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Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Have a safe and responsible New Year, everyone!



And a rollicking good one, while you're at it! ;p


*image from the Dapper Rat, one of my fave rattie sites!

End of Year Survey [FEEDBACK, PLEASE!]

Hiya, kittens!  Well, the year is coming to an end, and I just wanted to do a quick little survey to help me figure out the future of Book Rat.  It's completely anonymous, so no worries about offending me (I don't offend too easy anyway...)  Just want some feedback on what you liked and didn't like, etc.  
So if you have a sec, please use it to fill out this form.  I'll ♥ you forever! 
THX!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Years Goals + 2011 Events

I've never been one to make a lot of New Years Resolutions; I know myself too well.   But I do feel like if I say things aloud (or in writing via the interwebs, I guess), and other people know about them, it makes me more likely to feel a sense of responsibility and what have you -- I've put it out there in the world, and now I've got to stick with it.  That was actually one of the reasons I started blogging.  I wanted to remember the things I'd read better, and express how I felt about them, and I kept saying to myself that I should write reviews for them, but it just wasn't happening.  Creating a blog meant that I had to to some extent, or admit defeat.  [Not. An. Option.]

So now I'm applying that same philosophy to the further continuation and success of the blog by sort of, kind of, making resolutions.  In 2011, I will
  1. Try to review EVERYTHING I read.  Even if it's just a mini-review.  I came fairly close this year, but I didn't quite make that goal.  In 2011, I want to.
  2. Complete reviews for books within 1 week of reading them.  I try not to write them directly after, because I need to mull and process, but if I wait too long, it's gone.  And that's usually when a review doesn't get written.
  3. COMMENT!  I read a lot of blogs via Google Reader, but I need to stop being a lurker and comment, dammit!  You all work hard on your babies, and I need to show my support.
  4. Have more consistency in my memes.  I want to try to make sure I always have any memes I participate in scheduled out for a few weeks in advance (at least) so that I don't fall behind when I get busy.  I also want to participate in other bloggers memes more consistently and thoroughly.
  5. Be consistent in general.  This past year, I would go all out on an event (like Jane in June), and then have a huge lag afterwards because I was burnt out and needed a break.  I need to have back up posts ready to go for those blah days, and prepare more adequately in advance of huge events, so when they kick my ass, it will be to a lesser extent.
  6. Only accept review copies for things I think there is a good chance I will like.  I'm sick of being stuck on shitty books.  Even if it is fun to write the rants.
  7. Give up on books if I still hate them after 75 pages.  Fair enough, I think.
  8. Get giveaway prizes out in a timely manner.  Anyone whose ever received a package from me will agree...
  9. Have fun mini-memes, just for the hell of it!  They are a lot of fun even when they are a lot of work.
And on that note, I want to mention a few of them I am considering/planning.  If any of you want to be involved in any of them, comment or shoot me an email.

* Winter Wonderland Weekend ~ a weekend event January 28th-30th, featuring wintery books and winter warm-ups.  Just a fun little something to help shake off the S.A.D. :)  Guest posts/reviews/giveaways welcome, email me if you want in!

* Love Bites! ~ Valentines Day week-long event (Monday, February 7th - Monday, February 14th) celebrating all things love, hate, and love to hate.  Focus on paranormal romance, though contemporary and historical may sneak in, and all genres are welcome.  Again, guest posts/reviews/giveaways welcome, email me if you want in!

* Fairy Tale Fortnight ~ April 17th-30th.  Exactly what it sounds like.  An event revolving around all things fairy tale: old tales, retellings (historical, contemporary, futuristic, whatever!), movies, music, etc!  Guest posts/reviews/giveaways welcome, email me if you want in!

* Jane in June, pt II ~ Through out June.  You may recall last June, when it was all-Jane, all the time here on BR.  Same basic structure, email me if you want in!

* Circus Week, name and dates TBD ~ Sometime in August, most likely.  Just a fun little circus event. Guest posts/reviews/giveaways welcome, email me if you want in!

