Monday, December 31, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers list their top ten in the category. 

Top Ten Books I Resolve to Read in 2013

10. Steve Jobs
By Walter Isaacson

I've been meaning to read this book for awhile; I downloaded the eBook sample from Barnes & Noble and liked it, and one of my teachers who read it had a positive review. I think I've been a little scared of it because I'm always wary about biographies - some that I've read were good, some were bad, some were difficult to stay focused on, and others were force-fed to me in elementary school. This year, though, I'm finally going to man up and tackle this book. 

9. This Side of Paradise
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Because I've wanted to give F. Scott Fitzgerald a try for awhile now, and really hope I can get into his books, because they all look really interesting and promising. This is one of the ones that jumped out at me. I can't wait to give it a try. If I like it, F. Scott Fitzgerald might end up being the author I research for next semester's English project. 

8. City of Bones
By Cassandra Clare

I love Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices series, and although I've wanted to read the Mortal Instruments, I've also wanted to wait until I'd finished the Infernal Devices. Clockwork Princess finally comes out this year, so I'll be able to read City of Bones before the movie comes out. 

7. The Jungle Book
By Rudyard Kipling

I read it many years ago, after I was in a play adaptation of it (I was a wolf pup and had two lines, one of which I had a lot of trouble remembering.) but don't remember much and probably didn't understand all of it since I was only ten. I've wanted to reread it since reading The Tiger's Wife over the summer, but didn't get around to it in 2012. In 2013, it's happening for sure. 

6. The Beautiful and Damned
By F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another enticing book by F. Scott Fitzgerald. This one looks even more appealing than This Side of Paradise. The title, the plot synopsis, even the cover all just draw me in. I can't wait to give both books a try, and hopefully have another author to add to my favorites list. 

5. The Lost World
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Of course everyone knows Sir Arthur Conan Doyle because of Sherlock Holmes. And of course I love Sherlock Holmes. But he did write other books, one of which is The Lost World. I've wanted to read some of Conan Doyle's other books for some time now, just to see what they were like, and I figure this is a good place to start. I have high hopes for it; after all, we're talking about the genius who created Sherlock Holmes. 

4. The Joy Luck Club
By Amy Tan

There's not much to say about why I want to read this book other than the fact that it just looks like a really amazing story. I'm really excited to get my hands on a copy and give it a try. Plus, I love reading about anything with Chinese culture involved; I find it so fascinating, and always have. 

3. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
By Stephen Chbosky

Everyone at the writing camp I went to over the summer seemed to have read this book, and had nothing but praise for it. And then they made it into a movie. And I, for some ridiculous reason, still have not read it. It's a disgrace. I should be ashamed. So this year, I'm going to read it. Because other than the fact that everyone seems to love it, it has an incredible title. And I want to watch the movie. 

2. Anna Karenina
By Leo Tolstoy

I've wanted to read this book for months. I almost bought it over the summer, but ended up buying Night and Day by Virginia Woolf instead - and have been kicking myself ever since. Not for buying Night and Day, of course, but for not buying Anna Karenina. Because of course they made it into a movie, which looks phenomenal. I mean, it sounds like such an epic story. With Jude Law in it. There's  nowhere to go wrong! So now I'm even more determined to read the book, so I can watch the movie when it comes out on DVD. 

1. Les Miserables
By Victor Hugo

I saw the movie on Sunday and loved it. Loved it. I mean, this movie was too incredible for words. So now, of course, I have to read the book. Here's hoping it's just as epic without being sung. Of course, I could just listen to the soundtrack on repeat while reading it. 


2012: A Year In Books

Last year on New Year's Eve, I had nothing to do except watch Coldplay's New Year's Eve performance, and so devoted my evening to a so-called "Secret Bookish Project", titled "2011: A Year In Books." (full explanation of how it works here I really enjoyed recapping the best books I'd read throughout the year, and so decided to do it again this year. Although it is no longer secret, and technically where I am it is already 2013 (I had plans this year! Gasp!) it is still bookish, and so without further ado...

A Year in Books


I am the Messenger
By Markus Zusak

I read a lot of really amazing books this year, but this one, hands down, was the best. Markus Zusak (The Book Thief) writes books that are incredible, inspiring, gritty, real, and life-changing, and the way he crafts words is absolutely beautiful. This book was perfect in every sense of the word, and the only real candidate for Book of the Year.


Maggie Stiefvater

If there's a blog post that goes by without me mentioning this amazing author, something's wrong. I had read the first book in her Wolves of Mercy Falls series, Shiver, in 2011. In 2012, I discovered Lament and Ballad and then proceeded to devour every other book she had written, and loved every single one of them. Plus, based on her blog, she seems like a really cool person. I can't wait to read more from her in 2013. 


The Enchantress
By Michael Scott

A lot of amazing series came to a close in 2012, and they all ended spectacularly. The best one, though, had to by The Enchantress. There was so much going on in this book, and it was all handled beautifully. I could not stop turning pages. The character development was amazing, and the plot was perfect. Definitely the best conclusion this year. 

