Looking Back: The Best of 2012

I know that I did the 2012 end of the year survey but I wanted to make this one a little more personal for my favorites of 2012!

Book that reminded me that I love to read: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. Any of you who have read my review know how much I adored this book. I hugged it after I finished and I am anxiously awaiting book two.

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Favorite BAMF: Silas Dane. Guys I can’t get enough of this man. He is foreboding, a tad evil, yet extremely loyal and smart and he has a pet crow! I would LOVE a pet crow! YUMMY, for sure!

Favorite companion: I really had a soft spot for Fianchu from Heart’s Blood by Juliet Marillier and, as always, Fiacha from her Sevenwaters series and the main character in her novella Twixt Firelight and Water.

Favorite debut author: So many that I loved this year so I’m going to cheat and name a few but first, let me say that every single debut author listed here has been SO incredibly nice and reached out to myself and fellow bloggers to thank us for our reviews. If you are reading this, dear debut author, just know that I personally squeal very loudly and do a happy dance when you read and/or respond to a review or mention! So my favorites in no particular order are: Ruth Frances Long, Anna Banks, A.C. Gaughen, Marissa Burt, Rachel Hartman, and I think this might be cheating because I do believe he has written a children’s book before, Christopher Healy

BFF: Scarlet from Scarlet by A. C. Gaughen. I loved this book so much that I was petting its pages. Scarlet and I would totally be BFFs, she is hardcore but a softie on the inside (don’t tell anyone, YA HEAR?!)

Most swoonworthy lad: Duval from Grave Mercy, I think. He was just the right amounts of good and bad. All gentlemanly, yet MANLY at the same time…YAY!

Favorite setting: New Orleans, baby! A Beautiful Evil by Kelly Keaton. Despite not loving the book, it has an absolutely beautiful setting, it really made me want to travel there right this minute!

Favorite pick found while perusing: The Wintercraft series by Jenna Burtenshaw. This was a series I had heard nothing about and simply saw it on the shelf at my local library, read the back and immediately checked it out. There are so many things to love about this series. The world building is intricate yet not overwhelming, the plot is unique, the main guy is totes swoonworthy, yet there is no love triangle and very little hinting at any romantic interludes. Though part of me longs for them (I LOVE YOU SILAS!) a larger part is really impressed at Burtenshaw’s level of storytelling that doesn’t fall back on familiar tropes. Go add this to the TBR, friends, you won’t be disappointed!

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Fantastical creatures: DRAGONS, FOR THE WIN!! I read so many books about dragons this year, friends! Top of my list for favorite dragon book has to be Seraphina by Rachel Hartman but I also thoroughly enjoyed Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George and Dragonswood by Janet Lee Carey. Both of these titles reminded me of The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede which I absolutely adored while growing up.

That bad boy you shouldn’t love, but…: OH SOPHIE’S CHOICE! Disclaimer: The answer here, hands down, goes to WOLFIE from Scarlet but this book has yet to be published and I have yet to review it so by default I must choose another…I think I am going to go with Silas Dane here AGAIN. Yes he is a BAMF and he is a teeny bit, ya know, evil, but reader, I LOVE HIM!

Favorite male lead: I think Duncan, from The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom takes this one. He makes my heart happy.

Favorite female lead: I would go with Scarlet Benoit from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer here but I am sticking to books already published SO I am going to say Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood and Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. She is pretty awesome and though she is scarier in book one – until we get to know her, like most villains – she is still pretty amazing in book two!

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Best summary in two words: Assassin nuns.

Good thing I didn’t judge by it’s cover: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I have NO idea why but this cover nearly turned me off to the book! I know that so many people love it and after reading the book I actually understand that, but if Heidi hadn’t ASSURED me that I would love this one I am ashamed to say that I might not have picked it up!

So glad I judged by it’s cover: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I had it on my radar solely because the cover was absolutely gorgeous, then I read some reviews and I was hooked!

Hug the book moment: You’ll just kill me if I choose Hero’s Guide for yet another answer, right? So if I tell you that I physically hugged that book after finishing it you will be bored and just never return to the blog again? Okay, I won’t say it (even though it’s true). Instead, I will leave you with this part in Storybound“It became Una’s habit, on days that she felt especially invisible, to retire to the basement of the school library. Most students stayed on the main floor, grouped together at sunny tables, giggling over their math problems and English homework. But Una preferred the lower level, where she could sit undisturbed except for the odd student scurrying down to get some reference book needed for a research paper. She would tuck into her favorite desk underneath one of the high basement windows – half daydreaming, half reading – while the minutes flew by and she wondered what it would be like to live a different life.”