* Helluva Halloween III ~ Another month long repeat event, with a focus on all things Halloweeny.  As always, email me for deets, or check out the past two years of HH.


I'm also considering doing something in March for my birthday, but so far, no ideas I love, so we'll see.  And there's a super secret event I'll be participating in May that I'm looking forwarrrrd to, so yay! for that.   And who knows what else may pop up.  :D

If you want in on any of the events, email me at mbradenwf [at] gmail [dot] com.  You can also send guest posts/reviews/whathaveyou directly to that address at any point up to the event, and I will look it over and work it in (bloggers and non-bloggers alike are welcome).  If you want to host a giveaway for one of the events, email me the details and we'll work it all out.

What do you have planned for the year to come?  Any resolutions?

    Year in Review: 2010

    First spotted this survey, created by The Perpetual Page Turner, over at  Consumed by Books, and I thought I'd take a whack at it.  Some of these things are covered in other posts, so I'll try to keep those parts brief.

    1. Best book of 2010? I have a whole post devoted to my top 10 of 2010, but I don't pick a favorite in it.  Part of that was because it's so hard.  I did read a lot of good books that are going to really stick with me, like Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall or Cath Crowley's A Little Wanting Song.  But I think the 2 (one adult, one YA) that win are The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.  Both really went above and beyond for me (and both are dystopian-ish -- go figure... ;p  )

    2. Worst book of 2010? and 3. Most Disappointing Book of 2010?   Hush, Hush.  Without hesitation.  Sure, I've read worse in my life, and there were a few things I (fleetingly) enjoyed about it, but really, it is one of those things that just stands out in my mind as beyond disappointing.  It's almost offensive, how disappointing that book is.

    4. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2010?  Well, I already mentioned Before I Fall, which I was sort of expecting to be disappointed in; same is true of The Lightning Thief, which was just lovely.  I really, really adored both books and didn't want to put either down, even though I needed a big push to pick either up in the first place.

    5. Book you recommended to people most in 2010? I've recommended Soulless by Gail Carriger a lot since I first read it, and recently got my book club to read it.  It was one of the few unanimous reads we've ever had -- everyone loved it!  I've also recommended A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley a number of times, and I always recommend Oryx and Crake/The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood and Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

    6. Best series you discovered in 2010? Percy Jackson and the Olympians was one of the bandwagons I wish I would have jumped on sooner.  I also just started reading the Morganville Vampires series and am loving it.  Let's put it this way -- reviews of the first 4 books are coming up!

    7. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2010? Before I read Delirium, I would have said Lauren Oliver, but now it's 50/50 with her, so who knows?  But definitely making the list are Gail Carriger, Carrie Ryan, Brenna Yovanoff and Cherie Priest, with plans to read more Jessica Day George, Rachel Caine and Cath Crowley soon.

    8. Most hilarious read of 2010? Soulless definitely has it's moments, as do the rest of the series (so far), Changeless and Blameless.  A Little Wanting Song is pretty funny, too, as evidenced in the bit I read for my teaser.  Or, it's funny to me, at least.

    9. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2010?  There have been a few.  Of course, Mockingjay.  That was a read all night, partly because I just had to, and partly because I didn't want any spoilers. Also The Replacement definitely got its hooks into me.  Most surprising would be the Morganville Vampires books, which are like crack.  I furiously read through one and immediately pick up the next...

    10. Book you most anticipated in 2010? I was waiting breathlessly for Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet -- I even ordered UK copies of each so I'd get them earlier -- and wouldn't you know, I have yet to read either?  I'm so worried they'll disappoint me, it's ridiculous.  I need to just take the plunge already.


    11. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2010? I loved the cover for Hush, Hush -- just not anything else.



    12. Most memorable character in 2010? Oh, lord.  There have been some good ones.  I particularly loved Flavia deLuce from The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie and the lass from Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.  As well as 1/2 the cast of the Parasol Protectorate series (ie Soulless, et al).

    13. Most beautifully written book in 2010? Before I Fall, How I Live Now, and A Little Wanting Song.

    14. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2010?  Before I Fall.  This needs no explanation for those who have read it, and there is not explaining for those who haven't.

