Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books If You Like X

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Books If You Like X (tv show/movie/comic/play etc.).  Solve for X!


If you like the TV show Castle, you might like Heat Wave by Richard Castle.


If you like the movie Coraline, you might like Marianne Dreams by Catherine Storr.


If you like the TV show Downton Abbey, you might like I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.


If you like the TV show Firefly, you might like Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.


If you like the TV show Grimm, you might like The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly.


If you like the TV show Joan of Arcadia, you might like God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant.


If you like the TV show Little House on the Prairie, you might like The Ballad of Lucy Whipple by Karen Cushman.


If you like the TV show Once Upon A Time, you might like Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson.


If you like the TV show Sliders, you might like The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones.


If you like the TV show The Wonder Years, you might like Eli the Good by Silas House.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Review - Dream Boy

Dream Boy
by Mary Crockett & Madelyn Rosenberg
Date: 2014
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 336
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is the first ARC I've read in quite a while.  While I've come to rely on reviews when I'm trying to decide whether or not to read something, the synopsis of this book made me want to take a chance and give this one a try.  While I wasn't blown away by the book, I do think it has merit and will appeal to other readers.

First, the good.  There is actually a pretty imaginative premise to the story.  What if the people you dreamed about at night suddenly existed in your waking life?  I can't say that I've encountered this idea in any of the YA paranormal fiction that I've read.  So I will give the authors points for originality.

I also thought the character development was pretty good.  Annabelle is a particularly appealing heroine because she has a personality.  Yes, she can be mopey and self-deprecating at times, but she is a teenager; at least this sort of behaviour didn't define her completely.  I found her especially endearing in the first half of the book, when more attention was being paid to character development.  Take, for example, this passage, when she's explaining what she did when she had a crush on a guy who worked at the library:

I kept checking out As I Lay Dying in hopes he would talk to me, which of course he never did.  At least he worked at the library instead of a bookstore, so there was no financial investment, just time and brain cells and, since it was Faulkner, suffering.

If you've tried to read that book, you'll get it.  I almost laughed out loud.

The authors also appeared to make up lots of stuff (rather than use real brand names, place names, band names, etc.).  I wasn't sure if I liked this at first, but some of it ended up being pretty amusing:

Will steered us down toward River Road and I scanned through the lists on his iPod.  Nefarious Rodents, Meltdown, Lamb of the Apocalypse.

"Geez," I said.  "Do you get this for the music or the band names?  Burning Fur?  Really?"

I also liked the fact that this was a stand-alone novel.  There are no cliffhangers and very little unfinished business.  I've read a few books lately with ambiguous endings, so this was pleasantly refreshing.

Now for the negatives.  Unfortunately, there are quite a few.  One of the first things I noticed was that the tenses are a mess.  Annabelle narrates in the first person, and usually in the past tense... unless she's telling us something, at which point she often lapses into the present tense.  But it's not always consistent.  So you end up getting narration like this passage that somehow manages to switch tenses multiple times:

I knew it had been four years since my dad had left and these things happen and blah blah blah.  But it still didn't seem right that he was marrying someone else.  My mom hasn't even gone out on a date.

As a reader, I find this jarring.  When I settle in to read a book, one of the first things I take note of is the tense it's written in.  I get into a rhythm when I know what verb tenses to expect.  If those tenses change, there had better be a good reason: a flashback, a character relating a story, a framing device of some sort, etc.  Annabelle's dreams are related in the present tense, which makes sense.  But even then, there are weird lapses into the past tense that don't seem to belong:

I look down at my T-shirt, and find that it had been replaced by my homecoming dress.

When the tenses change for no reason, it comes across as sloppy.  This part of the book could definitely use some more editing to keep things consistent.

There are also many, many typos (which I'm going to chalk up to this being an ARC; hopefully they'll get weeded out before the final publication) and a number of said-bookisms, including my biggest pet peeve: the physically impossible ones:

"I needed some new ones before our trip to Black Beak," Serena clicked her toes together.

