Monday, January 30, 2012

Cover Crazy: Peaceweaver

Cover Crazy is a weekly meme hosted by The Book Worms on Mondays. The idea is to showcase a beautiful book cover each week.

This week, I'm crazy about...
Peaceweaver, by Rebecca Barnhouse

At first glance, the cover for Peaceweaver may seem like nothing special, but on second glance, there are so many things that I love about it.

First, it is an illustrated cover. No matter the subject, an illustrated cover scores points with me. There is so much more to an illustrated cover than a photographic one, as lovely as the photographic cover may be. The colors are bright and brilliant, and the red of Hild's dress pops against the browns and greens of the rest of the cover.

Second, it features a girl with a sword! I've mentioned before how much I love girls with swords. There's something so fun in reading about sword-swinging females. It's always made me wish I knew how to use a sword myself. And what's more, you can't see her face, so not only can you make up your own image for the character, I can't help but imagine myself as that girl - I don't care that she's charging at a monster, I want to be her. In any case, she looks like she could do some serious damage.

Third, the question brings up as many questions as it provides answers. The creature seems to be reaching for Hild, but not necessarily trying to attack her. Is she attacking the creature, or fleeing to it for safety? Is the creature holding the rock to crush her with, or is it trying to protect the rock? And the title Peaceweaver seems to contradict the scene, which seems anything but peaceful...

Want to know more about Peaceweaver?
Summary (from Goodreads):
This is historical fantasy at its best. Sixteen-year-old Hild has always been a favorite of her uncle, king of the Shylfings. So when she protects her cousin the crown prince from a murderous traitor, she expects the king to be grateful. Instead, she is unjustly accused of treachery herself.

As punishment, her uncle sends Hild far away to the heir of the enemy king, Beowulf, to try to weave peace between the two kingdoms. She must leave her home and everyone she loves. On the long and perilous journey, Hild soon discovers that fatigue and rough terrain are the least of her worries. Something is following her and her small band of guards—some kind of foul creature that tales say lurks in the fens. Will Hild have to face the monster? Or does it offer her the perfect chance to escape the destiny she never chose?

Rebecca Barnhouse's companion to The Coming of the Dragon is sure to appeal to younger fans of Tamora Pierce, Esther Friesner, and Shannon Hale.

What do you think of the cover for Peaceweaver?
Leave your thoughts in the comments!

What are you crazy about this week?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: Pegasus

by Robin McKinley
Age recommendation: Young Adult
Hardcover, 404 pages
Published November 2nd 2010 by Putnam Juvenile
Series: Pegasus #1

Summary (from Goodreads)
Because of a thousand-year-old alliance between humans and pagasi, Princess Sylviianel is ceremonially bound to Ebon, her own Pegasus, on her twelfth birthday. The two species coexist peacefully, despite the language barriers separating them. Humans and pegasi both rely on specially-trained Speaker magicians as the only means of real communication.

But its different for Sylvi and Ebon. They can understand each other. They quickly grow close-so close that their bond becomes a threat to the status quo-and possibly to the future safety of their two nations.

My Review
Before I started Pegaus, I was a little wary because of some reviews I'd read, especially Small's, but I'm a little more patient than Small, so I was prepared to enjoy Pegasus's apparently leisurely pace. When I was reading it, I was hoping for a "it started out slow, but I'm glad I stuck with it" kind of book, but when I finished, I totally understood the problems people had with it.

I really, really wanted to love this book. So many of the notes I jotted down while reading were variations on, "I didn't love _(fill in the blank)_, but I can see why she would do that." But try as I might, I could not get over the slow pacing. I got over the infodump at the beginning - although it was not ideal, I can see why McKinley included it, but throughout, the pacing was harder to get over. If the extra slowness of the plot was important in order to establish a connection with the character (like the beginning of A Curse Dark as Gold, I would have  understood. But halfway into the book, I felt like I was still getting into the beginning of the real story.

The writing is beautiful, and I liked the characters well enough, but I kept waiting for some excitement, and none came. While events did occur, I never felt really invested, nor did I see a larger point to what was going on. I felt much like an outside spectator, and while what I was seeing was pretty, I was not personally involved.