    15. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2010 to finally read?  The Lightning Thief, which had been recommended to me by a trusted friend for some time before I read it.  Also, the Protector of the Small series by Tamora Pierce.  As fiercely as I loved the Alanna books as a kid, why did I wait so effing long to read more of her?



    So there you have it.

    There's also a section devoted to blogging in the survey, which I'm going to save for another day [translation: I may or may not do it], which you can check out at the Perpetual Page Turner, if you're so inclined.
    I'd love to hear your answers!

    Read and/or Reviewed in 2010

    Here is the [mostly]complete list of everything I read in 2010, and all of the accompanying reviews, including kids books and short stories.  The latter half of the list was read and not reviewed, which is disappointing.  I'd had a goal of reviewing everything I read this year, and I failed more than I thought I would.  Frowny face.

    1. The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor
    2. Soulless, Gail Carriger
    3. Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld
    4. Firespell, Chloe Neill
    5. Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick (the review)
    6. Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick (the rant)
    7. The Lightning Thief, Rick Riordan
    8. Topless Prophet, Alan Markovitz
    9. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, Alan Bradley
    10. and Falling, Fly, Skyler White
    11. The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood
    12. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow, Jessica Day George
    13. Bone Crossed, Patricia Briggs
    14. Titus and Atreus, Meridi Myers
    15. Impossible, Nancy Werlin
    16. Magic Under Glass, Jaclyn Dolamore
    17. Inside Out, Maria V Snyder
    18. I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Lisa Schroeder
    19. Skin and Bones, D.C. Corso
    20. First Daughter and Last Snow, Eric Van Lustbader
    21. Before I Fall, Lauren Oliver
    22. The Iron King, Julie Kagawa
    23. How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
    24. Bailey's Day, Robert Haggarty (Kid's Corner post)
    25. Eyes Like Stars, Lisa Mantchev
    26. The Mark, Jenn Nadol
    27. Changeless, Gail Carriger
    28. Zan Gah: a Prehistoric Adventure+ Zan Gah and the Beautiful Country 
    29. A Little Wanting Song, Cath Crowley
    30. Persuasion, Jane Austen (a discussion)
    31. Sense and Sensibility, Jane Austen (a discussion)
    32. Android Karenina, Ben Winters
    33. Intimations of Austen, Jane Greensmith
    34. Murder at Mansfield Park, Lynn Shepherd
    35. According to Jane, Marilyn Brant
    36. The Darcy Cousins, Monica Fairview
    37.  Miss Bennet and Mr Bingley, Fenella J Miller
    38. Oblivion Road, Alex McAuly
    39. The Iron Daughter, Julie Kagawa
    40. Share from the Heart, Marilyn Randall (kids corner post)
    41. "Life Sentence", Kelley Armstrong
    42. The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
    43. "Lazarus", John Connolly
    44. The Unidentified, Rae Mariz
    45. Boneshaker, Cherie Priest
    46. "The Perfects", Jennifer Allison
    47. "Bougainvillea" and "Hare Moon", Carrie Ryan
    48. "Children of the Revolution", Maureen Johnson
    49. Zombie Blondes, Brian James
    50. "Love Will Tear Us Apart", Alaya Dawn Johnson
    51. Meridian, Amber Kizer
    52. The Replacement, Brenna Yovanoff
    53. "The Assassin's Apprentice", Michelle Zink
    54. Shadow Hills, Anastasia Hoppcus
    55. Manifest, Artist Arthur
    56. Hater, David Moody
    57. Nightshade, Andrea Cremer
    58. Breathers: a Zombie's Lament, S.G. Browne
    59. "Fearless", Rachel Vincent
    60. In Dreams Begin, Skyler White
    61. Witch Craft, various (craft book)
    62. Let's Eat!, Denise Burroughs (cookbook)
    63. "The Spy Who Never Grew Up", Sarah Rees Brennan
    64. Concrete Operational, Richard Galbraith
    65. Billie Girl, Vickie Weaver
    66. Matched, Ally Condie
    67. Plain Kate, Erin Bow
    68. Kosher By Design, Susie Fishbein (cookbook)
    69. Delirium, Lauren Oliver
    70. Random Magic, Sasha Soren
    71. The Fairy Folk and She, Mary-Anne Grosse Ivie
    72.   Read, Not Reviewed, may or may not be in 2011:
    73. Alanna: the First Adventure, Tamora Pierce
    74.  In the Hands of the Goddess, Tamora Pierce
    75.  Woman Who Rides Like a Man, Tamora Pierce
    76.  Lioness Rampant, Tamora Pierce
    77. First Test, Tamora Pierce
    78. Page, Tamora Pierce
    79. Squire, Tamora Pierce
    80. Lady Knight, Tamora Pierce
    81. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, Jacqueline Kelly
    82. Glass Houses, Rachel Caine
    83. Dead Girl's Dance, Rachel Caine
    84. Midnight Alley, Rachel Caine
    85. Emma, vol 10, Kaoru Mori (probably won't)
    86. Troll Bridge, Jane Yolen
    87. Silver Borne, Patricia Briggs
    88. Sorcery and Cecelia, Patrica C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
    89. The House of Dead Maids, Clare B Dunkle
    90. Bloodsucking Fiends, Christopher Moore
    91. Daughter of the Forest, Juliet Marilier (impromtu reread, will review this time)
    92. Fallen, Lauren Kate
    93. Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins  (probably won't)
    94. Blameless, Gail Carriger (probably won't)
    95. A Note From an Old Acquaintance, Bill Walker (won't be reviewing)