By the time I reached the halfway point, the typos (mostly of the punctuation variety) were really starting to get bad and the comma splices (like the one above... because that's basically what that is; it's certainly not a dialogue tag!) were growing in frequency.  While I understand that more editing may be done before this book is finally published, I don't think I've ever read an ARC that was quite this rough (at least as far as proofreading goes).

The plot -- while imaginative and original -- also requires the reader to suspend their disbelief... and not just about dream characters becoming reality.  We're also made to believe that ordinary people, once they learn about what's going on, will just accept it with very little questioning.  There were times in the book where long explanations would have been cumbersome, but the nearly blind acceptance of things was just a little too convenient to be believed.

I think, though, that my biggest disappointment turned out to be Annabelle herself.  Yes, I know I said I liked her.  But when it comes right down to it, she was really, really oblivious to two things that I thought were painfully obvious.  It makes me wonder whether the foreshadowing was just too strong, or whether I've just read too many of these types of books and I'm getting wise to the plot twists.  In any case, it did somewhat diminish my enjoyment of the story because I knew what was coming for so long.

If the editing issues are fixed, this could be a fairly strong addition to the YA paranormal genre... though perhaps for readers on the younger end of that age group.  Older readers and/or people who have read a lot in this vein are probably more likely to see the twists coming.  But it's a great premise and, overall, it was done passably well.

Plot: 3/5
Characters: 4/5
Pace: 3/5
Writing: 3/5
Editing: 1/5
Originality: 4/5
Enjoyment: 3/5

Overall: 3 out of 5

Sunday, April 27, 2014

In My Mailbox (64)


Freebie from Amazon.ca:
Your Guardian Angel
by Skyla Madi

For Ruby Moore life is far more complicated than that of your average teen, for she is in no way average. Ruby is a vampire and her life as a vampire is far from traditional.

It has been one year since her normal life was brutally taken from her. Still adjusting to the shock of the change from mortal to immortal, her world is rocked again and she is taken under the wings of a guardian angel back to Sage Sanctum -- a school beyond reach from the vampires that are determined to destroy her.

There, she is freed from her vampiric chains and her normal needs and urges return. However a new urge arises... Lust. A forbidden lust toward her savior, her guardian angel.

Attempting to control these desires is difficult, very difficult and when things couldn't possibly get any worse, her situation becomes life or death as someone, somewhere in the school is aiding those who want her dead.

Borrowed from the library:
Nightingale's Nest
by Nikki Loftin

Twelve-year-old John Fischer Jr., or "Little John" as he’s always been known, is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business, clearing brush for Mr. King, the wealthy owner of a chain of Texas dollar stores, when he hears a beautiful song that transfixes him. He follows the melody and finds, not a bird, but a young girl sitting in the branches of a tall sycamore tree.

There’s something magical about this girl, Gayle, especially her soaring singing voice, and Little John’s friendship with Gayle quickly becomes the one bright spot in his life, for his home is dominated by sorrow over his sister’s death and his parents’ ever-tightening financial difficulties.

But then Mr. King draws Little John into an impossible choice—forced to choose between his family’s survival and a betrayal of Gayle that puts her future in jeopardy.

Inspired by a Hans Christian Andersen story, Nightingale's Nest is an unforgettable novel about a boy with the weight of the world on his shoulders and a girl with the gift of healing in her voice.


What was in your "mailbox" this week?  Let me know in the comments!


In My Mailbox was started by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Weekly Recap - April 20-26, 2014

Here's what I blogged about over the last seven days:

Sunday - I posted the contents of my "mailbox".  I only got one book this week (this is a good thing).

Tuesday - I listed characters who live in other times for Top Ten Tuesday.

Thursday - I participated in Booking Through Thursday for the first time in years.  This week's topic was about favourite books.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Booking Through Thursday (26)



Booking Through Thursday asks:

Do you have a favorite book? What do you say when people ask you? (This question always flummoxes me because how can you pick just one, so I’m eager to hear what you folks have to say.)

