released recently, so that'll be a new section.

Promotional stuff (trailers, clips, posters, etc.):
  • The Fault in Our Stars movie poster was released. Also, I've seen some gif sets floating around on
    tumblr of what looks like Shailene and Ansel filming some scenes (in Amsterdam? I think?), not sure what video it was from but you can see them here, and here, and here.
  • The first official clip for the Divergent movie has been released (and has successfully made me adore the dude playing Four). I think there's been some other Divergent related stuff released too but I've lost the list I had of things to include in this post...so...yeah, but you'll probably find it all on this fan site. You can watch the trailer here too, if you missed it.
  • Vampire Academy movie released a better trailer than the teaser they released a few months ago. There's also been quite a few stills from the movie released too, you can find those here (and that site seems to update more frequently with adaptation news, which is awesome).

  • This one is a bit older and might not appeal to everyone because it's French but here's the trailer for Belle et la Bete, the new adaptation of Beauty and the Beast. I think it looks pretty awesome, I just hope it's released at some point with subtitles/dubbed so I can watch it.
Casting Updates:
  • Fifty Shades of Gray has had a casting change (Jamie Dornan playing Christian now instead of Charlie Hunnam), as well as a bunch of new casting updates. You can see the cast list here. And there's a video of them filming a scene here.
  • Jennifer Lawrence is playing the lead in Burial Rites. This news is pretty old, but it didn't really register with me until I bought the book and then stumbled across the movie news for it again.
  • Mockingjay has had some casting updates too. I can't remember which are old and which are new, so you can just check out the current cast list here.
  • And I can't even remember if I knew this movie was happening, but Naomi & Ely's No Kiss List (based on the book by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan) seems to have a full cast list, with Victoria Justice and Pierson Fode as the leads. I'm excited to see this one as a movie, I didn't enjoy the book as much as Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, but it might work better in movie form.
Older stuff/rights sold:
So this is stuff I stumbled across while finding links for this post and most of it is quite a few months old so it's old news but new to me and some of them sound pretty interesting.
  • MTV are doing an adaptation of Shannara, a series of fantasy novels by Terry Brooks (it will be based on the second book in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara).
  • ABC Studios are doing an adaptation of Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld. I haven't read that book, but I have Prep, one of the authors other novels, on my shelf somewhere waiting to be read.
  • There's an adaptation of Room by Emma Donnoghue in the works.
  • The movie rights to Elusion by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam were sold too (I think this news is really old, but I don't think the novel is even released until early 2014).
Opinions (mine, and tell me yours):
Catching Fire: So I wasn't actually looking forward to the movie. I didn't follow the production or anything the way I did with the first, I showed little interest in casting updates and all that--maybe because I am thoroughly burned out on the dystopian genre. But yeah, I wasn't excited, but I saw the movie anyway and it was actually really awesome. It made me cry at the right parts, it stayed true to the book, it wasn't boring and I really loved the cast and just...it was awesome, I loved it. Way more than the first movie actually.

Frozen: As far as adaptations go, it wasn't particularly faithful to the original story, it was clearly just inspired by it. But anyway...I really liked it.

There's been a lot of complaining online--mostly on tumblr--about this movie, with people claiming it's
anti-feminist (I disagree), that the plot/characters are bad (mostly disagree), that it's guilty of white washing (I kind of disagree, but I see where they're coming from, because a certain character could have been a person of colour and it would've been awesome if he was, but him not being a person of colour isn't necessarily inaccurate either), and mostly about the appropriation of Sami culture (this I mostly agree with, but I do think it's possible to like a movie whilst still acknowledging its issues).

Basically, the movie wasn't as amazing as I hoped it would be and, in hindsight, I think it would've been pretty awesome if Disney had done a bit more research and maybe consulted some actual Sami people when trying to write a Sami character, but it was still a fun movie to watch.

The animation was gorgeous, it felt very magical and wintery. The music...wasn't brilliant, it had two songs that I liked but I wish they'd chosen a more suitable voice actress for Elsa--as much as I adore Idina Menzel, she made Elsa sound way, way, way older than she was supposed to be.

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland: I was really looking forward to this show for months, and I'm actually
really enjoying it. The animation isn't particularly good, but it's watchable. I love the characters and the fact that the female characters especially are really awesome.

I love the Alice/Cyrus relationship too, because they're equals unlike those stories that will have the guys lie or make decisions for the girls because they're trying to protect them/do what's best for them, Cyrus is honest with Alice and he lets her choose what's best for her, and he doesn't underestimate her and her abilities either (and seems pretty content to let her do the rescuing too).

The characters in this one are just awesome and the villains make more sense than in the regular Once Upon a Time. Plus, the dude that plays Cyrus has an awesome smile. I think they could've gotten a better actress to play Alice, but she has her moments and she has good chemistry with Cyrus and the Knave, so that's something.

The Book Thief: This isn't my opinion, seeing as I've not seen the movie yet, but Julie has (she got to go to
a screening and I think she went to a Q&A type thing or something with the cast too?) and I wanted to link
her post about that for anyone who missed it.

Have any of you watched/been watching any of these? What are your thoughts (on the ones I talked about, and the other updates)?


Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Grave Matters by Jana Oliver

Note: The summary of this will have some spoilers of the Demon Trappers series.
Grave Matters
by Jana Oliver

Summary: A Demon Trappers Novella

A legendary Demon Trapper, Riley Blackthorne frequently battles with Hell’s minions. So when she travels to Scotland to meet up with her hunky boyfriend, and celebrate her eighteenth birthday, she’s thrilled at the chance to leave Atlanta and its troubles behind.

Denver Beck, who has been studying for months to become a Grand Master – a rare and highly dangerous job -- is just as eager to see his girl. He’s anticipating a romantic reunion, keen to take their relationship to the next level.

But Riley’s twisted history with Hell has garnered unwelcome interest by people willing to use her for their own purposes. Trouble is brewing in the land of the heather, the kind that will drive a wedge between her and Beck, and prove the ultimate test of their love . . . and their survival skills.

Bonus content includes demon illustrations and two Demon Trappers short stories. 
So, this is a novella about Riley and Beck, set a while after the final book in the Demon Trappers series (awesome series, check it out if you haven't read it). It's available to buy in paperback or ebook, or it can be read for free in installments on Jana's website.

The novella was...cute. It wasn't amazing though. It was nice seeing a few of my favourite characters but it mostly just left me craving more of the actual series instead of providing more closure on what happens to them and their relationship post-final book. I almost wish I hadn't read it for that reason--it could've easily been setting up for another full novel with the way it ended (I so wish it was).

The phonetically written accents bugged me way more in this than the rest of the series (phonetically written accents--particularly my own accent--are one of my biggest writing pet peeves ever, but the books are good enough for me to overlook that). Maybe it's just because the novella is set in Scotland so there was more Scottish accent going on (my accent) and so it seemed more annoying (and I was way more nitpicky with it).

Also, about the setting, I think that people who aren't from Scotland may enjoy the setting of the novella more than I did (for some reason I just don't enjoy stories set here, particularly when the main characters aren't from here so they view it through a tourists eyes--anyone else get like that about their hometown/country?).

Basically, I think the story is worth reading if you're a fan of the Demon Trappers series, but I think maybe it's best to just get the e-book or read the free version (or at least check out a couple of installments of the free one before buying a physical copy). I sort of wish I hadn't spent money on the paperback--it had quite a few typos and I didn't love it in that I need this on my shelf sort of way, but I suppose it'll be nice to have with the rest of the series.

And that's all I have to say about this.


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Sapphire Blue & Emerald Green by Kerstin Gier

I'll only add the summary for the second book, to avoid spoilers (the review is pretty spoiler free too).

Sapphire Blue & Emerald Green
by Kerstin Gier
Summary: Gwen’s life has been a rollercoaster since she discovered she was the Ruby, the final member of the secret time-traveling Circle of Twelve. In between searching through history for the other time-travelers and asking for a bit of their blood (gross!), she’s been trying to figure out what all the mysteries and prophecies surrounding the Circle really mean.

At least Gwen has plenty of help. Her best friend Lesley follows every lead diligently on the Internet. James the ghost teaches Gwen how to fit in at an eighteenth century party. And Xemerius, the gargoyle demon who has been following Gwen since he caught her kissing Gideon in a church, offers advice on everything. Oh, yes. And of course there is Gideon, the Diamond. One minute he’s very warm indeed; the next he’s freezing cold. Gwen’s not sure what’s going on there, but she’s pretty much destined to find out.
I'm reviewing these two together because 1) I literally read them one right after the other so they're kind of merged in my mind and 2) I don't have much to say about them individually.

I really, really enjoyed this series. It's not going to be one of those "OMG, this is so amazing!"-all-time-favourite series'... it was just really entertaining and fun to read, and when I finished one book I'd find myself desperately wanting to start the next one (which I did with these two).

The romance kind of annoyed me more in these two than the first one. Mostly because it felt more insta-love. In the first book, it seemed more like a crush/an attraction but with this one it jumps right into the Love territory, even though only about a week passes from the first page of the first book to the last page of the final book.

So yeah, that bugged me. I can handle a crush, but it gets a bit annoying when they're throwing around the L-word and being all dramatic about someone they've only known a handful of days.

I wished Gwen would speak up a bit more too. When the Guardians or a few of her relatives are treating her badly, she just takes it most of the time and I wish we'd gotten a few good scenes of her putting them in their place, because her character definitely had that in her (she does stand up to Gideon sometimes). So that was a bit frustrating.

The other characters were great, I loved the demon ghost especially, he made me laugh out loud a few times.
And I loved that it felt like the plot was picking up pace in this one, while the first book felt like not much happened. Although, it annoyed me that they seemed to take a stupid amount of time to figure out things that were blatantly obvious--like, the prophecies, they may be worded a little weirdly but a monkey could figure out the gist of what they're saying, so why does it take so long to click with them? *headdesk*

But...yeah. This review is seeming more critical than positive, which wasn't my intention. I guess my point is that there are things that annoyed me about the books, little things that were frustrating to read, but I couldn't stop reading them. I genuinely enjoyed reading them, from start to finish and I really recommend the series if you want a something that is fun but not too...emotionally draining/heavy.

Overall, I'd rate the series 3.5 stars out of 5 (maybe 4, if I rate on pure enjoyability).



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