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 →

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart

Honey, Baby, SweetheartHoney, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Number of pages:  308
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked

It is summer in the Northwest town of Nine Mile Falls, and sixteen-year-old Ruby McQueen, ordinarily dubbed The Quiet Girl, finds herself hanging out with gorgeous, rich, thrill-seeking Travis Becker. But Ruby is in over her head, and finds she is risking more and more when she’s with him.

In an effort to keep Ruby occupied, Ruby’s mother Ann drags Ruby to the weekly book club she runs. When it is discovered that one of the group”s own members is the subject of the tragic love story they are reading, Ann and Ruby spearhead a reunion between the long-ago lovers. But for Ruby, this mission turns out to be much more than just a road trip….

* * *

I’ve had Deb Caletti’s Wild Roses lying around at home for more than a year now but I never found the time to read it because I never really thought I would enjoy it. That’s me judging a book and an author without any valid basis, and my only defense is that I read from some blogs in my reader how Deb Caletti books didn’t work for them. So I figured that I may not like it too.

And then friends started recommending Honey, Baby, Sweetheart to me, so I was mildly curious. Of course it had to be the Deb Caletti book that is the hardest to find — is it because it’s a National Book Award finalist? I don’t know. But when I finally found it, I decided not to let it go because I was curious.

Honey, Baby, Sweetheart sounds like your typical YA romance from the title alone, so I was kind of expecting that when I started reading it. Here we meet Ruby McQueen, The Quiet Girl, who finds herself hanging out with rich, gorgeous and mysterious thrill-seeker Travis Becker (who can afford to get several gift card sleeves if he wanted to). With Travis, Ruby felt like a different girl — someone who isn’t quiet, someone who can do the things normal Ruby wouldn’t do. But when she discovers some things about Travis that means trouble, she finds herself in over her head. To keep her distracted, her mom brings her to her book club meeting where they discover one of their members is the subject of the love story that they were discussing. Too crazy? Together they embark on a road trip to reunite the lovers, and as with all road trips, Ruby discovers more about herself in the process.

And this is where I eat my words about me probably not liking any Deb Caletti book. I was a third into the book when I felt that tug inside me that told me I will like this book no matter how it ended. I was never the quiet girl but I liked Ruby and I connected with her uncertainties and her attachment with Travis. I could identify with her need to be with him even if she couldn’t understand it, even if I’m not the kind of girl who likes bad guys. :P But I liked Ruby, and her voice, and I liked how it was quite easy to understand her and how she couldn’t understand that part of her that liked Travis so much. I also liked the supporting characters, especially Ruby’s mom and her brother, and the rest of the book club members that she gets to know. It made me realize that I like wacky old people in books — they’re almost always such a hoot.

The book had a distinct summer feel that made me just relax whenever I go back to reading it. It’s such a comforting read even if some of the situations in the book were kind of heavy on the emotional side. I guess it’s the writing that made it so comforting — Caletti has a way with words that may seem flowery to some but it hit just the right spot for me. Case in point, one of my favorite parts:

You could see the magic we all had that day. The magic that comes with the force of a mission, lit with a fine and rare energy. The magic of purpose and of love in its purest form. Not television love, with its glare and hollow and sequined glint; not sex and allure, all high shoes and high drama, everything both too small and in too much excess, but just love. Love like rain, like the smell of tangerine, like a surprise found in your pocket. We were all part of that. (p.198)

Sigh. It made me want to be a part of that adventure that they were all about to embark on.

The story is reminiscent of the Letters to Juliet movie, and the road trip isn’t really anything like how John Green does it, but there’s a pretty satisfying ending that just made me sigh with happiness. I like that this isn’t just about romance, but really about love and the ties that bind us together. I especially liked how love was described in the context of books:

We are all a volume on a shelf of a library, a story unto ourselves, never possibly described with one word or even very accurately with thousands. A person is never as quiet or unrestrained as they seem, or as bad or good, as vulnerable or as strong, as sweet or as feisty; we are thickly layered, page upon lying page, behind simple covers. And love – it is not the book itself, but the binding. It can rip us apart or hold us together.

This is definitely the kind of book that I would recommend to any teenage girl who’s looking for herself, and the kind that I think my younger self would probably really like (understanding is another thing, though! :P). And this is one of those books that I will probably go back to every now and then when I’m feeling lost.

So, I totally take back what I said/pre-judged about Deb Caletti. I really, really enjoyed Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. It’s definitely one of my best reads for this year on the contemporary YA front. :) While I’m not ready to declare my love for the author just yet, I think I’m going to bump Wild Roses up my TBR soon. :)

Rating: (but very close to a 5)

Required Reading: July

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger
Chachic’s Book Nook

Required Reading: July

Hello, July! Hello second half of the year! :)

I owe several reviews on this blog but I’m sort of pressed for time with work and other things recently, so reviewing has kind of taken a back seat. I figure a post should suffice now so you know I’m still alive, and I’m not off doing some funeral planning checklist or you know, not reading. I am, I’m just terribly slow! But right now I just happened to be caught in the rain and waiting for it to stop so I can go to work, so I had the time to squeeze in a quick blog entry. Then I remembered that I haven’t made a Required Reading post yet and it’s already the 3rd day of the new month. So here we go!