And, has your favorite book changed over the years??

Actually, I'm not sure if I've ever been asked this question.  Maybe somebody asked me years ago... but I don't really remember.

I don't really have one favourite book.  There are a few books that always seem to show up in my Top Ten Tuesday posts.  The list hasn't really changed that much in recent years; I don't re-read books, so once a book makes it onto my list of favourites, it tends to stay there.

Some of my very favourite books are:

A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
Fire and Hemlock by Dianna Wynne Jones
Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis
Trader by Charles de Lint
Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion
The Willowmere Chronicles trilogy by Alison Baird

If someone were to ask me this question, I'd probably list the above books and tell them which ones they must read for themselves.  Then the asker would probably regret having asked me in the first place...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Characters Who X

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Characters Who X.  Solve for X!  This week, it's going to be "characters who live in another time":

Joe Kavalier from The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon - Part of the reason I loved this book as much as I did was its World War II-era setting.  Joe was a product of his time, having to deal with personal tragedy as he tried to make a new life for himself in the United States.

Birdy from Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman - Birdy was one feisty young woman!  She was only fourteen, but since this story took place in the thirteenth century, she had to deal with the fact that her father kept trying to marry her off, often to much older men.  Her narration is one of the best parts of the book.  "God's thumbs!"

Emily from Charlotte Sometimes by Penelope Farmer - Emily wasn't the main character of this book, but she was definitely my favourite.  She lived in the World War I era and befriended Charlotte when the latter went back in time.  An impish and independent thinker, Emily seemed almost out of place in a time when you'd expect young ladies to be obedient and refined.  But she was only a little girl, after all.

Patricia Gardiner from Pat of Silver Bush by L. M. Montgomery - I haven't read a lot of L. M. Montgomery's books, but I am familiar with Anne Shirley, Emily Byrd Starr, and Jane Stuart.  While the books about Anne and Emily are more popular, I actually enjoyed reading about Pat the most.  I found her relatable and I liked seeing the development of her relationships.

Cassandra Mortmain from I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith - This book takes place in the 1930s, and it's one of my favourites set in that era.  (Plus, it takes place in a castle!)  Cassandra was such a well-developed character that I found it easy to put myself into her shoes and experience the story -- and the various relationship dramas swirling around her -- through her eyes.

Jane from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë - This is still one of my all-time favourite classics.  Jane seemed very modern for her nineteenth-century world, but that's one of the things I liked about her.  The first-person narration was a pleasant surprise, and Jane's voice helped draw the reader into the story (rather than making us feel as if we were watching the events from afar).

Beatrice & Benedick from Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare - Okay, so technically this is two characters... but neither would be much fun without the other.  The verbal sparring between these two was the highlight of this play.  It was funny to watch them try to deny what everyone else around them could already see.

Ramona Quimby from Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary - While this book may have been contemporary when it first came out, it's plain to see that Ramona belongs in another time (the reference to the haircut of a famous ice skater -- presumably Dorothy Hamill -- really dates the book).  But Ramona is a fun character no matter what time period she might be in.

R from Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - From what I can tell, this book takes place in the near future.  It's a world pretty much the same as our own, except for one big difference: there are zombies everywhere and the remaining humans have retreated into fortified areas.  But the narration and R's character were what made me love the book as much as I did, which is why it made the list.

Caedmon from Wrapped by Jennifer Bradbury - Here's another nineteenth-century story (though one that takes place a few decades earlier than Jane Eyre).  Caedmon was the friend of Agnes, our heroine.  While the story was told from Agnes's point of view, I enjoyed the scenes with the two of them together.  Here's a guy who has respect for the intelligence of a woman.  Plus, he was kind of hot.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

In My Mailbox (63)


For review from NetGalley:
Dream Boy
by Mary Crockett & Madelyn Rosenberg

Annabelle Manning feels like she’s doing time at her high school in Chilton, Virginia. She has her friends at her lunchtime table of nobodies. What she doesn’t have are possibilities. Or a date for Homecoming. Things get more interesting at night, when she spends time with the boy of her dreams. But the blue-eyed boy with the fairytale smile is just that—a dream. Until the Friday afternoon he walks into her chemistry class.