    Wednesday, December 29, 2010

    Top 10 in 2010: Best Reads of the Year

    Here, in no particular order, are my top ten favorite reads from 2010.  These weren't all published in 2010, I just happened to read them then.  They span genres and styles, and even age groups, but they all had one thing in common: I fell into them and didn't want to leave when I was done.  
    Each book cover is a link to my review of the book, with the exception of Sorcery and Cecelia, which didn't get reviewed. :(
    I'd love to hear your top 10 list, too!

    Before I Fall
    I said: "...the fact of the matter is that this book is a gem.  It's not perfect, no, and it will frustrate some people, but it will make you think, and it will make you uncomfortable in the best way, and it will leave it's mark for awhile to come, and that is the sign of a talent and a classic."


    A Little Wanting Song
    I said: "I enjoyed Crowley's writing.  Her prose was simply beautiful: it was smooth and flowed well in that way that makes it hard to put a book down -- you know you should because it's 2:00am and you have to work in the morning, and as soon as you find a good stopping point, you will put it down, but first, how about one more chapter to see how Charlie reacts to what Rose just did; oh, that's how?  Well, we better see how Rose reacts now...Hmm...maybe one more...  It's that kind of writing.  It just seems effortless, which means there was probably a good deal of effort behind it."

    How I Live Now
    I said: " It's more challenging than the general YA, which will appeal to adults, but it's got a great relatable voice for teens; there are things going on that are going to keep people thinking about it, that are going to worm their way into reader's brains in the best way.  Pick it up, and when you're done, give it to your mother and/or your daughter, and then discuss it when you're all done.  It could be a really rewarding experience."


    The Replacement
    I said: "I do want to talk a little bit about the Yovanoff's writing and the choices she made.  On the former, the writing is lovely.  It flows beautifully, and I always had a clear image of the characters, the town and the emotions behind it all.  Which leads me to the latter -- Yovanoff did some really wonderful things with a straightforward story.  It's a typical outsider tale, very appropriate for YA with its discovery and near-coming of age quality.  But it's enriched with so much emotion and understanding that it's sort of transformative. "



    Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow
    I said: "[Jessica Day George] crafts a story that is layered and has depth beyond what is generally seen in a fairy tale or retelling.  The traditional elements are there: the downtrodden heroine who, it turns out, has some pluck; the rags to riches; the fantastic element; the danger and tension; the family dynamics, good and bad, and the sort of "karmic" balance -- everything works together to create one of the strongest retellings I've ever read.  George's love of Norway and fairy tales help her create a rich and believable base for a story that shines and flows beautifully.  Things are well developed and rich.  It is very visual and alive, and thoroughly enjoyable."

