Saturday, December 31, 2011

Favority-Fave Reads of 2011

Yes, this is my favorite books of 2011 post, and I'm sliding it into the blogosphere right ahead of the New Year. Click the covers to go to each title's Goodreads page.  The list is separated up but the books are not in any particular order, so without further ado:

Favority-Faves: Debuts and Firsts in a Series Published in 2011

Hourglass by Myra McEntire - Debut (Full Review)
This book had everything you look for in Paranormal YA and a lot that hadn't been seen before. I loved Emerson and her boys and can't wait to slip back into their world in 2012!

 The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab - Debut (Full Review)
Everything about this book, from the writing to the characters to the setting, is amazing and lovely. No matter what Schwab writes in the future, I'm reading it.


Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally - Debut (Full Review)
This book caught me off guard by how good it was! It not only had a great premise, but it felt like it was a true story. Contemporary YA is often not my thing so take it from me, this one is worth your time.

Forgotten by Cat Patrick - Debut
I love a good mystery, especially when it involves a great character and a budding romance. This book kept me on the edge of my seat, which is where I am waiting for Patrick's next work.


Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson - First in a Series (Full Review)
This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read thanks to the beautiful writing and mind-bending mystery. If you take a chance on any book, make it this one because it is not at all what it seems.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson - First in a Series
Not only did this book have mystery, a quirky MC, and Jack the Ripper, but it was a fun read that made me laugh and gave me chills. The ending has stuck with me and I'm highly anticipating the next in the series.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin - Debut
I knew this book would be creepy, and I loved every minute of creepy it gave me along with some great characters and a good mystery. The jaw-dropper ending got me right between the eyes, too.

Divergent by Veronica Roth - Debut
I knew Roth could write by reading her blog, and her book did not disappoint. So much action, suspense, heartbreak, and triumph made it a true roller coaster ride I wished could go on and on.


Die for Me by Amy Plum - Debut
Despite being a paranormal, I was wary of this book, but it surprised me with how good it was. It sports a great cast of characters, fantastic lore, a powerful romance, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver - First in a Series
I was interested in this book but not expecting to like it due to the focus on romance, but I was wrong! This story had my heart pounding, I felt for the characters, and I can't wait to see what happens next.

Favortiy-Faves: Series I Read with a Book Published in 2011

Hex Hall & Demonglass by Rachel Hawkins
Hex Hall series (Full Review of First Book)
I loved snarky Sophie and the crazy things that happened in Hex Hall. It was both a lot of fun and full of mystery and magic. Demonglass was a fitting sequel and I loved the darker, more dangerous atmosphere that made the whole book exciting. This series has everything I love in a story with great characters and twisty-turns to boot.

Heist Society & Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter
Heist Society series
Ally Carter is the queen of high-concept, hands down. I love all the characters in this series, as well as the sophistication and more adult feeling of the novels even though they are still in my favorite section (YA, duh) in the bookstore. These books have lots of heart, are fun, funny, smart, and exciting. This is one series I hope goes on and on and on because it is that good.

Beautiful Creatures & Beautiful Darkness 
 by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl 
Caster Chronicles
The atmosphere and endearing main character of this magical series keep me coming back for more. Though these books are (quite, rather, enormously) long and the love interest irritates me more often than I like, I still love them. They have an feel all their own with a cast of characters ranging from quirky to crazy, meaning there's not a dull moment.

The Lying Game & Never Have I Ever  
by Sara Shepard
The Lying Game series
I love the concept of this series and the books are suspense filled rides. They have all the charm and intrigue of the Pretty Little Liars books but in this one, I actually like the main character. I stay on the edge of my seat as the secrets are revealed and suspects are added to or marked off the list. This is one of the best series out there.

Favority-Faves: Books I Read in 2011 Published Before 2011

Only the Good Spy Young by Ally Carter
Carter is on my list again, this time for the continuation of a story that really is to blame for me loving YA. This fourth book in the Gallagher Girls series did nothing but ratchet up the suspense, danger, and romance for the girls at the Gallagher Academy. The writing, characters, and plots just get better and better each time.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
I was hoping for a happily-ever-after read and Perkins delivered with this fun and well-written contemporary romance. I loved the characters and the setting and am a forever fan of Perkins because of this book. I plan on reading all of her books, but especially the ones that are Anna companion novels.

Immortal Beloved by Cate Tiernan
Tiernan's writing has a way of sweeping me up, and I loved getting lost is the main character's internal struggle for a better life. The history, mystery, and magic in this book drew me in and kept me. I'm definitely looking forward to the sequel due out next year.

Shadow Hills by Anastasia Hopcus
Add boarding school, magic, supernatural powers, mythology, mystery, history, romance, and danger, mix and serve, and you get this book. I thoroughly enjoyed having all my favorite elements in one read. I got caught up in the multifaceted drama and hope there is more to come for the residents of Shadow Hills.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher (Full Review)
This was a book I was both interested in and didn't want to read because of the concept and subject matter. But I'm glad I did because not only was it well-written, but the powerful message was woven into a carefully crafted narrative. This is one book that is both heartbreaking and hopeful and worthy of your bookshelf.

Trickster's Choice & Trickster's Queen 
by Tamora Pierce
Pierce is my go-to fantasy author and I love all of her books that I've read (so far) set in the land of Tortall. This series upped the intrigue and magic with more great characters and wonderful writing. It was so good I wish it was more than two books!

That's it, quirks! I hope you enjoyed my list and take a chance on some (or many) of these if you haven't read them already. Share your favorites or thoughts on mine in the comments!