I think what this story needed was to take the entire plotline of the planned trilogy and make it all into one book. As Pegasus did not wrap up very many loose ends before concluding, it would have been perfectly fine to extend it into a longer story. That way, the reader would get the story and the beautiful writing, but all of the excess scenes where nothing happens - and yes, there are quite a few; McKinley seemed to enjoy writing about every day in between the important events in order to create a mood and strengthen characterization and relationships - would be cut. There needed to be far more plot. I wasn't swept away by the story- one of my favorite parts of reading a good book - because there was so little story to be swept away by.

Overall Thoughts: McKinley is obviously a wonderful writer, and I love her style and earlier works, but Pegasus is nothing to rush out for.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Review: The Coming of the Dragon

by Rebecca Barnhouse
Age Recommendation: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published October 26th 2010 by Random House Books for Young Readers
Series: Standalone, but companion book Peaceweaver coming out in March 2012.

Summary (from Goodreads)
When he was a baby, Rune washed up onshore in a boat, along with a sword and a pendant bearing the runes that gave him his nickname. Some people thought he was a sacrifice to the gods and wanted to send him right back to the sea. Luckily for Rune, King Beowulf disagreed. He lifted the boy from the boat and gave him to Amma, a wisewoman living on a farm far removed from the king’s hall, to raise as she saw fit.

Sixteen years later, Rune spends his summers laboring on the farm. And at King Beowulf’s request, he comes to the hall each winter for weapons training. But somehow he never quite fits in. Many people still fear he will bring a curse on the kingdom. Then a terrible thing happens. On a lonely crag on a mountain that belongs to the giants, someone awakens a dragon. It is time for Rune to find the warrior inside himself and prove to the doubters once and for all that he is a true hero.

Spoilers that are revealed in the epic Beowulf are hidden in Orange.
Spoilers that are not revealed in Beowulf are hidden in Purple.

My Review
Some parts of The Coming of the Dragon were very enjoyable. Others, less so. Barnhouse obviously has  talent as a writer, but the retelling of Beowulf was not very interesting to me. Once she struck out into her own story, the entire book became much more engaging.

The Retelling
The early parts of The Coming of the Dragon went very slowly even for my standards, which are pretty patient. I appreciated all of the detail Barnhouse put into the story, but I didn't connect with Rune, which made it difficult to get through the story.

The retelling aspect didn't really work for me. Many of the characters, Rune especially, felt somewhat shallow, as if Barnhouse made up backstories to fit their eventual actions, rather than letting the backstories inform the actions. (Of course, that is exactly what she did do, so it's understandable, but it could have been executed better). Rune passed my version of Small Review's WWMCD (What would main character do) test every time, not because of any great depth in his character, and not because the Beowulf story constrained him (although that was part of it) but because he was so predictable. He had the same thought processes over and over, making it very easy to guess what he'd do next.

After the Retelling
Once Beowulf dies, everything seemed to pick up. All at once, the charaters seemed deeper and more likable, Rune was easier to understand, the mystery of his family was more interesting. Once Barnhouse was on her own, without the Beowulf story to stick to, everything seemed to get better.

My favorite character, although she got very little page time, was undoubtedly Hild. She seemed like such a strong character, and I just loved that Barnhouse let her save the day rather than Rune. She seems like such a great character. I can't wait to get to know her better in Peaceweaver, the companion novel to The Coming of the Dragon, coming out in March.

P.S. Bonus points for having a character named Finn! I have an affinity for characters named Finn, which I suspect comes from Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern.  But somehow Finns tend to be really good characters, and The Coming of the Dragon was no exception.

Overall Thoughts: Barnhouse can (and did) write an engaging story in the time period of Beowulf. While retelling the epic was not her strength, the worldbuilding was excellent and once she was out of the constraints the retelling demanded, it was clear to see her strength as a writer.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Discussion: Audience

I was recently invited to be part of a group that chooses the required summer reading for my school. After discussing with the group during our first meeting what we should be generally looking for, I realized that I should be looking to nominate not necessarily my favorite books, but the books that would appeal to the audience we were choosing for - namely, teenagers, many of whom have not picked up a book for pleasure in years.

I run into this issue with surprising frequency. One of my best friends, as fun as he is, is not a reader. (We make fun of each other for reading too much, or not enough, all the time.) I've been on a quest to find a book for him for some time. For him in particular, I decided I need to find a graphic novel to pique his interest.