What Else I've Read
The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima
Forever by Maggie Stiefvater
13 Secrets by Michelle Harrison
The Serpent's Shadow by Rick Riordan


The Hound of the Baskervilles
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

It's easy to see why this is the most well-known and considered the best of all the Holmes stories. The atmosphere, suspense, and mystery were more intense and better described than in any of the other mysteries. Not only was it a brilliant mystery, it was beautifully written. Plus...yes, okay, I have a bias towards anything involving Sherlock Holmes. 

What Else I've Read
(not a complete list, just other notable books in the genre)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Crucible by Arthur Miller
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne


Firebirds Rising
Edited by Sharyn November

All of the Firebirds anthologies were amazing, but Firebirds Rising stood out - not only from the other Firebirds anthologies, but from other anthologies, too - as the clear best. I loved not only the fantasy included here, but the science fiction, which I didn't expect. All of the stories in here were brilliant, and I highly recommend this collection

What Else I've Read
Firebirds Soaring edited by Sharyn November
The Coyote Road edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Winding
The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


By Lauren DeStefano

The Chemical Garden Trilogy is one of the best post-apocalyptic/dystopian series I've ever read, even rivaling The Hunger Games. These are incredible books, and Fever was every bit as fantastic as Wither, which almost won this category last year. This year, it's a clear victory for the Chemical Garden trilogy. And it could make an appearance again next year, after the release of Sever, which I cannot wait for. 

What Else I've Read
Witch and Wizard by James Patterson
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Matched by Ally Condie
The Gift by James Patterson
The Fire by James Patterson


The Demon King
By Cinda Williams Chima

This year I discovered the incredible author Cinda Williams Chima, and immediately fell in love with her Seven Realms Series. This book, which I've praised several times on the blog, faced tough competition - this was a good year for fantasy - but still prevailed as the best fantasy book I've read this year. 

What Else I've Read
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
13 Secrets by Michelle Harrison
The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore
The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima
Pegasus by Robin McKinley
Eona by Allison Goodman


The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
By Jacqueline Kelly

This book was so beautiful. I loved Calpurnia and her relationship with her grandfather, and reading about their adventures in the nature that surrounds them. It was such a sweet, heartwarming story, and I highly recommend it to anyone.

What Else I've Read
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Geronimo by Joseph Bruchac
The Smile by Donna Jo Napoli
Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Bradley
La's Orchestra Saves the World by Alexander McCall Smith
Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Shecter


Heist Society
By Ally Carter

I loved this book. It was such an engaging read. All the characters were incredible, the plot kept me hooked, and the writing was good without getting in the way or distracting from the story. I loved it and can't wait to read the second book, Uncommon Criminals, which I got for Christmas.


Why We Broke Up
By Daniel Handler

Heartbreaking, emotional, touching, sweet, and beautifully written, all at the same time. In my review, I gave this book the highest possible compliment: I didn't want it to end. I wanted this story to go on forever, just so I could keep reading about it. This is a work of genius right here. 

What Else I've Read
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
Write Naked by Peter Gould
Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard
The Story of Us by Deb Caletti


These are some other books that I felt deserved a mention, although they didn't fit in any particular category: The Tiger's Wife, by Tea Obreht, with its stunning setting and description and intertwining stories; Garden Spells, which brought me into the magical world of Sarah Addison Allen; and Wonder, which warmed my heart and taught me some important lessons about love and kindness. Of course, these are just a few of the incredible books I read this year. 2012 was a great year for reading, and I'm looking forward to another wonderfully bookish year in 2013. 


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Book Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed - Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana'Marianna, maintaing peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible. Tension between wizards and clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells' inner turmoil, Raisa's best hope it to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she's falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cutthroat world of blueblood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Ha finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for raisa. Before long, Han uncovers a secret believed to be lost to history, a revelation powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can save his queendom?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie comes to light at last in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series. 

This was a superb ending to Cinda Williams Chima's Seven Realms series. The action that had been building up over the past three books came to a climax here, and it made the book exciting and impossible to put down. The plot was exciting, well structured, and perfectly paced, and the world was as rich and vibrant as ever, made even more so by the additional details about Aediion, earth magic combined with High Magic, and the true history of Queen Hanalea and Alger Waterlow. 

What really made this book stand out to me, however, was the character development. There was not one character in this story who had not undergone at least some change since the beginning of the first book, The Demon King. Han's was the most pronounced; it was incredible to see him finally determine what he wanted and go after it, and it made me root even more for him to succeed. Han discovered a lot of truth about himself, Raisa, and the world in this book, and it made him a very different character, even more likable and compelling than before. Micah also changed drastically, from the reckless, charming, spoiled young man he was in The Demon King to a much more mature person who'd learned a lot of humility and patience - as much as any Bayar can learn those traits. Moments like when he and Han worked together to keep Raisa safe when the temple was burning and when Micah proclaimed to his father that he would "Get in bed with the bloody copperheads if I have to," showed that just like Han, Micah finally has something of his own that he believes in and is willing to fight for. 