From Where I'm Standing [5] - 2011: The Year of Awesome

Every year, I feel like I say, "Well, it's been quite a year!"  2011 is no exception. In fact, I think it was quite a bit more awesome than  most of my previous years. Here are my reasons:

Definitely the highlight of my year was getting to marry the most awesome person on the planet, my husband of going-on five months, Eric (I usually refer to him as Captain Italian or The Hubs on here and Twitter). We not only really dig each other (and have since 2003), we also got married on a great date, August 14, 2011. Now, if you know me at all, you know that I do not prefer the number 2, and I also have a thing about the aesthetics of numbers. The number 8 happens to be my husband's favorite number, and 14 is one of mine (the other is 31, in case you were wondering) and 11 is pretty awesome as well (yes, I am ignoring the other two numbers...I'm sure you get why).


We got to go on a very fun and geeky honeymoon in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. We played at MagiQuest to our hearts' content, explored and escaped The Tomb, saw sharks at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies in Gatlinburg, and visited the very magical Dollywood. We ate lots of great food and walked miles and miles and miles. We also rode trolleys, which was cool and helped us when we got tired of walking our feet off.

Just recently, we went to visit The Opryland Hotel in Nashville, Tennessee, to see all the pretty Christmas decorations. We had some great burgers while there, walked what felt like miles and miles and miles (this may be our thing) and were dazzled by the gorgeous lights, both at the hotel and at a nearby mega-light show set to music. That day we also visited two bookstores, one of which was Ann Patchett's Parnassus Books. It was very cozy and I loved the local atmosphere.

No, not mine, but my cousin's. She had a baby girl (Lily Brooke) just a month or so ago, our first new family member in several years. I'm sort of baby-phobic, so I plan to spend more time with her when she's, you know, a little older (if you can't tell because I'm smiling, I'm a little wary of breaking her in the photo below).

Heh. I love saying that, though it is not as scandalous as it may sound. Maybe you can tell from my posts or my tweets, maybe you can't, but I tend to be a little oblivious of things going on outside of my home town bubble. So I didn't know that a very awesome book festival, the Southern Festival of Books, had been happening just over in Nashville for, like, a long long time. But I did hear about it this year and was able to attend some Saturday panels. What I mean is, I chose Saturday because Myra McEntire and Victoria Schwab were going to be there doing panels and signings. I already stalked them on Twitter, so why not in Nashville too?

Anyhoo, I went and it was (my word of the year) awesome. Myra is ridiculous, y'all, in the best of ways. Seriously. I would love to just sit and listen to her tell stories, real, fictional, doesn't matter. I missed some of her panel (she was speaking with Jessica Warman, author of Between, on writing mysteries). After the panel, I got to meet Myra. She was and forever will be the first author I have met and spoken with in person and gotten a personally signed book from. It was epic. She signed some copies of Hourglass and some posters, and then we got to talk for a little bit. She told me her Charlie Bewley story, and she has great taste in eye wear. Seriously she is one of my favorite authors ever.

After that, my escorts (Captain Italian and his sidekick and best friend Danger Rob), and I walked to Demos'. We ate steak and relaxed then returned for the panel featuring Victoria Schwab (author of The Near Witch) and Sonia Gensler (author of The Revenant) on writing supernatural stories for teens. It was so much fun. I loved hearing how each author came up with the ideas for their books (I hadn't read either at that point) and Victoria was just as great in person as in her videos. I was also very glad that I got to hear Sonia speak because I hadn't heard of her before and she is so great. I was able to get books signed by both of them and speak with them a little and it was grand (no picture though, because my iPhone died). Oh yeah, and there were protesters, not of the festival, but you know, occupying things.

I tried to play golf way back in 7th grade, and I was horrible and I didn't find it fun. However, I like to watch golf, and golf is also my dad's most favorite of all things ever. We have the chance everyone year to attend the Masters Tournament at Augusta National in Augusta, Georgia, and this past April was the first time I got to go. Before going to the tournament, we stayed in a little town and got to eat at a really cool local place called Yesterday Cafe. Then the next day I got to see (up close!) Tiger Woods, Phil Mickleson, and a bunch of English/Irish/Australian hottie golfers (and one hottie Australian TV sportscaster) play and talk. I also met a bunch of funny Brits and an Irish man who gave me lots of info on Ireland as we stood and watched Charl Schwartzel of South Africa win the tournament.

Another highlight of my year was getting my first ever i-product, the iPhone 4. It's great. I use it for lots of things (Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, listening to books, not getting lost). The Hubs is not fond of my phone because he thinks I'm addicted to it (no comment) but I'm sure he'll see the light when he gets one of his own...eventually. I must add that while my phone is, in and of itself, epic, I would be up a creek without cell service if it weren't for the OtterBox Defender case. Seriously, y'all, I get insurance and a heavy duty case for my phone for a reason. Not only did my phone meet liquids three times this year (glass of water, can of Mountain Dew, and a river), as well as get dropped countless times, but it also was left (by me) on top of my car, which was driven for a mile or so before someone realized there were headphones blowing in the breeze outside my window. I then reached through the open window to the roof of my car and retrieved my phone. I'm sure the look on my face was one of great horror, relief, and embarrassment all at the same time. The OtterBox case has saved my phone and saved me lots of money, so the $50 I spent on it was well worth it.

I love my husband. More than anything else this year (except maybe food) he has spent lots of money making me happy, and by making me happy, I mean buying me books. In fact, many of the books he bought me are some of my very favorites. I would like to share those favorites with you, but you shall have to wait!  Look for my Favority-Favorite Reads of 2011, to be posted in the (very) near future!

Like I said before, it's been a quite a year! I hope all of my fellow quirks out there have had lots of happy, awesome things happen this year as well. Feel free to share in the comments!