But back to the matter of the summer reading book. Whereas with my non-reader friend, I know that he could love a graphic novel if I could find him the perfect one, it's a little more difficult with a required reading book for a large audience. Much as I'd like to require everyone to read Rapunzel's Revenge, that doesn't seem like the right choice. With a large group of people, we have to figure out what the largest audience will enjoy.

I figure for this kind of audience, the book would need:
  • Action
  • Romance (but not too much!)
  • Good writing
  • Thought-provoking
  • Appeals to both boys and girls
  • Not too long
  • Fast read (not too dense)
  • Accessible (in terms of connecting with characters, etc.)
  • Both students and teachers can enjoy

The question is now, what kind of book has all of these things?

I came up with... dystopia. It has action, social commentary, usually romance, character development, good writing and appeal to both girls and boys.
What's not to like?

I know I left a couple of fantastic dystopians out (Shatter Me, Wither, etc.) but here are some of the choices I thought the largest percentage of people would enjoy.

What do you think?
What kind of books will be enjoyable to the largest audience? What are some of your recommend-to-everyone books? What books have I left out that I should be considering? Leave your thoughts in the comments section!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Review: Legend

by Marie Lu
Age Recommendation: Young Adult
Hardcover, 305 pages
Published November 29th 2011 by Putnam Juvenile
Series: Legend, book 1

Summary (from Goodreads)
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

My Review
Often, the cover of a book doesn't quite tell the whole story (says the blogger who has a feature called "Judge A Book by its Cover"). The cover of Legend by Marie Lu, unlike many of the covers adorning young adult books today, offers more of an insight into what the story brings. It is not cluttered, but what is there makes an impact. It is stark but memorable, and in its own way, it is beautiful. In a year chock-full of wonderful dystopians, Legend manages to stand out in its own unique way.

The strength of Legend comes from its characters. Too often in new dystopians, the characters, especially the supporting characters are neglected in favor of the excitement of the action and twists and turns of plot. In Legend, both Day and June were fully fleshed out, and every character was three-dimensional. They were people rather than background introduced in order to fill in the space between point A and point B. Even Metias, who is murdered near the beginning of the book (that's not a spoiler; it's in the summary), is a fully fleshed out character. In fact, not only would both Day and June pass Small Review's incredibly useful WWMCD (what would main character do) test with flying colors, Metias would pass the test. Thomas, Metias's best friend and June's friend and protector, would pass. Tess, the girl who scavenges the streets with Day, would pass. I felt like I knew every character. The story has plenty of action, but it is not overly action-packed. Marie Lu did an excellent job of balancing the different parts of the story.

I loved the swtiching points of view between Day and June. In the beginning, each is so convinced of the other's villainy, and each thinks he or she is in the right. And as the story develops, it is clear that they are both true heroes, and they are able to discover the other's heroism. Each character's chapters have their own font and color, so there is never a chance of confusion. Even without the coloring and font, there is little chance of confusion, as each character has their own unique voice. And each character has their own perspective on the story, so the reader gets to experience two sides of the same story, with all the biases and experiences that each character brings to it, up until the end, when they realize they're on the same side.

One of the ways Legend stood out from the rest was the path it chose to take regarding plot. Many dystopians out there repeat the same themes and plot points. Legend did not stick to the traditional path of dystopians. It had an original and intriguing plot, and I never quite knew what was going to happen next.  Another unique feature was the way Legend actually used the setting of once-America as part of the story rather than just using it as a place to put the story. I really appreciated the way Marie Lu incorporated the history we know about rather than purely making up her own, with no no knowledge from before the big whatever that destroyed civilization as we knew it.

Although part of a trilogy, Legend works (really well!) as a standalone. I actually didn't know it was part of a trilogy until after I finished it. The ending is not a cliffhanger, but will leave you begging for more because the story was just so good.

Overall Thoughts: One of the best dystopians out there. Highly recommended.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Review: Triple Ripple

by Brigid Lowry
Age Recommendation: Young Adult (on the younger side)
Paperback, 252 pages
Published November 28th 2011 by Allen & Unwin
Series: none

Summary (from Goodreads)
Combining fairytale with a modern girl's story, this story skillfully weaves together three tales and reveals the magic of the writer's creative journey.