One of her friends suspects he’s an alien. Another is pretty sure it’s all one big case of deja vu. While Annabelle doesn’t know what to think, she’s willing to believe that the charming Martin Zirkle may just be her dream come true. But as Annabelle discovers the truth behind dreams—where they come from and what they mean—she is forced to face a dark reality she had not expected. More than just Martin has arrived in Chilton. As Annabelle learns, if dreams can come true, so can nightmares.


What was in your "mailbox" this week?  Let me know in the comments!


In My Mailbox was started by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Weekly Recap - April 13-19, 2014

Here's what I blogged about over the last seven days:

Sunday - I posted the contents of my "mailbox".

Monday - I discussed the state of my TBR pile.  It isn't good.

Thursday - I reviewed More Than This by Patrick Ness and gave it one ladybug (needless to say, I didn't like it).

Saturday - I removed one defunct link and added a new one to my Links page.  Tabitha's site is called Not Yet Read.  She reads and reviews fantasy and science fiction, and her blog is super cute!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review - More Than This

More Than This
by Patrick Ness
Date: 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: YA
Book type: prose novel
Pages: 480
Format: e-book
Source: library

From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is the first book by Patrick Ness that I've read.  Judging by some of the other one-star reviews on Goodreads written by fans of his other books (particularly the Chaos Walking trilogy), More Than This may not be a very good representation of his work.  Unfortunately, it was my first exposure to the author, and it didn't make a very good first impression.  In fact, it made an awful one.

The synopsis of this book makes it sound like it might be some sort of philosophically deep psychological thriller.  What this book actually is, however, is an implausible, unoriginal sci-fi dystopian that rambles through almost five hundred pages just to come to the conclusion that life is uncertain and nobody has all the answers.  There's no resolution to the ridiculous plot.  We don't even know what's real and what isn't.

The characterization was weak.  Beyond the racial stereotypes of the angry black woman and the Polish kid whose English (supposedly gleaned from English-language movies) sounds more like something he picked up from other non-English speakers ("She would very much like to be hearing you talk this way.  Yes, she would be very much liking this indeed."), we have Seth, who might as well have been any other teenage boy.  He's gay, he likes to run, and he blames himself for a tragedy in his past.  Beyond this, his character isn't really developed.

The pace and writing, though, were what had me making copious angry notes.  I'd heard that Patrick Ness was a really good writer.  Well, I'm sorry, but I don't think that someone who doesn't know the difference between further and farther, between who and whom, and between any more and anymore; who has his characters shrug, smile, nod, and frown their speech; and who continually says things like "nothing still happens" is a very good writer.  In fact, with the exception of that last example (which may or may not be some weird regional thing), those are pretty basic concepts that a writer -- and an editor -- should know.  And this book was excruciatingly slow.  I almost gave up at the point where it took Seth a couple of pages just to decide whether or not to pass through a doorway.  So much of the story seemed dragged out unnecessarily.  There would be parts where one of the characters would imply that they had an answer to something they'd been wondering, but then it was almost as if they said, "I know, but I'm not going to tell you!"  This happened more than once, and it was extremely frustrating.  Just get on with it.

The narrative is mostly from Seth's point of view (third person, present tense), and it's often in a stream-of-consciousness style.  I say "often", because it wasn't really consistent.  Some parts read like a middle-grade action novel while other parts read (or wanted to be) like deadly serious literary fiction; the last chapter was especially treacly.  There were flashbacks throughout the story, which were related in the past tense.  I thought, perhaps, there was a clue within them that would lead to some earth-shattering realization and make everything in the rest of the book make sense.  But they were even weaker and more boring than the main narrative, and perhaps ultimately pointless (depending on your interpretation of the ending).

