12 Best Books of 2012

So the 2012 reading year was interesting because I think this is the most I’ve explored different genres. I blame my book club for this, especially with our monthly discussions and their book recommendations. As a result, I didn’t reach the 150-ish book goal. However, I did enjoy exploring these other books that I wouldn’t normally read, so it’s still a pretty good year reading year.

I’ll talk about my reading stats more on another post. First, let’s get the best list out. 12 Best Books for 2012. Let’s get at it, shall we?

  1. Angelfall by Susan EeGruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun. I read this book because of all the good reviews I read from my Goodreads friends, and I devoured it in several days. I loved Penryn the kick-ass heroine and the equally bad-ass angels who caused the apocalypse. When is the sequel coming out again? Please make it soon?
    Angelfall by Susan Ee Continue Reading →

This is Not a Test

This is Not a Test by Courtney SummersThis is Not a Test by Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of pages: 323
My copy: ebook review copy from Netgalley, much thanks to Loren Jaggers of St. Martin’s Press and Lindsey Rudnickas from NetGalley for all the help :)

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

* * *

When I heard that Courtney Summers was coming out with a zombie novel, I was up to my ears with excitement. Okay fine, when I found out about it, I have only read one Courtney Summers novel (Some Girls Are), but I really liked it and I was looking forward to reading her other books. Then the new one was about zombies? And it had that awesome, awesome cover? Where can I get this?!

I had to go through a lot of lengths to get a galley of this book, and I would like to thank all those who helped me get this from the bottom of my zombie loving heart. :) I feel a bit ashamed that it took me so long to read and review this…but better late than never? ^^

So the world is ending, but Sloane Price doesn’t care because as far as she knows, the world has ended ever since her sister left her alone with their abusive father. She just really wants to die, and the apocalypse seemed just timely, until she was saved by several kids she knew from school. Now she is in the school with them, helping seal exits half-heartedly, listening to the incessant pounding of the undead outside who wants to eat their flesh. What follows is a story of human will, of what people will do when the odds are stacked against them, and just how far one would go to survive…or die.

INTENSE. I described Some Girls Are as intense, but it had nothing to the intensity of this book. This is Not a Test is an exhausting book. It has so much character conflict (internal and external), and it’s not just because of the zombies. In fact, most of the zombie action didn’t happen until in the latter parts of the book, and that’s an entirely different kind of intensity. The rest of the book is all about human struggle and the will to survive even if it seems all better to just give up and do nothing.

I can’t say I liked many of the characters, especially Sloane because she’s different from all the zombie novel heroines I’ve read. Most of them have the determined will to live, not a will to die. I wanted Sloane to snap out of it, to pick herself up and be thankful that she’s still alive and has a good chance of survival. She frustrated me, and the other people she was with kind of frustrated me too, because I wasn’t sure what their real motives were. Well fine, they wanted to live, but I guess the entire situation of the apocalypse in the book has also caused me to not just trust anyone. I swung between liking some characters moderately to not liking them at all, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good characters. They’re just…well, not so much likeable. Perhaps it is hard to like some people in a genuine way when zombies are out to get you outside and you’re worried if you’re going to live another day.

On another note, I think the book has an excellent pacing, and the days they spent inside the school blended into one another quite well that I felt I was with them as well and I didn’t know how long it has been when they were inside. There were times when some of the action lagged, and but it quickly picked up with heavy, spine-chilling scenes that really snapped me out of my sleepiness when I was reading this before bed. The last few scenes were creepily scary and quite sad, but it was the kind of zombie action that I was looking for! In the end, I was just really…exhausted, but in a good and satisfying way.

So this pretty much seals my love for Courtney Summers. I am looking forward to getting Fall for Anything to finally read all that she wrote, and I am definitely, definitely going to get everything else she writes from now on. :)

Rating:

Other reviews:
The Book Smugglers
Good Books and Good Wine

Cracked Up To Be

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney SummersCracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Number of pages: 214
My copy: ebook, bought from Amazon Kindle Store

When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her conselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.

