From the Notebook: Top 10 Series I NEED to Finish!

So, last week’s video was made of some rather unpopular opinions, as I discussed the Top 10 series I would never finish. On the heels of that, I boomeranged back the other way this week with a MUCH more positive (but no less expressive) video about the top 10 series I could have finished … but haven’t. Ergo, I need to get on finishing these series RIGHT THE HELL NOW. Ahem. Anyways, enjoy!

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ARC Review: “Once We Were” by Kat Zhang

Once We WereOnce We Were (The Hybrid Chronicles #2) by Kat Zhang

Goodreads | Amazon

“I’m lucky just to be alive”

Eva was never supposed to have survived this long. As the recessive soul, she should have faded away years ago. Instead, she lingers in the body she shares with her sister soul, Addie. When the government discovered the truth, they tried to “cure” the girls, but Eva and Addie escaped before the doctors could strip Eva’s soul away.

Now fugitives, Eva and Addie find shelter with a group of hybrids who run an underground resistance. Surrounded by others like them, the girls learn how to temporarily disappear to give each soul some much-needed privacy. Eva is thrilled at the chance to be alone with Ryan, the boy she’s falling for, but troubled by the growing chasm between her and Addie. Despite clashes over their shared body, both girls are eager to join the rebellion.

Yet as they are drawn deeper into the escalating violence, they start to wonder: How far are they willing to go to fight for hybrid freedom? Faced with uncertainty and incredible danger, their answers may tear them apart forever.

Four and a half stars

Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss for this eARC! This title will be released September 17th, 2013.

WARNING: This review WILL include spoilers for the first book, What’s Left of Me. Read my review for more!

Getting a hold of an ARC of this book became an absolute necessity after reading the first book. When Edelweiss declined my first request, I requested again – basically until they let me have it. I was like a dog with a bone for this book, and with good reason. What’s Left of Me blew me out of the water and then some. Of course, after that, it was impossible to like the second one as much as the first, but the book gave me a good go, anyways!

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Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

toptentuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Okay, so, this is a really hard topic for me. I tend to spend most of my time dying over authors inside my own head, so I don’t really know who’s getting a lot of recognition and who’s not. So … this list is my attempt to help boost some signals without knowing exactly what I’m doing. 😛 Some authors I like because of deep reasons, others are debuts I want to raise a glass to, etc. This list is in no particular order.

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2012 End of the Year Book Survey

End of the Year Book Survey

The End of the Year Book Survey is hosted by The Perpetual Page Turner.

So, I found this survey on the blogosphere and thought, “You know, this would be awesome.” So I’m going to do it. Hopefully it’ll become an annual thing, and will help you guys find some new books to read. Oh, and cheating is going to be rampant.

1. Best Book You Read In 2012?

Cheating on the first question, ALRIGHT! Here’s my Top Ten Books I Read in 2012!

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

Erm, there were a few of these. Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins was one of them. The blogosphere blew up about it but I … wasn’t on board as much. Same with Defiance by CJ Redwine. I wanted so much more out of that one. More recently, Prophecy by Ellen Oh. I liked all these, I just expected more.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, most definetly. The way it’s written, I should hate it. But I LOVE IT.

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Depending on the person, it’s probably a tie between Code Name Verity and Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas.

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

Oof. That’s a hard one. What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang? Throne of Glass? Grave Mercy by R. L. LaFevers? The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa? I can’t pick one!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Nina Berry (Otherkin), Kat Zhang (What’s Left of Me), Jodi Meadows (Incarnate), Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass), Jay Kristoff (Stormdancer)– I should probably stop at some point.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. I don’t particularly like contemporary YA and am very cynical about YA romance, but this one just turned me into a marshmellow.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

Insurgent by Veronica Roth. Ohmygod.

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year:

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. THE IDIGO SPELL IS COMING!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012?

Basically, my one goal here was to avoid a girl in a dress and that was REALLY HARD. This is Crewel by Gennifer Albin!

Crewel11. Most memorable character in 2012?

Eva and Addie from What’s Left of Me. These are two girls in one body. IT WAS FANTASTIC.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. Hands down.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012?

Code Name Verity for sure. Also Pushing the Limits.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read?

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Yeah, I know, it’s THAT BAD.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012?

ARE YOU CRAZY THIS IS IMPOSSIBLE? Uh.

“And this, even more wonderful and mysterious, is also true: when I read it, when I read what Julie’s written, she is instantly alive again, whole and undamaged. With her words in my mind while I’m reading, she is as real as I am. Gloriously daft, drop-dead charming, full of bookish nonsense and foul language, brave and generous. She’s right here. Afraid and exhausted, alone, but fighting. Flying in silver moonlight in a plane that can’t be landed, stuck in the climb—alive, alive, ALIVE.”