Worth the hype: Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I was wary to pick this one up but I devoured it, AND its sequel which I was lucky enough to own, and let me tell you, they both gave me the biggest book hangovers of 2012. Add them to the TBR if you haven’t already.

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Newest addiction: All things Neil Gaiman. Especially his audiobooks, yessir!

Scariest villain: Oh my I think Rumplestiltskin from The Book of Lost Things takes the cake for this one, he was one scary guy.

Favorite laugh out loud moment: “Wild card, got it,” Duncan said. “Just like in Crazy Eights. I can be a diamond; I can be a spade. Whatever you need me to be, I’m that thing. That is so me.” – From The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Best slow burn romance: Okay, yes, Juliet Marillier again provided us with a lovely slow burn romance between Flint and Neryn in Shadowfell, HOWEVER, I think that Duval and Ismae’s relationship from Grave Mercy got to me a bit more. There is a moment where she is laying in bed and he walks over and grabs her ankle…I literally made a girly “eep” noise out loud as I read it. Oh my.

Biggest ugly cry moment: The ending of Tiger Lily. That letter. Oh my, I can’t even…

Mermaid book worth taking the plunge over: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks. I think my review explains my feelings nicely.

Favorite new to me genre/book: Middle Grade books for SURE! This year I fell in LOVE with middle grade novels thanks to Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George,  The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer, Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu. I can’t wait to devour SO MANY MG novels in 2013!

Thank you Netgalley!: Amber House by Kelly Moore was a book I randomly found while perusing Netgalley one day. I needed a book to pass the time while at a family party of the beau’s (lovely, I know) and I saw the cover and my interest was immediately caught. The book was beautifully written and creepy at all the right parts, I don’t think enough of you know about it so take my word and add it to the TBR!

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Non-bookish THINGS that I loved in 2012:

Doctor Who: That’s right, people! I started watching it on Netflix and now I can. not. stop. I am nearly through season 1 and here are my thoughts..

  1. The Doctor is yummy.
  2. I do NOT like it when Rose and The Doctor share any sort of intimate moment. Keep your hand OFF of his cheek, woman!
  3. I would make a better companion than Rose.
  4. The question “Are you my mummy?” makes me want to cry in a corner for a bit.
  5. OH HAI CAPTAIN JACK!!

The Hobbit: Though I enjoyed The Lord of the Rings movies I do not remember loving them as much as The Hobbit. We went to see it on my birthday and I was literally clasping my hands in glee. I especially loved the part with Smigel, “If he guesses wrong….WE EATS HIM WHOOOLE!” Love.

Tin Man: I’m not going to get into too much detail here since I will be reviewing this for you all during Project: Fairy Tale, but just know that it is totally worth watching, Zooey Deschanel is amazing, the Tin Man is yummy and SyFy is sometimes really, really cool.

Book Expo America: It was an amazing experience. I was able to meet authors and bloggers who I really admire and my eyes were opened to many opportunities as a blogger as well as knew titles I had yet to hear anything about. I am really looking forward to what BEA 2013 has in store!

Looking Ahead: The Must Read Pile of 2013

As I was perusing my Goodreads to compile my list for this post I realized that there are WAY too many books that I want (need) to read! Therefore, let’s break this down by sections..I am going to let you all in on the new books I want to read, the sequels I want to read, the “older” titles I want to read, the less known titles to be read, and the books I’d like to re-read in 2013, and I am going to keep it to just five titles a section. FIVE. Wow. Okay, let’s go:

New titles of 2013

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (June 18) – A NEW NOVEL BY NEIL GAIMAN!! Also? HIS LAST BOOK TOUR! AHHH!!

Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson (March 12) – A retelling of Bluebeard! Yes, please!

Loki’s Wolves by K. Armstrong and M. Marr (May 7) – Umm…a series by Melissa Marr and Kelly Armstrong about Vikings and Norse Mythology…I don’t think I need to say any more.

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff (April 9) –  A new Middle Grade retelling of Rumpelstiltskin! His best friend is Red Riding Hood and there is a QUEST! Sign me up!

