Book Hoarders Anonymous: Best of 2013

I haven’t done a Book Hoarders post in a while so I thought to close out the year I would do a little survey like I did last year and focus on some of my favorite personal literary moments of the year! Sorry in’s link and picture heavy 🙂

Book that reminded me that I love to read: The Sandman series did this for me. The graphic novels are so different from anything that I have ever read and I found myself enamored at the inclusions of different character from history popping up into stories. It really made me think and remember what knowledge I had of these historical figures, or superheroes, etc. and that made me love it even more.

Favorite BAMF: I think Daenerys takes the cake for this one. She is so incredibly young but so fierce. I love her so much. Especially when she says things like “Dracarys!”

Favorite companion: Ravens! Though not technically “fantastical” by nature but some of the ones I read of this year were pretty amazing. Matthew, from The Sandman series and Fiacha from my (ahem 4th? 5th? re-read) of Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier is one of my favorite companions, EVER.

Favorite debut author: For sure Cat Winters, the author of In the Shadow of Blackbirds. The book was absolutely fantastic and heartwrenching. Ms. Winters was so gracious and lovely after I reached out to her upon finishing the novel, and she moved quickly to the top of my auto-buy authors.

BFF: Hands down Sybella from Dark Triumph. She was so dark and brave throughout the novel, I couldn’t help but love her. Truly, some of my closest friends describe her as my “spirit animal,” and I can’t wait to see what she and the other ladies get in to in Mortal Heart.

Most swoon-worthy lad: Okay, I am doing it, I’m cheating. I tried to look elsewhere but the title of most swoon-worthy lad goes to Captain Carswell Thorne, hands down. I can not tell you how many pictures I took of his lines and how many flailing texts were sent to my friends while reading Cress. He has made my top 5 of best swoons EVER, and that is saying A LOT.

Favorite pick found while perusing: Dragon’s Bait by Vivian Vande Velde. I was handed this by a bookseller at The Book Barn because she noticed that I like Patricia C. Wrede and assured me that this title was a readalike. I was pleasantly surprised over the nostalgia, I obviously also loved the strength in the main lady and the swoons in the main dragon!

Fantastical creatures: Not sure if he counts but, Death personified! He was breathtaking in Keturah and Lord Death and I look forward to reading more novels with him in the center!

That bad boy you shouldn’t love, but…: UMM hello? THE DARKLING 4EVA. I love, love, LOVE him so very much…from his quartz like eyes to his brooding demeanor. I just picture him controlling darkness and I get all “humina humina” to MAH BONES. *swoons* Honorable mention goes to Morpheus from Splintered by A.G. Howard

Favorite male lead: KVOTHE. Ohhhh Kvothe…I spent so much time with him this year (umm..over 50 hours of audio – which reminds me, OH HAI, Nick Podehl <3) and my heart sang and broke for him at times. He is so interesting and witty and hello, he’s a ginger, how can I not love him so?!

Favorite female lead: Eleanor, from Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. For the good and the bad, she reminded me of me when I was in high school.

Best summary in less than ten words: Scary vampires in an Amish setting. (Thanks, Ame!)

A return to an old favorite (title, genre, etc.): WOO! ROBIN HOOD, BABY!! I chose Robin Hood as my focus for our Classics Retold event and I am so glad that I was able to go back to the story that I love in Hood by Stephen Lawhead. I am excited to read book 2 and 3 in the series as soon as possible!

So glad I judged by it’s cover: In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters. The piercing gaze of the girl on the front and the ethereal being behind her, I had to have this book. I am so glad that I jumped to request this from Netgalley upon seeing it because it was one of my favorite reads of the year.

Broke my Heart: The Fables installments from this year really got to me. I have become WAY too invested in the characters and have fallen in love with the story, I love these graphic novels so much but boy did they crack my heart a little. Let’s not even get started on A Song of Ice and Fire…

Heightened by the narrator: For sure A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket narrated by Tim Curry is first in my mind when thinking of narrators who make the series for me. I started reading this series years and years ago and never finished because as I grew older I had a hard time making it through these novels in print. However, the audiobooks are absolutely stellar. The parts that I tended to read over because of annoyance or lack of interest, sprouted from my speakers and made me smile and laugh out loud.

