31 December 2011

Goodbye, 2011!

So, it's the time of the year when so many people are posting and talking about the "best of" from 2011, so I couldn't help but want to post some of my favorites reads from the past year.  However, how do you REALLY sit down and choose what was the best? I mean, I read a lot more this year than I have in a long time and it's hard...like, SERIOUSLY hard.  How am I supposed to choose?!?! So, for this New Year's Eve post I thought I would give it a try anyway...

Jessi's Top 10 of 2011
(in no particular order; published in 2011)

Favorite Reads of 2011
(that WEREN'T published in 2011)
Favorite Covers of 2011
(in no particular order)

 Most Anticipated Sequels of 2012
(not including the few that I've already read!)

Books I WISH I Had Read
(And plan to read ASAP in 2012 because I OWN them...)

So, there you have it.  These are just a few of my "favs" from 2011.  Seriously, I could sit here and find different categories for each and every one of the books that I loved this past year, but you honestly don't want to read a post that long, right? :)

Happy New Year!!

30 December 2011

YA Book Review: On a Dark Wing by Jordan Dane

Release Date: 27 December 2011
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Format: eARC
Source: Published via Netgalley

Goodreads description:
The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn't prepared for. And Death would be my willing teacher.

Five years ago, Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her "lucky" break came at the expense of her mother's life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death—by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky—she would never be normal again.

Now she's the target of Death's ravens and an innocent boy's life is on the line. When Nate Holden—Abbey's secret crush—starts to climb Alaska's Denali, the Angel of Death stalks him because of her.

And Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.
My Thoughts...

In the final stretch of 2011, HarlequinTeen has brought readers a new angel story that provides enough unique twists to make it stand apart from its many predecessors of the year.  Wrought with emotion and intrigue, Jordan Dane has brought new life to the angel tale through a dark examination of life and death.  While I overall enjoyed this book, I will say that it didn't necessarily blow me away.  There were a few things that didn't really mesh for me and it wasn't the type of book where I found myself truly caring about and immersed in the characters and their world.

When her mother died in a car accident 5 years ago, Abby was left with the guilt and pain of surviving that same crash.  It changed her relationship with her father and those around her.  What she didn't realize at the time is that there were even bigger ramifications to her survival.  Abby finds out the hard way that Death never forgets a soul that he was meant to collect.

Abby isn't the type of MC that I'm typically drawn to, which made some of the story hard to get through.  She's a bit standoffish with her father, acquaintances and even her best friend, Tanner.  She struck me as a bit self-absorbed at times, and while some of that can be forgiven through her traumatic past, I would think that she would be willing at this point to let others into her life just a little.  Also, her crush on obsession with Nate Holden simply struck me as...odd.  I couldn't quite understand her fascination with this boy that she didn't know AT ALL.  I get that it's common to crush on the cute popular boy a little.  Heck, I did it too.  Abby just takes her crush to a whole new level that I really just didn't "get." Thankfully, Abby does develop a lot throughout this novel and make some good decisions--i.e. she grows up a bit.  I felt like by the end she was starting to see the good things that she did in fact have in her life that she had been missing/ignoring.

Tanner is awesome. The end.  He was easily my favorite character in this book.  He's a great friend and so dedicated to Abby.  I just wanted to scream at her for basically not noticing him. Seriously, so much boyfriend potential there.  And to top it off, he's got a fabulous sense of humor and the brains to go with it.  He really "got" Abby and he was always there for her.

While this was a good read, it was a GREAT read, at least not for me.  It lacked the character connection that I look for in a great novel.  Abby wasn't a character that made me excited to dive back into the story.  There were also a few oddities with this novel that I'm not sure how I felt about them, the the main thing was the changing point of view.  I understood having some from Abby and some from Tanner and even a little from Nate...but all of the sudden we were getting Bob Holden and snippets from Jackie Holden and it felt like too much. The sections jumped back and forth in small bursts and it interrupted the flow a little for me.  So, while I enjoyed this novel and would easily recommend it to fans of paranormal reads and "angel books," it wasn't my favorite this year.  The writing is really good, but the characters and pacing didn't work for me.

