Monday, December 31, 2012

2013 Standalone Reading Challenge

2013 Standalone Reading Challenge
Click the button to see my join post, or to join yourself!
Goal Set:
Read 15 standalone books that are published between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.


Books Read:
1. The Namesake by Steven Parlato
2. What We Saw At Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard


2013 TBR Challenge

Click the button to see join post and join yourself!


Goal Set:
21-30 Books: A Sweet Kiss


Books Read Toward Goal:
1. Breathe by Sarah Crossan
2. Provex City by Michael Pearce
3. On the Edge (On the Edge #1) by Ilona Andrews
4. Shadows of the Hidden by Anne Riley
5. Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
6. Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell
7. The Daemon Whisperer (Liminals #1) by Candice Bundy
8. Untimed by Andy Gavin
9. Fallen by Laury Falter
10. The Demi Monde: Winter by Rod Rees
11. Owlet (Society of Feathers #1) by Emma Michaels
12. The Voyage of Lucy P. Simmons by Barbara Mariconda
13. The Fourth Channel by Jen Kirchner
14. Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1) by Charles Gilman
15. Deadweather and Sunrise (The Chronicles of Egg #1) by Geoff Rodkey
16. Shattered by Kathi Baron
17. Tempestuous by Kim Askew & Amy Helmes
18. Monsters on the March (Scary School #2) by Derek the Ghost
19. The Secret of the Skeleton Key (Code Busters Club #1) by Penny Warner
20. Quarantine: The Loners by Lex Thomas
21. The Truth Beyond the Sky by Andrew M. Crusoe
22. Confessions of a Murder Suspect (Confessions #1) by James Patterson
23. Oddities and Entities by Roland Allnach
24. Renegade Magic (Kat, Incorrigible #2) by Stephanie Burgis

2013 Audio Book Challenge

Click the button to see the join post and join also!


Goal Set:
Going Steady - Listen to 12 Audio Books


Books Listened To:
1. Look At Me by Jennifer Egan
2. On The Edge by Ilona Andrews
3. Lost Voices by Sarah Porter
4. House of Dark Shadows (Dreamhouse Kings #1) by Robert Liparulo
5. Water in the Woods (Dreamhouse Kings #2) by Robert Liparulo
6. The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacboson
7. Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke & Bone #2) by Laini Taylor
8. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
9. The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer
10. Bayou Moon (The Edge #2) by Ilona Andrews
11. Blood Red Road by Moira Young
12. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
13. The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
14. Rebel Heart (Dust Lands Trilogy #2) by Moira Young
15. Ghost Leopard: A Zoe & Zak Adventure by Lars Guignard
16. Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
17. Coraline by Neil Gaiman
18. The Lost Gate by Orson Scott Card
19. Magic Rises (Kate Daniels #6) by Ilona Andrews
20. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead
21. The Arrivals by Melissa Marr
22. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
23. Wither (The Chemical Garden #1) by Lauren DeStefano
24. The Grimm Legacy (The Grimm Legacy #1) by Polly Shulman



2012 Review Wrap Up



Here comes the big post....are your ready for it? It's time to wrap up 2012 with a list of all the books that I read this year! It's a pretty long one, but it's my hope that you'll find a hidden gem here or be reminded of a book that you totally forgot about!

I totally hammered my reading goal out of the park. I wanted to read 175 books and I actually ended up reading 196! It blew my mind to see that all written down here. 

It's been a great reading year, and I can't wait to start the next one :). Here's to 2013!


BOOKS READ IN 2012

January
1. Heavenly by Jennifer Laurens 
2. Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1) by Marissa Meyer
3. Pure (Pure #1) by Julianna Baggott 
4. The Borrowing (Abby Grace #1) by Kelly Green 
5. Saving June by Hannah Harrington 
6. Blood and Bullets by James R. Tuck 
7. International Kissing Club by Ivy Adams
9. Fracture by Megan Miranda - Review
10. How To Make A Golem and Terrify People by Alette J. Willis 
11. The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison 
12. Illumine (Illumine #1) by Alivia Anders 
13. Death Drop by Sean Allen 
14. Everneath by Brodi Ashton 

February
15. Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley 
16. Draykon by Charlotte E. English
17. The Nightmare Garden (Iron Codex #2) by Caitlin Kittredge 
18. Phantom Universe (Summer Chronicles #1) by Laura Kreitzer 
19. Forsaken Harbor (Summer Chronicles #2) by Laura Kreitzer 
20. Pieces of Us by Maggie Gelbwasser
21. Slipping Reality by Emily Beaver 
22. Life Eternal (Dead Beautiful #2) by Yvonne Woon 
23. Trafficked by Kim Purcell 
24. Undertow by Callie Kingston 
25. Partials by Dan Wells 
26. Matchbox Girls by Chrysoula Tsavelas 
27. The Value of Rain by Brandon Shire 
28. Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks
29. Up Cat by H.J. Hutchins