Antigoddes by Kendare Blake (September 10) – A new novel by the amazing author of Anna Dressed in Blood about Gods and Goddesses at war. Sounds good to me!

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Must read sequels of 2013

Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier (July 9) – Come on guys, you know she is my all time favorite. Plus I would like some more of Flint, please!

Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers (April 2) – Oh man the slow burn romance of Grave Mercy was phenomenal and I love me some companion novels, anxiously awaiting this one!

The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle by Christopher Healy (April 30) – You all knew I ADORED The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom, so it is no question that I will be picking up the sequel as soon as it’s released!

Dracomachia by Rachel Hartman (July 9) – I ADORED Seraphina and can hardly wait for the sequel!

Story’s End by Marissa Burt (April 2) – I really enjoyed Storybound and I am excited for the fun that is sure to follow!

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Older titles that must be read in 2013

Don’t judge me on these, guys, I KNOW they MUST be read. That is why I am adding them to the YOU MUST READ THESE BOOKS PILE!!

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – I feel like this one needs no explanation..

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett – Gaiman and Pratchet..YES PLEASE!

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin – I hear if you watch the show you can skip over book 1, what do you guys think?

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – I started this one on the train to BEA and my only excuse for not finishing it already is that I am afraid because book 3 is no where near being published yet!

Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta – An award winner to boot!

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Less known titles to be read

The Lion of Ireland by Morgan Llywelyn (1980) – This one came up on my radar as an “If you like Juliet Marillier, you will love…” title so I decided that I NEEDED to read it ASAP and I am so lucky because the lovely Amy sent it my way for Christmas!

Wild Swans by Peg Kerr (2001) – Ahh yes, part of the Faerie Tale retellings, not sure it will surpass my love for Marillier’s retelling but we will give it a go!

Maledicte by Lane Robins (2007) – “For Maledicte is actually a woman named Miranda–a beautiful thief raised in the city’s vicious slums. And she will do anything–even promise her soul to Black-Winged Ani, the most merciless of Antyre’s exiled gods–to reclaim Janus, the lover whose passion still haunts her dreams (From GR).” How could I not read this one?

Mythago Wood by Robtert Holdstock (2003) – “or the Wood is a realm where myths gain flesh and blood, tapping primal fears and desires subdued through the millennia. A realm where love and beauty haunt your dreams — and may drive you insane (From GR).”

Dragons of Noor by Janet Lee Carey (2008) – I LOVED her other books and I LOVE dragons so this is a must read for sure!

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Re-reads for 2013

Sunshine by Robin McKinley – Yummy vampires. Yes, please!

The Wicked series by Gregory Maguire – To be reviewed for Project: Fairytale in February!

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – In preparation of Days of Blood and Starlight (yep, I cheated and added two titles to my 2013TBR list!)

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – In preparation of The Evolution of Mara Dyer (cheating again, I know)

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – In preparation for the movie! WOO!

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What about you guys? What titles do you feel like you must devour in 2013?

2012 End of Year Book Survey

This is a fun survey from Jamie over on The Perpetual Page Turner!

Best In Books 2012

*When relevant, the links will take you to my review.

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

EEP! Possibly the hardest question…I will make it easy on myself and just give you a Middle-Grade choice and a Young-Adult choice that were published IN 2012 (I had to make a pro/con list for this, btw):

MG: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy – This one made me immeasurably happy while reading it. A favorite book overall, for sure!

YA: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson – This was a hard pick but this book made me feel ALL OF THE FEELINGS. It was just beautiful.

Honorable mentions: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer – This one was bumped from the list because it is actually being published in 2013 and Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – Another beautiful story and it has dragons!

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

Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby – This was a whole circus theme and it was actually one of my most anticipated reads of 2012 but unfortunately, it seriously fell short. I actually didn’t like it at all, it felt like it had no substance and I was rather bored through the whole thing. What saved the book as a DNF for me was the fact that the premise was extremely interesting, how can a circus novel be boring?!

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

Cinder by Marissa Meyer. This book was PHENOMENAL! I won’t lie to you, I hated the cover (yeah, I am judgy like that) and I was so not into the whole cyborg thing but I read it because Heidi promised I’d like it and I LOVED IT!! I was lucky enough to obtain a copy of Scarlet and OHHHH WOLFIE ❤ (not sure when, if ever, I will stop singing that to you) I loved it even more than book one!!

