10 for 2010: Favorite Reads

And here is the final 10 for 2010 list for this year, and the hardest one at that. There has just been too many good books in this year that it’s so hard to pick just ten. But I have to choose ten…but that doesn’t mean I can’t have runner ups and honorable mentions. ;) It’s my list, I can do anything I want to. :P

So, the last 10 for 2010, here are 10 of my Favorite Reads in no particular order…and then some. :)

1. Persuasion by Jane Austen – How much do I love this book? I am very glad that I chose this book as my first classic read for this year. I love Anne Elliot, and I want to be her. I don’t have much point of comparison over other Austen books, but this one is really, really good, even better than P&P. :) I cannot recommend this one enough. :)

2. Magic Strikes by Ilona Andrews – I fell in love with the Kate Daniels series this year (thanks again to Chachic and Michelle for pushing!), but among the four books out in the series, Magic Strikes is the best one so far. It’s got action, tension and all the yummy hotness of Kate and Curran in all of it. Plus the ending had me all smiling and giggly and that is always very, very good. :)

2. Feed by Mira Grant – This book wasn’t the one that got me started on zombies this year, but it was the zombie book I loved the most. :) This book had me from the cover, and then with the story. I loved how geeky this book is and how emotional it is at the end. I loved the characters, and I loved the theme of the story…and I just really loved every bit of this book! This is one of the books that I got in Kindle, then got in print because I want to have my own copy. I gave a copy away, then I gave one as a gift, and now I’m (sort of) giving this away, too. I love this book that much.

3. Happyface by Stephen Emond – This is one of the impulse buys that I never regretted. I wasn’t a fan of hardcovers, but I am glad I got this one the moment I saw it because there are no copies of this one here. This is one of my favorite contemporary YA reads of the year. Happyface is such a darling character, and you just can’t help but fall in love with him. The plot is simple, but it’s very surprising and heartwarming at the end. I wish there were more copies of Happyface here so more people can read it…but that’s why I’m giving one away, right? ;) Oh, and I still think I look like Gretchen. ;)

4. North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley – This was another impulse buy, but I’ve been seeing this one way before I got it. I am glad I got it, too, because it has such a beautiful story. The story may sound a bit cheesy with all the beauty talk, but it doesn’t only just talk about inner beauty and self-esteem, but also complications of a family and dreams that never came true. Terra’s transformation was very inspiring, and the ending left me feeling very good about myself, and very beautiful. :) Truly a gem.

6. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver – I wasn’t planning to read this, and I stopped reading the start for a couple of times, but after I finished the first chapter, I got hooked. Before I Fall is a surprisingly good and powerful novel about life, death, friendship and the choices we make and how they affect people. I finished this book with a wistful smile on my face and tears in my eyes, thankful that I finally gave in and read it.

7. The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness – This is one of the book that I know I would love, only because the people whose book tastes I trust loved this one, too. After reeling from The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay, I needed more dystopia to keep the high going, so I finally read this one. And I loved every bit of it. I know it gets better with the next two books, and I am very excited to read them. :D Soon.

8. Five Flavors of Dumb by Antony John – This book wouldn’t have made the list if I didn’t read it on time. If I read it in 2011, this would probably have made it in my 2011 list. :P I love the cover, and the story is just as good as the book. It’s not often you read a YA novel about a band, and it’s even rarer that you read a heroine who was deaf. It’s got diverse characters, a great story and a very rocking ending. :) A book that makes me reconsider my Top 10 is a book that deserves more attention. :D

9. Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra – You know you really love a book when you re-read it and it still gives you the same feeling it did on the first read. You know you love a book when you actually re-read it in the first place, and within the same year, to boot! I re-read Fairy Tale Fail after I finished reading The Maze Runner, and I really needed a pick-me-up after. It definitely picked me up, and it made me wish to have my own Lucas all over again. :)

10. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – And like every Best of 2010 books out there, I must not forget about Anna and the French Kiss! This book was an absolutely fun read. After a series of not-so-stellar books, this one just kind of blew my mind. :) I realized a lot of things in this book, particularly: I still love contemporary YA the best, and you can tell a completely ordinary story in an extraordinary way. This is also one of the books that I got on Kindle first, then the hardcover when I found out it’s already available here. That much love, people. That much love. :)

Runners-Up:

  • Paper Towns by John Green – I finished the John Green trifecta this year, and out of all books, I have decided that I liked Paper Towns best. While An Abundance of Katherines was the funniest and happiest, I thought Paper Towns had the better plot and would fare better for a re-read. :) Plus Radar + Ben and the road trip? Priceless.
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay – I wouldn’t have heard of this one if not for Pao and Chachic, and I am glad I got this one. Tall Story is a charming story about siblings, Filipino folklore and magic. This is a very heartwarming story, and I am glad this book is available internationally so more people can read it. If you haven’t read it, do include it in your 2011 reading list. You won’t regret it. :)
  • Unwind by Neal Shusterman – I wouldn’t have picked this book up if I hadn’t heard good things about it from my Goodreads friends. Perhaps my reaction to this was a bit similar to The Knife of Never Letting Go – I plunged into it ready to love it, and I did. It’s not a very cheerful book being dystopia, but it’s very good and it has a lot of potential for a re-read. :)
  • Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr – I read two of Sara Zarr’s books last year and I loved them, so when I saw she had a new book, I knew I had to read it. Once Was Lost was just as beautiful as her other books, but I think I like this one more because it tackled faith. I loved how simple Zarr’s prose was, and how she tackled sensitive issues with grace. If I may quote my review: “Once Was Lost makes you think, makes you ask, and in the end, makes you believe that no matter what the tragedy is, no matter how hard things are, there will always, always be hope.
  • Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I read this one fairly recently, and I really liked it. I don’t know if my moods influenced how much I liked it though…but like I said before: any book that has me smiling like an idiot at the last page deserves a recognition. :)

Honorable Mentions:

See, I told you it was too hard. I’m sorry if I overwhelmed you with too many books in this list! It’s just very, very hard to choose. Maybe next year I’ll be more critical, but I’m glad I read so many good books this year. Looking forward to what 2011 had to offer. :)

Now it’s your turn. What’s your top reads in 2010? :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters
10 Favorite Couples
10 Favorite Authors
10 Most Anticipated for 2011
10 Blogging and Reading Highlights

I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway! Get to know the awesomeness that is Feed by Mira Grant, the first book in the Newsflesh trilogy! Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

10 for 2010: Favorite Couples

I am a sucker for a good romance. Not a love triangle, mind you, but an honest to goodness believable romance. I was never a fan of the love at first sight thing, nor those romances where the two characters barely know each other and fall in love. I like my romances developed over time, and I like good friendships that serve as a foundation for those romances. Did that make sense?

So today’s 10 for 2010 are the couples that made my toes curl, made my heart beat faster and made me sigh with happiness as I closed the last page of their book (or the latest book, in case it was a series). Here are my Top 10 Couples for 2010.

1. Anne Elliot and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion by Jane Austen) – Do I really even have to explain this? :P Austen really knows her couples and even if the language is old or there aren’t many breathtaking moments in her stories. There always seems to be an ultimate breathtaking moment in the story. I mean, how can Anne Elliot say no to a letter that tells her, “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope. Tell me not that I am too late, that such precious feelings are gone for ever. I offer myself to you again with a heart even more your own than when you almost broke it, eight years and a half ago.” It’s no wonder so many people love Austen.

2. Anna and Etienne (Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins) – Probably my favorite couple of the year. :) These two deserve all the recognition they get because their relationship is one of the most realistic relationships I have ever read about. I like their friendship, I like their witty banter and I like how imperfectly perfect their relationship was. I know the road to getting to the end for the two of them is difficult and often painful, but I wouldn’t mind going through that if it meant having my own Etienne. :)

3. Fire and Brigan (Fire by Kristin Cashore) – Fire and Brigan are like Anna and Etienne in a fantasy world, and then some. Fire was apprehensive of Brigan, and we had no idea what was going on in Brigan’s mind. And then the two started talking. And talking. There’s a certain sweetness in how their relationship developed that makes me smile.