March
30. Fire Baptized by Faith Erin Hicks 
31. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman 
32. Fair Coin (Coin #1) by E.C. Meyers 
33. God's Eye by A.J. Scudiere
35. Here (On The Otherside #1) by Denise Grover Swank
36. The Blood Lie by Shirley Reva Vernick
37. Dancing Queen by Marci Peschke
38. Spontaneous by Joe Harris
39. Fractured Light by Rachel Mclellan
40. How To Slay A Dragon (Journals of Myrth #1) by Bill Allen
41. Starters (Starters and Enders #1) by Lissa Price
42. On The Day I Died by Candace Fleming
43. The Changeling (War of the Fae #1) by Elle Casey
44. Until Next Time (The Angels Chronicles #1) by Amy Lignor
45. Croak (Croak #1) by Gina Damico

April
46. The Dragonfly Prophecy by Jacquelyn Castle
47. The Onyx Talisman (Talisman #3) by Brenda Pandos
48. Scary School by Derek the Ghost
49. Altered by Aubrey Coletti
50. White Horse by Alex Adams
51. The Iron Daughter (Iron Fey #2) by Julie Kagawa
52. Medusa the Mean (Goddess Girls #8) by Joan Holub
53. Blood Red Road (Dust Lands #1) by Moira Young
54. Sliver Knight by Caron Rider
55. Tritium Gambit by Erik Hyrkas
56. Blue Asylum by Kathyrn Hepinstall
57. The Whites of Their Eyes by Andrew Clements
58. A Brush of Darkness (Abby Sinclair #1) by Allison Pang
59. Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe
60. Dirty Bertie: Fangs! by Alan MacDonald
61. The Immortal Rules (Blood of Eden #1) by Julie Kagawa
62. Tomorrow Land by Mari Mancusi
63. Earthseed (Seed #1) by Pamela Sargent

May
64. Leisl & Po by Lauren Oliver
65. The Queen's Lover by Francine Du Plessix Gray
66. Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake
67. The Mapmaker and the Ghost by Sarvenaz Tash
68. Fated (Soul Seekers #1) by Alyson Noel
69. Goddess Interrupted (Goddess Test #2) by Aimee Carter
70. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
71. Rise and Fall by Joshua P. Simon
72. Exiled (The Never Chronicles #1) by J.R. Wagner
73. Hereafter (Hereafter #1) by Tara Hudson

June
74. Glimmer by Phoebe Kitanidis
75. Wrecked by Anna Davies
76. Seeds of Discovery (Dusk Gate Chronicles #1) by Breanna Puttroff
77. Arise (Hereafter #2) by Tara Hudson
78. Caged Moon by Rachel Deagan
79. Shut Up by Anne Tibbets
80. Freshman Year & Other Unnatural Disasters by Meredith Zeitlin
81. Dead Beautiful by Melanie Dugan
82. The Tube Riders by Chris Ward
83. Heirs of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman
84. The Dark Divine by Bree Despain
85. The Lost Saint by Bree Despain
86. The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson
87. Envy (Empty Coffin #1) by Gregg Olsen

July
88. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
89. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
90. Size 12 Is Not Fat (Heather Wells #1) by Meg Cabot
91. Size 14 Is Not Fat Either (Heather Wells #2) by Meg Cabot
92. A Touch Mortal by Leah Clifford
93. Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach
94. Andor Awakening by Brendan O'Keeffe
95. The Forsaken by Lisa M. Stasse
96. Rotters by Daniel Krauss
97. 15 Seconds by Andrew Gross
98. A Touch Morbid by Leah Clifford
99. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
100. My Monster Burrufu by Alberto Corral
101. Eve (Eve #1) by Anna Carey
102. Jenny Pox by J.L. Bryan
103. Nothing Special by Geoff Herbach
104. Once (Eve #2) by Anna Carey
105. Big Boned (Heather Wells #3) by Meg Cabot
106. Frost (Frost Chronicles #1) by Kate Avery Ellison
107. Hanging By A Thread by Sophie Littlefield
108. Erebos by Ursula Poznanski
109. Zombie by J.R. Angelella
110. Tools of Prophecy by Michael A. Rothman
111. Emerald Isle by Kate Hinderer
112. Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
113. The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney

August
114. Floors by Patrick Carman
115. The Downside of Being Charlie by Jenny Torres Sanchez
116. Lot's Return to Sodom (Liv Bergen #2) by Sandra Brannan
117. Widow's Might (Liv Bergen #3) by Sandra Brannan
118. Accidental Hero (Jack Blank #1) by Matt Myklusch
119. The Secret War (Jack Blank #2) by Matt Myklusch
120. The End of Infinity (Jack Blank #3) by Matt Myklusch
121. Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake
122. The Peculiars by Marueen Doyle McQuerry
123. So L.A. by Bridget Hoida
124. What The Heck, Dec?! by Elizabeth Dudak
125. Evergreen (Mer Tales #2) by Brenda Pandos
126. Possess by Gretchen McNeil
127. The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
128. Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry
129. Frozen by Mary Cassanova
130. Stitch by Samantha Durante
131. 52 Reasons to Hate My Father by Jessica Brody

September
132. The Apothecary by Malie Meloy
133. Speechless by Hannah Harrington
134. Thy Fearful Symmetry by Richard Wright
135. The Opposite of Hallelujah by Anna Jarzab
136. Room by Emma Donoghue
137. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
138. A Sliver of Shadow (Abby Sinclair #2) by Allison Pang
139. Blackwood by Gwenda Bond
140. Divergent (Divergent #1) by Veronica Roth
141. Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
142. Jepp, Who Defied The Stars by Katherine Marsh
143. Splintered by A.G. Howard
144. The Truth About Faking by Leigh Talbert Moore
145. Allison Hewitt is Trapped by Madeline Roux
146. False Memory by Dan Krokos
147. Roots of Insight (Dusk Gate Chronicles #2) by Breanna Puttroff

October
148. The Chosen of Gaia by M. Mariz
149. Hourglass (Hourglass #1) by Myra McEntire
150. The Maze Runner (Maze Runner #1) by James Dashner
151. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner #2) by James Dashner
152. Timepiece (Hourglass #2) by Myra McEntire
153. Betrayal (Empty Coffin #2) by Gregg Olsen
154. Magic Bites (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews
155. Luthecker by Keith Domingue
156. Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone
157. Undead Reckoning by Mike Slabon
158. This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers
159. Velveteen by Daniel Marks
160. Magic Burns (Kate Daniels #2) by Ilona Andrews
161. Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech
162. The Anybodies by N.E. Bodie
163. The Infects by Sean Beaudoin
164. Ten by Gretchen McNeil
165. Insurgent (Divergent #2) by Veronica Roth
166. Darkwater by Catherine Fisher

November
167. The Evolution of Mara Dyer (Mara Dyer #2) by Michelle Hodkin
168. Alice in Zombieland by Gena Showalter
169. Snowblind by Michael McBride
170. Midnight: The Magpie by Sebastian Van Heel
171. Rouge (Cheveux Roux #1) by Leight Talbert Moore
172. Mystic City by Theo Lawrence
173. Magic Strikes (Kate Daniels #3) by Ilona Andrews
174. The Namesake by Steven Parlato
175. These Things Happen by Richard Kramer
176. Creator Class by K.M. Breakey
177. The Death Cure (Maze Runner #3) by James Dashner
178. Rebel Heart (Dust Lands #2) by Moira Young
179. Above Ground by A.M. Harte
180. Wild About You by Kerrelyn Sparks
181. The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver
182. Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4) by Ilona Andrews
183. Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne
184. The Dragondain (Moonrealm #2) by Richard Due
185. The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines

December
186. Embers In A Dark Frost by Kelly Keaton
187. The Diviners (The Diviners #1) by Libba Bray
188. Look At Me by Jennifer Egan
189. Obumbrate (Illumine #2) by Alivia Anders
190. Struck by Jennifer Bosworth
191. Afterlight by Elle Jasper
192. Valkyrie Rising (Valkyrie #1) by Ingrid Paulson
193. Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
194. Magic Slays (Kate Daniels #5) by Ilona Andrews
195. Crossroads (Crossroads #1) by J.J. Bonds
196. A Shimmer of Angels by Lisa M. Basso


2013 Blog Goals



It's BLOG GOAL TIME!!!

Yes, to round out the year it's time to figure out what I want to focus on in 2013. I totally forgot to set some of these last year so...clean slate! I'm ready to start fresh and get down to streamlining my blogging time.

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2013 BLOG GOALS

1. Schedule, schedule, SCHEDULE!

This year I started a weekly post called Coming Soon on HDB... to help myself honest during the week. It has definitely helped, but in 2013 I really want to crack down on scheduling reviews, giveaways and discussion posts. That way if life gets in the way, I'll still have something to share with all of you :).

I plan on:
* Writing reviews within a week after I read the book.
* Scheduling reviews into a calendar, with breaks so that I can still fit books that catch my eye.
* Using Sunday to write posts for the coming week.