 4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012?

Probably Seraphina by Rachel Hartman or The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy. Both books reminded me of how much I love reading and how fun it is. Sometimes it is important to take a step back from the things you “need” to do (like read certain titles for the blog) and just become overjoyed and enveloped in a story.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2012?

OMG so many..I suppose if I HAD to choose then I will pick The Wintercraft series by Jenna Burtenshaw. The reason that this one trumps the others is because 1. OH HAI SILAS!!! and 2. I actually went to amazonuk to purchase book 3 just so I could finish the series. This was also one of those series that I just randomly happened upon at my local library instead of finding it through reviews of fellow bloggers. Don’t get me wrong, I ADORE finding new authors through bloggers but it is even more exciting when it is a random find!

 6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012?

Again, there are so many! Marissa Meyer, Christopher Healy, Kelly Moore, A.C. Gaughen ,Marissa Burt, Laini Taylor..New to ME authors: Neil Gaiman (hands down), Jessica Day George, R.L. LaFevers, Jenna Burtenshaw, and Janet Lee Carey.

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

You know what, I was NOT a lover of Middle Grade novels before this year…I have read some PHENOMENAL titles and now sign me up for MG any day!

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012?

The Hunger Games! Yes I know I took forever to read it but the first one really kept my attention. If I had to choose new titles from 2012 I would go with Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor or The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom – I finished both books in one day (and they weren’t small!)

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

Daughter of Smoke and Bone and The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer are two that  I will DEFINITELY be re-reading so that I can read both Days of Blood and Starlight and The Evolution of Mara Dyer (which I own, thanks to Brittany!)  Also I am definitely re-reading Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series over again so I can read Flame of Sevenwaters with the series fresh in my mind.

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

Seraphina, hands down it is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen.

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11. Most memorable character in 2012? 

Hmm this is a hard one as well…I really enjoyed Scarlet from Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen, she was a tough cookie!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012?

I think I will go with Seraphina by Rachel Hartman for this one (again). I love the intricate world and character building. The characters both in the novel and in Seraphina’s head were just imaginative and wonderful. The writing itself was lyrical and flowed beautifully through my mind.

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

This might sound strange (Unless you are Amy or Jamie,) but I think Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson takes the cake for this one. For some reason this book just left a resounding impression on me and I found myself reading lines over and over again to allow myself to continue to feel ALL THE FEELINGS! The last few pages just killed me, I cried ugly tears for real.

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

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins!! The beau had to read this one first to even get me to pick it up! I am totally one of those people who doesn’t want to read a book because everyone else is reading and obsessing over it! Though I ADORED the series I think that the fact that I waited to long and heard the hype was part of the reason it didn’t leave as big of an impression on me as some others.

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

Are ya kidding me with this question?? I guess if I have to choose I will go with:

“Watch that boy,” she said. “You’re stronger in many ways, but that doesn’t mean he can’t take you apart.” OR She was fierce, to be sure, but she had a girl’s heart, after all.” Both from Tiger Lily

 16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 

Oh, Outlander. You win again! LONGEST. BOOK. EVER. The shortest books would have to be Fables by Bill Willingham.

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 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 ending of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer was mindblowing for me as was a pretty big revelation in Daughter of Smoke and Bone…I kept reading it over and over again!

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

Again, are ya serious? Can I say every romantic relationship in every Juliet Marillier book that I read, as well as Fiacha and Ciaran? Ohh and Liesl and Po, Seraphina and Orma, and ::sobs:: Buttercup and Prim! Scarlet and Rob! Tiger Lily and Tink! Ismae and Duval! Cinder and Iko! Kas and Anna! I could go on and on….

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

In a Glass Grimmly by Adam Gidwitz – that one made me SQUEEEE out loud at BEA and I almost keeled over when Heidi gave me a signed copy for my birthday!

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

Definitely Cinder by Marissa Meyer (thanks, Heidi!) also The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, from multiple Twitter recommendations, that one really got to me.

 Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012 (optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 

Well…my blog is barely a year old so really you are all fantastical and I love you to the moon. However, if you are making me choose I would have to say Heidi’s blog is an obvious choice because as you all know I have a major girl crush on the chick and her reviews are always thought provoking and hilarious. I actually almost forgot to add her on here because to me it feels like we have been bff4e and I felt like she has had her blog prior to 2012 but nope! Also I can’t forget about my two girls Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide  and  Kiki (otherwise known as Maggie) from Gone Pecan ! I feel very lucky to have found them this year, we talk daily about all things…book and life related! Honestly, many days they are what kept me sane!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 

I really enjoyed writing my review for The Hero’s Guide and Tiger Lily but one of my favorite posts to write was during our Fortnight of Fright event about villains and another post about The Book Barn.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

Umm yeahh I think I need more discussion posts!

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog?

I think Candice has very good discussion posts. I was also very interested in all of the posts on plagiarism that popped up a few months back..

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

BEA FOR THE WIN!!! It was epic and I can’t wait until next year because I am sure that it will be even more amazing!!

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012?

When I switched over to WordPress…no, really! Also when certain authors Tweet me in response to a review I wrote about their book I just about keel over. You should have heard the squealing and seen the jumping on the bed when Christopher Healy thanked me!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The Fortnight of Fright posts and the Christmas posts this month have been getting a lot of traffic!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

How about this post on haunted places?

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I never knew about threadless.com! Or Etsy! I also found a few great bookstores in Ithaca when we went this year!

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Guys…I failed ALL THE CHALLENGES!! Like…every. single. one. Part of me is like wow girl you suck and part of me feels elated because the reason I failed is because I decided that I wasn’t going to choose books based on books that I “needed” to read for reviews and so on. I felt much better after I made this decision but still part of me cringes a bit when I look at my challenges page on the blog.. >.<

Looking Ahead…

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013?

The Evolution of Mara Dyer! Days of Blood and Starlight! Game of Thrones! Flame of Sevenwaters!

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2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013?

Hands down: Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier and The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman.

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013?

Number one priority is to schedule more. Scheduling is key. I slack off when I am all “Oh next week I will post that review maybe..” I also want to have more awesome bloggers and MAYBE even an author or two…EEP!! I feel like since my blog is one year old (aww) I have gotten the hang of things and now that I looovee WordPress I can make my blog as awesome as I want! (No pressure though, can’t psych myself out over here..)

Book Hoarders Anonymous (3) December Edition!

I don’t usually do a post about my bookish goodies as, to be honest, I don’t get many! However December has been VERY kind to me and I have a hoard!

First, the beau surprised (and spoiled me) with an early bday present of Krampus by Brom! I had hoped to read and review it by Christmas but I just don’t see that happening! So far it is just as awesome as Brom’s other works and I have already ordered some of his amazing artwork. (Not pictured: The Birthday Fairy also sent me a copy of Bill Willingham’s Fairest: Wide Awake!)

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Second, I participated in The Broke and The Bookish Secret Santa this year and it was SO FUN! I was lucky enough to have been picked by my dear friend Amy from Tripping Over Books and she spoiled me to the max!

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How awesome is she?! Not only did she get me The Lion of Ireland, Goose Girl, and The Lost Conspiracy but she also got me an AMAZING Slytherin Quidditch shirt (Um, yes, I AM a Slytherin AND PROUD), some DELICIOUS peppermint hot chocolate (already tasted it,) a yummy chocolate treat and WARM, FUZZY SOCKS!! I swear I have the best friends. ❤

Third, Brittany from The Book Addict’s Guide sent me a signed copy of The Evolution of Mara Dyer! AH!

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Also, we took our last trip of the year to The Book Barn and I picked up a lot of goodies!

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My awesome finds:

Nocturnes and The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly

A Drowned Maiden’s Hair (Found after searching for a copy for Heidi!)

Dragon’s Blood, A Sending of Dragons and Sword of the Rightful King by Jane Yolen (Can you believe I still haven’t read anything by Jane Yolen?)

Woo hoo! I’m back! How was everyone’s holiday? Mine was beautiful AND I got some lovely new books from the loved ones:

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Sandman: Volume 1 by Neil Gaiman – SO EXCITED to read this one!!

Fairy Tales From the Brother’s Grimm by Philip Pullman

Werewolves of the Heartland by Bill Willingham – Actually already read this one right after I opened it up and I LOVED it!!

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan – Finally going to pick this baby up!

The Lost Novels of Bram Stoker (Not pictured) – How amazing is it that there are LOST NOVELS by BRAM STOKER!!??

I also got quite a bit of Barnes and Noble spending money so help me spend it, friends! Suggestions are welcome!!!