I also didn't think this book was very original.  Large parts of the plot seemed like a direct ripoff from sci-fi movies like The Matrix.  But, unlike that story, More Than This didn't offer any plausible explanations (or a coherent timeline) for why things were the way they were.  The only way the plot even makes sense is if More Than This takes place in a parallel universe, where they somehow went from the technological level of using CRT monitors and not having cell phones to suddenly being able to breed human beings in sophisticated computerized coffins while their consciousnesses are otherwise occupied in an illusory online world.  That's quite a technological leap.

I kept waiting for there to be something more to More Than This, but, ironically, there wasn't.  In the end, I found it trite, preachy, unsophisticated, and unsatisfying.  Maybe the author's other books are better than this one, and maybe they're not.  But I'm afraid he's used up my goodwill for now.  I'm off to read something better, something more.  That shouldn't be too hard.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 0/5
Writing: 2/5
Editing: 2/5
Originality: 1/5
Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.43 out of 5

Monday, April 14, 2014

The State of the TBR Pile

Thanks to Amazon's Deals Store and Riffle's Select program, my TBR pile has grown in recent months.  And on top of that, I can't seem to stay away from the library, either!  It's getting a bit ridiculous.  At least NetGalley isn't approving me for anything; then I'd be in even more trouble...

I've been trying to keep track of what books are in my TBR pile with the In My Mailbox feature... but not all of my books are listed there.  Some where bought (or gotten for free) during a blogging lull so they weren't recorded in the IMM meme.  So I thought I'd list what I've got that needs to be read.  I also wanted to ask for a bit of advice (since I haven't had the best luck lately with my book choices).  Are there any books in my TBR pile that I absolutely must read right now because they're so unbelievably awesome?  Are there any that I should just not bother with at all?  Let me know in the comments!

Hardcovers & Paperbacks

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
The Faerie Door by B. E. Maxwell
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld
Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink
Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow
Wicked by Gregory Maguire

Kobo

11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald
Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick
The Dresskeeper by Mary Naylus
Evernight by Claudia Gray
The Lightning Dreamer by Margarita Engle
Need by Carrie Jones
Penelope by Penelope Farmer
Plain Kate by Erin Bow
The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald
The Star Rover by Jack London

Kindle

Backwards by Todd Mitchell
Broken by C. J. Lyons
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Crewel by Gennifer Albin
Die for Me by Amy Plum
Enchanted by Alethea Kontis
Epiphany by Christina Jean Michaels
Feed by M. T. Anderson
Fracture by Megan Miranda
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Girl Parts by John M. Cusick
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
House of Dark Shadows by Robert Liparulo
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows
Infinity by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Initiate by Tara Maya
Magyk by Angie Sage
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski
Splintered by A. G. Howard
Starters by Lissa Price
A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
Transparent by Natalie Whipple
Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
The Uninvited by Tim Wynne-Jones
Until We End by Frankie Brown
The Winter Witch by Paula Brackston
Wish by Alexandra Bullen

Sunday, April 13, 2014

In My Mailbox (62)


Bought from Amazon.ca:
Epiphany
by Christina Jean Michaels

“I had my first psychic dream when I was nine. Psychic implied power, and powerful wasn’t a word I’d use to describe myself. I couldn’t foretell the future or conjure visions at will, but I couldn’t think of a more fitting word to describe what I sometimes saw in my dreams.”

For 23-year-old Mackenzie Hill, tossing her life down the garbage disposal is easy after a painful incident shatters her life. Her heart is bleeding, and moving to Watcher’s Point is a chance to start anew, only she isn’t prepared for the guy who walks out of her dreams and into the flesh. Literally... because she’s been dreaming about this sexy stranger for years.

Mackenzie is even less prepared to face the dark nature of her dreams. They’ve turned disturbingly gruesome, full of blood and murder, and when they begin to coincide with the media’s headlines, she and Aidan realize her visions might be the key to stopping a madman from killing again.

Only Aidan has painful secrets of his own, and perhaps the biggest danger of all is falling for him.

Transparent
by Natalie Whipple

Plenty of teenagers feel invisible. Fiona McClean actually is.