2. Read out of the box!

Before 2012 I had never touched a romance novel. It's true. I had also never had the chance to dive into an urban fantasy series much farther than the first book. So in 2013 I really want to challenge myself to read outside of my comfort zone. I'm going to do this by stalking Goodreads, seeing what other people are loving, and taking recommendations for others :).


3. Clean the feed reader, and do more commenting!

Every year I find all these amazing blogs to follow, and then I never have a chance to actually sit down and read the content on them. In 2013 I plan to read my feed at least once a week, and cull it down so it is more manageable. This will also give me time to actually comment on other blogs so I can spread the love!


4. Share the love, and be a blog mentor.

I've already started doing the first part with my new Blogger Backstage Pass section, and I'm loving the opportunity to help give promotion to other people who share my passion for books! I'm going to keep looking for ways to share what I've learned these past 2 1/2 years, and make myself more open to helping others.


5. Interact more with my readers.

Yes, you! Things were so hectic this year with moving, getting married, and finding a new job, that I didn't really have time to host any events. I want to bring back swaps to HDB, host more giveaways, and create more opportunity for discussion with all of you! You have no idea how much it makes me smile when I see a comment on here. It lets me know I'm writing something worthwhile. So I'm ready to pay it forward!


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These are my blog goals for 2013!

Has anyone noticed I do everything in fives? Hmmm...anyway I'm going to do my best to stick to these and continue to bring you as much quality content as I possibly can! As always, thanks for choosing me as a blog that you read. I can't express how appreciated you are!

What are your blog goals for 2013? 


Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Adult Fiction Reviews - Book Title



A
* Attempting Elizabeth - Jessica Grey

B
* Beside Your Heart - Mary Whitney

D
* Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game! - Katie Ashley
* Dreamscape - Christie Rich

E
* Eversea - Natasha Boyd
* Everything Between Us - Mila Ferrera

S
* Secret of Isobel Key, The - Jen McConnel
T
* Time Spell - T.A. Chase

New Adult Fiction Reviews - Author's Last Name



A
* Ashley, Katie - Don't Hate the Player, Hate the Game!

A
* Boyd, Natasha - Eversea
C
* Chase, T.A. - Time Spell

F
* Ferrera, Mila - Everything Between Us

G
* Grey, Jessica - Attempting Elizabeth

M
* McConnel, Jen - The Secret of Isobel Key
R
* Rich, Christie - Dreamscape

W
* Whitney, Mary - Beside Your Heart

Most Anticipated Books of 2013


Plugging along here on the end of the year wrap up! Today it's all about the books that I am most looking forward to in 2013. Let me tell you, this was a hard list to create. There are SO many books coming out that I want to read! Still, I promised myself I'd only pick five (*tear*) so here they are.


MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2013


Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi (February 5, 2013)

I DEVOURED Shatter Me after picking it up, and ever since then all I've wanted is to find out what happens! Juliette is still one of my favorite characters of all time and I fully admit that I want this book so badly I can taste it.

Warner vs. Adam. Juliette vs. herself. What do you do when you can't touch the person you love most? AH! I need this book so so so much.



Fuse (Pure #2) by Julianna Baggott (February 19, 2013)

Another series book that I've dying for ever since I finished the last! Julianna Baggott's Pure made my pulse race and my heart sing. Dystopian fiction never looked so good! So of course I want to get my hands on the next in the series. Baggott basically demanded it with the ending she wrote. Cliffhanger anyone?

Gritty, gorgeous and dark, this series is what I love in my books!



Destiny, Rewritten by Kathyrn Fitzmaurice (March 1, 2013)

This MG looks completely adorable. Emily has been told that it is her destiny to be just like Emily Dickinson (are you feeling it already?) but she has bigger plans for herself. Then something very special to her is lost and suddenly everything she knows is turned upside down. Destiny is about to be rewritten. Are you feeling it now?

As soon as I saw the blurb for this I knew I'd read it! Emily sounds quirky and wonderful. Bring it on!


When The Stars Threw Down Their Spears (Goblin Wars #3) 
by Kersten Hamilton (June 4, 2013)

Okay, yes, I know. Another series book. Truthfully though? This series is all about fantasy, meshed with Celtic mythology and I can't help but love it! Tyger, Tyger and In The Forests of the Night were both amazing. So amazing in fact that I've been chomping at the bit to read the next one and, sadly, it's been over a year since I last had a taste of this land.

Trust me on this friends, this series is well worth your time.

The Murmurings by Carly Anne West (March 5, 2013)

This book sounds creepy. Deliciously, skin crawlingly creepy! Plus I can't deny that even the cover makes me want to hide from it. This might be one of those books you face the cover outward on, just to freak people out. Ha.

Anyway I'm excited for this one because I feel like there's just not enough suspenseful, horror type, YA out there. I have high hopes for Carly Anne West's book.