One Year Blogoversary!

Pardon me guys for this is sure to be a post where I get all sappy-pants on you but I promise it will be short(ish) and to the point.

Today is my one year blogoversary and I just have to say that  before starting my blog, I really wasn’t prepared for what having a blog entailed. I knew that I would have to work to keep up with my reviews and so on, but if you told me a year ago that I would obsess over comments, and Tweets, I would have laughed in your face. I had no idea that I would fall into a schedule regarding what books I read so that I could review them and I had no idea that the whole idea would burn me out. A few months ago I was so burnt out by the whole ordeal that I kind of pulled back on my blog for a while. I wasn’t happy with what I was doing and I didn’t like that it was feeling like “work” when it started out as something I was so excited about. I took some time off, moved to WordPress and read some books that I wanted to read, books I knew I wouldn’t be reviewing and you know what? It renewed the whole idea for me. I no longer feel controlled by my blog or compelled to read and review things because I “have to post something today!” Instead, I read and review because I want to, and because I want you take something from my work.

I have blogger friends who have commented on the change in my reviews since my move to WordPress and this is my explanation: I love what I am doing now. I get excited to write my reviews and I feel proud when I know that the finished product is not something contrived, but something that really came from within me. I mean every word I say and when my readers comment and tell me they appreciate my words, that is the best feeling in the world.

A few weeks ago I posted a review on The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom and the author, Christopher Healy tweeted me to tell me how humbled he was after reading my review. I honestly can’t even explain my elation over this message. The author of a book that I utterly ADORED, told me he was humbled by my words. I danced around the house, I got a little teary, I ate some chocolate and told my cat all about it. Then, just this week, a fellow blogger, Janice, mentioned me in her appreciation post for Book Blogger Appreciation Week. She mentioned that while reading my reviews she can genuinely tell how a book has affected me and this is probably one of the nicest compliments I have ever received because that is exactly what I long to do. I want you, the readers, to know that books affect me. They make me feel feelings. Strong ones…and I know you all feel the same.

Blogging has led me to meet new friends, some that I am lucky enoung to have met in real life and who I know will be my friends for many years (Oh! HAI, booksoulmate!) It has also led me to new authors, and genres and honestly, it helped me define myself in a new way.

Basically what I want to say is thank you. Sincerely. Thank you all for being people who understand me. When a certain quote hits me just the right way or when I am so angry at a character that I want to scream, thank you for all being there on the other end ready and willing to listen and understand why it is affecting me so. Thank you for thinking of me when you read a novel, knowing that it is something I would love (or hate) and thank you for taking me out of my comfort zone when you know it’s necessary. Thank you for being you, while you help me be me.

 The main thing that I have learned over this past year is that though some think that reading is just a hobby, it is so much more for me, and I am not alone.

Review: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy

Title: The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom

Author: Christopher Healy

Publishing Information: May 1 2012, by Walden Pond Press

Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Humor

Series information: Book one in a planned series

Format: Hardcover, 436 pages

Source: Borrowed from my local library

Recommended For: Fans middle grade and fairy tale lovers of all ages

Prince Liam. Prince Frederic. Prince Duncan. Prince Gustav. You’ve never heard of them, have you? These are the princes who saved Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel, respectively, and yet, thanks to those lousy bards who wrote the tales, you likely know them only as Prince Charming. But all of this is about to change. Rejected by their princesses and cast out of their castles, Liam, Frederic, Duncan, and Gustav stumble upon an evil plot that could endanger each of their kingdoms. Now it’s up to them to triumph over their various shortcomings, take on trolls, bandits, dragons, witches, and other assorted terrors, and become the heroes no one ever thought they could be. (Via Goodreads)

When you’re a child, you start reading books for the entertainment. You want to get away from the real world and feel elation over the adventure. That is what this book did for me; it made me remember how fun it is to read.

I for one have always wondered why every king and queen in fairytale land named their son Charming. It turns out, they didn’t. In fact, these princes all have their own unique name and story, though you’d never know it due to those pesky bards! The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom focuses on four separate Princes Charming: Prince Frederic (He met Cinderella Ella at a ball), Prince Gustav (He saved was saved by a gal named Rapunzel), Prince Liam (He kissed a princess named Briar Rose and woke her up from a really long nap), and Prince Duncan (He and Snow White are rather perfect for one another). The princes have their own quirks and are vastly different though they find themselves thrown together in a quest that will save all of their kingdoms and teach them all what it means to become heroes of their own tale.