Gave me the creeps (which I love): The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki, I sincerely hope that this author starts writing adult horror because he is FANTASTIC.

It’s in the words..: The Woodcutter by Kate Danley was so lyrical and beautiful that I found myself bookmarking every few pages. It was a simple, yet gorgeous read.

Biggest disappointment: Hmm probably Towering by Alex Flinn. I have heard a lot of good things about this author and it might have just been a wrong book, wrong time sort of thing but I did not enjoy this novel AT ALL.

Worth the hype: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. First, I was lucky enough to meet Rainbow at BEA this year and she was so fantastic, she also has great hair. Second, I am not a contemporary reader, and the sickly sweet romances are not usually my thing…HOWEVER Eleanor and Park was recommended to me by so many people that I trust and I fell so deeply in love with it, I immediately added all of Rowell’s books to my TBR. Never has hand holding been so romantic.

Newest addiction: Audiobooks!! As some of you may know, I am incredibly picky when it comes to audiobook narrators. Jim Dale is an obvious love and I fell into loving Neil Gaiman as soon as I heard his free audiobook Click, Clack, the Rattlebag but I had a hard time finding someone else to enjoy. I seem to have a problem with the jarring tone of a female narrator and and I felt sort of lost for a while until Heidi and Amy convinced me to try Nick Podehl, the narrator of The Kingkiller Chronicles. Well WOO BOY am I happy that I gave him a listen! over 50 hours of audiobook later and I am IN LOVE! I was also lucky enough to find some audiobooks narrated by Tim Curry, The Series of Unfortunate Events and a lovely version of Dracula, while perusing!

Favorite villain: Krampus wins this one, I think, though I don’t know for sure that he is considered a villain despite his “evil” ways. This novel by Brom is absolutely enthralling, I read it almost a year ago and I still can’t stop thinking about it.

Favorite laugh out loud moment: Like last year, I have to go with a Duncan moment from the second installment of The League of Princes: The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle. “Oh, I disagree,” Duncan added. “It makes me think of cow-owls. And those are horrifying. MOO-WHO! MOO-WHO!” This series is honestly fantastic and I can’t wait for book three!! Honorable mention goes to the final installment of A Tale Dark and Grimm: The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz, this one had me laughing out loud as well!

The kissy bits: WOO Shadow & Bone had some yummy moments, as did Dark Triumph by LaFevers, Splintered by Howard, and Eleanor and Park had some epic hand holding (also CRESS because seriously..*faints*) Seriously, you guys…*FANS SELF*

Biggest ugly cry moment: Ya know, I didn’t really have any ugly cry moments this year..I don’t usually read those kinds of books so I somehow missed out. I did, however, tear up a few times while reading Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. They were both lovely books, though I did not love them or get as attached as other readers.

Favorite new to me genre/book: Historical fiction! Between In the Shadow of Blackbirds, and The Caged Graves, I quickly jumped on the historical fiction bandwagon and asked Hannah and April for some suggestions. Needless to say, my TBR pile grew a lot and I am excited to move into some non Tudor England historical reads!

Mind. Blown.: Man, I feel sorry that I can’t explain myself better here but…that THING that happens in A Storm of Swords (and it’s not the thing you think)..yeah, I did NOT see that coming. I am so thrilled that I read this series, I can’t even begin to explain how worth it it is to take on the epicness that is A Song of Ice and Fire.

Thank you, Netgalley!: Splintered by A.G. Howard was a titled that I found on a whim while looking through Netgalley. The cover was gorgeous and the synopsis sounded awesome – a twisted fairytale, Alice in Wonderland meets Tim Burton in novel form? Sign me up! The world was vivid and the swoons were aplenty.

Non-bookish THINGS that I loved in 2013:

LOKI: Now, you all know that I love the villains SO MUCH and Loki isn’t really NEW on my radar since I have read and LOVED Norse mythology for as long as I can remember, but I started working hardcore on my WIP this year and…well..there are some Loki like bits in there. That got me delving more into his character, which only made me love him more. Also look how cute my new shirt is…

Game of Thrones: Again, not so new, but some of you may know that I participated in a Song of Ice and Fire Read Along this year and though it was very time consuming…it was AWESOME. Honestly, it is totally worth it, the series is so epic and you just fall so into the world, I definitely recommend giving it a go.

