Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell



Goodreads:   In Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl, Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan, but for Cath, being a fan is her life—and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving.

Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere.

Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to.
Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words . . . And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone.

For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

A New York Times Book Review Notable Children's Book of 2013



I was so excited about this book that I read 20 pages of it waiting in line at the library.  My hands were literally tingling with excitement about reading the book!  And now, 2 1/2 hours later,  I've finished it.  There are SO MANY OTHER THINGS I should be doing right now (read: I have auditions for the next month), but I just couldn't stop myself!  I shouldn't have read those 20 pages...I might have been able to resist...

I love this book so much. I love the characters so much.  It's everything I love about contemporary YA, and it added complete irrestistability with the addition of fanfiction.  In many ways I'm like Cath, and in some I'm like Wren.  Actually out of all the characters, I'm most likely to be Levi if you disregard the whole reading issue bit. And I think it's fantastic that I can relate in some way to every single one of her characters.  Wren and Cath drama felt so real.  Not melodramatic, and not shallow, but what it feels like in the situation.  And I love that they aren't the same, and they aren't opposites, they're simply their own people.  The character development in this is just so amazing (even if I feel like Wren more reverted to original self).  And I love Reagan/Levi's friendship with Cath in the beginning.  I laughed so hard at some of the parts.

Rainbow Rowell read fanfiction to research beforehand, and that makes me love her.  I've talked a little bit about my involvement in fanfiction, and how much I absolutely love it.  There's something amazing about reinterpreting someone's work, to reshape how we view certain characters, setting, and relationships.  I think I love fanfiction so much because since childhood I have loved fairy tale retellings easily as much as I love the original story.  But I digress.

I did have a few quibbles with the book - mostly about Wren.  It feels like she didn't go through character development so much as she was suddenly very different people.  And honestly I really disliked her for the better part of this book.  I think if we'd seen a little bit of what their relationship before college was like maybe I wouldn't have felt so confused by her sudden personality changes?  But honestly in the grand scheme of things, that still wouldn't be enough to lower my rating below 5 stars.  Everything in this book was so outstanding it more than makes up for it!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Defy (Defy #1) - Sara B. Larson

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Defy (Defy, #1)


Goodreads A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king's army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince's guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can't prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she's sworn to protect?


I was mostly entertained by this book, even if I got very frustrated at times.  I was on a road trip to a competition with my quintet when I was reading this, and needless to say THEY were entertained by my reactions.  Anytime a book includes a line that says "The artery in my neck pounded beneath my skin, and I felt light-headed with shock"  used as a romantic statement, it is hard not to share.

So...I have a lot of mixed feelings about this book.  On the one hand, I think it's an interesting premise and with some work I could come to enjoy the series.  On the much of it is cringeworthy and rather offensive.

I think part of my issue is that it was written in first person.  This is not my favourite style of narration because it is so limiting, and because it so often isn't done well.  For example, our main character Alexa often makes clear observations (or heavily insinuated ones) about people and how they appear to feel about her, but then she seems to become oblivious all of a sudden like she hasn't realized this.  This is the author's way of showing us how the other characters feel, but because it is filtered through another character who apparently hasn't actually realized these things, it makes your main character seem really dumb.  Or falsely humble.  It was also frustrating because Alexa would constantly tell us how a character was acting very differently (particularly the prince) and that it was weird and out of character...but we never saw the characters act any other way, so it doesn't actually feel like the character is acting strangely. 

 I've mentioned on the blog before that world building and character development are the most important things for me.  And simply put...this book doesn't have them.  It puts every effort into having them, but it's all talk and no show.  And the world building is the very bare bones.  And actually a bit confusing - I definitely needed a lot more not only on the actual feel of the area (not just this is a jungle.  This other country is a desert), but also the politics (the kind invaded this country and is invading the next?  Why?  Why should Alexa feel loyalty to this king if he technically just conquered her country?  I mean then he's not really her king is he?  I might have misunderstood some stuff, so maybe I just missed something as far as these questions go).  And the whole breeding houses thing....I mean what??  In the book it's explained that women are sent to breeding houses where they are....forced to have children to build an army.  I'm a little unclear as to what qualifies some women to go and some not since not everyone is in them...but more importantly uhhh....that seems like a really terrible way to build an army.  I mean it does take more than a few years for a kid to become strong enough to fight in a war.  And there's no explanation beyond that.  It serves as nothing but a simple plot device, and I absolutely do not approve of using rape to simply say, oh those guys are bad.  The guys who are in love with me also think they are bad, therefore they must be good guys.  NOT OK.  Also slut shaming.  I don't feel like going into it, but it happened, and it's my biggest pet peeve.  Ever.

Needless to say, I think my quintet was starting to think I had gone absolutely bonkers haha

I know this has pretty much been negative, but I will say that I did enjoy parts of the book.  I will also say that Alexa's confusion on spending the past 4 years of her life as a boy, and then being seen as a girl felt very real.  Her reactions and her place in how gender roles felt absolutely true.  It changes how people react to you and after four years as a boy, I can imagine that would be confusing, as there is a social stigma to react and behave a certain way when you are a woman versus a man.


This is not the strongest debut I've ever seen, but I really do believe that this author has all the parts there to turn this series into something pretty good.  I think she has potential as an author and I will be sticking around to see what happens in the next book.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bellman & Black - Diane Setterfield

 I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

In other news, I'm using Grammarly to check for plagiarism because if aliens ever take over Earth, I think not being a plagiarizer will make them more sympathetic to my cause. (My cause of please don't kill me!)  (And I'm also using it because my sentences tend to have an infestation of commas.  And parenthesis.  Like this one.  Oops?)