     
    The Unidentified
    I said: "Mariz is great at that gray area that exists in dystopias -- those questions and impressions you get that make 1/2 of you say "Well, this totally makes sense.  Kinda cool, actually" and the other 1/2 say "This is wrong; this is bad."  I think it's great for discussion, about and beyond the book, but even if you're not going to run out and discuss this with someone, it's still completely unputdownable.  So pick it up."

    The Year of the Flood
    I said: "There's a great amount of tension and "what next"ness.  It's one of those books that you sometimes want to put down and think about what you just read, while at the same time, you don't want to let it out of your hands.  [Atwood] has an uncanny ability to write about the worst in humanity in the most grimly believable way, and yet show you glimpses of what's best about humanity..."

    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)
    I said: " It's like some weird love-child of We Have Always Lived in the Castle + nostalgic/atmospheric/eccentric/British coming of age lit (think I Capture the Castle) + a cozy mystery. That's some parentage, and it makes for interesting offspring."


    Boneshaker (The Clockwork Century, #1)
    I said: "I was going back and forth between rating this a 4 or 5, but something finally settled it.  You see, I had been reading this on my lunch breaks at work, and then again when I got home at night.  One day, I was at work and it was almost time to leave, and I had the thought "Ooh, I can go home and snuggle up and read some Boneshaker," and then felt crushing disappointment when I realized that I couldn't -- I had stayed up late and finished it the night before.  I felt like I had lost something, or like a friend had moved away.  That settled it, and 5-stars it was."  [side note, I used a lot of big words in this review, and they amused me, so if you want to feel smart for the day, go read the rest of it. ;p]


    Sorcery and Cecelia or The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Cecelia and Kate, #1)
    I said: Nothing, because I suck at life. But I am going to try to review this in the soonish, and for now will just say that this reads like a YA version of Soulless.  And we all know how much I love me some soulless.
    And while we're on the subject of Soulless...

    Honorable Mention goes to Soulless, which I didn't include because I didn't technically read it this year -- though I did review it this year.
    I said:

    "Soulless is exactly what I wanted and didn’t get from Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. It’s a pithy, funny, tongue-firmly-in-cheek mesh of Victorian manners and morĂ©s, and absurd occult occurrences. Alexia Tarabotti is an intriguing and amusing MC, completely un-Victorian and yet somehow not out of place. Carriger’s take on Victorian London high society shows a real knowledge of it, while not taking it too seriously. And, man, talk about cover appeal! Love it!
    Highly recommended if you like historical, paranormal, satirical, and/or sexy-silly fiction."




    What were your faves from this year?

    Wishlist Wednesday: The Fool's Girl

    The Fool's Girl
    by Celia Rees

    Young and beautiful Violetta may be of royal blood, but her kingdom is in shambles when she arrives in London on a mysterious mission. Her journey has been long and her adventures many, but it is not until she meets the playwright William Shakespeare that she gets to tell the entire story from beginning to end. Violetta and her comic companion, Feste, have come in search of an ancient holy relic that the evil Malvolio has stolen from their kingdom. But where will their remarkable quest—and their most unusual story—lead? In classic Celia Rees style, it is an engrossing journey, full of political intrigue, danger, and romance.

    This wholly original story is spun from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and includes both folly and suspense that would make the Bard proud. 



    I really liked Rees's Witch Child, and I'm really curious to see what she does with the story of Twelfth Night.  Plus, who doesn't love that cover?  It's really intriguing and nicely designed.  I know at least a few of you have read this -- what did you think?
    What's on your wishlist? 
     

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010

    TBR Tuesday: Ship Breaker






    I have a lot of books I've bought or received in a fury of excitement, only to have them languish on the shelves. This is one of those books.