Once again, there you have it! It was so difficult to only pick 5. I would've loved to put the sequel to Throne of Glass up here, or even the sequel to Mystic City, but sadly both of those don't have covers yet. Trust me when I say I'm excited for so many books coming out next year.

What are you excited for? Anything special caught your eye?

Check in tomorrow for my 2013 blog goals!


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Books I Missed in 2012


To continue with the year end wrap up, let's take a look at books that I missed in 2012! These are books I really wanted to read but that were overshadowed by review copies. In no particular order, here are the top 5 I'm planning on catching up on in 2013!


Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill

I have three words for you:
DRAGON RIDING PRINCESS

Yup. I fully admit that the cover drew me to this book, and then I read the synopsis and instantly fell in love. I'm a huge fan of Middle Grade books, and especially ones with a strong female character!

As soon as I can get my hands on a copy, I'll devour it. I can promise you that!


Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff

Again, gorgeous cover. Don't the colors just scream READ ME to you? Well, they do to me. Plus Shogun warriors, mythic griffins and a most unlikely friendship. Strong female characters for the win!

I've heard mixed things about this one, but there is no doubt in my mind that I need to see what the hype is for myself.




Crewel by Jennifer Albin

Secrets and intrigue. Forbidden romance and destiny? Yes please!

The fact that there is so much wrapped into one book really caught my eye. A girl who can foresee the destinies of others, and has the power to put them into play? This sounds like something right up my alley. I can't wait to see where Jennifer Albin takes me!




A Want So Wicked by Suzanne Young

Here's the ironic thing. Ready for it? This book is sitting on my shelf RIGHT NOW.

I loved A Need So Beautiful and I've been waiting for more.  had so many books to review this year that I haven't even gotten to crack the gorgeous hardcover open and devour it from start to finish. That will change though! In fact, I think I'll read this next week...




The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

Another Middle Grade novel to sate my need for adventure! Lawrence goes missing and Victoria must save him. To me, this sounds like a book that will have tons of twists and turns. Plus a whole lot of growing up as well! I can't wait to dive in and see what Cavendish has in store for me.






So there you have it.

Five gorgeous, tempting books that I missed and can't wait to catch up on! Lucky for me I'm participating in the TBR challenge next year ;). What a great excuse, am I right?

Are there any books that you missed and are wanting to catch up on?

Check back tomorrow for the books I'm most excited for in the coming year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

2013 Challenges!


2013 Standalone Reading Challenge

It's that time again! Time for the 2013 Standalone Reading Challenge!

I participated in this last year and, although I succeeded, I really didn't get the full experience since I was too busy to really track things. So, this year I'm determined to not only read the books but also to track them every month!

The Goal:
Read 15 standalone books that are published between January 1, 2013 and December 31, 2013.


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Next up I'll be participating in the 2013 Audio Book Challenge!

I was a part of this one this year too, but it took me a while to really get started. in 2013 I'm all about trying to do an audio book a month. It's a great way to pass time when I can't read an actual book :).

The Goal:
Going Steady - Listen to 12 Audio Books


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Lastly it's all about the 2013 TBR Pile Reading Challenge!

This year I had the hardest time resisting the gorgeously shiny new books that came my way. However I did miss a lot of what I wanted to read. In 2013 I can't wait to catch up on what I missed!

The Goal:
21-30 Books: A Sweet Kiss


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I'll have official pages for each of these linked up in the navigation bar above. I should have those set up within the next few days. 2013 is going to be an amazing reading year! I can taste it already.

If you'd like to participate in any of these challenges, just click on the button that corresponds! 



Challenge Wrap Up!



Well, the year is coming to an end! That means it's about time to see how the year went and I'll be doing just that during the next few days. To start things off, let's see how my challenges for last year went and plan for next year!

Click the button to go to my challenge page!

Well, I completed this one! Actually surpassed it :). Starting my new job has been good for the amount of time I have to listen to audio books and I'm pretty excited to see how many I finish next year!



Click the button to go to the challenge page!

Done!!! I read 18 standalone books this year! Which is pretty impressive considering that it's all about series books right now. I'm planning on participating again in 2013 but this time I'm going to try to keep track while I read them so I make sure to hit my mark :).


Click the button to go to the challenge page!


Finished! Just barely though. I have to say that it's pretty hard to catch up on the TBR when you have so many gorgeous books coming your way in a new year :). Still, I did well! There are a lot of 2012 books I missed that I can't WAIT to catch up on in 2013, I'll tell you that!


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Stay tuned later today to see what challenges I'll be participating in for next year, and keep a look out this weekend for more wrap up posts! Thanks for following!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Book Review: Valkyrie Rising

Media Type: Print Book
Title: Valkyrie Rising
   * Series: Valkyrie #1
Author: Ingrid Paulson
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: Hardcover; 352
Release Date: October 9, 2012
Source: Library
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Intended Reading Group: Young Adult
Content Screening: Mild Violence
-------------------------------------------------
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who enjoy paranormal fiction but are looking for something outside the box.