Bellman & Black: A Ghost Story


GoodreadsBellman & Black is a heart-thumpingly perfect ghost story, beautifully and irresistibly written, its ratcheting tension exquisitely calibrated line by line. Its hero is William Bellman, who, as a boy of 11, killed a shiny black rook with a catapult, and who grew up to be someone, his neighbours think, who "could go to the good or the bad." And indeed, although William Bellman's life at first seems blessed—he has a happy marriage to a beautiful woman, becomes father to a brood of bright, strong children, and thrives in business—one by one, people around him die. And at each funeral, he is startled to see a strange man in black, smiling at him. At first, the dead are distant relatives, but eventually his own children die, and then his wife, leaving behind only one child, his favourite, Dora. Unhinged by grief, William gets drunk and stumbles to his wife's fresh grave—and who should be there waiting, but the smiling stranger in black. The stranger has a proposition for William—a mysterious business called "Bellman & Black" . . .


When the mysterious sky dance is over, the spectators blink and breathe and come to themselves after their long enchantment.  They feel mild surprise at finding themselves contained in their bodies on this sloping hillside:  for the last half hour they have been elsewhere.  Their souls resettle in their bodies.  Fingers stretch and toes wriggle experimentally.  Their rib cages and unfeathered flesh feel faintly foreign to them.


I want to preface this review by saying...I hate to have to do this.  Diane Setterfield's debut, The Thirteenth Tale was one of the most amazing books I have ever read.  It is easily in my list of all time favourite books.  It has EVERYTHING - crazy levels of suspense, well thought out characters, a twisty plot, and some of the most lush, vivid, beautiful writing I have ever had the pleasure of reading.  I have been waiting for Diane Setterfield's next book for YEARS.  Every few months I'd search for when the next book was out, so when I found out about this book (and when I got approved for an ARC) I was ecstatic.  

Bellman & Black has the same beautiful language and gothic feel as The Thirteenth Tale, but sadly none of the suspense.  Reading about a man's obsession with making money just isn't what I'm into.  There are only so many times I can read the details of a mill's accounting before I start getting agonizingly bored.  Especially when I don't understand what the point of it all was!  

From here on out be careful of minor spoilers!  The first part of the book details what a charmed life William has - he's handsome, charming, has had luck with pretty much ALL the ladies in town, is incredibly intelligent, and ends up running a mill.  Unfortunately in the next section of the book, it's all downhill from there.  And throughout all of this William comes off anywhere from being a...jerk, and incredibly boring.  Worst possible combination I can think of.  And the worst part of all of this is...I STILL DON'T GET IT.  I really, really don't know why we had to know all the details of the accounting.  I think I get who Black is?  But what was the deal?  What was he supposed to do?  It makes me SO. ANGRY.  If I had to read this entire book of nothing I at least need to know WHAT WAS IT ALL FOR?!?!?!

On the upside, I actually liked all the asides with facts about the rooks.  For one, it made a break from the monotony of what it's like to run a business.  It also involved some of Setterfield's most beautiful writing.  I didn't include it here, but the last line of the book is everything I love about last lines in a book.  (And of course it involves rooks)


I wanted to love this.  I adore Setterfield's writing, and I absolutely will buy her next book regardless of my feelings on this one.  I imagine it is always incredibly difficult to write another novel when your debut has been so successful with both critics and readers.  I pray that she gets the chance to release another novel because I know I'm not the only one out there rooting for her, despite not loving this novel.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Battle Magic (Circle Reforged #3) - Tamora Pierce

 I received a copy from the publisher's.  Trust me, this doesn't affect my review in any way because Tamora Pierce is fantastic, has always been fantastic, and will remain fantastic until the end of time.

Battle Magic (Circle Reforged, #3)


Goodreads:  On their way to the first Circle temple in Gyongxe, mages Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy pay a visit to the emperor's summer palace. Although treated like royalty when they first arrive, the mages soon discover that the emperor plans to invade Gyongxe, posing a fatal threat to the home temple of the Living Circle religion. Accompanied by one of the emperor's prize captives, the three mages rush to Gyongxe to warn its citizens of the impending attack. With the imperials hot on their trail, Briar, Rosethorn, and Evvy must quickly help the country prepare for battle. But even with the help of new allies, will their combined forces be enough to fight the imperial army and win the war?


It's pretty clear I love Tamora Pierce.  What can I say to convince you that if you aren't reading her that you should be?  I've talked over and over about how much she's influenced my life as a person and as a reader.  This book only proves everything I've always said about her.  Instead of hearing me say it again, feel free to search my blog for any mention of Tamora Pierce (or click those links). 

So feel free to assume everything that is magical and amazing about Tamora Pierce's novels also apply to this book.  But THIS book in particular, is one that I have been waiting for!  I'd say it was for ages (it feels like it!), but if we're going to be honest, I only caught up with the series in December so it would be a lie.  Why is this book so special you ask?  Well you might remember me mentioning in a review of an earlier book in the series that I felt very confused about parts of Briar's story because it kept referencing things that happened...but we didn't know about said events yet. This is the book that explains it all!  We finally get the details of Briar's war experience, of Gyongxe, and what happened that was so terrible.  And I have to say, after finishing this, I was not disappointed.  It was everything I could have hoped for and more.  There's adventure, and dire situations, and you finally get the background on how Evvy met Luvo (which is something I wanted to know about in the second book, so you get answers on that front too!)  There's a certain level of graphicness in this series that I don't think is quite at the same level in the Tortall series.  It's not over the top (we've discussed how much of a weenie I am before), but it's just enough to really pack a punch.  And I LOVE it!

 That being said, I have only one criticism of this book, and it's more a criticism of the entire Circle Reforged quartet.  If you have not read this series yet (and you really, really, REALLY should!) I would recommend reading this quartet out of order.  I would read this book first.  Even though it is the third in the quartet, it is referenced so often in the first two books that I think the series would feel more cohesive.  I might even read the whole quartet backwards, but I think whether you read the 1st and 2nd book in order doesn't really matter.  And in the grand scheme of things, if this is my only criticism of the book...that's NOTHING.  So go read this book, and if you're new to the series you are missing out on so much amazingness and you should remedy that.  Like.  Right now.

Monday, January 20, 2014

In which I discover Charles Delacroix is a favourite character and that I miss Scarlet very much (In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin)

In the Age of Love and Chocolate (Birthright, #3) 


GoodreadsAll These Things I’ve Done, the first novel in the Birthright series, introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.

Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life. 

In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin’s writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place.


“Besides, I did not require heroism--I had been the hero of my own life for some time.”

"I had always tried to be a good girl, and until that night, it had never occurred to me that some people you kissed wouldn't become your boyfriend and that this was, in fact, perfectly fine. Maybe even desirable.”


Once again, this is clearly going to have spoilers for all three books.  Warning served!

 I've had a lot of time to think about this book since I read it (procrastination is sometimes quite helpful!), and while at first I thought it was only a pretty good book, I might have to change my opinion of that.  It might not be as fun as the first book is, but it feels true in a way I'm not used to sci-fi/fantasy feeling. Yes, it's set in the future and a lot of crazy things happen, but it's also one of the most realistic books I've ever read.  This is similar to a dystopia in that it is set in the future, and the future sucks.  But unlike almost every other heroine in this setting, Anya doesn't overthrow the government.  She changes stupid laws by working her ass off and moving through loopholes.  Again, I just think that THIS is how things happen.  If this is how our world works 80 years from now, that's how you change it.  Everything, even down to the Theo situation felt like the way life works.  Speaking can you not love a guy who says this:

"That's how you have to be when you farm cacao. Cacao is a demanding plant, as you well know. Too much water, there is mold. Too little water, she dries out and dies. You cannot simply shower her with affection either. She needs to be left alone sometimes to grow. If you make it too easy for her, she won't provide a strong crop. Sometimes, you do everything right and she still is not satisfied. You remind yourself not to have hurt feelings -- for that is just how she is. But she is worth the effort -- I tell you, Anya, she is. Get everything right and you are rewarded with an uncommon sweetness, a rich flavor that you can't find anywhere else. Growing cacao has made me relentless, as you say, but also patient and deliberate. Everything worth loving is difficult."

But this is not about Theo and how I felt about that, or even about how I felt about Yuri (read:  I still don't understand why it was the worst decision she ever made.  I thought it was a pretty awesome one actually.)  A lot of it is how she and Win finally came back together.  I loved that they both grew up a lot as people.  Most importantly, I loved that Anya did not compromise who she was as a person to continue a relationship with Win.  YES YES YES YES!!! That!! That needs to be in more YA books!  I'm all about love, but sometimes we need reminding as teens (or in my case 20s) that there is more to life.  Don't give up and give in for one person if it means sacrificing yourself.  ESPECIALLY THAT LAST PART. 

This book forces Anya to become completely dependent on people for the first time in almost her entire life.  Shannon's comments at the bottom of my previous post really address why that is such an amazing thing.  And Win grows up and realizes that Anya was right to do what she did.  And he made me fall in love with him all over again (sorry Theo).  BUT I wasn't planning on reviewing the book (even though I kind of just did), so on to what I originally wanted to talk about!

First, let me address the issue that is Scarlet.  Scarlet has been a dwindling force throughout the last two books and her friendship (and personality) was a huge force in attracting me to these books in the first place.  Her friendship with Anya is one of the best examples of female friendships I've seen in YA.  I talk a lot about this in my first post about this trilogy, so you can head over there to see me wax lyrical on why they are so perfect together and why Scarlet is seriously the best. 

In the second book, Scarlet's absence makes a lot of sense as a huge portion of the book is spent in Mexico, ergo no Scarlet.  Towards the end of the book when Anya returns to New York, you get a lot of fighting between the two of them and you start seeing the downsides to Scarlet's personality.  Her optimism and belief in everyone gets her in trouble, and Anya sort of gives up on her.  Which I think is a shame as Scarlet stuck with Anya even after Anya wasn't being so great herself.   Of course they patch things up..but  then Scarlet gets pregnant.  And that changes a lot of things.  Scarlet doesn't have time to see Anya because she's dealing with family drama and taking care of her child.  They go months without seeing each other and it seems like their friendship is irreparably changed.  It felt like Anya didn't really miss Scarlet most of the time - she wasn't more than a passing thought.  And I felt like Anya, while overly independent and self reliant, would still have missed Scarlet's role in her life.  Honestly I can't criticize their distance much because that's just how life happens.  BUT since this is fiction I wish Zevin had found a way around it, because I missed Scarlet.

And then there's Charles Delacroix.  He goes from being one of the main villains in the series to being an integral part of Anya's life and well being.  He and Anya are so similar in so many ways and you don't really (or I didn't) make that connection until this book.  They are very obstinate, private, independent people.  They continue to pretend to dislike each other or feign indifference well beyond when they've become more than friends even - they've become a family.  I could go on and on about how their relationship really formed who Anya as became as an adult, but instead I'm going to show you the exact moment I truly loved Charles Delacroix.

I felt a hand on my shoulder.  "Don't go this way," Mr. Delacroix said.  "I know exactly what you're thinking.  I know you so well.  I know exactly what thoughts turn behind that opaque visage of yours.  You've ben abandoned so many times.  You think if our business relationship ends, that we will not be in each other's lives anymore.  But we will.  You are my friend.  You are as dear to me as my own flesh and blood, and as improbable as this is, I love you like my daughter."

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Will of the Empress (Circle Reforged #1) - Tamora Pierce

The Will of the Empress (Circle Reforged, #1)


GoodreadsSandry, Daja, Briar, and Tris, are older now and back together again, in an exciting and much-awaited, stand-alone novel by everyone's favorite mage, Tamora Pierce.

For years the Empress of Namorn has pressed her young cousin, Lady Sandrilene fa Toren, to visit her vast lands within the Empire's borders. Sandry has avoided the invitation for as long as it was possible. Now Sandry has agreed to pay that overdue visit. Sandry's uncle promises guards to accompany her. But they're hardly a group of warriors! They're her old friends from Winding Circle: Daja, Tris, and Briar. Sandry hardly knows them now. They've grown up and grown apart. Sandry isn't sure they'll ever find their old connection again - or if she even wants them to.