    Ship Breaker (Ship Breaker, #1)
    by Paolo Bacigalupi

    Set initially in a future shanty town in America's Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being dissembled for parts by a rag tag group of workers, we meet Nailer, a teenage boy working the light crew, searching for copper wiring to make quota and live another day. The harsh realities of this life, from his abusive father, to his hand to mouth existence, echo the worst poverty in the present day third world. When an accident leads Nailer to discover an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, and the lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl, Nailer finds himself at a crossroads. Should he strip the ship and live a life of relative wealth, or rescue the girl, Nita, at great risk to himself and hope she'll lead him to a better life. This is a novel that illuminates a world where oil has been replaced by necessity, and where the gap between the haves and have-nots is now an abyss. Yet amidst the shadows of degradation, hope lies ahead.


    A while back, I read a lot of really good reviews of this and one of Bacigalupi's other books, The Wind Up Girl.  Both were sort of steampunk/dystopianish and sounded really cool, so I bought them both.  But like many books, they've just been sitting on my shelves, occasionally getting shuffled to different shelves, waiting patiently for me to read them...
    So, what do you guys think?  Anyone read this?  What's on your tbr pile?

    Top 10 in 2010: Disappointments of the Year

    2010 was a really hit and miss year for me.  A lot of great unexpected books came out of nowhere, and a lot of the buzzed about, to-die-for books made me want to kill myself (still to die for, just in another way, I guess...)  Here are my top 10 disappointments, based on a completely arbitrary system of calculation, wherein I factored a) how much I anticipated a book b) my level of indifference or pissed-off-edness upon finishing and c) my level of pissed-off-edness now, looking back.
    Enjoy.
    And I'd love to hear about your disappointments and unexpected wins of the year!


    10 The Mark, Jenn Nadol  I was looking forward to this for 2 reasons: a great cover and great buzz.  Though not a total letdown by any means, I was a bit unfulfilled at the end.
    I said: "It just felt a little soft to me.  I don't know if that will make sense to you, but it's a book about death, essentially, and everything was just a bit too rose-colored for me.  There was a disconnect, and as I was reading, I felt like, okay, that's nice...but forgettable, essentially, and it took me about 1/2 of the book to feel invested and start caring."

    9 Meridian, Amber Kizer This had such a strong start that I expected a lot from it; sometimes I got it, but most of the time I didn't.
    I said: "...the most irritating part of the book (other than the obviousness that wasn't obvious to anyone) -- the ending.  I've said it before, I'll say it again, I am not a fan of deus ex machina.  At all.  The end of this was a disappointment for me on a few levels.  It was just all too convenient, every last detail.  And so, so quick.  Blink and you missed it.  I want some meat to it.  What happened?  Break it down, drag it out a bit, give me something to chew on and savor."

    8 Shadow Hills, Anastasia Hoppcus I was hesitant to read this, as I had sneaking suspicions it would be unimpressive.  I should have listened to myself.
    I said: "...there is a trait to Hopcus's writing that held me back from ever fully committing or feeling any edge-of-your-seatness: things just happened way to easily.  The romance was there from page one (literally, as Phe dreams about Zach before meeting him), and I never felt that they really had to work at it.  There wasn't any tension for me because it was just there....The same goes for the sort-of thriller aspects of the story.  There is some good villainousness, and there is no dearth of people to choose from as the Big Baddie, but it's all resovled so easily (*cough* Deus Ex Machina*cough*), and this bothers me."


    7 I Heart You, You Haunt Me, Lisa Schroeder Totally unimpressed.  Not much more to say.  Other than, I guess, this:
    "Rather than being an asset to the story, Schroeder's verse was distracting and forced.  Though there were a few instances of the verse being what it should have been (a unique way of showcasing what Ava was feeling), most of the time it read like diary entries that were arranged funny.  This is laziness and/or overconfidence, in my opinion.  You can't just chop up lines or arrange them funny and call it verse."