From the quite dismal reading month that is May, I had a pretty good reading month for June! And I’m particularly proud of this June accomplishment because the two books from my list aren’t exactly the easiest books to read. So yay, recap!

  • A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (4/5)
  • Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (5/5)
  • The Extraordinary Secrets of April, May and June by Robin Benway (3/5)

Plus, I managed to quit being lazy and interviewed Maria for my What I Read post. So even if I didn’t really have an active reviewing month, I think had a pretty good reading and blogging month. :)

Required Reading: July

Continue Reading →

In My Mailbox (13): The First Weeks of January

It’s been a while since I did an In My Mailbox post, and it’s not because I went on a book buying ban, but because I was just too lazy to make a post about the stuff I got. I thought I’d be able to make it long into a the new year without buying new books, but alas. Who am I kidding?

So this is a consolidated post for the past three weeks of January, and maybe even some in December. If I can remember what I got back then, of course. :P

In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store.

BOUGHT:

  1. White Cat by Holly Black – I only got this because Chachic posted a positive review of the book, and see, I’m still easily swayed. It helps that I got the e-galley of the next book from Simon and Schuster, so when I saw this in Fully Booked, I knew I can’t let it go anymore. :P
  2. Some Girls Are by Courtney SummersHolly reviewed this early this week, and well, consider me sold. I love contemporary and I like reading about high school cliques (sans the scandals, of course), and this one got really good reviews. I’m so glad I spotted this one yesterday when we visited Fully Booked after the FBB/Flippers meet up. :)
  3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta – This was actually the first print book I purchased this year. I saw it in Fully Booked Eastwood and didn’t let it go, forgetting that there was a sale that weekend. Pfft. Ah well. :)

GRABBED:

Noli Me Tangere by Jose Rizal, translated by Soledad Lacson-Locsin. At yesterday’s Filipino Book Bloggers/Flips Flipping Pages meet up, someone had this translation of Noli Me Tangere up for book swap. I have been wanting to get my hands on a translated copy of this novel for a long time now, but I wasn’t sure which was the best translation. This one was what Blooey and the Flippers read last year, and is said to be a really good translation. I got it and no one stole it from me, so…yay. Finally!

Now a little backgrounder: Noli Me Tangere is written by the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. This is a required reading in high school, but I never really read the novel in its entirety because our copy in high school was the summarized version (no, it’s not abridged, if you’re thinking that’s the term — it was actual chapter summaries that we had to summarize for another report. Hmph). I figure in my life as a reader, I must read this novel at least once in my life. So yay.

The bookmark is one of the giveaways for the Flippers meet-up. :)

GIFTED/BORROWED:

  1. Captivating by John and Stasi Elredge – this is a Christmas gift from my friend RE. I’ve read this one in college and it was one of those good books for women that I really liked. My mom has my other copy of this and I don’t even know where it is right now. Haha. I don’t know if I will read this anytime soon, but it’s nice to know I have another copy here to refer to when I need it. :)
  2. Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis – this is lent to me by RE, too, and this is the best C.S. Lewis work according to him. This is only a lending copy though. Heh. I have a feeling I’ll like this one, too, and I’ve reserved it for February reading already. Now to find a copy of this one. Hmm.

WON:

Being Jamie Baker by Kelly Oram. I’ve seen this book from Kai‘s blog, and I added it on my wish list for the sheer pink-ness of it. :P I followed the author on Twitter, then on Facebook for her contest and even exchanged tweets with her during NaNoWriMo. I never expected to win because I’m not really lucky with winning, but lo and behold: I was her second winner! :) Thanks, Kelly!

This kind of took its sweet time to arrive at home, and I thought it would be lost in the mail forever, but good thing it arrived just before 2010 ended. :) I love how pink the book really is. :D The book is signed, too:

EBOOKS:

I got too many ebooks since December. Talk about crazy buying binge? Sort of. :P I also got a ton of e-galleys from Simon and Schuster’s Galley Grab. :D

Bought:

  • Miss Match and Match Point by Erynn Mangum
  • Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – loved this!
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen – my physical copy is with some friend, so I splurged on an ebook.
  • Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro – loved this, too! Review coming up soon
  • Infinity by Sarah Dessen

For Review:

  • Save as Draft by Cavanaugh Lee
  • Ten Miles Past Normal by Frances O’Roark Dowell
  • Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
  • Red Glove by Holly Black
  • Stay by Deb Caletti
  • Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz

There is probably more, but I forgot about them.

I know I said I won’t be stressing over my TBR, but I really think I should get to reading the other books that are starting to pile up in the apartment, the ones I acquired before 2010 ended. I really should work on that. I should.

Yeah, I always say that. :P I bet most of you guys do too. :P

In My Mailbox (2)

Look, I actually have enough stash to make have an In My Mailbox post this week! :) In My Mailbox is a weekly book meme hosted by Kristi from The Story Siren, where bloggers post about what books received that week, be it via  mailbox, library or store. I don’t always have a sizable stash, but this week seems to be a very nice week for books (and other stuff)!