This book is probably one of my favourites in the whole series so far.  I feel like it succeeded where the very first book didn't.  Both books focus on all four mages, but this book must be triple the size of the first one, and it is exactly what was needed for that many main characters to work.  The only thing I didn't like was that there were all these references to Briar's past (that we don't know about).  It made me feel like I'd forgotten something.  I actually had to look it up to make sure that I hadn't skipped a book!

It was so uncomfortable having the four of them at each other's throats most of the book, but I loved it!  It's the right sort of feeling uncomfortable, especially because I think it mirrored how the characters felt after being reunited after 2 years. 

The character development in these books have been so amazing.  I really don't think I've read another series that rivals it (well, okay, probably Harry Potter.  But other than that, I don't think I have).  They've gone through so many different experiences, it's no wonder they've all changed so much as indiviuals!  And they've grown - and not all in ways that I liked.  I hate that Briar's become a lady's man :-/ feels weird since we were first introduced to him when he was what...12? 14?  I suppose he's the right age for it now though *sighs*  And I particularly hated the assumptions they all made about Sandry -  who I felt bore the brunt of the ire, when I feel she deserved it the least.  She was the most open to reopening a connection between the four of them, the most supportive, and the others treated her like crap AND IT MADE ME SO ANGRY!  But this isn't me complaining about them doing that - it felt very in character with how they have grown as individuals.  This is me angsting out about how I felt reading the book haha.  So this isn't even really a review.  Do I even have the right to actually review a Tamora Pierce book?  Don't answer that.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why Theo Is The Best Guy EVER: Because It Is My Blood by Gabrielle Zevin (Birthright #2)

Because It Is My Blood (Birthright, #2)


GoodreadsFreed from jail, Anya hopes that things will get back to normal. But life on the outside is even more dangerous than life behind bars. Some of her gangland family want revenge for the crime for which she has done time: the shooting of her uncle. Forced to flee the country, Anya hides out in a cacao plantation in Mexico. There she learns the secrets of the chocolate trade, a trade that is illegal and deadly in her native New York. There too she discovers that seemingly random acts of violence carried out across the world have a single target: her family. As innocent bystanders get caught in the crossfire Anya must act fast and decisively to stop it, no matter what the danger to herself


Anya:  "The girl who died today.  She was my age," I said.  "She was crossing the street and ten she was gone.  I am sorry for her friends her family,and especially her parents.  It is a tragedy.  I would hope that the fact that an infamous person was riding on the bus wouldn't take away from that."

Yes readers, I was seasick.  I see no need to trouble you with the details except to mention that, once I threw up so hard I sent my moustache flying across the room.


Anya's time in Mexico is easily my favourite part of the entire series.  It's not just because Central and South America are dear to me and I loved reading a book in that setting, or that it was fantastic seeing Anya learn the ins and outs of cacao, it can also be greatly attributed to Theo. 

Theo is a very fun, easy-going character, but there is so much more to him than meets the eye.  While he acts silly and playful all the time, he's also incredibly smart.  He picked up on all sorts of clues as to Anya was, and instead of letting anyone know (including Anya) that he had figured it out, he just kept mum on the subject.  It seems surprising since he seems so childish most of the time, you would expect him to blab secrets.  In fact you wouldn't really expect him to be all that observant, so this was definitely a surprise. 

He has many of the same values as Anya does, he just goes about them in a different way.  Perhaps it's because he hasn't lost his family the way Anya has, but he clearly cares deeply about his family.  Where Anya is controlling and micromanages, Theo is funny and playful.  In many ways his family and the way he treats them reminds me of my own family, and in even more ways they made me so nostalgic for all the amazing people I've met when I got the chance to travel in South America. 

I've hit on how playful he is, but Theo is incredibly serious about two things:  Cacao and his family.  It's clear when he's teaching Anya about cacao just how passionate he is about it.  He has devoted his life to it, knows the ins and outs of cacao, and he loves it (even when he hates it.  That sounds awfully familiar...being a musician is DEFINITELY always fun) When Theo cares about Anya things, it's clear he doesn't hold back.  The same goes for his family.  At the end of the book, when it came down to it, his family was more important than the girl he liked who put them in danger.  Can I reiterate how much I love that this series emphasizes important things in life - other than romantic love?

Beyond loving Theo as a character, he's a great love interest!  He's so freaking adorable!  Win is your typical angsty YA love interest.  He's just so...good.  It's boring.  Especially when he's been good AND angsty.  Theo is adorable, and tenacious, and passionate.  He has his priorities straight - family first, then work AND play next.   Mitchii might like Yuji best (and who could blame her, he is one fine specimen of a man character), but Theo will always be the character for me!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Book Thief - Markus Zusak

The Book Thief 


GoodreadsIt is 1939. Nazi Germany. The country is holding its breath. Death has never been busier, and will become busier still.

Liesel Meminger is a foster girl living outside of Munich, who scratches out a meager existence for herself by stealing when she encounters something she can’t resist–books. With the help of her accordion-playing foster father, she learns to read and shares her stolen books with her neighbors during bombing raids as well as with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

In superbly crafted writing that burns with intensity, award-winning author Markus Zusak, author of I Am the Messenger, has given us one of the most enduring stories of our time.


 Let me start with this:  This was a truly memorable book, and I am glad I read it.  Now remember that I have said this as you read through the rest of this post.

So.  I finally read this.  It took me 5 years to work up the courage to do it, and I'm glad I did.  Even if I will never read this again.  I am not going to review this book.  There are so many great reviews out already, and honestly I just don't want to revisit the details of this book.  I am going to talk about how it made me feel.  Guys, this book destroyed me.  I honestly can't think of a book that made my soul hurt more at the end of the book, and that includes The Amber Spyglass, The Bridge to Terabithia, and The Island of the Blue Dolphins combined.  I don't think I knew how invested I was in the characters until...well things happened.  You know at the beginning who is going to die, so it isn't even a surprise!  I seriously ugly cried through the last quarter of this book.  I literally had to put the book down because I was crying so hard I couldn't read.  It wrecked me.  And I still can't tell you why this hit me so hard (I mean it surpassed my epic crying in the last Harry Potter book!  And I had a connection with those characters for years! I could still read the end of the book after the last battle, if barely)

So yes, this book is phenomenal, and I'm glad I read it, even if it hurts to think about.  But what I don't understand...people do this to themselves YEARLY!  They reread this book every. single. year.  How do you survive that?!?  I read this book and immediately went into hermit mode and didn't want to talk to anyone about it at all!  I had been looking forward to watching the movie, but even Geoffrey Rush won't get me to see this, because why would you want to relive this??