An invisible girl is a priceless weapon. Fiona’s own father has been forcing her to do his dirty work for years—everything from spying on people to stealing cars to breaking into bank vaults.

After sixteen years, Fiona’s had enough. She and her mother flee to a small town, and for the first time in her life, Fiona feels like a normal life is within reach. But Fiona’s father isn’t giving up that easily.

Of course, he should know better than anyone: never underestimate an invisible girl.

Borrowed from the library:
More Than This
by Patrick Ness

From two-time Carnegie Medal winner Patrick Ness comes an enthralling and provocative new novel chronicling the life — or perhaps afterlife — of a teen trapped in a crumbling, abandoned world.

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this...


What was in your "mailbox" this week?  Let me know in the comments!


In My Mailbox was started by Kristi of The Story Siren.

Weekly Recap - April 6-12, 2014

Here's what I blogged about over the last seven days:

Sunday - I posted the contents of my "mailbox".

Tuesday - I shared my opinions on the Top Ten Most Unique Books for Top Ten Tuesday.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Most Unique Books

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's topic is Top Ten Most Unique Books.  The books on this list are all unique for different reasons: format, point of view, framing device, pictures...  I guess most books are unique in that they're all different... but I've tried to pick books that are really different:

Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion - After reading a couple of zombie books, I wasn't sure I was into the genre.  But then I read this one, and I loved it; it was my favourite book of 2013.  What makes it unique is that it's told from the point of view of a zombie... and what a point of view that is.  All my preconceived notions of zombies went out the window with this one.  It's definitely worth a read, whether you're really into zombie novels or are just looking for a unique take on the genre.

Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder - A novel about the history of philosophy?  The premise will either appeal to you or make you shudder with anticipated boredom.  To be honest, I did get bogged down near the end and it took me a while to finish.  But I did ultimately enjoy this book, and it is unlike anything I've read before or since.

Room by Emma Donoghue - This book made my list because of the narrator.  Jack is five years old, and his telling of the story is charming.  What might have been just another (rather dark) contemporary novel about a mother and son being held captive becomes a thrilling tale as we see the events unfold through a small child's point of view.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman - I chose this one because I thought the idea that this was a book written by a fictional person was rather interesting.  While William Goldman is listed as the author, this book (and another of Goldman's works called The Silent Gondoliers) is supposedly by someone named S. Morgenstern.  It's a cute device, and it helps to frame the story.

The Neverending Story by Michael Ende - If you've seen the somewhat cheesy (but still entertaining) 1980s movie and liked it, you should read the book... and if you do, you must read the edition with the red and green typefaces.  The colours differentiate between Bastian's and Atreyu's stories, and it really helps the reader keep things straight (because the story can get wild and twisty at times).  The two-colour format is pretty unique; I haven't seen any other books like this.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs - One need only flip through this book to see what makes it so unique.  The old photographs tie in perfectly with this creepy, atmospheric story about some very odd goings-on in Wales.

God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant - How many books are there about God?  In verse?  (I mean, besides that one.)  I thought this unique book was thought provoking and different, and yet it still managed to be sweet and amusing.

Every Day by David Levithan - While I ultimately ended up disliking this book (due to the characters), I thought the premise was really interesting and unlike anything I'd read before.  Not only does the main character (named A) wake up every day in a different body, but A is a genderless entity.  I can't recall any other stories I've read where the main character is neither "he" nor "she"!  (That did make writing my review kind of tricky...)

The Dust of 100 Dogs by A. S. King - There are books about reincarnation, books about being trapped in a dog's body, and books told from a dog's point of view.  And then there's this novel, which somehow manages to incorporate all three.  Yes, it's a bit weird... but it works.

Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox - The premise of this book is what makes it so unique.  Set in a world that seems very much like ours (but in the 1910s or thereabouts), Dreamhunter uses the premise that dreams can be caught and performed for others for entertainment.  It's an interesting idea, and so different from many of the standard fantasy/paranormal YA offerings.