    6 Manifest, Artist Arthur I said: "One of the biggest problems was the main character, Krystal.  Krystal is very, very hard to like for a good chunk of the book....Another problem I had (and this was partly the result of my own expectations) was the cliched aspect of the novel, coupled with attempts to make it a more POC slant.  I was looking forward to getting a new perspective, something more like a melding of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  But it never felt authentic to me....Overall, the way it was handled, I just felt like the author had to try to connect with an audience so she sprinkled some stuff in hoping it worked, or even worse, maybe thinking it rang true, and it didn't.  For me, this was hard to get past, and I found myself rolling my eyes a lot."


    5 Matched, Ally Condie The more distance I get from this book, the less impressed I am.  It fades so quickly, and is overall just meh.
    I said: "Matched can be an enjoyable, engaging read, but it more often tends to be melodramatic and overwritten at times..... I think there are people that aren't going to be able to enter into and enjoy this story, and will see nothing more than a sometimes too melodramatic and formulaic typical teen dystopia, or a bland rip-off of some of the dystopian greats, like The Giver and A Brave New World. Also, even for those who do enjoy it, it may be the type of story to fade from mind quickly."

    4 Concrete Operational, Richard Galbraith I was really intrigued to see how this collaborative arts project would come together, but in the end, the central piece -- the actual story -- didn't do it for me.
    I said: "Everything seemed designed to give a certain impression, which is fine, but I shouldn't be able to see the design -- I should just get the impression desired.  I felt too much of the work behind it, and it made it feel overwrought and grandiose, and therefore harder for me to relate to and connect to."

    3 Delirium, Lauren Oliver Because of the success, and my personal love, of Oliver's Before I Fall, and because of my love of dystopian novels, I was psyched for this.  Frowny face.
    I said: " But there were so many inconsistencies and questions I had that I couldn't ever commit.  I could only go along so far until logic would intrude....as a general rule, people don't willingly submit to mass lobotomies or the eradication of their feelings for the people they love -- or hate -- without some serious something acting as a catalyst.  Petty strife and crimes of passion may make you think of Eternal Sunshining your mind spotless, but in an abstract, angry, wouldn't-it-be-lovely kind of way, and not a bring-on-the-procedure kind of way....But even if I could have set the worldbuilding and believability aside -- no easy task in a concept novel like this -- for it to be saved, the characters and plot would have had to really shine.  But I felt like everything was a little wooden, a little cardboard, a little less than believable and real. "

    2 Oblivion Road, Alex McAuly This should have been so much more than it was.
    I said: " I sort of don't know what to say about this book.  It's not that the writing was awful, per se, it's just that I was completely indifferent for a majority of the book.  This is a suspense novel, and it should have been riveting.  These kids are stranded in a brutal environment with an apparent truckload of maniacs on the loose, and horrible, absolutely horrible, things are happening to them -- and I didn't care."
     
    1 Hush, Hush, Becca Fitzpatrick, the book so bad it got 2 reviews.  I wasn't satisfied just reviewing it and panning it; I had to write a second review, a rant, to really get all that toxic ick out of my system.  Of course, I had to read it, just like everyone else, for that gorgeous cover.  Alas...
    I said: "It was the most confused, schizophrenic piece of writing I've read in some time. Becca Fitzpatrick didn't seem to know quite what she wanted, only that it had to be ominous and scary and dangerous -- and titillating, of course, and mysterious and sexy. So with those buzz words in mind, she threw a bunch of things together and let her narrator, Nora, sort them out. Nora, understandably, had some trouble with this, and the result is a thoroughly frustrating heroine who jumps to insane conclusions based on inane evidence one moment, and the next goes blithely along into obvious danger."


    So what were the high- and  low -lights of your year?  What do you have your sights set on for 2011?


    Monday, December 27, 2010

    Favorite Covers: 2010

    I'm sure there are more out there I'm missing, but here are my favorite book covers released in 2010*.
    This list is based solely on cover appeal.  Many of these I have not read, and some I never intend to.  But that doesn't make them any less p r e t t y...
    What are some of your favorite book covers of 2010?


    *Yes, I know Angelfire doesn't technically come out until a few days into 2011, but I started reading the galley in 2010, and the cover has been available for quite some time now, so I included it.

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