Would I recommend this to everyone?  No.  Should everyone read this?  Probably.  But you know what?  Some people don't like reading books that hurt, and I wouldn't inflict this book on anyone who wasn't prepared to be devastated. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Why Anya Balanchine Is So Great: or All These Things I've Done - Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I've Done (Birthright, #1)


GoodreadsIn 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal, paper is hard to find, water is carefully rationed, and New York City is rife with crime and poverty. And yet, for Anya Balanchine, the sixteen-year-old daughter of the city's most notorious (and dead) crime boss, life is fairly routine. It consists of going to school, taking care of her siblings and her dying grandmother, trying to avoid falling in love with the new assistant D.A.'s son, and avoiding her loser ex-boyfriend. That is until her ex is accidently poisoned by the chocolate her family manufactures and the police think she's to blame. Suddenly, Anya finds herself thrust unwillingly into the spotlight--at school, in the news, and most importantly, within her mafia family.

Engrossing and suspenseful, All These Things I've Done is an utterly unique, unputdownable read that blends both the familiar and the fantastic.


Aside:   Still, you may find yourself asking, What of Leo's job? What of the contaminated chocolate supply? What of Nana's health and Natty's nightmares?  Just because Annie has a delicious new boyfriend she can't possibly think that's a good excuse to go around ignoring everything and everyone else in the world.

Scarlet:  "But it's not the easiest thing in the world being your best friend either.  And I think I've been there for you through a lot of bad times haven't I?  So when something good happens to you, I'd like to know about it.  I'd like to be there for some of the happy times too."


When I first started reading this in December, I hit a big reviewing slump.  It's not that I didn't want to talk about them - I just only wanted to talk about certain parts of them.  This is especially true about books that are rereads (which this book is), which is why I have so few reviews for rereads on the site (a grand total of 2!) in comparison to what I reread (which I rarely keep track of, but it's easily a quarter of what I read).

Then I realized...what exactly is stopping me from just talking about the characters if that's what I want to do?  And the answer is nothing.  I'm not sure if I'm going to give this idea a title or not, but as of this moment I'm going to talk about all the reasons why Anya Balanchine is one of the most fantastic female heroines in YA literature.  Be aware that while my focus is on this book, spoilers for the other books (and this one) may appear.  You have been warned!

Anya Balanchine is one of the best example of what a real "strong female character" is.  No, she isn't an expert swordsman or know crazy karate moves (although she does chop off a guy's hand with a machete at one point during the series which is pretty awesome).  Anya has become orphaned at a young age, her older brother was in a car accident which caused him to become intellectually disabled, and her grandmother (who is the caretaker) is dying.  Anya has to run the whole household, while being very careful to make sure that no one finds out, or they will take her siblings away from her.  What makes her strong is not only her ability to do all this while refusing any extra help, but also how unsteady she feels all the time.  This is a time when reading a story in first person really helps.  She never acts vulnerable around other people if she can help it, but as you read, you discover just how terrified she is that everything is going to fall apart.  THAT is what makes an awesome strong female character - having a truly well-thought out character, with real flaws as well as strength, whether it's physical, mental, or emotional.

This is where Win comes in.  Win's father is the A.D.A's son.  Anya's father was the head of the mafia, so she already has a reputation.  She can't allow anyone close to her, especially not the A.D.A's son in case they take her family away from her.  Despite this, they fall in love and everything is hunky dory until things happen.  Win's father, Charles Delacroix, cuts her a deal - she must break up with Win, or she goes to jail and her family is put into foster care.  Anya deals with this the way I'd expect people in the real world to deal with it.  She honestly weighs what is important in life, and it doesn't take her long to take this deal.  While she loves Win and is going to feel miserable without him, he is not more important than her family or her own freedom.  Win is not more important than other people's lives.  She doesn't whinge on for chapters about life is unfair and how she can never be happy because of things like this.  Life has always been unfair for Anya - that's just how it is, there's no point in continuing to dwell on it.  Instead of worrying herself into a worthless dither, she takes charge of her destiny.  She knows her entire happiness does not hinge on a life with Win.  It hinges on being in control of her life, and being able to provide for the people who are most important to her.  Having Win in her life would be wonderful, but simply not practical if she has to pit herself against his very powerful father.  This is a huge reason as to why I LOVE Anya!  Romantic love does not always conquer all, and there are things much more important than said concept.  I love reading YA, it's obviously what I primarily read, but I don't relate to a lot of the main characters because there is often a huge emphasis on the importance of romantic love - to the detriment of everything else.  Including your own life.  (I'm looking at YOU Everneath!) 

Anya's values line up exactly with my own.  She prizes loyalty and family above all else, and those are what I would rank most important to me as well.  In the beginning when her best friend Scarlet is crushing on Win, Anya makes it clear she doesn't want him, and will never go for him.  And it's not like it is in every other book I've read with this situation (Yes, YOU, The Forsaken)  - she really is not interested in making a move, is not secretly longing for him.  He might seem like a boy she could like, but Scarlet likes him, and she doesn't know the boy, so that's that.  Scarlet is her best friend in the world (and one of my absolute favourite characters), and nothing is more important than that.  It is ONLY because Scarlet has made it clear that she acknowledges that Win will never be into her and that she thinks Anya could use a guy like Win, that Anya even tempts the idea of liking Win.