Life between the princes and princesses is not what any of them had anticipated it would be…

Ella wants adventure and life with Frederic is not at all what she had imagined it would be when she met him that night at the ball. While Ella would rather travel and explore, Frederic is much happier having a quiet picnic on his grounds – on a blanket of course, one must keep clean – or quietly admiring art in the safety of his castle, this difference in personality leads Ella to go off on her own, leaving Frederic to his safe, (somewhat boring) life.

Gustav often acts before thinking and therefore his mission of rescuing Rapunzel from her tower didn’t go as planned and she ended up leaving on her own, finding him wandering the forest, and rescuing him. As you can imagine, this is a rather sore subject for someone who believes himself to be quite the manly hero so he takes off to search for some adventure of his own and a way to make a name for himself, away from Rapunzel and his sixteen older brothers.

Liam, though arrogant, is really a bit more like the Prince Charming from the original tales. He is handsome, brave and well, princely. Unfortunately, when Prince Liam first rescued Briar Rose, he did not anticipate that she would be spoiled, selfish and an all-together mean person. This led to a rather awkward conversation in which Liam refused to marry Briar Rose and she threw a royal fit and vowed that she would marry him while he stood in shackles if need be. He promptly (and intelligently, in my opinion) put as much distance possible between himself and the princess.

Finally, Prince Duncan and Snow White are married and are quite happy for the most part. However, Duncan is rather quirky and sometimes Snow just needs some quiet time so she asks Duncan to “Go do something else” without her. He then blows Snow a kiss, leaves for a walk and becomes hopelessly lost. Lucky for him (and he will be the first to tell you just how lucky he is) he is found a few days later by Frederic and Gustav who are on their way to “rescue” Ella. Personally, I loved Duncan beyond reason. His antics and outbursts had me laughing out loud. He is definitely one of the sweetest characters I have ever had the pleasure of reading about.

“Wild card, got it,” Duncan said. “Just like in Crazy Eights. I can be a diamond; I can be a spade. Whatever you need me to be, I’m that thing. That is so me.”

Both the princes and princesses are fabulous, though I hope we hear more from Rapunzel in book two and I greatly appreciated their vast differences and limitations that made them all stand out. The villains were also fantastic; I have a rather soft spot for a witch who uses a thesaurus spell so that she can insult people more creatively! The dwarves (not dwarfs) provide some snarky fun and the trolls are vastly misunderstood creatures.

This book made me insanely happy. It made me remember what it was like to curl up with my first Wizard of Oz book as a child. It made me smile, giggle and laugh out loud, a feat that few books are able to accomplish. But most of all, it helped me realize that I really do have a soft spot for Middle Grade novels. Thank you, Mr. Healy, for reminding me what it feels like to fall in love with reading for the first time.

As an aside: There isn’t one thing I would change about this novel. On top of having a lyrical and phenomenal story, the illustrations were a wonderful compliment to the tale. Also, I am definitely not a person who longs for books to be made into movies. In fact, I rather hate when it happens. However, this book was different. According to Christopher Healy’s website, it has been announced that 20th Century Fox Animation has optioned the film rights to The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom. I am thrilled and can’t wait to see where this goes!

For fun extras on the heroes and to find out what they’re up to next, check out Christopher Healy’s blog or twitter.

Recommend A…(11)

 

“Recommend A…” is a weekly meme, posted every Monday, hosted over on Chick Loves Lit. It’s a quick, fun and unique way to recommend a book that you love!

Recommend A…Book By A Debut Author!

My choice this week is: Storybound by Marissa Burt

This is a book I originally picked up for my Debut Author Challenge and I loved it! From page two this story drew me in. Marissa Burt writes a fantastic and beautiful narrative. I highly recommend it to those who enjoyed Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu, or those looking for a story that reminds them about all of the things that they love about fairy tales.

Top Ten Tuesday (22)

Top Ten Posts On My Blog That Give the BEST Picture of ME

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish which I adore and therefore chose to adopt into my weekly blog posts!

I pretty much stick to reviews over here on Books Take You Places so half of this list will consist of links of my favorite books that I have reviewed. The other half is randomness from my life over the past year. Enjoy!