Add it on: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Nothing ever happens in Norway. But at least Ellie knows what to expect when she visits her grandmother: a tranquil fishing village and long, slow summer days. And maybe she’ll finally get out from under the shadow of her way-too-perfect big brother, Graham, while she’s there.

What Ellie doesn’t anticipate is Graham’s infuriating best friend, Tuck, tagging along for the trip. Nor did she imagine boys going missing amid rumors of impossible kidnappings. Least of all does she expect something powerful and ancient to awaken in her and that strange whispers would urge Ellie to claim her place among mythological warriors. Instead of peace and quiet, there’s suddenly a lot for a girl from L.A. to handle on a summer sojourn in Norway! And when Graham vanishes, it’s up to Ellie—and the ever-sarcastic, if undeniably alluring Tuck—to uncover the truth about all the disappearances and thwart the nefarious plan behind them.

Deadly legends, hidden identities, and tentative romance swirl together in one girl’s unexpectedly-epic coming of age.

I'll admit that I chose Valkyrie Rising because I was looking for something a little bit different than what I had been reading. I was intrigued by the setting and definitely by the idea of the plot. The rich setting of Norway sounded like a perfect place to weave a tale. Plus I mean, Valkyries? Kick-ass female warriors? Yes please. I was ready to be wowed.

It didn't take me long to totally adore Ellie, the main character. Constantly in the shadow of her older brother, Ellie is overprotected and unsure of herself. All she really wants is for something exciting to happen. Something new. She gets her wish! When the action picks up, and the Valkyries come into play, it's hard to stop reading. I loved watching Ellie discover her true self and couldn't help but root for her to embrace it. 

Oh, and the romance of course! I can't forget to share that. I won't spoil, but I will say that this was such a sweet build up. Slow, steady, and downright adorable. This is the type of love that grows and begs to be fulfilled. I found myself wanting to shake Ellie and let her know that the perfect guy was right in front of her if only she looked! I won't delve too far, since I want you to discover it for yourself, but it's so worth it.

The setting was perfection, the plot was evenly paced, and to be honest I read through Valkyrie Rising so quickly that I was left wishing I had another book in my hands to follow it up with. It looks like this is shaping up to be a series, and I sincerely hope so! I found a lot to love in Ingrid Paulson's writing. This was a breathe of fresh Norse air, and I can't wait for more.

 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Book Review: The Spindlers

Media Type: Print Book
Title: The Spindlers
Author: Lauren Oliver
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: Hardcover; 256
Release Date: October 2, 2012
Source: Library
----------------------------------------------------
Intended Reading Group: Middle Grade
Content Screening: Mild Violence
-----------------------------------------------------
HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Young readers who love a good story and aren't afraid of a little darkness in their reading.

Add it: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
One night when Liza went to bed, Patrick was her chubby, stubby, candy-grubbing and pancake-loving younger brother, who irritated and amused her both, and the next morning, when she woke up, he was not. In fact, he was quite, quite different.

When Liza's brother, Patrick, changes overnight, Liza knows exactly what has happened: The spindlers have gotten to him and stolen his soul.

She knows, too, that she is the only one who can save him.

To rescue Patrick, Liza must go Below, armed with little more than her wits and a broom. There, she uncovers a vast world populated with talking rats, music-loving moles, greedy troglods, and overexcitable nids . . . as well as terrible dangers. But she will face her greatest challenge at the spindlers' nests, where she encounters the evil queen and must pass a series of deadly tests--or else her soul, too, will remain Below forever.


I'm in love with Lauren Oliver's writing, and to be honest all I've read so far are her Middle Grade novels. If they are at all indicative of her overall writing style, I'm sold. Head over heels in love. Even as an adult reader The Spindlers captured my heart and mind. You couldn't have pried this book out of my hands.

Liza is our main character and I adored her from page one.Strong, stubborn, and braver than most young girls I know, she was a wonderful character to follow. Her belief in magic was sweet, and the relationship that she had with her brother Patrick was even sweeter. We all know that siblings bicker. That you can love the stuffing out of your younger brother or sister and still thing they are utterly obnoxious at times. I loved the reality of Liza's relationship with Patrick for that very reason. She knows what drives her crazy about him, and yet she sets it all aside to save him when he needs it.

What really sparked my imagination was the world that Oliver builds in the "Below". Liza must face some rather terrifying events and inhabitants to save her sibling. I loved how they were just the right amount of scary, without being too over the top. Also, they are offset by the cunning that Liza must use to solve puzzles in her quest as well. There was such a nice mix of trials for her to pass that, despite being an older reader, I found myself entranced by her journey. It reminded me slightly of Alice in Wonderland. A girl who is young and on her own, and yet does great things.