Micah and Han weren't the only characters to change. The moments where Raisa finally allowed herself to be weak helped her to see the path forward. Amon reestablished his friendship with Raisa while learning to trust Han to protect her. Adam Gryphon stepped out of his parents' shadow, Night Bird learned to see a future where clan and wizards worked together, and maybe most thrilling of all, Fire Dancer stepped up to claim his legacy and his place as both a wizard and a member of the clans and exposed Gavan Bayar for what he did to Dancer's mother. The revelation of the truth about Alger Waterlow and his love for Hanalea was beautifully done. Even Fiona's character became more complex in this book - even though she's ruthless and dangerous, she's also clearly attracted to Han, and the scene where her father refused to help her because of his desire to find the armory of the gifted kings was actually one of the saddest scenes in the book. All of this was done without making the antagonists too likable or the heroes too flawed, instead striking the perfect balance. 

Aside from a few minor flaws - Reid Nightwalker's character was not as well-executed as the others and Elena and Averill Demonai could come off a little too warlike at times - this book was incredible, and I loved every page. The most amazing thing about this book is that it's about magic, wars, politics, nature, right and wrong, justice, history, and lies, while at the same time remaining, at its heart, a love story. Once again, a perfect conclusion to the incredible Seven Realms Series. 


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers list their top ten in the category.

Sorry for the lateness of this post! Just barely getting it in on Tuesday. Today was filled with craziness.

Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read in 2012

10. Nathaniel Hawthorne

I still stand by the fact that I absolutely hated The House of the Seven Gables, but I'm reading The Scarlet Letter right now and I'm liking it so far. We're also reading some of his short stories for English class, and those are considerably less painful. I'm actually enjoying The Minister's Black Veil, and Rappaccini's Daughter and Young Goodman Brown look pretty interesting. I don't love him, which is why he's tenth on the list, but I am glad I've read some of his stuff. 

9. Sara Zarr

Her book How to Save a Life was beyond incredible; it was moving and nearly perfect in every way. I loved it, and I'm so glad I discovered this author. I definitely want to read more by her, and soon - she's awesome. 

8. Ruta Sepetys

The author of Between Shades of Gray, one of our books for the fall Reading Competition that I absolutely loved. Her next release, Out of the Easy, made my list of the top ten books I'm looking forward to in 2013. It's authors like this that make me absolutely love historical fiction. 

7. James Patterson

I finally got into James Patterson's books this year when I started reading Witch and Wizard. I loved those books and was quick to finish off the series. Over the summer I started reading Maximum Ride, which I really liked. I'm glad I started reading James Patterson, and look forward to reading more books by him in 2013. 

6. Donna Jo Napoli

The first book of hers I read was Lights on the Nile, but the book that made me love her as an author was The Smile. It was amazing. Looking her up on Barnes&Noble revealed that she'd written a bunch of books that all sounded fantastic. I'm so glad I discovered her. 

5. T.S. Eliot

One of the people I met at writing camp over the summer was really into T.S. Eliot, and recommended him to me; coincidentally, I received Four Quartets as a gift about that same time. And now I want to read every poem T.S. Eliot has written, ever. He is amazing. 

4. Robin McKinley

I finished Pegasus not to long ago, and now I really want to check out some of her other books. Her fantasy writing is incredible - the world she creates, the characters she brings to life, and her writing style - all of it leaves me craving more. 

3. Ally Carter

Heist Society was one of the best books I have ever read. So incredible; I loved it. Uncommon Criminals is high-priority on my Christmas wish list, and I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You is without a doubt going to be the next book I check out from our school library. 

2. Sarah Addison Allen

Compared to other authors I love, like Maggie Stiefvater or Markus Zusak, I don't think I've gushed sufficiently about Sarah Addison Allen. I read all of her books except The Firefly Dance over the summer, and I adored every one of them. I want to live inside one of her novels. 

1. Cinda Williams Chima

There's nothing I love more than a good fantasy author, and Cinda Williams Chima is superb. I've read her Seven Realms Series and The Warrior Heir, and with every book of hers I read, I'm desperate for more. She is incredible, and I love everything about her writing. I love stepping inside her world. 


Friday, December 7, 2012

Season Finales Are Emotionally Stressful

"Why has this hat got two fronts?"
"It's a deerstalker."
"It's got flaps. It's got ear flaps. It's an ear-hat. What do you mean, we have to be more careful?"
"I mean, Sherlock, that that's not a deerstalker anymore. It's a Sherlock Holmes hat. You're not a private detective anymore. You're practically famous."

And this is why he is the most iconic literary figure of all time.

I believe in Sherlock Holmes.

Just watched the Season 2 finale of Sherlock. To say that I was a bit emotional over it is not quite an adequate description.

Honestly, I think I would have been fine - well, not fine, but I wouldn't have actually cried - if they hadn't shown Mycroft at the end reading the article in the paper.

This was me when they showed the Diogenes Club:

"Mycroft Holmes, if you are not upset about this, you are the most unfeeling, uncaring, despicable human being-"

[Mycroft looks substantially upset.]

"No. Oh no. Nevermind. Don't look upset, don't, because you're just like Sherlock, you're unemotional and sociopathic and you're upset and that means you really cared and - great, now I'm going to cry."

So Mycroft was what got me. That whole episode, all that emotion, and Mycroft's reaction was what sent me over the edge.

Moving on.

This episode also happened to be full of incredible quotes...

"In a world of locked rooms, the man with the key is king...and honey, you should see me in a crown." -Moriarty

"I may be on the side of angels, but do not think for a second that I am one of them." -Sherlock

"Well, no one could fake being such an annoying dick all the time." -John.