The Writer begins with a sparkly good idea for a fabulous fairytale. A girl called Glory is sent to work in the Royal Palace, where the queen is planning a grand ball and a bad-tempered princess is sorting through jewels and tiaras. And, unknown to Glory, the threads of her destiny are coming together. Meanwhile, Nova is reading the fairytale—they are not usually her thing, but right now she's feeling a bit messy and lost. Her best friend has gone away and bitchy Dylan is hassling her. Still, Nova is curious to find out why Glory's mother is scrabbling under the bed for an old magic book. Can the Writer make everything turn out happily ever after? Will the princess find true love? Will Glory escape a secret curse? And can Nova smooth out the lumps and bumps in her life?

My Review
Triple Ripple was very difficult to start. In the first few pages, I had to keep reminding myself that it had to get better. It must be this bad in the beginning on purpose, and it was all part of a larger plot to show character growth on the part of the writer that the story gets better. Well, it does get better, but for the most part my first impression was correct; although there were some good bits, overall it was nothing wonderful. The the writer section was unusual but good,  fairytale was fun but not well-written, and the reader section was well done and a good read, but not developed enough.

The Writer
I liked the writer’s section because it focused a lot on small moments in everyday life. A good example of this was the first line of the book: “The writer lives in a house of many teapots.” That is such a great image, and it does give quite an insight into the writer's character. In fact, I think I know the writer better than any of the other characters, even though she is never named or described. I liked reading about the actual writing process less, because the writer seemed to be so wrapped up in and invested in a not-very-good fairytale.

An example of a “The Writer” section:
“The writer wonders if anyone will ever read this thing, and who they will be. If only createivity wasn’t so random. Sometimes it flows like a river, sometimes it tumbles like a fountain, then for no apparent reason it dries up to the odd drip from a broken tap. Broken tap days are hard. She wanders around a park, eats a very rich Florentine she’s been saving for such an occasion, draws a picture in seven shades of blue. Then she begins to write.”

The Fairytale
The fariytale bit was fun but a little bit silly and not well written; I didn’t really care what happened but I liked it as an intermediary between the writer and the reader. Also, I was districted by modern phrases mixed with overly formal fantasy-type writing. Additionally, the story took place in generic once-upon-a-time land, and was kind of a generic once-upon-a-time story. Actually, while I was reading, I was consciously thinking, this is really badly written. The characters were shallow and cliched, and the plot was nothing special. Overall, I wasn’t very impressed, but it worked as part of the larger story, and although it was not that "good," I didn't dislike it - it was a lot like reading the story of someone just beginning to write, almost like a longer version of what I'd read from my middle school creative writing class.

The Reader
I really liked the reader’s story but it didn’t feel developed enough, probably because the reader was less than a third of the book. Also, immediately it seemed overly obvious the parallels between the story and the reader’s life, but after the beginning, the story seemed to drift off in its own way. I couldn't see how the reader's life was connected to the other two stories, and she didn't seem affected by her reading the book. Yes, it is mentioned, but it is not more than a minor detail in her life. I liked the idea of Nova's story, but it seemed to need a short story or a book of its own. It didn't really fit with the rest of the book. Also, in the reader’s story there is a little cursing, which I didn’t mind personally but seemed out of place in an otherwise light book, and some Australian (?) slang, which I mostly skipped over.

The Format
The chapters in Triple Ripple are very short, which works for the style, but is a little disconcerting at first when one seems to be constantly switching between different stories. Each chapter had a relatively longish fantasy section (usually about 5-10 pgs), short author section (usually about a page, sometimes less), medium length reader section (usually about 3-5 pages), and then back to fantasy.

There was one part about ¾ through the book where the writer seemed to be rewriting the reader’s story, which really confused me. At first I didn’t get what was happening and I thought Brigid Lowry had made a mistake and accidentally written the same section two different ways (which I have seen before, but not for more than a few lines).

Also, the writer, reader, and story are all in different fonts to go with the different writing styles, which I liked because it separated the stories, but in some parts it made them feel so disconnected that I almost felt like I was reading three short stories at the same time.