I could do a whole post just on all the reasons I love Scarlet, but I figured as the main character (and also because I spent the whole book cheering on how AWESOME Anya is), Anya gets priority.  But if there is one thing that I could name as my favourite part of this book, it would definitely be Scarlet and Anya's friendship.  It is so refreshing when I find friendships that are:

A.  Actually friends, not secretly backstabbing each other
B.  The friend is a person, not a cardboard cut out to sound off of each other
C.  And most rare, the friend is an integral part to the main character's life

Scarlet and Anya are complete opposites - Scarlet is beyond optimistic, always believes in Win and Anya as a relationship, and is out for some fun trouble-making.  And it's not just Scarlet being a doormat for Anya.  The quote Scarlet gives in my quotes section is one of my favourite quotes of the book.  Scarlet doesn't back down when she believes in something, and this shows up throughout the story - even if it pits her against her best friend.  But when it comes down to it, she and Anya are there for each other no matter what happens.  When it comes to Scarlet, Anya will be confidante, wingman, or defender of character and reputation.   They are really good for each other - Anya keeps Scarlet grounded, and Scarlet makes sure Anya doesn't condemn herself to a grim life. 

And these are all the reasons why Anya is one of my all-time favourite heroines (followed closely by Scarlet).  Have any of you read this series?  Who did you love?  I already know Mitchii's answer, but I'm curious to know what the rest of you thought! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Books 'n Bloggers Swap!

Chaotic Goddess is hosting this awesome book swap. It looks like a ton of fun so I thought I'd give it a go. The challenge is to give your partner:

1. A book you love
2. A book you haven't read
3. A book your partner wants

I can't help myself. How could you NOT want to do this? Sign ups end today, so hurry hurry go sign up!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Musings: Tamora Pierce, fantasy, and diversity



It’s always us.
Sandry, Daja, Briar, and Tris from Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series, found on the songofthelioness tumblr

A few months ago, I read an interesting post by Silver Miles of Steel Thistle about the fantasy genre and diversity.  I have to say that Tamora Pierce doesn’t fit the typical mode, because she is one of the few fantasy writers out there who is always racially diverse, and equality isn’t effected by race, gender, or sexuality (at least among the main characters.  Racism, etc. from outside characters is generally shown by the less savory sorts).  The Circle of Magic series features a straight white noble, a black lesbian trader, a slightly overweight girl, a mixed race boy, a bi and lesbian couple, an Asian street rat, an older Indian … I mean the list goes on!  You've got all ages, all races (although I’m listing them by their features here, since obviously there is no Asia etc. in the books), I think all sexualities (I can’t remember if there are any trans characters in the series, but it wouldn’t surprise me).

This is one place where the Circle of Magic series wins over the Tortall ones.  While the Tortall lands are also diverse, all the main characters are straight, white women (Unless Daine isn’t white?).  While there are plenty of side characters of other races, it’s not the same as having a non-white main character.  And sexuality is definitely downplayed in the Tortall books (in comparison to the CoM series).  It’s clear all the main characters are very open to people of different sexualities (already a giant step forward in comparison to most books), but none of the characters are anything but straight – even side characters (again, unless I’m forgetting one?).  This is by no means a criticism of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall series.  I love them.  I still reread them on pretty much a yearly basis.  You look at when she started writing these series, especially because they are fantasy and it’s amazing what she managed to do.  She wrote fantasy novels with a racially diverse cast, and even back in the 80s, she had characters who could care less if someone was lgbt.  Quick, name some other authors who have managed to do even one of those things (where being racially different is not shown as inferior a la C.S. Lewis, and being lgbt is not used as trope).  Even now, 30 years later.  I can’t name more than a handful.  Kristin Cashore and Sarah J. Maas are the only two I can come up with off the top of my head.  I know I’m missing a few...but the fact that I have to think hard at all to come up with some?  It shows how far we still have to go in this genre. 

While I think I would have always been open to all gender/sexuality/races because I have great parents, having books like these helped affirm that I was right to think so.  I grew up in the South.  I spent half of that time living in the Bible Belt.  I was definitely exposed to very different opinions on these matters.  But I had role models in Alanna, Kel, Ali, and Daine.  I loved these characters, wanted to be these characters, and if I felt that way?  Think of all the other kids and teens who got to read these characters and see that it is ok to be different.  All the kids and teens who were given a chance to wonder if maybe their parents or community are wrong about some things.   That there are books out there that feature someone other than straight white characters. 

Tamora Pierce dominates the genre with her ability to craft not only phenomenal books and characters, but to treat different races and sexualities as normal – part of who the person is, but not making their identity their race or sexual choice – is just amazing.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Circle of Magic - Tamora Pierce


Sandry's Book With her gift of weaving silk thread and creating light, Sandry is brought to the Winding Circle community. There she meets Briar, a former thief who has a way with plants; Daja, an outcast gifted at metalcraft; and Tris, whose connection with the weather unsettles everyone, including herself. At Winding Circle, the four misfits are taught how to use their magic - and to trust one another. But then disaster strikes their new home. Can Sandry weave together four kinds of magical power and save herself, her friends, and the one place where they've ever been accepted?

Tris's Book Earthquake damage leaves Winding Circle vulnerable to pirate attack, so everyone - including the young mages-in-training Tris, Briar, Daja, and Sandry - is working to strengthen the community's defenses. When Tris's cousin Aymery comes to visit, he advises the "weather witch" to return to the family that exiled her, but she doesn't wish to leave her friends to face the threat without her.
As the onslaught begins, two things become terribly clear: The pirates have a powerful new weapon, and they have an accomplice within Winding Circle. But the attackers have failed to reckon with the fury of a young mage betrayed once too often and her very stubborn, very loyal friends....

 Daja's BookOutcast Trader Daja, along with her fellow mages-in-training, journeys from Winding Circle to the Gold Ridge Mountains, where drought threatens widespread famine. There, Daja creates an astonishing object: a living metal vine, and Daja's dealings with her former people reawaken a longing for familiar ways.
Daja must choose - should she return to the Traders or remain with the Winding Circle folk who have become her family?