The Spindlers deals with sibling relationships, friendship, and finding courage within. Best of all, it does it in a format that is friendly to young readers. If you have a reader at home who loves adventures, or who believes in magic, this is a book for them. Actually, even if you are adult and have these same qualities, you'll love this book! I did, and I can't wait for more from Lauren Oliver.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Achieve Success from Your Creative Talents: A Guest Post by Ron Gavilik


Ron Gavilik is back here on HDB! If you remember, in August he stopped by to share Emotobooks with us. A new, and unique way to utilize tablets as more immersive ways of reading. This time, he's back with a new book that he's published, especially for those of you who are creative professionals!

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Achieve Success from Your Creative Talents
Ron Gavalik


Throughout civilized human history, creative minds of every type were comforted by the knowledge that if a publisher, producer, or gallery accepted their work, they’d receive financial support in the form of advanced payments and promotional initiatives. In essence, after years of struggle, rejection, and torment, the creator was chosen by an elite group of tycoons to be idolized above others. In return, he or she wasn’t asked to perform any kind of true marketing efforts, aside from public appearances.

In today’s business world, that’s rarely the case.

The influx of creative small businesses and indie creators has diluted the arts and entertainment markets. That shift in business has forced creative talents to perform their own marketing initiatives to achieve success. Some creative professionals believe this to be an unfair burden. Others herald it as an opportunity to have more control. No matter how you view the circumstances, it’s a reality that must be understood.

It’s astonishing how many talented writers, artists, and performers pour passion and professionalism into their creative endeavors, but then practice marketing initiatives like an amateur. It’s the equivalent of buying a $500 pool stick, but never practicing the game. When it comes time to prove your skills, that shiny pool stick is only as effective as the player who wields it. In other words, it’s simply not enough to have a fantastic creative product. You must know how to market that product to mass audiences to win the game.

That’s why our team developed Financial Success for Creative Professionals. The plan is the first proven set of marketing procedures, guaranteed to achieve long-term success for writers, artists, musicians, and performers of all stripes.

To ensure creative success in today’s market, there are a number of steps that must be completed. Let’s briefly explore each of them.

Understand the truth about marketing artistic creations. So many people believe marketing is subjective, much like abstract painting or poetry. It isn’t. Marketing is really about the science of consumer psychology. You must reach the correct audiences to maximize exposure of your work, draw in potential fans, and then drive revenue. When you truly understand the fundamental theory about generating mass awareness of your creative experiences and know how to shape the perception of your work, it’s hundreds of times easier to get noticed and achieve success.

Most marketing professionals hold advanced degrees. The FSCP marketing plan contains the same resources marketing pros use for success, but developed specifically for creative professionals.

Build your marketing structure. Before an artistic talent can sell work to a base of potential consumers, you must first build your marketing structure. That includes a comprehensive website (not just a simple blog), a strong social media presence, and a uniquely branded market position. You must also use mass communications vehicles (email newsletters, for example) to build relationships with your future fans. No one, and I mean no one will buy a book, portrait, MP3, or any kind of creation without having achieved emotional investment in the creator and your products. The FSCP marketing plan provides you the ability to build your uniquely branded market position, set pricing, and then shows you how to interact with hundreds of thousands of consumers to maximize sales and raise the quality of life for your fans.

Take advantage of media marketing opportunities. The meat of any marketing initiative must include interacting with potential fans. This is referred to as shaking hands and relationship building. Much in the same way a car salesperson walks up to a consumer and extends a hand, the FSCP marketing plan shows you how to use the power of the web to connect with hundreds of thousands of consumers through social media, the news media, and personal print media. Using these techniques provides consumers an easy path to personally identify with your artistic creations and then become emotionally invested. This is sometimes referred to as the “warm fuzzies.”

Once the warm fuzzies are achieved, your potential fans are empowered with the knowledge that purchasing your work will benefit them in some way. Remember, your creative efforts are meant to enhance the lives of others. When a potential fan personally identifies with your creation and they’re given a clear path to enjoy the experience, it’s like taking candy from a baby.

Diversify your income from multiple venues. Success is never achieved by selling one product in one location. That’s one of the biggest mistakes made by indie authors, artists, and performers. Your creations must sell in multiple locations to reach the maximum number of targeted consumers that identify with your style. It’s also paramount that each creator offers several products and accessory items for sale, such as t-shirts or bookmarks.

