Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - Top Ten Books I Read In 2013

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

This week's topic is Top Ten Books I Read In 2013.  I read more books in 2013 than I expected to (especially since I got off to such a slow start).  August and September were both pretty prolific months for reading, and though I did slow down at the end of the year, I think I read enough books that I can come up with a pretty decent top-ten list.  A few picture books (and one novella) made it into my top 10, but I'm going to stick with full-length novels for the purposes of this post:

10. Beastly (Beastly #1) by Alex Flinn
3.71 out of 5
I do usually enjoy fairytale re-tellings... so I'm not sure why I don't read more of them!  This modernized version of "Beauty and the Beast" incorporates elements of the original story and message and packages them in a present-day, big-city setting.  I enjoyed this one more than I thought I would.

9. The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1) by Maggie Stiefvater
3.71 out of 5
I'd heard a lot about this book before I decided to finally give it a try.  I'd read Stiefvater's Shiver and sort of enjoyed it.  I liked The Raven Boys a lot more... even though I wasn't crazy about the ending.

8. The Lake and the Library by S. M. Beiko
3.86 out of 5
This offering by a Canadian author may not be very well known.  That's a shame, because it's just as good as (if not better than) a lot of the stuff coming out of the major U.S. publishing houses for young adults.  Fans of contemporary fantasy and paranormal stories will probably enjoy this one; I know I did.

7. Odette's Secrets by Maryann Macdonald
4 out of 5
While I'm not generally drawn to books about the Holocaust, this verse novel based on real events and people really drew me in.  The photographs were a nice touch that really helped bring the story to life for today's young readers.

6. Absent by Katie Williams
4 out of 5
I'd never even heard of this book, and I only picked it up because I was looking for something fairly short.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was a highly enjoyable contemporary/paranormal story.

5. Skellig (Skellig #1) by David Almond
4.29 out of 5
While it's been around for a while, I'd never actually read this one.  I'm really glad I finally got around to it.  Its target audience may be a bit younger than that of most of the rest of the books on this list, but it still provided plenty of enjoyment for this adult reader.

4. Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall by Wendy Mass
4.29 out of 5
While many of the verse novels I've read have tended to be about serious (often historical) subjects, this was a fun little story in the tradition of It's A Wonderful Life and A Christmas Carol.  I really enjoyed it.

3. My Book of Life by Angel by Martine Leavitt
4.57 out of 5
Who would've thought that a verse novel about a young prostitute living in one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods would make my top 10?  I certainly wouldn't have guessed it.  And yet, this was probably the best verse novel I read all year with characters that had me thinking about the book long after I'd finished it.

2. Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone #1) by Laini Taylor
4.57 out of 5
I'm still shattered by that ending.  I loved this book, but I'm hesitant to read the sequel.  This author really knows how to rip your heart out... and I don't know if I can take it!

1. Warm Bodies (Warm Bodies #1) by Isaac Marion
4.71 out of 5
This was the book that got the highest rating out of anything I read this year.  It also made the biggest impression on me and had a big emotional impact.  While it's not the best book I've ever read, it's definitely at the top of my list for 2013.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

In My Mailbox (59)

Bought from Amazon.ca:
by Gennifer Albin

“May Arras flourish at her touch.”

For generations, girls known as Spinsters have been called by Arras’ Manipulation Services to work the looms and control what people eat, where they live, how many children they have, and even when they die. Gifted with the unusual ability to weave time with matter, sixteen-year-old Adelice Lewys is exactly what the Guild is looking for, and in the world of Arras, being chosen as a Spinster is everything a girl could want. It means privilege, eternal beauty, and being something other than a secretary. It also means the power to embroider the very fabric of life. But Adelice isn’t interested. Because once you become a Spinster, there’s no turning back.

The School for Good and Evil
by Soman Chainani

"The first kidnappings happened two hundred years before. Some years it was two boys taken, some years two girls, sometimes one of each. But if at first the choices seemed random, soon the pattern became clear. One was always beautiful and good, the child every parent wanted as their own. The other was homely and odd, an outcast from birth. An opposing pair, plucked from youth and spirited away."

This year, best friends Sophie and Agatha are about to discover where all the lost children go: the fabled School for Good & Evil, where ordinary boys and girls are trained to be fairy tale heroes and villains. As the most beautiful girl in Gavaldon, Sophie has dreamed of being kidnapped into an enchanted world her whole life. With her pink dresses, glass slippers, and devotion to good deeds, she knows she’ll earn top marks at the School for Good and graduate a storybook princess. Meanwhile Agatha, with her shapeless black frocks, wicked pet cat, and dislike of nearly everyone, seems a natural fit for the School for Evil.

But when the two girls are swept into the Endless Woods, they find their fortunes reversed—Sophie’s dumped in the School for Evil to take Uglification, Death Curses, and Henchmen Training, while Agatha finds herself in the School For Good, thrust amongst handsome princes and fair maidens for classes in Princess Etiquette and Animal Communication. But what if the mistake is actually the first clue to discovering who Sophie and Agatha really are...?

The School for Good & Evil is an epic journey into a dazzling new world, where the only way out of a fairy tale is to live through one.

Under the Never Sky
by Veronica Rossi

Aria is a teenager in the enclosed city of Reverie. Like all Dwellers, she spends her time with friends in virtual environments, called Realms, accessed through an eyepiece called a Smarteye. Aria enjoys the Realms and the easy life in Reverie. When she is forced out of the pod for a crime she did not commit, she believes her death is imminent. The outside world is known as The Death Shop, with danger in every direction.

As an Outsider, Perry has always known hunger, vicious predators, and violent energy storms from the swirling electrified atmosphere called the Aether. A bit of an outcast even among his hunting tribe, Perry withstands these daily tests with his exceptional abilities, as he is gifted with powerful senses that enable him to scent danger, food and even human emotions.

They come together reluctantly, for Aria must depend on Perry, whom she considers a barbarian, to help her get back to Reverie, while Perry needs Aria to help unravel the mystery of his beloved nephew’s abduction by the Dwellers. Together they embark on a journey challenged as much by their prejudices as by encounters with cannibals and wolves. But to their surprise, Aria and Perry forge an unlikely love - one that will forever change the fate of all who live UNDER THE NEVER SKY.

The first book in a captivating trilogy, Veronica Rossi’s enthralling debut sweeps you into an unforgettable adventure.

by Cynthia Hand

In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees...

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

What was in your "mailbox" this week?

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