Briar's BookFour elements of power, four mages-in-training learning to control them. In Book 4 of the Circle of Magic Quartet, former "street rat" Briar leads a comfortable life at Winding Circle Temple, learning plant magic from his teacher Rosethorn. But street kids are still his friends, and when one of them gets sick, she turns to Briar for help. As the mysterious illness spreads, Sandry, Daja, and Tris join Briar and their teachers to fight the epidemic. But just as the situation improves, the unthinkable happens. Will Briar be able to save what he loves most?


"You're always reading," retorted Sandry.  The only way people can ever talk to you is to interrupt."

"Then maybe they shouldn't talk to me," Tris said.  – Briar’s Book


So my big undertaking in 2013 was reading all of Tamora Pierce’s Circle of Magic books.  I’m a HUGE Tamora Pierce fan (she has been the bread and butter of my reading since childhood) it’s a little bit amazing I’ve only read the her books set in Tortall.  Admittedly, that’s still a good 2/3 of her books, but if I’m going to call myself a true Tamora Pierce fan, I really should read that missing 1/3!

I have to say, as much as I love Tamora Pierce her first Circle of Magic quartet took me a while to get into.  I started out confused and like I didn't have a great grip on the characters, particularly the first book which felt like it was a quick introduction.   It’s only about 200 pages, and we’ve got FOUR main characters.  It means we only get a brief overview of each character, and I found it a bit confusing as the first book is titled Sandry’s Book.  It didn't seem like we spent much time with Sandry at all even though it’s her book because had to spend so much time laying in foundation for everything else.  Luckily, I read all four back to back, so by the fourth book you have some truly amazing character development.  When I say it that way, it sounds like it’s meant to be read that way, like it’s really one large book divided into four.  It’s not like that at all!  In fact one of my favourite things about how Tamora Pierce writes, is that all her books are books on their own, not cliff hangers (or very minor ones towards the end of a couple of her series).  You continue this series because you will always want to know more stories about her land and her characters, not because you HAVE to due to a cliffhanger. 
Out of all the books in the quartet, it’s Briar’s Book (the last of the quartet) that really knocks me off my feet.  This is definitely when I got 100% behind the Emelan books the way I am about the Tortall ones.  I enjoyed the second and third books more than I did the first, but Briar’s book is….ahhhh!  I honestly didn't know who was going to survive or not of the side characters (you know who I'm talking about if you've read the book).  Like seriously.  Up to like 3 pages to the end I honestly didn't know how it was going to go!  You know with Tamora Pierce that ultimately, it’s going to be a feel good book.  That being said, it doesn’t mean your side characters are safe - Alanna and Kel’s quartets in particular punched a hole in my gut with some of the deaths.  


It's Tamora Pierce.  I expected to love it, and I was not let down.  If you haven't read these, you should.  For so many reasons - I'm going to have a Tamora Pierce discussion post up tomorrow so if this review wasn't enough to convince you, let that convince you!

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Day in the Life (1)

This is a spin off of My Summer Girl's Friday Five where I talk about non-bookish things (Mostly.  I don't always succeed in 100% book free zone)!

So I'm sure everyone's been dealing with crazy weather like I have!  This was my weather on Monday: 

Yep.  That happened.  Needless to say school actually closed for once.  And I did not go outside at all.  I went from camping on a beach in Mexico to...that.  It was more than a bit of a shock!  And getting home was a nightmare as I was caught up in all the snowstorms, but luckily I only got back a day late (which in comparison to a ton of people is pretty good).  It was actually nice as my cancelled flight actually had me stuck where my mom lives, so I got to spend the day with her and we got manis and pedis :)  I'm so spoiled!

In other news, my quintet, Fullertone Winds, is at a chamber competition!  We drove all through the night to get here since we got stuck in unexpected traffic and a snow storm, but luckily our horn player is a Canadian and got us here safely.  We don't play until tomorrow though, so wish us luck!

And that's it for this week - anything fun happen in yours?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

2014 Challenges

Look!  I'm doing a challenge!  Shannon has always impressed me with the CRAZY number of challenges she participates in, so I thought I'd dive in and do a few myself.  These seemed like something I would actually do, and not just...say I'd do.

That being said, I don't have the most faith in myself so I'm going to start of doing Level 1, which is 1-5 books.  It's being hosted by Somewhere Only We Know and Words Fueled by Love, so hopefully I'll see a few of you join me in this challenge!  And if you're not interested in that one, or want to be crazy like me and do TWO WHOLE CHALLENGES, you could always try this one:

And unsurprisingly, I'm going to go the underachiever route and start with Level 1, which is also 1-5 books.  I really want to get to at least First Kiss though!  I need to get my TBR pile under control.  I think I'm only going to count books that have been physically been sitting on my bookshelves at home though since that's what I'm most concerned with as the ones on my Kindle take up 0 room!  This is hosted by Bookish, so head on over and join with me!

Once again, I'm going for the baby level but that's because I'm trying to cut back on my ARCs.  But I know I still have quite a few to review that I requested last year, so here goes with Level Apprentice (1 - 10 books).  This is hosted by Rachel @ Fiktshun and Reanna @ Phantasmic Reads.

The Mad Reviewer Reading Challenge Button

 And last but not least, a review challenge!  Other than the TBR one this is what I REALLY need.  But unlike all the other challenges, I'm going all the way to the top - Mad Reviewer (104 books)!  I figure since I didn't realllly start blogging until June and managed to review 49 books this year, I should be able to make it if I push myself.  This one is hosted by The Mad Reviewer, and if you're a book blogger, you've definitely got nothing to lose since you'll be reviewing books anyway!

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie

Welcome to another round of Elizabeth is seriously the worst procrastinator ever!  I wrote up most of this post in...November....and I then I just didn' anything...

But new 2014 Elizabeth is ON IT.  (And also I was stuck at an airport.  Hi crazy weather!  It may have taken me a day and a half plus the hour it took me to break into my apartment since I left the key inside, but look!  Now I have blog posts!)