For example: an indie author with a book released must ensure it’s selling in each possible retail location. Sure, Amazon may have 60% or more of the book buying public, but that doesn’t mean you ignore the other 40% that shops on lesser-known retailers. Furthermore, offering accessories increases revenue and provides depth that large publishers always provide for intellectual property and indies usually lack.

Those are the basic high-level steps that every creative talent must follow to achieve true financial success in each respective field. As stated earlier, the FSCP marketing plan is guaranteed to deliver that success to each creator and it’s why our team is so proud to have published it for your use.

It’s my hope that you’re taking your creative career seriously. It’s not always easy to rise above the chaos, but if you follow the proven plan, it’s an amazing experience to watch consumers around the world swoon over your creations that raise their quality of life. That’s a true gift and your legacy. Be proud of it.

As the tagline goes, “If you pour your passions into each project or performance, you must propel your career to the next level, realize your full potential and achieve financial success.”

Together, we’ll make it happen!

Good hunting.

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Ron Gavalik is the author of Financial Success for Creative Professionals and has over 20 years of celebrated experience in corporate and creative marketing. This former Director of Communications has assisted private, nonprofit, and artistic organizations achieve success through grassroots experience marketing initiatives. Gavalik is currently the Publisher for Grit City Publications and creator of the innovative Emotobooks fiction medium. He holds a B.S. in Marketing Communications from Point Park University and an M.A. in Writing from Seton Hill University. His work in the arts has shaped success for countless creative professionals who seek financial independence.


 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Audio Book Review: Magic Bleeds (Kate Daniels #4)



Media Type: Audio Book
Title: Magic Bleeds
   * Series: Kate Daniels #4
Author: Ilona Andrews
Narrator: Renee Raudman
Publisher: Tantor Media
Format: Digital MP3
Duration: 13 hours and 7 minutes
Source: Library Download
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Genre: Urban Fantasy

HDB Rating: 5 Keys to My Heart

Recommended to: Fans of the series! Seriously, if you're not hooked now I just don't know what to tell you.


Add it: Goodreads / Shelfari / Amazon / B&N
Atlanta would be a nice place to live, if it weren't for the magic. When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose.

Kate Daniels works for the Order of Knights of Merciful Aid, officially as a liaison with the mercenary guild. Unofficially, she cleans up the paranormal problems no one else wants to handle---especially if they involve Atlanta's shapeshifting community.

When she's called in to investigate a fight at the Steel Horse, a bar on the border between the territories of the shapeshifters and the necromancers, Kate quickly discovers that there's a new player in town. One who's been around for thousands of years---and who rode to war at the side of Kate's father.

This foe may be too much even for Kate and Curran, the Beast Lord, to handle. Because this time Kate will be taking on family.

Narrator Review:
Renee Raudman's voice is perfection! Her portrayal of Kate Daniels makes her gruff, kick-ass persona hop out of the audio book and kick you in the face. She's got the sarcasm and dry wit down to a science! I was already excited about that, but even more impressed when I heard the wide range of voices that she has for each and every other character in the book. Hands down, great audio book!

Audio Book Rating: 5/5 - A Must Listen!!!


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Book Review:
Magic Bleeds begins with Kate making (naked) dinner for Curran as the loser of their last bet. Let me point out how big of a deal this is for her to follow through with. Curran is late, however. Very late. Understandably pissed, Kate would love to go and have a word (or a sword) with him, but unfortunately she has to deal with the "Steel Mary"; a very powerful being who is wreaking havoc all over Atlanta. Cue a crazy, amazing story line that has officially become my favorite in the series so far.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I have a total crush on Kate Daniels. It doesn't matter how much of her I read, I have never felt more attached to a character. The bevy of emotions that Ilona Andrews has Kate go through in this book almost borders on exhausting. Poor Kate. However it's written so believably that I couldn't help but feel all those emotions as well. Anger, sorrow, terror, complete and utter happiness. Kate's character has grown so much and in Magic Bleeds we see a Kate who is actually working to keep her anger under control. I'm not saying it always works but, hell, she's trying! Little things like psycho killers just keep getting in her way.

This installment also developed the relationship between Curran and Kate and OH MY GOSH I can't even tell you how much in love I am with the two of them together! Those of you out there who tried the first book and thought that Curran was a bully and a jackass? Well, he is. At first. In this story though we get to see the side of him that has slowly been developing over the last few books. The Beast Lord can be sweet! He can be thoughtful. Oh and good lord can he be sexy. I'm fanning myself just thinking about it.

Book 4 and I'm still completely entranced by this series. Magic Bleeds far exceeded all the bars I had set for it, and I can't even tell you how excited I am to get my hands on a copy of the next one! Ilona Andrews has created a series that is witty, heartfelt, kick-ass and one that you'll want to stick with for the long haul. I can promise you, if you keep reading you'll be hooked. More please. I want more.



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