Ebooks:

She's So Dead to UsShe’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott

When having money is all that matters, what happens when you lose it all?
Perfect, picturesque Orchard Hill. It was the last thing Ally Ryan saw in the rear-view mirror as her mother drove them out of town and away from the shame of the scandal her father caused when his hedge fund went south and practically bankrupted all their friends — friends that liked having trust funds and new cars, and that didn’t like constant reminders that they had been swindled. So it was adios, Orchard Hill. Thanks for nothing.

Now, two years later, Ally’s mother has landed a job back at the site of their downfall. So instead of Ally’s new low-key, happy life, it’ll be back into the snake pit with the likes of Shannen Moore and Hammond Ross.

But then there’s Jake Graydon. Handsome, wealthy, bored Jake Graydon. He moved to town after Ally left and knows nothing of her scandal, but does know that he likes her. And she likes him. So off into the sunset they can go, right? Too bad Jake’s friends have a problem with his new crush since it would make Ally happy. And if anyone deserves to be unhappy, it’s Ally Ryan.

Ally was hoping to have left all the drama in the past, but some things just can’t be forgotten. Isn’t there more to life than money?

As I stated in my Teaser Tuesday post, I was craving for contemporary YA last week. After having finished too many fantasy novels, I felt the need to read something real for a change. :) I have been eying this book since I saw it in Eastwood, and finally, I cracked and bought it last Sunday. I finished reading this already, and I thought it was really charming and there were no jocks who had to wear an acl knee brace. I can’t wait for the next book! More on my review, soon.

Looking for Alaska by john GreenLooking for Alaska by John Green

Before. Miles “Pudge” Halter is done with his safe life at home. His whole life has been one big non-event, and his obsession with famous last words has only made him crave “the Great Perhaps” even more (Francois Rabelais, poet). He heads off to the sometimes crazy and anything-but-boring world of Culver Creek Boarding School, and his life becomes the opposite of safe. Because down the hall is Alaska Young. The gorgeous, clever, funny, sexy, self-destructive, screwed up, and utterly fascinating Alaska Young. She is an event unto herself. She pulls Pudge into her world, launches him into the Great Perhaps, and steals his heart. Then . . . After. Nothing is ever the same.

I figure it was about time I get to know John Green, especially after all the good reviews I’ve been reading about him. What better way to start than with his first book, right? I’m excited to read this one, and maybe after this, I would be devouring all his other books. :)

Print books:

I’ve been feeling nostalgic about print books. I know I said that I like ebooks for their convenience, and I thought I’d be reading more and more ebooks, but now I’m missing holding an actual book. Again, nothing beats an actual book. :)

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick NessThe Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Todd Hewitt is the last boy in Prentisstown.

But Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in a constant, overwhelming, never-ending Noise. There is no privacy. There are no secrets.

Or are there?

Just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd unexpectedly stumbles upon a spot of complete silence.

Which is impossible.

Prentisstown has been lying to him.

And now he’s going to have to run…

At long last! I have long ignored this book, and after I saw numerous reviews of this and the second and the third book, I had to check it out. After I read the sample, I wanted it, but alas, no stock! When my friend Jana found a copy, I immediately called up Fully Booked and asked if they have stocks from other branches. Two days later, I got a text, and I finally have a copy. :) I did say I love Fully Booked, right?

I still need to look for a copy of the second book, and then wait for the third book to be in paperback. Agonizing, but this is why I have other books to read while this waits. I will read you, soon!

Wild Roses by Deb CaletteWild Roses by Deb Caletti

You would have never recognized the Dino I lived with in the books that had been written about him before the “incident.”

No one had a clue. No one seemed to see what was coming.

Seventeen-year-old Cassie Morgan lives with a time bomb (a.k.a. her stepfather, Dino Cavalli). To the public, Dino is a world-renowned violin player and composer. To Cassie, he’s an erratic, self-centered bully. And he’s getting worse: He no longer sleeps, and he grows increasingly paranoid. Before Cassie was angry. Now she is afraid.

Enter Ian Waters: a brilliant young violinist, and Dino’s first-ever student. The minute Cassie lays eyes on Ian she knows she’s doomed. Cassie thought she understood that love could bring pain, but this union will have consequences she could not have imagined.

In the end, only one thing becomes clear: In the world of insanity, nothing is sacred….

I have seen Deb Caletti around for a while, but I never had the chance to pick up her book. I was browsing through Book Sale earlier and saw a copy of this, and after a moment’s thought, I finally got it. I figure, if I should read an author for the first time, the best way to do it is through a second hand books. This sounds a bit reminiscent of North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley, and I hope it lives up.

Etcetera:

I joined my author friend, Camy Tang‘s Street Team, and her lovely bookmarks arrived this week!

I’m going to spread the bookmarks around here soon, and maybe you’ll even spot some hidden somewhere near you! :) I think it’s time for the Filipinos to get to know another awesome Christian Asian chick-lit author. :)

That’s all I have this week — pretty good stash for me. Nothing compares to what others have, though! What’s in your mailbox this week?