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Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books of 2013

ImageAyyyy, it’s time for Top Ten Tuesday! This is a weekly book meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish!

2013 has almost come to an end (can you believe it?!), so I thought it’d be fitting to squeeze in a Top 10 of my favorite books this year…The books on this list weren’t necessarily released in 2013– I just read them in 2013.

So…LET THE COUNTDOWN COMMENCE.

10) Mistwood by Leah Cypress

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I just fell in love with the originality of the main character…I mean, how many other books out there have mythical, all-powerful beings as their main characters? None that I’ve read, that’s for certain. Think about how cool it would be to have that kind of power…Think about all those mere mortals you could cut in line at Taco Bell…

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9) The Cold King by Amber Jaeger

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Typical “Beauty and the Beast” retelling…but still so sweet. The love interest here is a bit cold (as is evident…from the title…why do I even try…), but by the end of the book, he had my heart melting.

8) Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

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I loved, loved, loved this. The entire Groundhog Day-esque plot was beautifully executed, and I loved how we could peel back one more slice of the plot with each day Sam had to relive. And the love interest…

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Well, I guess I’ll leave you to figure that out for yourself.

7) The Emperor’s Edge by Lindsay Buroker

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Not as well-known as some of the other books on this list, but amazing nevertheless. I loved the  hardworking, likeable main character and loved even more her absolutely swoon-worthy love interest. Who doesn’t go weak in the knees for master assassins? I mean, I’m not the only one, right?…RIGHT?!

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6) Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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I’d been waiting for this sequel to Cinder for forever. I waited so long in fact that I almost had to check myself in to the hospital for mental degeneration. Ah, yes. When I downloaded that book onto my Kindle, I was, like:

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Good times, good times.

Anyways! With its clever take on “Little Red Riding Hood” and its unique and fast-paced plot elements, this one easily earned a spot on my Top Ten. After I read it, I actually did check myself in to the hospital because the book was so amazing it had stunned my brain cells.

5) Archangel by Sharon Shinn

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The world-building here was freaking amazing. Angels and humans co-exist. God is a spaceship. The authority of angels is collapsing. I just…I just…I JUST–

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4) Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers

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I fell in love with the first book, Grave Mercy, and Dark Triumph more than lived up to my expectations. With its dark, mature themes and subtle fantasy elements, this one was both a chilling and thrilling read. Plus, the whole not-insanely-good-looking-love-interest thing was pretty cool, too.

3) Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

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I pretty much love anything Juliet Marillier has ever written, but this was the only book of hers that I read this year. Unsurprisingly, it was as amazing as you would expect a book in this series to be. An adventure into another world, a prophecy, and a special bond between human and animal…this book had all the old Irish mythology and whimsical prose that I fell in love with when I first read Daughter of the Forest.

2) Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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AHHHHHHHHHHH. I waited so long for this book, it’s not even funny. I FREAKING LOVED THIS. Crown of Midnight is the sequel to the amazing Throne of Glass, and it was so intense, I felt like was in a freaking Matrix movie. Blood, insanity, romance…It was a darker, tenser, more heart-wrenching version of its predecessor, and if you haven’t read it yet, I demand that you go to Amazon and buy it now. Go on, now. Go. GO. BUY IT. BUY IT NOW.

1) Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Here is what happened when I first got this book:

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As you can see, this is a picture of the color black.  I probably blacked out in sheer joy at least, I’d say, a good seventy-two times while I pored my eyes over this beautiful piece of wonder.

The character development and the setting and the Darkling and Stormhund and the amazing new powers that Alina develops…This book was just so action-packed and riveting and chilling…The ending, especially, was heart-breaking. I don’t think I can further explain this book without spiraling into a series of intense seizures.

– – -And that’s it for now! Make sure to subscribe for more bookish loveliness. Until then, keep dreaming, my friends!

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World After by Susan Ee – Book Review

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Title: World After

Author: Susan Ee

Rating: 3.8 out of 5 hoots

Ok. Don’t shoot me. Before I dive into the book review of one of my most anticipated books of 2013, I’d first like to say:

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This blog has been dead for a month! Fudge this shindig! I’ve been so busy with junior year that I’ve hardly had time to read books that aren’t called American History: A Survey or–ooh– Elements of Literature: Fifth Course. So anyways. I’ll try to squeeze in some time for this blog– that is, if anyone’s still around here…Hello? Hellooo? Sleepy walks around the empty remnants of her decomposing blog.

But anyways, let’s get straight to the real deal. World After by Susan Ee. WORLD AFTER BY SUSAN FREAKING EE. It’s a miraculous thing that the author’s last name is “Ee,” because that’s exactly how I sounded when I first downloaded that e-book onto my blessed Kindle.

First, let’s look at the cover.

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Uh, who else here is salivating? This book is the second installment of the Penryn and the End of Days Trilogy, and I have been waiting for its release for well over a year.

One painful, heart-wrenching year.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the plot and/or have not read my ancient Waiting on Wednesday post from, like, four months ago, World After is set in a post-apocalyptic world where angels wreak terror on a deteriorating human civilization.