And, I honestly think the moments between Sherlock and Molly in this episode have made me stop shipping John/Sherlock. Which is good, because I never really wanted to ship them in the first place, but that ship just sailed itself.

Problem is, I think I now ship Mycroft and Moriarty. Just as a one-sided thing from Moriarty, but still.

I'm not even sure what you'd call that. Moriarcroft? Mycroftiarty? I mean, at least Johnlock rolled off the tongue. Although I've recent discovered that Sherlock/Molly is known as Sherlolly, so suddenly Mycroftiarty doesn't sound quite so ridiculous.

I'm sorry. Sherlock does this to my brain. that I've finished watched all episodes of Sherlock, I need another way to get my Sherlock Holmes fix. Recommendations as to which adaptation is the best? Still skeptical about Elementary, but the Jeremy Brett versions are looking promising.

Or I could just go back to watching Psych religiously. It's like Sherlock, but without the sociopathic consulting detective and the emotional damage.

Digressing. Ignore me. I'm in shock. Look, I've got a blanket.
I need to stop now.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers post their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me

10. Maximum Ride Manga, Volume 1
By James Patterson

I read The Angel Experiment over the summer and I really liked it, and I really want to read the manga versions of this series - I think it's a story that would translate extremely well to this format. I've wanted to read them for awhile, so hopefully I'll have a chance to get my hands on the first one this Christmas.

9. The Lord of the Rings
By J.R.R. Tolkien

I am as obsessed with J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle Earth as I am with Sherlock Holmes, if you can imagine that. My dad and I have been sharing his old beat-up copy of the books for awhile now, and while I love that version for the memories, I also stumbled across a really amazing set in a bookstore a month or so ago that I definitely would not mind owning. 

8. Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein

This book was recommended for people who loved The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is one of my favorite books of all time. It looks fantastic, and I'd really like to own it - and give it a happy home next to The Book Thief on my shelf. 

7. Anna Karenina
By Leo Tolstoy

I've wanted to read this book since it was mentioned at the summer writing program I attended over the summer, and seeing the trailers for the movie only makes me want to read it even more. It looks like such a huge, epic, fantastic story. (I find the fact that the movie is rated R extremely irksome, as I am still under 18 and do NOT want to go see this movie with my parents.)

6. Tiger's Quest
By Colleen Houck

I got the first book, Tiger's Curse, for Christmas last year, and although I liked it, never got around to finishing the series. I'd really like to read this book, and it's also one I'd like to own - these books are just so beautiful, and this one has my favorite cover art out of the whole series. 

5. Uncommon Criminals
By Ally Carter

Ally Carter's Heist Society books are already among my favorites, even though I've only read the first one. I need to know what Kat and the rest of the gang get up too next. Heist Society was so amazing. I need more. 

4. House of Shadows
By Rachel Neumeier

I've seen this book on several blogs and it's gotten really good reviews, and I've wanted to read it ever since the first time I saw it. I haven't seen it at the school or public library or any of the libraries nearby, so it looks like if I want to read this book I'm going to have to make a request of Santa Claus to drop it off under my tree.

3. Nicholas St. North and the Battle of the Nightmare King
By William Joyce

I saw Rise of the Guardians over the weekend, and It. Was. Epic. I never thought I could be so amazed and blown away by an animated movie about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the Sandman, and Jack Frost. But - I was. I've wanted to read these books since I saw the movie trailer, and I want to read them even more now. Hopefully the rule of the book is always better than the movie holds true here and I'll be equally wowed by the novels. (Never mind the fact that I'm far too old for them.)

2. Endure
By Carrie Jones

The conclusion to the Need series holds a well-deserved spot near the top of my wish list. The third book in the series set up for so much excitement and action to occur in the third book, and I absolutely cannot wait to find out how it all ends. 

1. The Crimson Crown
By Cinda Williams Chima

And the only thing that could beat out Endure for the number one spot, The Crimson Crown. The fourth book in the seven realms series can't arrive at my house soon enough. I saw it the other day in a bookstore and almost died from excitement. Unfortunately, my money had to go towards my Christmas shopping for friends and family, so I'm relying on Santa for this one. Still, I'm not sure I'll be able to stand the wait until Christmas. 


Friday, November 30, 2012

NaNoWriMo: The Wrap-Up

Hear that sound?

It's the sound of cheering as people all over the world cross the NaNoWriMo finish line.

I am thrilled, grateful, and relieved to count myself among them once again this year.

The month of November went by surprisingly fast this year. One moment I was marathoning Disney's Halloweentown movies and keeping a close eye on the clock, and the next, I was gathering speed for my final 3,000 words this evening, and then I was crossing the finish line. It all seemed to happen in a blink of an eye this year.

I think getting ahead early had something to do with that - I wasn't nearly as stressed as last year, and even though I had days when I fell behind, I didn't have to put in as many late nights writing and had more downtime. The fact that this is my fourth NaNoWriMo, and that I'm finally getting the hang of balancing insane amounts of writing with school, extracurriculars, and other distractions, probably had something to do with it as well.

Although I love the journey of NaNoWriMo and found it a little bittersweet to hit 50k and bring the month to a close, I am glad that I wasn't extremely burnt-out by NaNoWriMo this year. In fact, I almost feel like I would be up to another insane writing challenge right now if you asked me.