Neil Gaiman: Okay, I may have mentioned him a time or…five..but I was lucky enough to see Neil Gaiman THREE TIMES this year, and I MET HIM FACE TO FACE a few months ago and it was just a once in a lifetime experience. He is so amazing and gracious, and genius. Also his wife, she is pretty fantastic as well. No words.

Literary Lushes: I started a second website with my best friend Brittany (The Book Addict’s Guide) which focuses on ARC tours and Twitter chats. It has been such a great experience working with someone that I love and it has really opened me up to new bloggers and experiences which makes me incredibly happy!

Going forward I would like to introduce some new fun features on the blog – (including a new review feature!) and obviously share some wonderful reviews with you all! What about you guys, what can you tell me about your favorite literary moments of the year? I look forward to seeing you all in 2014!! As always, thanks for reading!

Review: Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

DTTitle: Dark Triumph

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publishing Information: April 2, 2013 by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance

Series information: Book two in the His Fair Assassin series

Format: Hardcover, 400 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of historical fiction featuring layered characters, strong heroines, and manly yet gentle male leads

Like many novels that I adore, I took my time reading Dark Triumph; Robin LaFevers creates a vast and beautiful world that is easy to fall into. Her characters are layered and the story follows its own course, while weaving its way into prior plot threads left for us in Grave Mercy. As in Grave Mercy, Dark Triumph is full of detail regarding the land of Brittany, and its history, through this storyline we are able to see how Anne still struggles and we gain a further glimpse into the convent, which made me remind myself that not all villains are as obvious as you would think. For this reader, D’Albret was the clear choice as villain, and he played his part well, but the sly behavior of the Abbess is what put me on high alert, I am intrigued to see how the convent and its sisters fare in book three. Though a large part of the novel focuses on Sybella and her upbringing in D’Albret’s household, and how it came to be that she became part of the convent of Saint Mortain, the underlying issue was that Sybella was unsure of everything in her life. She didn’t believe in stability, love, and loyalty. It is clear that she never trusted anyone completely, save herself, and like Ismae she struggled to believe in the love that Saint Mortain held for her as a father. Even more, she struggled to believe that any being was capable of a true love that speaks to your soul and makes you realize that a life forever alone may be a lonely one indeed.

I found that I connected to Sybella much more than I did Ismae in Grave Mercy. Sybella was flawed, she was layered and she had a wildness in her that I couldn’t help but be enamored with. There is no question that the things that Sybella goes through in her lifetime are serious and enough to drive anyone to madness. I felt for Sybella, yet I also respected the way that her anger shaped her and drove her to stand up for herself, always. Though it is true that these handmaidens to Death go through training, of sorts, they are chosen by Him for a reason and their ability to carry out his wishes are only partly why. Ismae believes that she is to work as Death’s Mercy and after time, Sybella realizes that her past and her particular gifts have molded her into Death’s Justice. It is the trials and anger that Sybella carries as both a shield and sword that make her into the strong woman that she is.

I will speak briefly of the Beast of Waroch because there is much to be said and therefore, too much to potentially spoil. LaFevers goes a different way than most when creating this hero. She does not paint him as a suave, handsome and utterly charismatic yet insufferable male lead. Instead, he is steadfast, unbelievably manly, strong, and is described as being “ugly” on more than one occasion, yet at the same time he is loyal, charming, and an altogether gentle character. The dual nature of his character is what really shook me, and though I fell fast for Duval in Grave Mercy, I can say with conviction that Beast has secured my heart until the very end.

Then there is Julian…oh, Julian. How do I even begin to explain the array of feelings I felt toward you? True, there were many times while reading that I was disgusted and enraged, times I kept thinking “MY EYES! MYYY EYEESSS!!” over what I was reading. Then, little by little, you squirmed your way into a dark recess of my heart and I started to have FEELS. I started to care. Little by little, I started to feel my heart break. Something that was so HUGE yet was not the center of the plot managed to move me in a way that I did not see coming.