In the first book, Penryn, our plucky protagonist, searches for her sister with the help of the extremely hot Raffe, an angel who will make you want to have his babies. (*Cries over how pathetic life is…*)

In book two, Penryn once again struggles to find her sister after she escapes (for reasons later revealed) while Raffe hunts for his wings.

I gave this book four hoots, but that’s rounded up. A more accurate measurement (for me, at least) would be 3.8 hoots. I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as the first book, but it was still a solid, enjoyable read.

PROS

First off, the good parts.

Penryn is just as awesome and relatable as she’d been in the first installment. It’s kind of depressing to see so many books out on the YA market which feature protagonists I’d like to throttle with a cactus. So many of these characters are whiny or dumb or weak or completely ignorant. Penryn isn’t any of these. She’s smart and independent without being so perfect she’s unrealistic. She isn’t a saint, but she isn’t completely insensitive either. She’s loyal almost to a fault, and in the end, no matter how much ugliness she has to take part of, her goodness continues to shine through. She’s a human, and she makes mistakes, but she isn’t as mentally handicapped as so many of her YA counterparts often appear to be.

Paige, too, is awesome. And so is the author’s depiction of Penryn’s mother (though she seems a bit too invincible at times!). The characters overall are amazingly well-portrayed and lovely. The only exception is Raffe, who didn’t develop as much as I would have liked…but we’ll get to him in a bit.

Also, the setting. THE SETTING.THE SETTING

I loved it in Book 1, and I stilled loved it here. The setting is both terrifying and frighteningly realistic. Ee includes little details (like parking at random angles to camouflage within the “frozen traffic”) which just really bring the story to life. WHY, SUSAN EE? WHY MUST YOU TORTURE US WITH YOU MAD WRITING SKILLS?

And, gah, the details…THE DETAILS. SORRY FOR SHOUTING AT YOU GUYS LIKE THIS, BUT I’M GETTING ALL EXCITED AND STUFF. Especially in the prison scene, Ee includes such acute and horrifying details as to really make this story into an amazing one.

As far as “horrifying” goes, Ee does a pretty awesome job, too. She does not give anything to the characters, which I love. She doesn’t make things easy for them. She doesn’t let them take the easy way out, and she doesn’t let luck or chance give them any unfair advantages. She makes life hard for them…which is exactly true to reality. It seems like so many authors are scared of doing this to their characters, so I applaud Ee for that.

There were lots of other pros, too, like the originality of the story elements, the fluidity of the prose, etc, but if I listed every single one, this review would qualify for NaNoWriMo. So for now…

*bows down to Goddess Ee*

CONS

Yup, there were cons. Unfortunately. though there were so many aspects of this book which I absolutely adored, there wre other parts which made me cry silent tears of disappointment. For example, the plot line of this book…Well, it wasn’t terrible by far. But it wasn’t amazing either. I felt like a bunch of more events had happened in the first book, while this book mainly just stretched out a few settings and events into longerinstallments, slowing down the plot considerably. There just wasn’t that great of a range for the plot, and certain things seemed to happen so slowly. I felt kind of bored at times–especially towards the end, (*MINOR SPOILER ALERT*) when Raffe and Penryn reunite.

Which brings me to my next point. I was so excited for Raffe and Penryn to reunite– you have no idea. Maybe it was because I was looking forward to it so intensely, but…the reunification fell kind of flat to me. I’m a huge romantic, so I’ll admit it…I was expecting at least one kiss. THAT’S ALL I ASK FOR, SUSAN EE. Unfortunately, they didn’t kiss even once cuz…you know…the rules or whatever. Which makes sense, actually. And makes me respect Raffe a bit more. BUT STILL.*sobs* Couldn’t Ee have snuck in a tiny one? Somewhere?

And Raffe himself. I was a bit disappointed as to how little screen time he got in Book 2. He didn’t come in until the book was around 80% through (or somewhere around there). His character didn’t seem as developed or as poignant as the others were, and I didn’t really feel any more attached to him than I had been in the first book. Unlike Penryn, who seemed to grow in at least certain ways, Raffe didn’t grow at all as a character. Or, at least, not as far as I could see.

OVERALL

From the apparent scarcity of cons, it would seem that I’d give this book a higher rating, but…I don’t know. After I finished this one, I didn’t feel riveted at all. I didn’t feel excited for the next installment. I was just…blah. You know? There were some nice scenes in the book, but there really weren’t many scenes which made me all “WEEEEEEEEEEEEE” with feels. There weren’t any scenes which made me tear up or laugh out loud or shiver with apprehension. It wasn’t bad at all– and if I wasn’t comparing it with the first book, it would probably have received a higher rating. But it just didn’t live up to my expectations.

So, in general? Pretty okay with some nice scenes, but not anything amazing. I’ll still probably pick up Book 3, though, for that kiss which was stolen from my Book 2 expectations and because the series might just be following the whole “Book 1: Best/Book 2: Filler/Book 3: Great” pattern.

BUT I’M STILL A BELIEVER. And I’m still a fan of the series, as I have been from the start.