Posts to learn more about me:

Book Expo America Recap: Learn about my trip to NYC to meet lots of awesome bloggers and authors! Filled with some nice pictures, as well!

Book Hoarders Anonymous: While on my trip to Ithaca I picked up a whole bunch of awesome new books!

A Few of my Favorite Things (of 2011): Some non-related book things that I loved from last year!!

Happy Birthday, William Shakespeare!: In which I obsess over the bard.

Posts where I rave about my favorite books:

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Storybound by Marissa Burt

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

The Child Thief by Brom

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Top Ten Tuesday (21)

Top Ten Characters I’d Like to Switch Places With for 24 Hours

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish which I adore and therefore chose to adopt into my weekly blog posts!

Princess Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia C. Wrede – The first heroine I ever fell in love with, Princess Cimorene is a not so typical princess who gets to live with dragons!!

Scarlet from Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen – Intricate and a little abrasive, Scarlet is also a strong and extremely skilled knife wielding young lady.

Anita Blake from The Anita Blake series by Laurell K. Hamilton – She is a BAMF!! Plus she has a million boyfriends and lovers and sometimes, it’s nice to have options.

Peter Pan from Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie – This character always intrigued me and I would love to know more of what is inside his head. Not to mention the fact that he can fly and he fights pirates! Ohh…I might want to be Captain Hook instead..

Cas Lowood from Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – He hunts ghosts! That is a pretty awesome hobby in my opinion.

Celia from The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – I would really love to be able to appreciate her angst, power and overwhelming love for Marco.

Mina from Dracula by Bram Stoker – I really have always wondered about Mina’s side of the story. I have read a few rewrites from her POV and they just never felt right for me.

Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – There are just too many reasons to list for this one, it seems like it should be rather obvious :]

Liadan from Son of Shadows by Juliet Marillier – Really I would love being any of Juliet Marillier’s strong female characters but this was my favorite book out of the series and I think Liadan stuck out the most for me out of all of Juliet’s heroines. Plus I really love The Painted Man and their love story touched me the most out of all The Sevenwaters characters.

Lo from Fathomless by Jackson Pearce – She’s a mermaid! I have to add one mystical creature into this list!

Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor – There are so many things to love about Karou (we won’t even talk about her relationship with Akiva because YUM) but she has interesting relationships with so many interesting beings and she has a past life worth reliving. Plus, blue hair is hot.

Seraphina Dombegh from Seraphina by Rachel Hartman – The world in which she lives is AWESOME (I LOVE DRAGONS) and there is even more awesomeness contained in her head! Plus, I wish I could make beautiful music like she does!

This list was HARD (as you can see I couldn’t keep it to just ten!!) I kept going back and forth because I love SO MANY CHARACTERS and would really love to live in their world if only for a day!! Who did you guys choose for your Top Ten Tuesday?

Book Hoarders Anonymous

As some of you may know I went on a tiny vacation to Ithaca this weekend. I had planned on seeing some gorges, waterfalls and quirky downtown shops. What I did not anticipate was the absolute jackpot that Ithaca is in relation to bookstores! I could hardly fathom the amount of used book stores in the area and I just happened to show up on the last weekend of the HUGE Friends of the Library book sale. It was fate, I tell ya! Let’s check out my finds from the weekend…Please excuse the quality of these pictures. The bed & breakfast where we are staying is a legit log cabin and totes reminds me of:“I have to go! There’s a deer just outside, eating fruit from the orchard!” – Ross Gellar 
It’s GORGEOUS here, but the lighting is not the best!

Many of you know that I collect Wizard of Oz books so I was almost hyperventilating when I saw this bundle at The Friends of the Library Booksale!! With the exception of The Scarecrow of Oz which I found from another used bookstore these were all purchased for 10 cents EACH!!! AHHH!!

The Shakespeare’s Daughter and Shakespeare in the Movies were a dollar each and I thought they would go nicely with my ever growing collection of Shakespearean literature. Fairest number 1 and 2 by Bill Willingham came from the most well stocked and organized comic book store I have ever seen! No Go the Boogeyman was an awesome find, a hardcover for just $2.00 is not too shabby! Finally, I picked up Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for just 25 cents. Just in time for the read-a-long!

I am hoping that upon returning home my copy of Wintercraft: Legacy will be in my mailbox but there is no telling as Amazon UK stated Wednesday as the delivery date and ALAS! Still no sign!

What fun books did you grab this week?