Overall Thoughts: My opinion of the book is very similar to my opinion of the cover: some elements were good, some were less so, but put together it didn't quite fit. Overall, I thought it was good, but nothing special. I liked the idea, but I think if it had gone through a couple more drafts it could have been a lot better.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of Triple Ripple in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Review: A Curse Dark as Gold

by Elizabeth C. Bunce
Age Recommendation: Young Adult
Hardcover, 396 pages
Published March 1st 2008 by Arthur A. Levine Books
Series: none

Summary (from Goodreads)
Charlotte Miller has always scoffed at talk of a curse on her family's woolen mill, which holds her beloved small town together. But after her father's death, the bad luck piles up: departing workers, impossible debts, an overbearing uncle. Then a stranger named Jack Spinner offers a tempting proposition: He can turn straw into gold thread, for the small price of her mother's ring. As Charlotte is drawn deeper into her bargains with Spinner-and a romance with the local banker-she must unravel the truth of the curse on the mill and save the community she's always called home.

My Review
A Curse Dark as Gold was the perfect historical fantasy. Although historical fantasy is a genre I enjoy, it's not one I read much of, and this one incorporated so many elements that I enjoyed. The story begins just after the death of Charlotte's father, leaving Charlotte and her sister Rosie to take over responsibility for the family mill, called Stirwaters. Although they do their best, whispers of a curse on Stirwaters begin to circulate as, through bad luck, everything seems to be coming apart.

It started out a little slow, but as I found out later, the slow beginning was just what the story needed in order to build up the tension of the later parts. Charlotte's world is based very firmly in a historical setting, and the magic is introduced so slowly that it doesn't seem to intrude upon the real world. Bunce takes the beginning to set up the world and really let the reader meet the characters and understand them before introducing the fantastical elements.

The setting for A Curse Dark as gold is highly historical, taking place on the cusp of the industrial revolution, and the characters fit right into the world. Bunce writes her characters wonderfully. I felt as if I knew everyone in Shearing (the town), and even the villain was a shade of gray (albeit a darker shade). The characters stay with you, almost as if they glide out of the book and follow you noiselessly around.

Charlotte, as the main character, was most developed of all. I could almost hear her voice in my head, and she passed Small Review's WWMCD (What Would Main Character Do) test nearly every time. Although Charlotte's stubbornness was a little frustrating to read of at times, I grew to love her character - and everyone around her. I even found sympathy for a few characters I was not expecting to care about in the least. But with Charlotte especially, I felt like I knew her so well that I could easily be her friend outside of the book.

And Randall – Randall was wonderful. He's the kind of character one might dismiss, but is really holding the story together. Without Randall, Charlotte would have fallen apart, as she herself admits. He is so unassuming and obviously loves Charlotte so much. It was a pleasant surprise to see how fond I'd grown of him.

The plot of A Curse Dark as Gold was surprisingly complex. I was expecting a straightforward retelling in a historical setting, and I got so much more than that. The story stands on its own far beyond the tale it's based on. All of the subplots that, although intriguing, seem unconnected come together to create a complex and tightly woven story (pun not intended) that all fits together in unexpected ways.

Overall Thoughts: Surprising and wonderful. The historical element adds an extra layer of richness, and the characters are strong and real. I'd happily read this again, and I've added it to my list of wonderful fairy tale retellings.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Busting the Newbie Blues

Small from Small Review is hosting a monthlong event called Busting the Newbie Blues in which new and experinced get together to help new bloggers get settled in the blogosphere.

My answers to the Busting the Newbie Blues Questionnaire are as follows. I chose to answer the "newbie" questions, although I think I'm more on the cusp of becoming an established blogger.

When did you start your blog? I started my blog over a year ago; April 22, 2010.

Why did you start your blog? I had this idea of creating a website to share my thoughts on the books I read. (At this point I had no idea such a thing already existed.) I tried a couple of different ideas, one of which was a homemade Goodreads-type site, where I literally created every page on a WYSIWYG editor, finally settling on a blog as the best choice.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far? Spreading the word about my blog. I had a follower spike in September, when I hosted a giveaway for Squeaky Books birthday bash, but for the most part my followers and pageviews have been increasing very little.

What do you find most discouraging about being a new blogger? When you try to put your thoughts down, and it seemed like everyone else can say the same thing so much more eloquently.