Maybe not another 50k in a month, though. But finishing this novel within the next few months is definitely a strong possibility. There's still a lot of plot to unfold. I'll post updates every now and then to let you know how it's going. I'm more optimistic than ever about being able to incorporate writing into my daily life.

Before I finish, I do have some thank-yous I'd like to make:

Lindsey, Grant, and the whole crew at the Offices of Letters and Light. Thank you times a million for all the hard work you put in to this incredible program. My life would not be the same without it.

My lovely supportive family & friends, who left me alone to write for most of the month, and only dragged me away from the laptop occasionally to make sure I was still sane.

Dearest Emily and Emily, who decided to attempt this crazy thing alongside me this year. Having you guys frantically writing beside me in study hall was so encouraging.

Everyone else around the world who participated in NaNoWriMo. The sense of community on the site, in the forums, and all over the internet is what makes this event what it is. Congratulations on an incredible attempt, no matter what your final word count is, and I'll see you next November! Keep writing!


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers post their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Most Anticipated Books for 2013

10. Thousand Words
By Jennifer Brown
May 21, 2013

I read Hate List a year or so ago, and I absolutely loved it. It was intense, emotional, and well-written, with fantastic character development. Thousand Words looks equally awesome - it seemed interesting but not too out of the ordinary when I first started reading the description, but the end of the synopsis really made me want to read more. I've seen similar things happen on a much smaller scale, and the idea of how different people would respond sounds really intriguing. I can't wait to read this. 

9. Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad Poets
By Evan Roskos
March 5, 2013

This book looks phenomenal. Just the summary is thought-provoking and emotional. And hey, any book that has "Advice For Sad Poets" in the title is one that I pretty much have to read. It's been awhile since I've read a book with a tone similar to how this one sounds, so I'm eager for this to be released. 

8. Out of the Easy
By Ruta Sepetys
February 12, 2013

I loved Between Shades of Gray, also by Ruta Sepetys, and so I'm definitely willing to read more by this incredible author. Everything about this book just draws me in; the title, the synopsis, the setting, even the cover art. I really want to read this book.

7. Shades of Earth
By Beth Revis
January 15, 2013

Okay, so, Across the Universe wasn't among the best books I've ever read, but I liked it. I was interested in the plot, and although it didn't leave me dying for more, I am curious to know how things worked out for the characters. I haven't read A Million Suns yet, but that doesn't mean I'm not looking forward to this release, so I can finish off the series. 

6. Blaze (Or Love in the Time of Supervillains)
By Laurie Boyle Crompton
February 1, 2013

I have absolutely no idea what this book is about, but with a kick-butt title like this, I just have to read it. I mean, Love in the Time of Supervillains? Come on! There's really nothing I love more than a good supervillain. Plus, the cover? Amazing. I love her hair. I need to read this book. It looks freaking fantastic.

5. Sever (Chemical Garden Series)
By Lauren DeStefano
February 12, 2013

I absolutely love the Chemical Garden series. It's one of the best dystopian series I've ever read, and I adored Wither and Fever. I can't wait for this book to be released so I can read more of this amazing series and find out what happens. I'm dying to know how it ends. 

4. How to Lead a Life of Crime
By Kirsten Miller
February 21, 2013

Kirsten Miller = Amazing. I would have put her new Kiki Strike book on the list, but I won an advanced copy of it on her blog, so I'm not as antsy for the official release anymore. I am, however, really looking forward to this book. She's such an incredible author, and I love the look of this new novel. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.
3. Battle Magic
By Tamora Pierce
April 1, 2013

I have been searching for information about this book's release date ever since I heard Tamora Pierce was writing more books featuring her Circle of Magic characters, who I've dearly missed since finishing The Will of The Empress. To now have a title, a cover, and a release date (however far away it may be) is thrilling. Plus, I've been dying to find out what happened to Briar and Rosethorn between The Circle Opens and The Will of the Empress. 

2. Fearless
By Cornelia Funke
April 2, 2013

I've been dying for a sequel to Reckless ever since I bought it way back in 2011. The wait has been excruciating, but the end it finally in sight. Thank goodness - I have been deprived of Cornelia Funke books for way too long. The Mirror World might be my favorite world that she's ever created, too, making me even more excited for this. 

1. Clockwork Princess
By Cassandra Clare
March 19, 2013

This book was originally supposed to come out in November or December of this year, so to say that the time between now and March is going to be way too long of a wait is the understatement of the year. Clockwork Prince just made me love these books even more, and I need to know how they end. The wait for this book is going to be almost as bad as the wait for the new season of Sherlock. 


Sunday, November 25, 2012


Two Days Ago: I will not watch the season 1 finale of Sherlock until I am caught up on NaNoWriMo and have the time to immediately watch the first episode of season 2.

Yesterday: I am finally caught up with NaNoWriMo, meaning I am free to watch Sherlock this weekend.

Tonight: I have time to watch one episode of Sherlock without being up much later than I normally stay up reading. I should read, instead, though, because even I will be too exhausted to watch two episodes in a row.