* * *

Perfect Parker Fadley is cracking. She comes to school with tangled hair and muddy shoes, her teachers and friends all worry about her, but the truth is, she just doesn’t care. Or, she seems not to care. All she wants to do is disappear or be ignored and forgotten (and not even the thought of Miami gift baskets can make her snap out of it), but everyone else around her is carefully watching over her. And then there’s this new guy, who seems to want to know Parker despite her insistence in him away. What’s worse is she seems to be falling for him, too. Parker Fadley is starting to crack, and she’s not sure if she can keep it together longer before anyone else finds out exactly why she’s pushing them all away.

My first Courtney Summers warned me enough to expect that her books aren’t the happy, shiny contemporary YA novels that bring warm fuzzies to the heart. Oh sure, there are some nice, romantic enough scenes to give the warm fuzzies, but the rest of the novel? They’re usually intense scenes that makes you wonder just how exactly these kids got into these situations. Cracked Up To Be had the same kind of popular mean girls that Courtney Summers seem to know so much about, and it’s an interesting journey to see just how their lives can be just as messed up as anyone else’s.

Parker feels like such an unreliable narrator that sometimes I have no idea if what she’s saying is true, or even relevant to the story. But perhaps that’s how it was really built up — her unreliability reeled me in and made me wonder just what exactly happened, just what made her change from perfect Miss Popular to someone who wouldn’t want to exist. I didn’t like her at first, until she started growing on me. Her attempts at normalcy were nice even if it seemed futile, and for a moment there, I felt I was one of her friends, who wanted to help her even if she kept on resisting. My favorite part is when she got a dog…but also, that is my least favorite part because…well, if you’ve read enough books with pets that play a big part in it, you probably know what might happen to them. :(

I remember being a bit exhausted after I finished reading my first Summers, Some Girls Are, because of the intensity of the power struggle between the popular girls in the book. However, for Cracked Up To Be, I was just a bit sad at how Parker beat herself up so much for that secret that she kept that made her crack. I liked how everything wrapped up in the end, leaving me with a bit more hope for Parker than I had at the start.

Cracked Up To Be is not a feel-good contemporary YA book, but it’s a good book that contemporary YA fans will definitely enjoy. It doesn’t have much of the warm fuzzies, but it has just the right punch that tells its readers, “Hey, this thing? In this book? It happens. It’s real. And being popular is not all it’s cracked up to be.”

Rating:

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Love YA Lit
The Readventurer

2012 Books I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands On

So hello, it’s 2012. I will be all cliche and stuff and say that I can’t believe we’re at a new year all over again. Didn’t 2011 just start yesterday?

Happy 2012!

And now I’m done being cliche, I will not stop blathering on and share some of the reasons why I’m looking forward to this year (even if the Mayans think the world will end by December) — good books for another year, they’re things to be excited about, yes?

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault In Our Stars by John Green (January 10). You know this isn’t even a question, really. Anyone who’s a fan of contemporary YA novels should be looking forward to this, especially because: (1) It’s by John Green and (2) All pre-ordered copies were signed by the author himself. You still have time to pre-order this if you haven’t — go and do it now!

Blackout by Mira Grant

Blackout by Mira Grant (June 7). If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog or my friend in real life, you would know how much I love the Newsflesh trilogy. So much that I’ve given away so many copies of Feed and Deadline already. Now the end is near, the end of this amazing trilogy is also near. I’m so excited for this that I already pre-ordered it on Kindle. :D

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers (June 19). And more zombies! I haven’t read all of Courtney Summers’ stuff, but I liked Some Girls Are and the news of her releasing a zombie novel just tickled me pink. :) Or maybe that wasn’t the right term to use. But anyway, with a creepy cover like this, who wouldn’t be excited?

The Return of the Shandar

The Last Dragonslayer # 3: The Return of the Shandar by Jasper Fforde (November 2012). This is also really no question. I love Jasper Fforde, and I loved The Last Dragonslayer. I’ve yet to read The Song of the Quarkbeast, but since I’m a completist for Jasper Fforde, I must have this. :)

Thursday Next # 7: Dark Reading Matter by Jasper Fforde (July 12). And here’s another Fforde! I love that he has two-books-a-year release deal, so now we get to know more about what happens next to Thursday next sooner rather than later. Awesomeness.