4. Lissa and Kaz (It’s All About Us # 6: The Chic Shall Inherit the Earth by Shelley Adina) – This was one of the couples I squee’d over at the start of the year. I love Shelley’s series, and I love that she ended the series with a full circle, going back to Lissa and how different she is from the first book. And I love how she wrapped up Lissa’s love life here — Kaz is simply perfect for her. Remembering them still gives me the tingles. :) It’s you. It’s me. It’s us. *sigh*

5. Kate and Curran (Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews) – This couple is just…well, hot. The sexual tension between them was sizzling from the moment they met! I love how Curran cared for Kate even while they beat each other up. I love how Kate denied that she liked Curran for a long time until finally giving in and admitting to herself that she’s interested (hmm, reminds me of someone!). I love how the authors take their time in building their relationship. I cannot wait to see what happens next. :)

6. Ellie and Lucas (Fairy Tale Fail by Mina V. Esguerra) – What’s not to love about this relationship? I like how they started out as friends, and how Lucas wasn’t a rebound guy for Ellie. I like how uncomplicated things are for them. I love that they’re both okay with themselves before they got together, and this goes to show that you need to be your own person before being with someone else.

7. Elle and Heath (Love Starts with Elle by Rachel Hauck) – These are two truly broken people: one grieving for the loss of his wife, the other hurt from a broken engagement. I love how these two became a part of each other’s healing and eventually fall in love. These two people are the most prayerful couple I’ve read this year, and even if it’s fiction, their love story has a lot of lessons. :)

8. Ally and Jake (She’s So Dead to Us by Kieran Scott) – This couple is fun. Snarky, and fun and cute. I want them to be together, and it was really good that the author gave us a chance to see both sides of the story. Their love story is cute and fun, and I look forward to the next installment of this series.

9. Eddie and Jane (Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde) – They are the probably the oddest couple in my list, true to Jasper Fforde’s quirky style. They’re not particularly sweet, but I love their team-up and I love how their relationship developed. :) That final twist at the end of Shades of Grey was awesome, even if it seemed like the two are going to go against all odds. Too bad the next book won’t be out anytime soon.

10. Dash and Lily (Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan) – These two almost didn’t make the list only because it took me a while to finish it. But I’m glad I did. They’re not as hot as Anna and Etienne, and their relationship seems highly unbelievable, but they’re such a cute couple that I cannot not include them. There is something so sweet, so fresh, so…innocent about these two that made me love them. And their book has so many quotable quotes that I think I dog-eared so many of it (and incidentally, that’s how Dash’s mom does it too). Super cute. :)

Check out my other 10 for 2010 posts!
10 Favorite Male Characters
10 Favorite Female Characters

Oh, and you do know I’m giving away some of my favorite books in 2010 in my Anniversary Giveaway, right? See why Anna and Etienne are such a lovable couple in Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Every comment you leave is one entry — the more comments you leave, the more entries you get! :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes!

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares

Dash and Lily's Book of DaresDash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Number of pages:  240
My copy: hardbound, Christmas gift from Ace

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

* * *

One day early this year (way before I met the Goodreads people) I was going around Fully Booked in Eastwood when I suddenly had this little fantasy. I wondered: what if, as I was looking for books to get, I meet a guy who has the same taste in books as I do? A straight, single guy, near my age, who reads for fun? And let’s make him cute, too.

It was a little fantasy that my friends and I entertained often, and it almost became a topic of a story for my fiction blog (one day I will write that). It was definitely something my single bookish friends and I thought would be very nice but may be rare, as we know few guys who are willing to read the same books we do, and most of the people we see in the bookstore near our office is filled with girls (that is, until I met the Goodreads people, again).

So it’s no wonder why Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan would call to me. Okay, I didn’t really pay attention to it first because I wasn’t really a fan of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by the same authors, until I read a review. I checked the sample and fell in love with it on the first few pages, particularly on the opening scene. Dash finds a red notebook amidst the books in the Strand, and inside were a bunch of clues left by a girl named Lily. He figures out the clues and thus starts the passing of the red Moleskine notebook back and forth between the two. Dash and Lily accomplish dares all around New York City from each other and bare their innermost thoughts to the other through the red notebook, all the while wondering if the words represent the persons behind them.

The story happens during the holidays, so I figured Christmas should be the right time to read it (thanks again to Ace for giving me a copy during the Goodreads Christmas party). And I was right. I am so glad I read it at this time of the year. :) Like I said, I wasn’t very enamored by Nick and Norah, but Dash and Lily really made me fall in love. There’s so many things to love. Maybe it was the bookstore? Maybe it’s the Moleskine notebook (which I love, by the way)? Maybe it’s how the story unfolded despite it being slightly hard to believe?