About two hours ago: I really want to watch Sherlock. But I shouldn't, because I shouldn't watch the season 1 finale of Sherlock until I have time to watch the first episode of season 2.

An hour and a forty-five minutes ago: Why am I logging into Netflix? Do I really want to watch this now?

About five seconds after that: Screw it, I'm watching Sherlock now.

Over the course of the past 1.5 hours: Various reactions of delight and happiness that come from watching Sherlock.

Approximately twenty minutes ago: Sherlock, what do you think you're DOING?

Fifteen minutes ago: John? JOHN!

Ten minutes ago, after angrily ripping out my headphones in despair and closing netflix: NO! I hate you, stupid, stupid creators of Sherlock, why, why, WHY would you end the episode THERE!

The most detailed description I could provide without giving too much away about the episode. Seriously, though. Be smarter than me, and DO NOT watch this episode unless you can IMMEDIATELY - and I mean, even faster than if you were to let Netflix automatically continue to play it - watch A Scandal in Belgravia.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Reading Room (30)

The Reading Room is a weekly update on books I'm reading and planning to read, and is posted on Tuesdays. It was inspired by the feature On Myshelf at the blog All By Myshelf.

Thanksgiving break is within sight, meaning that even though I will have to devote several chunks of time to cooking and eating, and an even larger chunk of time to getting caught up on my novel for NaNoWriMo, I'll still have plenty of time to read. (We have six full days before we have to go back to school; benefit #1 of living in a small rural town is days off for hunting season.) In anticipation of this, I stopped in the school library today and picked up two new books.

The first I grabbed was The Gray Wolf Throne by Cinda Williams Chima, the third book in her Seven Realms Series. I absolutely love these books and can't get enough of them. I'm super-excited to read this one, and even more excited to get my hands on the fourth book, The Crimson Crown, which was recently released.

I also checked out Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I've seen it on a few blogs and Barnes & Noble and heard some good reviews about it, and plus it just looks good, so when I saw it on the shelf I snapped it up. I'm the first to check it out, apparently. I can't wait to start it.

For the past week or so, I've been working my way through a stack of books I got from the public library, including The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead and Pegasus by Robin McKinley, as well as Nightwatch by Sergei Lukyanenko, which was lent to me by a friend. I'll have a lot of reading to do over the break, and I am thrilled about it.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Just Past the Halfway Point

So, here we are on November 17th, just on the other side of the halfway point of NaNoWriMo. By this point I should have around 28,000 words, on track to hit 30,000 by the end of this weekend. 

Say what?

If you hadn't guessed, I'm not exactly at that point. I considered 23,000 words yesterday and accomplishment, and that only got me to a point where I would be 5,000 words behind today, not 7,000. Even last year, when I fell behind for much of NaNoWriMo, I had a better word count than this. This is serious. 

I've been blaming my NaNoWriMo struggles on two things: school and plot bunnies. 

The reasons for school being a problem are obvious. Between English teachers who think it's okay to assign 20-40 pages of reading a night, choir teachers who find it perfectly acceptable to schedule extra practices whenever they feel like it, guidance counselors who tell you you've been selected to go to a World Affairs Council in Pittsburgh (I meant to blog about that, but haven't had the time), and just my mind-boggling physics class in general, time and energy to write has been slim. It's one of the reasons I was so relieved for the weekend to come - it's a chance to get caught up, which is exactly what I plan to do. 

The plot bunnies don't make as much sense. After all, aren't plot bunnies good in NaNoWriMo? The answer is no. Not if they don't apply to the novel you're writing. Not if they give you ideas for other things. Things like fanfiction, a movie/musical sort of thing involving ballet, and a story about a haunted history classroom. There have been occasional plot bunnies for my novel, and I've managed to generate lots of ideas to get me through this weekend and the last two weeks of NaNoWriMo. But the other ideas have still been nagging at my mind, and I haven't been able to resist making some notes on some of them.

Still, although it will be difficult, I don't see any reason why I won't be able to get caught up this weekend, back on track for this week (three day week for me) possibly ahead over Thanksgiving break, and then experience more or less smooth sailing into the winner's circle of NaNoWriMo during the last week. That's what I'm hoping for, anyway. Wish me luck. 


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted every week, and bloggers post their top ten in the category.

Top Ten Books I'd Want To Have On A Deserted Island

This was a fun topic, and one I just had to do. For this list, I picked books that I feel can sustain me - stories I find myself reaching for over and over, no matter how many new novels beckon from the library or bookstores. These are the books that I'd read if I couldn't ever read anything else. 

10. The Wild Girls
By Pat Murphy

9. The Complete Sherlock Holmes
By Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(I have it in one volume, therefore it counts as one book.)

8. The Thief
By Megan Whalen Turner

7. The Count of Monte Cristo
By Alexandre Dumas

6. The Hobbit
By J.R.R. Tolkien

5. The Book Thief
By Markus Zusak

4. A Little Princess
By Frances Hodgson Burnett

3. To Kill A Mockingbird
By Harper Lee

2. The Lord of the Rings
By J.R.R. Tolkien
(See comment on book #9)

1. The Scorpio Races
By Maggie Stiefvater

I should add that I only included fiction books, i.e., novels, on this list, because that's what I blog about. However, if I really was being shipped off to a deserted island, the book I'd most want to take with me is of course my lovely purple-and-turquoise NIV Faithgirls Bible. Or any Bible, really, but especially that one.