What do you find most encouraging? When people comment, and when I find new blogging friends, like Small. Also, my favorite thing about blogging is that it gives me a place in the book blogging community. I don't know how I found my books before I began reading all of these great book blogs.

What do you like best about the blogs you read? Have you tried to replicate this in your blog? I like interesting and fun reviews, and when bloggers are generally nice. Yes, I have tried to replicate this.

What do you dislike about blogs you’ve read? Do you try to avoid this? I dislike a blog cluttered with memes, and blogs that talk overmuch about unrelated topics, such as TV shows. (Talking a little bit about yourself every now and then does not count as "unrelated topics.") Yes, I try to avoid this.

Any advice for other new bloggers? Keep going! The more you blog, the better you'll get. Even if it seems like there's no one reading, it never hurts keep going, especially if blogging is fun (and it should be!). And the readers will come, eventually. Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. There are a lot of super nice people out there, who would be glad to help you out.

Is there anything you’d like to tell us about your blog? Feel free to link a few of your favorite posts or posts you wish had more comments. I'd love to hear from you. If you only leave a comment telling me what you thought of the book, I'm super happy to receive it. And I will definitely reply (eventually ☺), so check back. Here is a list of books I've reviewed on this blog. Do I have some of your favorite books? What should I check out next?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top 11 of '11

So many books were just on the very cusp on making this list. I read so many wonderful books in 2011. This list is not limited to books published in 2011, but only those that I read for the first time in 2011.

Thank you to Enna Isilee for the idea for "Best 11 of '11"

The order is somewhat flexible, because once it's narrowed down to 11, any one of the books could take the top spot.

11. Breadcrumbs
This isn't a book I'd recommend to everyone, but I loved it. Ursu did a great job with this retelling. This is definitely a memorable book, and I'm very glad to have read it.

10. Graceling & Fire
Why, yes, I am cheating. Graceling and Fire count as one book on this list, because I honestly could not choose between them. Both are wonderful, wonderful books. I would love to reread them both. I can't wait for Bitterblue, the third book in the trilogy, to come out in May.

9. Poison Study, by Maria V. Snyder
What does it say about a book when your copy is falling apart less than half a year after you buy it? In Poison Study's case, it means that I loved it... and then I lent it to a bunch of my friends, who loved it as well. If we have anything to argue about in regard to this book, it's the pronunciation of Ixia, rather than whether it was great, because it was definitely great. (my review)

8. Across the Universe
One of my first 2011 reads, Across the Universe still shines a year later. Revis's debut is sure to stay one of my favorites for years to come. As beautiful inside as out, Across the Universe leaves you thinking, and ready to pick it up and start over from the beginning.

7. Icefall
Icefall was an unexpectedly strong story about the power of stories and the growth of a girl who had no place. Sure to become a long-time favorite, this MG hits all the right notes.  (my review)

6. Goliath
Eagerly anticipated, Goliath did not disappoint in any way. I loved the conclusion to Westerfeld's wonderful trilogy. I gobbled it up eagerly, and loved every moment. (my review)

5. Matched
Matched was so lovely, it definitely deserves a place on this list. Condie's stories are beautiful, and her writing is even more so.  

I can't choose between my top four - it was difficult enough narrowing it down to these.

All four of these books were amazing. Divergent was a riveting dystopian that I read in one sitting because I could not put it down until I finished. The Near Witch had the most beautiful writing I've ever read, and wonderful story to go with it. (my reviewChime was excellent in all respects; it deserves a place on everyone's bookshelf. Daughter of Smoke and Bone just barely made the list, as I finished it just hours before the new year. Nonetheless, it was a fantastic story that will stay in my mind for a very long time. All eleven of these books will have a special place on my shelf and a reread in the near future. 

Do you have a "Best of 2011" list? Have you read any of my favorites? Let me know in the comments!

Welcome in, 2012!

Happy New Year! 
2011 has been a wonderful year for me. I read a ton of fantastic books, really began blogging, and had a lot of fun.

I read 218 books this year (more than my Goodreads count because GR doesn't count rereads), posted 233 posts, and wrote 56 reviews. For next year, I hope to read 200 books again, and keep on blogging through the year.

Here's to hoping that the new year will bring just as many wonderful experiences, both inside and outside the pages.


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