Dash and Lily are two very interesting characters. They’re not the angsty teenagers that we read in contemporary YA but they’re very smart and witty teens who are very different yet they speak to each other in ways only they can understand. While I didn’t find Dash particularly dashing, I thought he was very well-adjusted for his age. Perhaps it was all the reading that he does that makes him a gentler version of the male gender? I don’t know, but I’d like to think so. Lily, on the other hand, is probably the most optimistic female character I’ve ever read so far. She isn’t one of those angsty teenage characters who cannot find happiness or love in other people, or those kids who worry about their image so much that they’d get diet pills with amphetamine even if they don’t know its side effects. She reminds me of myself in so many ways: she bakes, she likes animals, her positive outlook, and in how she’s never had a boyfriend. Lily is such a delight to read because I feel like I’m reading some things I write, almost like I was reading my journal.

And just as the characters, the story was very charming. It tried to tackle more than the usual boy-meets-girl-and-they-fall-in-love story and that’s good, but sometimes the connections and issues feel a bit too messy and hard to follow. The entire interaction may seem a bit far-fetched too, and I don’t think this will be very effective here in Manila, but I can forgive that for the sake of fiction (and that’s why it happened in New York and not here, LOL). Despite that, though, I thought the plot was well-executed, and I found myself hanging on to every word all the way up to the end.

My copy of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares has so many dog-ears too because of the quotable quotes! For example:

Pretty Aussie cover for Dash and Lily :)

Prayer or not, I want to believe that, despite all evidence to the contrary, it is possible for anyone to find that special person. That person to spend Christmas with or grow old with or just take a nice silly walk in Central Park with. (Lily, p. 75)

I wish I could remember the moment when I was a kid and I discovered that the letters linked into words, and that the words linked to real things. What a revelation that must have been. We don’t have the words for it, since we hadn’t yet learned the words. It must have been astonishing, to be given the key to the kingdom and see it turn in our hands so easily. (Dash, p. 87)

You think fairy tales are only for girls? Here’s a hint — ask yourself who wrote them. I assure you, it wasn’t just the women. It’s the great male fantasy — all it takes is one dance to know that she’s the one. All it takes is the sound of her song from the tower, or a look at her sleeping face. And right away you know — this is the girl in your head, sleeping or dancing or singing in front of you. Yes, girls want their princes, but boys want their princesses just as much. And they don’t want a very long courtship. They want to know immediately. (p. 131)

And my favorite (and is very applicable for the coming year):

There are just lots of possibilities in the world…I need to keep my mind open for what could happen and not decide that the world is hopeless if what I want to happen doesn’t happen. Because something else great might happen in between. (p. 227)

The blurb was right. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares is a feel good book that would make you want to start “…perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.” It doesn’t have to be Christmas when you read it, but the holidays add to the ambiance. It’s the kind of book that will surely leave you smiling long after you have read the last word. :)

I’m not about to start looking for a red notebook in Fully Booked…but as for leaving one? I’ll never tell. ;)

Rating:

Other Reviews:
Steph Su Reads
Bart’s Bookshelf
The Huffington Post

Did you know that leaving a comment on this entry would give you a chance to win some of the books up for grabs at my  Anniversary Giveaway? If you don’t…well now you do. :) Click the image for the mechanics and the list of prizes (and I think these prizes are awesome, but that may be just me. :P)!

Leave a comment on any entry from December 24 to January 9 and get a chance to win some of my favorite books in 2010! Open international! :)

A Very (Epic) Bookish Christmas Party

There are parties.

There are epic parties.

And there are epic bookish parties. Those are the best kind, you know. ;)

So my friends in Goodreads and I have been planning our third meet-up / Christmas party since November. The last official meet-up was in July and while there has been many smaller meet-ups and dinners and movies and drinking sessions in between, it’s been a long time since we all saw each other and met some newbies together as a group. However, everyone seemed to be busy up until December (my brother’s wedding and NaNoWriMo ate my life late October to early December), so we settled on the weekend right before Christmas.

And man did that day take too long to arrive. I was excited because it’s been a long time since I had a very bookish meet-up, and I’ve just really missed my friends from Goodreads. I missed them so much that I committed to spend the entire day with them, declining invitations to five other parties on that same day. Yes, five, and yes, our parties/meet-ups in Goodreads tend to last the entire day. :P

So despite the stress of the shopping, exhaustion from commuting and all that, I arrived at UP Ayala Technohub all chipper and excited to see old and new faces from our band of bookworms. :)

And imagine the smile of those bookworms with these many books are up for grabs:

And more:

Book heaven? Probably. :D

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