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand (January 17). I’ve read and loved Unearthly last year, and I’ve also already read and loved the next book. It’s probably high time I get myself a print copy of both books. I hope this one is as shiny and pretty as Unearthly. :)

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund (June 12). I loved Rampant, even if I have never read the next book, I still think Diana Peterfreund is someone to look out for. And then, she comes out with a new book. That is dystopian. And is based on Jane Austen’s Persuasion which I also loved. How. Freaking. Awesome.

Discount Armageddon by Seannan McGuire

Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire (March 6). I haven’t read any Seanan McGuire books…oh wait, she’s also the same person as Mira Grant. One more time. I’ve never read any October Daye books and I plan to, one day. But I can’t deny being excited over Seanan’s new series. This sounds so interesting, and knowing the author, I’m sure it’s going to be great, too.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. While I didn’t really like Lola and the Boy Next Door as much as I liked Anna and the French Kiss, I can’t deny that I’m a fan of whatever Stephanie Perkins writes. I know that Isla brings us back to one of Anna’s friends in the first book, Josh, and it has that romantic feel of “I like this guy but he has no idea that I exist“. Aw. </3

Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (August 2012). A spin-off in Kate Daniels universe — how exciting is this!!!!! (Yes, the exclamation points should express my excitement even if it’s not enough :D)

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore (May 1). It’s been a long, long time (okay, fine, two years) since I read Fire and Graceling, and I’ve waited for so long to get my hands on this. Finally, the wait is about to end! :)

Interim Goddess of Love by Mina V. Esguerra. And finally, I can’t ignore a local book coming out, yes? One of my favorite local authors is coming out with a YA book! We were talking on Twitter about this one time and I told her that I want to put her book in my list, and that would make her focus. So..here it is. Yay for more Filipino YA! :)

I’m pretty sure there are more books to look forward to in the coming year, but let’s be surprised at that, yes? I hope 2012 becomes a good reading year for everyone! What books are you looking forward to in 2012?

All I Want for Christmas 2011 Is… (Book Edition)

Ohai?

November is halfway done, which means that December is just around the corner, which also means that Christmas is just around the corner! And in the spirit of gift-giving and all that (and to help my friends in picking out presents for me, y’know, in case they want to :P) here’s my wish list for 2011! :)

BOOK-RELATED STUFF (also known as possibly expensive book-related gifts):

  • Still waiting for that book seal. My brother was supposed to give me one, but I have to confirm. :P
  • Kindle Touch. I mean, come on, you know you want one too (also, I can dream. haha).

BOOKS:

  1. Pysch Major Syndrome by Alicia Thompson
  2. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente
  3. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen  Thanks, Monique!
  4. The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen Thanks Angus!
  5. Cracked Up to Be by Courtney Summers
  6. Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers
  7. What My Girlfriend Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones
  8. Heist Society by Ally Carter
  9. Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park (I don’t mind the ebook version!)
  10. Liesl and Po by Lauren Oliver (UK edition, please?)
  11. Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu
  12. The Boy Book (Ruby Oliver # 2) by E. Lockhart (and the rest of the Ruby Oliver books) Thanks, Tricia! :)
  13. Sorta Like a Rock Star by Matthew Quick
  14. The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway
  15. Nightspell by Leah Cypess
  16. Amplified by Tara Kelly
  17. I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
  18. Sweetly by Jackson Pearce

I don’t really have much of a preference between books and ebooks but for books with illustrations (particularly #2, 9 and 10), I would want them in print. Because that’s really one of the things you’d pay for in print. :)

I’m also all for recommendations — if you think I’ll like the book, then I would gladly accept. it. :D

But if you’d rather be different, and decide to give me something non-book related…well:

  • Anything with sunflowers and/or stars
  • Gift certificates — not just bookstores, but other places too: Starbucks, Dashing Diva, CBTL, etc.
  • Pretty pens and notebooks :)

I’m pretty easy to please, so even a Christmas card would do, actually. Snail mail makes me happy too. :D

I’m also posting this because I joined this year’s Book Blogger Holiday Swap again. :) It’s so fun sending and receiving packages during the holiday season that even if I am a little tight on the budget this year, I didn’t mind signing up. Unfortunately, sign ups for this swap is already closed, but there are other book swaps, too, like the Book Geeks Book Exchange. :) Come join the book exchanging holiday fun!