As I said above, Dark Triumph is extremely layered and detailed, and it’s the details that really go straight for the heart. We learn much more about the Saints in this novel and that was really one thing that I need want more of. I absolutely loved the lore presented in this novel and if Robin Lafevers wanted to give me a history lesson on her Saints I would gladly sit and listen for hours. Then there was the addition of the Charbonneri, and their characterization in Dark Triumph was interesting and deeply moving, I hope that we hear more from them in the next installment.

Also, I can’t leave you guys hanging, remember how Grave Mercy had a rather glorious slow burn romance between Ismae and Duval? Remember how near the end you were feeling the FEELS and anticipation so you were nearly falling over with the intensity of it? Dark Triumph has that, but in a completely different way. The relationship between Beast and Sybella was in no way instantaneous, but it wasn’t a relationship that the reader saw coming a mile away while the heroine was all “Oh I am unworthy and cannot trust a man” for 400 pages. Yes, Sybella was wary and no, she didn’t trust right away. Instead, where Duval stood back and let Ismae come to terms with her feelings on her own, Beast was his unfaltering self and nearly told Sybella how she felt before she realized it herself. There were swoons galore, guys, I can’t lie to you. While letting Sybella stand on her own two feet Beast also managed to provide a very important stronghold for her to fall back on. Oh, and, let’s not forget, there were some kissy scenes. Rather good ones, I must add.

The most important thing that you should know is that Dark Triumph was easily my most anticipated read of 2013, and like with so many books that I have hyped up in my mind, I was wary that Dark Triumph would fall short of my expectations. Thankfully, it not only didn’t fall short, it exceeded my expectations and left them in its wake. If you have not yet read Grave Mercy, I suggest that you do so very soon as Dark Triumph comes out in just a few days. Though I was lucky enough to snag an advanced copy, this was one book I did not second guess in pre-ordering. If you enjoy fantasy, strong heroines, swoon worthy male leads, historical fiction, paranormal elements, family dynamics, intrigue and more swoons, I suggest that you pick Dark Triumph up as soon as possible. I wait, rather impatiently, for Annith’s addition to the His Fair Assassin Trilogy.

Coming Soon! Dark Triumph by R.L. LaFevers

darktriumphSybella arrives at the convent’s doorstep half mad with grief and despair. Those that serve Death are only too happy to offer her refuge—but at a price. Naturally skilled in both the arts of death and seduction, the convent views Sybella as one of their most dangerous weapons.

But those assassin’s skills are little comfort when the convent returns her to a life that nearly drove her mad. Her father’s rage and brutality are terrifying, and her brother’s love is equally monstrous. And while Sybella is a weapon of justice wrought by the god of Death himself, He must give her a reason to live. When she discovers an unexpected ally imprisoned in the dungeons, will a daughter of Death find something other than vengeance to live for?

Dark Triumph is probably my most anticipated read of 2013, the cover is amazing (how awesome does Sybella look!?) and I can’t wait to find out who this “mysterious knight” is! Sooo it is no question that I wanted to get my hands on this book immediately after finishing Grave Mercy (I had an ARC, do you know how long I have been waiting?!) Robin LaFevers announced that the book trailer premiered today, along with a pretty awesome playlist, and anyone who shares it gets entered to win an ARC of Dark Triumph!!! 

To watch the trailer go here and if you share and win a copy, share the love my friends!! 

Recommend A…(8)

“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…First Book in a Series!

My choice this week is Grave Mercy by R.L. LaFevers

The book follows Ismae, a desperate girl who has just been sold to an abusive man by her cruel father. When her new husband sees the mark on her back from poison her mother took to attempt to abort her in the womb he becomes enraged, knowing that she is marked by Death himself. He immediately goes to find a priest to “cleanse” her and she manages to escape with some help to St. Mortain’s convent. However, this is no ordinary convent; the sisters here are trained to become assassins for Mortain, the Saint of Death. They are taught everything they need to know to become Death’s handmaidens and deliver vengeance to those who put Brittany in danger. Ismae does her job thoroughly and soon crosses the path of Duval and as their plans become intertwined they learn what it takes to trust and come to understand that the price of honor isn’t as easy as they thought.