29 December 2011

YA Book Review: Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Wings by Aprilynne Pike
© 1 May 2009 by HarperTeen

Goodreads description:
Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things with wide eyes. They were terrifyingly beautiful—too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

My Thoughts...

This was one of the first books that I bought for my NookColor when I got it for Christmas in 2010 and I have NO IDEA why I waited so long to read it! I enjoyed every minute of this book. Aprilynne's writing is superb and so much fun to read.

Laurel, who has been home-schooled her whole life, starts high school at the local public school when her parents decide to move to a new town. While she's a bit socially awkward at first, a few people do their best to befriend her, including David who seems smitten with her from the very beginning.  Laurel slowly begins to adjust to life among the masses and even eventually warms up to her new friends. Everything is going swimmingly until one morning she wakes up to find a bump on her back.  Her mother assures her that it is simply probably her first zit and it will go away soon.  However, instead of getting smaller and disappearing, the bump grows larger and larger until one morning Laurel wakes to find a beautiful flower essentially blooming out of her back.

That's all I will stay about the story itself for now because there is so much to discover about the story that Aprilynne has crafted. The characters themselves are quite endearing and I enjoyed learning about the various facets of the lives of both the humans and the faeries.  Present, of course, is the love triangle that we are so used to read about these days, but this one didn't rub me the wrong way like some can.  It was cute and each boy was well-done. I think it will definitely be interesting to follow the trio through future books.

I loved that she wrote such a fresh, unique story about faeries. This was a really quick read as well and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to anyone! It's a great read especially for young girls (10-12) because it doesn't have a lot of the darker elements that are fairly common.  It's a light read that I think many readers, even your more reluctant ones, will fly through.

28 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (43)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers discuss the books that they are most anxiously waiting for! (And this fabulous button was designed by my dear blogger friend Lindsay at The Violet Hour)

This week I'm waiting on...

Bloodrose by Andrea Cremer
© 3 January 2012 by Philomel
Calla has always welcomed war. But now that the final battle is upon her, there’s more at stake than fighting. There’s saving Ren, even if it incurs Shay’s wrath. There’s keeping Ansel safe, even if he’s been branded a traitor. There’s proving herself as the pack’s alpha, facing unnamable horrors, and ridding the world of the Keepers’ magic once and for all. And then there’s deciding what to do when the war ends. If Calla makes it out alive, that is.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight 
by Jennifer E. Smith
© 2 January 2012 by Poppy
Today should be one of the worst days of seventeen-year-old Hadley Sullivan's life. She's stuck at JFK, late to her father's second wedding, which is taking place in London and involves a soon to be step-mother that Hadley's never even met. Then she meets the perfect boy in the airport's cramped waiting area. His name is Oliver, he's British, and he's in seat 18C. Hadley's in 18A.

27 December 2011

(ARC) YA Book Review: The Girls of No Return by Erin Saldin

Release Date: 1 February 2012
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Format: ARC
Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Goodreads description:
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness Area stretches across two million acres in northern Idaho. In its heart sits the Alice Marshall School, where fifty teenage girls come to escape their histories and themselves. Lida Wallace has tried to negate herself in every way possible. At Alice Marshall, she meets Elsa Boone, a fierce native Idahoan; Jules, who seems too healthy to belong at the school; and Gia Longchamps, whose glamour entrances the entire camp. As the girls prepare for a wilderness trek, Lida is both thrilled and terrified to be chosen as Gia's friend. But everyone has their secrets--their "Things" they try to protect; and when those come out, the knives do as well.
My Thoughts...