Wednesday, November 7, 2012


And that is all I will say on the topic of the election.

No offense to anyone else, of course. I respect everyone's opinions, even if they differ from mine.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Tuned In To (10) - NaNoWriMo Playlist Edition

Tuned In To is a weekly feature discussing albums I've been listening to, songs that have been stuck in my head, or artists that I've discovered, and is posted on Fridays. This week, in honor of National Novel Writing Month, I'm posting the playlist for my 2012 NaNoWriMo novel.

1. Cemeteries of London
By: Coldplay
Album Viva La Vida

2. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked
By: Cage the Elephant
Album: Cage the Elephant

3. Hear The Bells
By: Vanessa Carlton
Album: Rabbits on the Run

4. Demons
By: Imagine Dragons
Album: Night Visions

5. Haunted
By: Taylor Swift
Album: Speak Now

6. Bleeding Out
By: Imagine Dragons
Album: Night Visions

7. Ghost
By: Ingrid Michaelson
Album: Human Again

8. Never Forget
By: Greta Salome & Jonsi
Album: Never Forget - Single

9. Nothing Left to Say/Rocks
By: Imagine Dragons
Album: Night Visions. 

For any of you participating in NaNoWriMo, what's your writing playlist for this year?


Thursday, November 1, 2012

NaNoWriMo: Day 1

Anyone who's been following my blog knows that November 1st is one of the most exciting days of the year for me, because it begins a month of frantic novel-writing adventures that nothing else can compare to. If you haven't heard of National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo, you should check it out at and sign up for an account - it's not too late to join! 

I kicked of my 2012 NaNoWriMo today at midnight, and on all counts it's been a great success. I was much less stressed about my novel idea than last year - I had it picked out months ahead of time and had done some preliminary outlining to figure out the basics of my plot before I started writing. It's an idea that's been floating around in my head for a few years now, ever since my first NaNoWriMo back in 2009, and has finally solidified enough to write it. It involves ghosts, witches, an insane demon, and Victorian-era London, and I am beyond excited to see where the plot takes me. You can read my full synopsis at my user profile on the NaNoWriMo site:

I managed to get about 1,700 words written between midnight and 1 AM, at which point my brain demanded sleep; I went through the rest of the day writing bits and pieces wherever I had time and then put in another long stint of writing this evening, managing to reach my Day-One goal of 5k. I've always set it as my goal for the first day because getting ahead early is one of the best strategies to use, but I've never achieved it, even though I've written 5k in a day before. Usually I make it to 3 or 4k, and I'm thrilled to have so much written already. I'm almost finished with the first chapter of my novel, and like where it's going so far. 

That about wraps up my Day One report. Best of luck to everyone participating in NaNoWriMo!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers post their top ten in the category. I love lists, especially about books, so when I found out about Top Ten Tuesday, I just had to participate.

Top Ten Favorite Kick-Ass Heroines

I was so excited for this topic. I love strong, decisive female characters who know what they want and aren't afraid to kick a little butt to get there. They're so much fun to read about, and this list was just as fun to create. In fact, it was really hard to narrow this topic down, and once I got to eleven, I just couldn't bear to cut any more, so you get a bonus on the list this week. 

10. Rowan "Red" Fox
13 Secrets
By Michelle Harrison

There's no denying that Rowan is tough. She doesn't wallow in her misery after her brother is switched for a changeling - she gets up and does something about it. Of course, she still has a sensitive side, revealed in later books, and this combination makes her a really compelling character. One I wouldn't want to mess with.

9. Kate "Puck" Connelly
The Scorpio Races
By Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, so I know I find a new way to gush about The Scorpio Races every week, but Puck Connelly is pretty awesome. She does what she needs to in order to help her family, even if that means riding in the Scorpio Races. Puck doesn't care that the races are dangerous, that she's the first girl to ever ride in them, or that no one thinks she can succeed. She's so determined. It's awesome. 

8. Sadie Kane
The Kane Chronicles
By Rick Riordan

I absolutely loved Sadie. She was intelligent, witty, powerful, and always seemed to be in control of the situation. Even when she was confused, she didn't let it overwhelm her. She was decisive and found her way out of nearly impossible situations, accepting other's help while knowing it wasn't always going to be there.

7. Wisteria Allgood
Witch and Wizard
By James Patterson

Wisteria's a lot like Sadie, only more kick-ass, if that's possible. A troublemaker from way back, no one - not even The One Who Is The One - is going to stand between her and what she's trying to accomplish or believes is right. Plus, she can make things spontaneously combust. You do not want to mess with this chick.

6. Perenelle Flamel
The Sorceress
By Michael Scott

Okay, I know. Perenelle isn't exactly the heroine of The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, but she easily climbs to main-character status during The Sorceress. Where she kicked some major butt. Escape prison? Check. Defeat an evil sphinx? Check. Take over an island filled with monsters with help from a ghost and a giant spider? Check and check. Yeah, there are a lot of other characters in the series, some who are more central to the plot, but Perry is by far the most powerful. 