This one might be cheating a teeny bit since technically the His Fair Assassin “series” is really going to be companion novels instead of a series of continuations but it’s still one of my favorite books EVER and it’s ridiculously amazing, so go read it right now.

Review: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

gmTitle: Grave Mercy

Author: Robin LaFevers

Publishing Information: April 3, 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Romance

Series information: Book one in the His Fair Assassin series

Format: Hardcover, 549 pages

Source: Received an ARC from the publisher via Netgalley

Recommended For: Fans of historical fiction featuring layered characters, strong heroines, and swoons galore

Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart?

Be prepared for my second review this week in which I obsess over the sheer awesomeness of a book I’ve just read.

The book follows Ismae, a desperate girl who has just been sold to an abusive man by her cruel father. When her new husband sees the mark on her back from poison her mother took to attempt to abort her in the womb he becomes enraged, knowing that she is marked by Death himself. He immediately goes to find a priest to “cleanse” her and she manages to escape with some help to St. Mortain’s convent. However, this is no ordinary convent; the sisters here are trained to become assassins for Mortain, the Saint of Death. They are taught everything they need to know to become Death’s handmaidens and deliver vengeance to those who put Brittany in danger. Ismae does her job thoroughly and soon crosses the path of Duval and as their plans become intertwined they learn what it takes to trust and come to understand that the price of honor isn’t as easy as they thought.

The characters of this book were wonderful! Ismae was such a strong heroine who knew her faults and played well with her strengths. She is immune to poison and sees the marque of Mortain before she has even been granted this “gift” by the sisters. This makes her stand out in a significant way and it is because of these gifts that she is able to really understand her worth in the end so she can stand up for what she knows is right. Her sisters in Death are pretty awesome as well, especially Sybella who you only glance at a few times yet she still stands out in a remarkable way.

Now, let’s not forget about Duval. ::swoons:: ladies this is the man we have been waiting for! He is not a teenager infatuated with Ismae at first glance and even as they work together he does not overstep his bounds but instead gives her just what she needs when she isn’t even aware she needs it. I loved this. It’s no question Ismae has had some traumatic experiences with every man she has come in contact with so it’s not surprising that she is extremely untrustworthy of Duval through most of the novel. Duval isn’t so happy to be saddled with her either but as his feelings change he comes to appreciate who (and what) she is so he is able to understand her as no one has ever done. The actual romance though? So painstakingly slow in a way that literally had me holding my breath. So many of their moments together had me on the edge of my seat to the point where Duval grabs Ismae’s ankle and I heard myself give a girly “eep!” out loud. Plus he calls her “my fair assassin” in regular conversation! Love! Duval is dedicated to his family, country and has a fierce dedication to his friends that shows his loyalty in a beautiful way. Seriously, move over Mr. Darcy, methinks I have found a new literary husband!

One of the things that had me thinking was the fact that this book had a ‘YA’ label. Don’t get me wrong I think it is a perfect read for YA readers and no, I don’t think that the themes are too “dark” for YA readers. However I do feel that there are some adults that will be wary to read this book due to the connotations that (they believe) go along with YA novels. This book had many adult themes and I am recommending it to a wide range of readers from YA to adult because I think it can be appreciated by them all. Also, there were some elements that were missing (ahem, bodice ripping) that would have made this a very adult book and though I am not complaining because slow burning romances are kind of my FAVORITE it is no question that the novel would have read a little different.

I have to say that this novel is one of my favorite books of all time. There were so many parts of this book that reminded me of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series and those of you who know me (or who follow my blog) know that this is probably the biggest compliment I can give. The strong heroine, slow burning romance and ending that focused on what is easy versus what is right are only a few of the things that I find in both novels. The novel was a gorgeous read that I honestly can’t say enough about, I highly recommend it to fans of Juliet Marillier, strong heroines and anyone looking for a new brooding literary crush.

I am so grateful to have received an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt via Netgalley and the only qualm I have is that now I have to wait an immensely long time for the companion novel, Dark Triumph to come out!