When Kirkus gives a book a starred review, I tend to sit up and take notice because anyone who follows Kirkus reviews knows that they tend to be a bit...harsh. The Girls of No Return received a coveted Kirkus star and I'm, well, for a good portion of the book I wasn't sure I agreed with that assessment.  While I enjoyed the story and eventually found myself fully engaged, it took awhile for me to really get into the story and at the beginning I found myself dragging my heels a bit to pick it up each night.  That being said, there really was a lot that I enjoyed about this book and the last quarter of the book was phenomenal.
Parents are too easily frightened by the world their children live in. We have to protect them from harm, keep them safe as long as we can, no matter how we feel about them. It's our duty.  I didn't know this going in, but I do now.
-p36, ARC
Lida is a very interesting character from page one.  Ms. Saldin does a really fantastic job showing us her journey without revealing too much along the way. The reader is strung along with glimpses of what's going on in Lida's head and in her life.  The "Epilogue" sections that pop up every so often allude to a BIG event that we haven't experienced yet as the reader. I really enjoyed what these sections added to the story--they added an element of and a reminder that the story we're reading is really a personal reflection of what happened to Lida at Alice Marshall.
That's the thing about secrets. Sometimes you have to keep the sharpest things hidden.
-p86, ARC
The girls that Lida meets at Alice Marshall are equally intriguing. Boone, Gia, Jules...they each play an interesting role in the story. From the beginning, I felt like Jules was someone worth knowing and I found myself wishing that Lida would accept her friendship and open up.  Boone was the "bad girl" that you couldn't help but liking.  She was very real and unafraid to be herself.  She was definitely tough, but I felt like she was willing to help Lida learn to open up and be herself.  It was upsetting that Lida couldn't see that.  And then there's Gia.  Gia is difficult to trust (as the reader) from the beginning.  She's too beautiful and too seemingly "put together" to be showing us who she really is.  Lida clearly takes a bit of a romantic interest in her, but Gia isn't willing to return the friendship in the same way. She seems to be someone looking to validate parts of herself through Lida (and others).
Sometimes the line between love and desperation is damn thin. ... You just have to hope you don't have a knife in your hand when you figure it out.
-p343, ARC
In the end, this book was on a bit of a "sliding scale" for me.  When I first started, I had so much trouble getting into it that I was convinced that this was going to be a three star book.  As I started to get into the story and the personalities, I felt that it had redeemed itself into a solid four star book.  But the end--the end was a 5-star wrap-up that was emotionally satisfying without being TOO cheesy.  It was a perfect blend of redemption without getting rid of the "mess."  So, there you have it, I'll give this one a solid four.  Give it a try and be sure to stick around through the beginning if you're having trouble.  This one is DEFINITELY worth your time.  It's descriptive, highly visual writing will potentially lose some readers, but the personalities of its characters and their paths toward redemption are worth immersing yourself in. For now, I'll leave you with this, something I consider the unifying theme in this novel...
Forgiveness is a work in progress.
-p344, ARC

23 December 2011

December 2011 SSC - 2012 Is Almost Here!

We're just days away from the start of 2012 and I wanted to write up a quick post thanking those who have already signed up for the 2012 Sensational Seconds Challenge!  I'm really excited to do this challenge this year and I hope that those of you who are participating in the challenge are excited to get started!  I wanted to share a few things in preparation for January...

January Sequel Releases:
*Books you can consider reading for the challenge!
  • Hallowed (Unearthly #2) by Cynthia Hand 
  • A Million Suns (Across the Universe #2) by Beth Revis
  • Jessica Rules the Dark Side (Jessica #2) by Beth Fantaskey
  • Dreaming Awake (Falling Under #2) by Gwen Hayes
  • Darkness Falls (Immortal Beloved #2) by Cate Tiernan
  • Truth (XVI #2) by Julia Karr
  • Havoc (Deviants #2) by Jeff Sampson
  • Black Moon (Silver Moon #2) by Rebecca Rogers
  • Angel Fire (Angel Trilogy #2) by L.A. Weatherly
  • Fool's Silver (Mortal Kiss #2) by Alice Moss
Early Reviews for 2012 Sequels:
*from SSC participants
Also, I have the first SSC giveaway coming at you! I'm giving away my copy of A Million Suns by Beth Revis!  One lucky participant has the opportunity to win this January sequel--just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!  Haven't signed up for the challenge yet?  You can do that HERE! There are lots of levels that you can participate at--pick whatever you're comfortable committing to! :)

Also, if you've been blogging for six months or longer, you can consider joining Around the World ARC Tours.  They have been posting quite a few 2012 sequels lately, and I'm sure that the trend will continue into the new year!