Code Name Verity

“Her shoulders never shook. No tears streamed down her face. The worst type of crying wasn’t the kind everyone could see–the wailing on street corners, the tearing at clothes. No, the worst kind happened when your soul wept and no matter what you did, there was no way to comfort it. A section withered and became a scar on the part of your soul that survived. For people like me and Echo, our souls contained more scar tissue than life.”

Pushing the Limits

“The hand on my hair moved to my back, and I realized someone was singing softly. The voice was familiar, and something about it made my chest ache.  Well, that was to be expected. Angels’ songs would be awfully poignant.
“‘I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar, when I met you…'” the voice crooned.
I frowned. Was that really an appropriate song for the Heavenly Host to be–”

Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins

(I think I’ll stop here…)

16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012?

Longest: Literary Theory: Anthology = 1,314 pages

Shortest: Shadowed Ground by Vicki Keire = 120 pages

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead. AGGHGHGHGH GUYS IT HAPPENED AND THEN AGHGHGHGH.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Endlessly by Kiersten White, because EVIE AND LEND. But also Syndey and Adrian from The Golden Lily. But then there’s Noah and Echo in Pushing the Limits. And Sophie and Archer from Spell Bound. And Ellie and Will from Wings of the Wicked by Courtney Allison Moulton.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously

City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare or Wings of the Wicked or Spell Bound.

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, thanks to THE ENTIRE BLOGOSPHERE.

I’m going to hold this here because wow this is already long, but there are plenty of other questions about blogging and stuff on the whole thing, so check out The Perpetual Pageturner for more questions and blogs!

Top Ten New To Me Authors I Read in 2012

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Okay, this list is HARDLY the only awesome new to me authors I read in 2012. They’re just as far as I could go back in the year before I hit 10, and honestly I didn’t get very far.

1. Gennifer Albin (Crewel)

Yeah, I had my issues with Crewel, but I can’t deny the sheer awesomeness of this idea and the book and the cover and– and– just *drool*.

2. Jay Kristoff (Stormdancer)

GUYS. HE WRITES JAPANESE STEAMPUNK. THERE IS A THUNDER-TIGER. Enough has been said. (But I said more in my review!)

3. Kat Zhang (What’s Left of Me)

I have so much respect for Kat. Not only did she manage to successfully narrate this novel from a body that has 2 personalities inside, but she managed to write OTHER characters that have TWO PERSONALITIES. Oh, and did I mention the book is awesomesauce? Because it is. I said so HERE.

4. S. J. Kincaid (Insignia)

Not only did this book have me laughing out loud, but I gave it to my brother and it made HIM laugh out loud and it gave us something to talk about. Both him laughing and us talking are like miracles. Read more HERE.

5. Anna Banks (Of Poseidon)

Up until this point, I was NOT a fan of the new mermaid trend. But Banks won me over, and I actually really ended up enjoying this one! You can read why HERE.

6. Katie McGarry (Pushing the Limits)

It takes a seriously good book to a) almost make me cry and b) actually like anything in the contemporary YA genre. McGarry did BOTH. I explain more HERE.

7. Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass)

I think this book is like my most recommended book all year. Like seriously. Because you know why? I CAN’T HANDLE HOW AWESOME THIS BOOK IS OHMYGOD I JUST– Ahem. Read my review for more (CAPS).

8. Nina Berry (Otherkin)

Okay, so for one, Berry wrote a school setting that I didn’t hate, and for that I give her huge props. Also, she’s awesome to talk to on Twitter, and that makes her doubly awesome. You can read more about the book HERE.

9. Elizabeth Wein (Code Name Verity)

Okay, we’ve discussed how hard it is to make me cry. WEIN ALMOST SUCCEEDED. Also, the way the book was written I should have HATED it. But I didn’t. I loved it. And I sang it’s praises so loudly and haven’t stopped since.

10. Robin LaFevers (Grave Mercy)

Basically anyone who writes historical fiction is instantly my bestie. But this was historical fantasy, which was even better, and then there was the ASSASSIN NUNS. It doesn’t get much better than this. Check out my review for more!

Top Ten Bookish People I Want to Meet

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

Once upon a time, I would have thought this subject would be really easy. But then I met Tamora Pierce, Cathrynne Valente, Kij Johnson and John Joseph Adams. And then I met Holly Black, Sarah Rees Brennan and Cassandra Clare. Oh no, wait. This is still a really easy list because there are SO MANY AMAZING AUTHORS OUT THERE.

1. Rachel Hawkins

Do you guys follow her on Twitter at @LadyHawkins? Because if you don’t and you have a Twitter, I don’t know what’s wrong with you. There are few Twitter accounts that I actually search for updates on, and this is one of them.

2. Jodi Meadows

I’ve had far more Twitter conversations with this woman then I’d ever dreamed possible (YAY TWITTER), and now I would LOVE to meet her in person. She is clearly super awesome.

3. Courtney Allison Moulton

Another author I’ve been able to talk to on Twitter and have decided is supremely awesome. Also, writes kickass heriones. These two things combined makes for a very happy Gretchen (who talks about herself in the third person…?).