I was originally going to post about something completely different, but I ended up watching Catching Fire last night and it was SO. GOOD.  I mean I thought the The Hunger Games was an ok adaption of the book, especially since there's so little dialogue.  I didn't love it, I didn't hate it.  But this?  This movie was a whole new level of good.  Seriously this was me the whole time:

I was such a mess watching this.  If I had been alone in my room I would have bawled my eyes out, but as I was in a theatre full of people, I kept to some teary eyes and sniffles.  Where can I even begin to describe this movie?

The acting.  That's a good place to start.  This is one of the strongest casts I've ever had the pleasure of seeing.  The chemistry between them all is just amazing.  Certain actors pull more out of the characters than I had originally felt reading the books, which is really saying something.  The first and foremost of those is definitely Woody Harrelson's Haymitch.  In the books I saw Haymitch as a crotchety old drunk - which he is, but Harrelson brings a whole new layer to the character.  I won't spend too much time on all the reasons, but I think anyone who has seen the movie at least can agree he is a great Haymitch.  I was extremely shocked at the level of chemistry Lenny Kravitz brings to the screen as Cinna in the first Hunger Games, and he doesn't disappoint in this movie either.  I think he's the character I see the most talked about which is amazing since Kravitz doesn't have much screen time in either film, but he clearly packs a punch with his five minutes of screen time.  And then there's Elizabeth Banks who really nails Effie's character, and of course I'm a huge Jennifer Lawrence fan, and ok I will sum up the rest of the cast as simply amazing because that is the less wordy way of saying what I feel about everyone.  They were all great and if their characters were different than how I imagined them, they were so committed to their interpretation of the characters that I became a believer too.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Forsaken (Forsaken #1) - Lisa M. Stasse

The Forsaken (The Forsaken, #1)


GoodreadsAs an obedient orphan of the U.N.A. (the super-country that was once Mexico, the U.S., and Canada), Alenna learned at an early age to blend in and be quiet—having your parents taken by the police will do that to a girl. But Alenna can’t help but stand out when she fails a test that all sixteen-year-olds have to take: The test says she has a high capacity for brutal violence, and so she is sent to The Wheel, an island where all would-be criminals end up.

The life expectancy of prisoners on The Wheel is just two years, but with dirty, violent, and chaotic conditions, the time seems a lot longer as Alenna is forced to deal with civil wars for land ownership and machines that snatch kids out of their makeshift homes. Desperate, she and the other prisoners concoct a potentially fatal plan to flee the island. Survival may seem impossible, but Alenna is determined to achieve it anyway.


I really didn't like the characters.  They seemed like cardboard cutouts and they are insanely inconsistent.  At first Alenna is all ohhh noooo I simply won't fall in love with love-interest-whose-name-I've-forgotten.  Especially because special snowflake bff keeps calling me a slut and I don't want to prove her right!  Because nothing says true friendship like slut shaming.  But hot guy is just soooo hot I can't stop myself!  But there's just so much DRAMA because we're star crossed lovers!  We just can't be together because my bff is in love with you!  That's definitely more important than the fact there are crazy cannibals and body snatching machines on a deserted island trying to kill me!

I may have gotten really annoyed by the characters, which is a shame as I probably would have liked the book otherwise.  The premise is interesting, it's loaded with action and crazy situations, and while the mysteries for the most part weren't too difficult to figure out, there is one in particular I TOTALLY didn't see coming!


I don't regret reading it and if I see the next book lying around, I'd read it.  But if this hadn't been free on pulseit I probably wouldn't have read it.  For one, I like to have some emotional response when a character dies.

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013 Best Book Recap

This is more than a bit late, but these were the best books I read in 2013.

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

Crown of Midnight was by far my favourite book of 2013!

The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch

Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst

Soulbound by Heather Brewer

The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale

Kushiel's Legacy by Jacqueline Carey

This series was by far the most surprising read for me!  The back cover reads like an erotica, but the actual book reads like a crazy awesome fantasy and I could go on and on about all the reasons why this fantasy in particular is mind blowing to me, but I will restrain myself.  For now.

Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce

Sandry's Book (Circle of Magic, #1)

I've now officially read every single Tamora Pierce book!
 ..wait I have to retract that statement.  I've read every single Tamora Pierce book except the last two Beka Cooper books.  Yay me and yay Tamora Pierce!

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

A Cat Called Dog by Jem Vanston

The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

My other favourite book of 2013!

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer, #2)

I don't love everything about these books, but the sensation of feeling like you are slowly going insane and you can't trust in any reality and the suspense are totally worth it.

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Storm Front (The Dresden Files, #1)

I can't believe it's taken me so long to accept that I am predisposed to enjoy this sort of series, but I'm so glad I finally started reading them!  And because this feels like Magnum P.I. as a wizard in Chicago, I can't help but imagine Harry as Tom Selleck, even if Harry doesn't have a glorious moustache.

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book

Linked by Imogen Howson

Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey

Dragonsong (Pern: Harper Hall, #1)

Dragonsinger by Anne McCaffrey

Dragonsinger (Pern: Harper Hall, #2)

Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine

Seeing Red

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book Thief

I don't even want to talk about what this book did to my soul.

Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian

Skeletons at the Feast

How did I manage to read more than one WWII books?  I try to limit those since they're clearly going to be depressing.

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

Ape House by Sara Gruen

Ape House

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

This book surprised me about as much as the Kushiel trilogy did!  I didn't expect to enjoy this, especially as Contemporary YA isn't my scene (although 3 of these books on this list are Contemporary YA so clearly this is changing!)

Mao's Last Dancer by Li Cunxin

I don't read nonfiction.  To me this includes memoirs.  But this was an absolutely stunning read, and was one of the most beautifully written books I've ever read.

Dragonwriter:  A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern edited by Todd McCaffrey

 Dragonwriter: A Tribute to Anne McCaffrey and Pern

If you have any interest in Anne McCaffrey, science fiction, or female writers, you need to read this book.

And that's my belated favourites of 2013 list!  What was on your list for 2013?  Leave me a link in the comments!