Anyway, the giveaway is International, although I'm sure that my wallet is going to protest that fact. :) (Note: International winner MAY receive a Book Depot order instead, depending on $$) Also, maybe you haven't had a chance to read Across the Universe?  Well, then here's the deal, if you would prefer, I'm totally willing to get you a paperback copy of that instead. I mean, you can't read the sequel unless you've read the first one, right?  So....enter away!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

22 December 2011

Cover Reveal: Chosen Ones by Tiffany Truitt

When Entangled Publishing sent out an e-mail about an upcoming cover release, I jumped at the chance to be involved. I've read two YA novels from Entangled this month and I can definitely say that I'm impressed and excited for their future releases! So, without further ado...

21 December 2011

Waiting on Wednesday (42)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly bookish meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where book bloggers discuss the books that they are most anxiously waiting for! (And this fabulous button was designed by my dear blogger friend Lindsay at The Violet Hour)

This week I'm waiting on...

Hallowed by Cynthia Hand
© 17 January 2012 by HarperCollins
For months part-angel Clara Gardner trained to face the raging forest fire from her visions and rescue the alluring and mysterious Christian Prescott from the blaze. But nothing could prepare her for the fateful decisions she would be forced to make that day, or the startling revelation that her purpose—the task she was put on earth to accomplish—is not as straightforward as she thought. Now, torn between her increasingly complicated feelings for Christian and her love for her boyfriend, Tucker, Clara struggles to make sense of what she was supposed to do the day of the fire. And, as she is drawn further into the world of part angels and the growing conflict between White Wings and Black Wings, Clara learns of the terrifying new reality that she must face: Someone close to her will die in a matter of months. With her future uncertain, the only thing Clara knows for sure is that the fire was just the beginning.
A Million Suns by Beth Revis
© 10 January 2012 by Razorbill
It's been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. And everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed. But there may just be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He's finally free to enact his vision - no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder discovers shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a puzzle that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier, unable to fight the romance that's growing between them and the chaos that threatens to tear them apart.

20 December 2011

ARC YA Book Review: Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Release Date: 21 February 2012
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Format: ARC
Source: Around the World ARC Tours

Goodreads description:
Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?
My Thoughts...

19 December 2011

(ARC) YA Book Review: Fracture by Megan Miranda

Release Date: 17 January 2012
Publisher: Walker & Company
Source: Around the World ARC Tours
(also received a copy via NetGalley & the publisher)

Goodreads description:
Eleven minutes passed before Delaney Maxwell was pulled from the icy waters of a Maine lake by her best friend Decker Phillips. By then her heart had stopped beating. Her brain had stopped working. She was dead. And yet she somehow defied medical precedent to come back seemingly fine--despite the scans that showed significant brain damage. Everyone wants Delaney to be all right, but she knows she's far from normal. Pulled by strange sensations she can't control or explain, Delaney finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her altered brain now predicting death, or causing it?

Then Delaney meets Troy Varga, who recently emerged from a coma with similar abilities. At first she's reassured to find someone who understands the strangeness of her new existence, but Delaney soon discovers that Troy's motives aren't quite what she thought. Is their gift a miracle, a freak of nature-or something much more frightening?

My Thoughts...

18 December 2011

In My Mailbox (22)

"In My Mailbox" is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi of The Story Siren where we can show some love to all the books that we got in the mail or otherwise!

Hello, my lovelies!!! Welcome back for another edition of In My Mailbox!! I got a few exciting things in the past three weeks--check them out!! :)

For Review:
Eye of the Storm by Kate Messner 
Thanks to Bloomsbury/Walker and NetGalley!!

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell
Poison Most Vial by Benedict Carey
Thanks to ABRAMS and NetGalley!

Katana by Cole Gibsen
Pieces of Us by Maggie Gelbwasser
Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves
Thanks to Flux Books and NetGalley! 

Slide by Jill Hathaway
Thanks to HarperCollins and NetGalley!

Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare
Mine took forever to get here because I pre-ordered the UK version from The Book Depository!

I've bought a bunch of eBooks as well (I know, SHOCKER!) but I'm not going to list all of them here right now....just a couple. ;)

What's in YOUR mailbox?!


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