4. Richelle Mead

Her Vampire Academy books and Bloodlines books make me SWOON AND DIE. I love those books with a fiery, fiery passion and I would ADORE a chance to squeal about Adrian and Dimitri with her for just five seconds.

5. Sarah J. Maas

Though I’ve never spoken to her on Twitter, I stalk her mercilessly. (Really, Twitter is just a stalking tool.) She seems really awesome, and also writes AWESOME AMAZING BOOKS. Clearly she’s a winner.

6. Nina Berry

Not only did she write an AMAZING book called Otherkin, but we’ve also chatted on Twitter several times. More than that, she’s been a huge friend in retweeting several of my messages about my blog, which I’ve never been able to thank her properly for. I’d love to be able to do that in person.

7. Julie Kagawa

It’s Julie Kagawa. I fail to see why I must explain this to you.

8. Stephanie Perkins

Have you ever looked at her author picture? Followed her Twitter? Then you’ll understand how Stephanie seems like the kind of person I refuse to live without seeing at least once.

9. Katie McGarry

I want just five seconds to blubber about how much Pushing the Limits pushed my emotions. And I mean literally blubber, because OHMYGOD THAT BOOK.

10. Kat Zhang

What’s Left of Me was a SUPER FANTASTIC BOOK, and I would die for a chance to pick Kat’s brain about what it was like to write multiple people in the same bodies because OHMYGOD was that amazingly done.

ARC Review: “What’s Left of Me” by Kat Zhang

What’s Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles #1) by Kat Zhang

Goodreads | Amazon

Eva and Addie started out the same way as everyone else—two souls woven together in one body, taking turns controlling their movements as they learned how to walk, how to sing, how to dance. But as they grew, so did the worried whispers. Why aren’t they settling? Why isn’t one of them fading? The doctors ran tests, the neighbors shied away, and their parents begged for more time. Finally Addie was pronounced healthy and Eva was declared gone. Except, she wasn’t…
For the past three years, Eva has clung to the remnants of her life. Only Addie knows she’s still there, trapped inside their body. Then one day, they discover there may be a way for Eva to move again. The risks are unimaginable–hybrids are considered a threat to society, so if they are caught, Addie and Eva will be locked away with the others. And yet…for a chance to smile, to twirl, to speak, Eva will do anything.

5 stars

A big thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for this ARC! You can get a copy for yourself on September 18th, 2012.

When I requested this on Edelweiss, I thought I’d make a big mistake. I already had a have-but-need-to-read list of 20 books. At least 7 of those were books I had to review. Some of them I’d had from NetGalley since the previous month and needed to be read YESTERDAY. But I thought “…what the heck?” Then it came through and I thought, “What have I done, I can’t read this fast enough to get the review done in time!”

I finished this in one afternoon. I couldn’t have put it down even when my mother asked me to.

The premise is just as interesting as it sounds. I drank up every little detail about it, and there was lots of that. In places it was a little infodump-ish, but I didn’t mind. Zhang had so many layers built into this world that I never even dreamed of. After all, who would think to go PAST a world where two souls start out in every body? That’s got enough going for it as it is. But Zhang also added a global element to this book. The setting is in a dystopian United States, where the Americas are supposedly cut off from the rest of the world because hybrids are burning up every other continent with their wars. This aspect was only mentioned briefly, but it opens up the other books in this series for literally a world of possibilities that are very intriguing.

The characters of Eva and Addie were also very well done. It was always easy to tell who was talking and thinking, because they did have a slightly different way of talking and acting. I also loved how yet another level of the plot was Eva and Addie’s constant battle and pact with each other. After all, they are two parts of the same whole, yet they are two different people. It would have been so easy to make Addie seem evil for not wanting Eva to take control, but Zhang gives you just enough of each girl so that you are emotionally invested in both their sides of the argument and there is no black and white.

The plot never stopped moving. Eva and Addie had to roll with so many punches that just kept coming and coming and coming. I wasn’t particularly shocked by any of them, but Zhang’s impeccable writing kept my heart rate up the whole time. Even in moment’s where it seems like the plot is slowing down, your nerves aren’t because you just KNOW something is RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER.

Somehow, this plot is also devoid of some of my “favorite” clichés. Insta-love? Addie and Eva never had the freaking time, they were too busy trying to survive. Love triangles? I thought it would be way too easy to fall into this, what with two people inhabiting a bunch of bodies and all, but Zhang didn’t lower herself to that, either. Instead, the small fraction of romance in this book was done spectacularly well, yet somehow made me feel so sad for both Addie and Eva at the same time. (No, I won’t tell you which one is in love. Read it and find out!)

Basically, this book is everything I want a book to be, which makes it really hard to write a review about it. It had plenty of action, a fantastic premise, impeccable writing and great characters. It lacked any YA love clichés and wasn’t romance focused, though it did include romance that I actually enjoyed. I have nothing left to say besides READ THIS BOOK ASAP!