5. Eona
Eon and Eona
By Alison Goodman

I loved all the characters in these books, and for once, the main character was no exception. The way she handled everything that was thrown at her and her relationships with everyone around her - Eona is strong and complex, and I loved every minute of reading about her. 

4. Alanna of Trebond
Song of the Lioness
By Tamora Pierce

I love this story of a woman trying to make her way in a man's world. Alanna knows that she's going to have to work twice as hard to keep up with the boys and prevent her secret from being discovered, and to prove herself once people find out she's really a girl, and she accepts this challenge readily. Noble, valiant, and could kill you about seven ways with just her right hand, Alanna is eventually able to become on of the king's most valued soldiers. So take that, everyone who said she wouldn't make it. 

3. Katniss Everdeen
The Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins

Who else could take care of her family after her father's death, provide food for most of District Twelve, survive The Hunger Games - twice - and then become the Mockingjay, a symbol of revolution? None but Katniss Everdeen, The Girl on Fire. She's amazing - and the reason millions of people were so captivated by The Hunger Games trilogy. 

2. Katarina Bishop
Heist Society
By Ally Carter

Katarina was born into a life of crime - she steals artifacts and valuables, cons her way into elite prep schools, and tangles with nefarious gangsters on a daily basis, and she's only fifteen. I can't wait to read more about her escapades in the other Heist Society books.

1. Kiki Strike
Kiki Strike
By Kirsten Miller

Kiki Strike was the only real option for number one on this list. The back of the first book in the series, Inside the Shadow City, describes her as a "black-clad, Vespa-riding, cafe-au-lait-drinking girl who seems to appear and vanish like magic." Kiki is smart, she's fearless, and she's intimidating for all her four-feet-ten-inches. You don't want to mess with her and you especially don't want to mess with the people she cares about. More than all of this, though, Kiki Strike is dangerous.

As a side note, I'd like to point out that Kiki's full name is also Katarina - Princess Katarina of Pokrovia, that is. Hmm. Perhaps there's something about the name "Katarina" that exudes a certain kick-ass quality? The FMC of my NaNoWriMo 2010 novel was also named Katarina, and I think she would have fit in very well with Katarina Bishop and Katarina/Kiki Strike.


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. A new topic is posted each week, and bloggers post their top ten in the category. I love lists, especially about books, so when I heard about Top Ten Tuesday, I just had to participate in it.

Top Ten Books to Get You Into The Halloween Spirit

10. Pay The Piper
By Jane Yolen

Because this book is geared towards slightly younger readers, there's not a lot that's too creepy about it, but the climax of the book is set on Halloween night, and it does get you into the spirit of Halloween without scaring you too terribly. 

9. Classic Ghost Stories
Various Authors

Nothing says Happy Halloween like a good ghost story, and this book is full of them, all fantastic.

8. 13 Curses
By Michelle Harrison

I love, love, love this series. Not only was the second book set around Halloween, it was also the darkest of the trilogy, with the most danger and sinister villains. Thinking of the woman who captured Rowan and the Unseelie Court still makes me shiver a little. 

7. The Raven Boys
By Maggie Stiefvater

This book was just so delightfully supernatural. There were ghosts, ley lines, long-dead kings, mysteries, and murder; there were fortune-tellers and birds and places that could have been real or imagined. I know I gush about Maggie Stiefvater a lot on this blog, but trust me, even if I wasn't obsessed with all of her books, I would still recommend this as a great Halloween read.

6. The Crowfield Curse
By Pat Walsh

Ah - a mysterious curse hanging over a secluded Abbey, strange visitors, a dead angel, a mysterious fey - definitely a book that would be enhanced by reading it around Halloween. It's full of places where the devil lurks and evil creatures hide, and - it was a pretty haunting tale when I first read it, and I imagine it would be even more so if it was read in October.

5. The Hound of the Baskervilles
By Arthur Conan Doyle

Check out my review for more about how perfect that atmosphere of this book was. It was just so spooky! And really, what's more Halloween - ish than Sherlock Holmes and a giant demonic hound?

4. The Crowfield Demon
By Pat Walsh

Possibly more terrifying than The Crowfield Curse. The demon that wreaks havoc on Crowfield Abbey in this book is absolutely, 100 percent, the stuff that comes out of nightmares and the most drastic of halloween decorations and costumes. I ended up reading far more chapters than I intended to every time I picked it up, because I had to know what happened and who made it out alive. 

3. Posessed
By Kate Cann

I'll just say this: While I loved this book, reading it after dark was the biggest mistake of my life. Dark, creepy, disturbing, startling - it was all of these things in abundance, without being too gory to handle. Definitely one to read in the middle of the day with all the lights on and a lot of other people in the house. 

2. Ballad
By Maggie Stiefvater

The king, the gathering of dangerous faeries, Nuala, everything James experiences in this book - it perfectly captures the mythical and magical side of Halloween. And, yes, it's Maggie Stiefvater, but that's not why it's on the list, I promise! It's because it's good. Which is because it's Maggie Stiefvater. Oh, never mind. Just go read it on Halloween night and prepare to be blown away. 

1. Consumed
By Kate Cann

The perfect Halloween story. The mythic and supernatural elements, the creepiness, the mysterious happenings, things that go bump in the night...actually, I think reading this on Halloween might just be too awesome for anyone to handle.