Completed Challenges – 2011 Debut Author Challenge & 2011 Audiobook Challenge

December 30, 2011 § 2 Comments

While there were several challenges I began but didn’t quite complete successfully, including my goal of 100 books in a year (Only read 85) I am happy that I was able to complete at least two of my challenges, The first one- The Story Siren’s 2011 Debut Author Challenge – I read and reviewed 21 debuts in 2011, yay!!! Two of them ended up being my absolute favorite reads of 2011, Anna Dressed in Blood and Angelfall. 2011 was an AWESOME year for debut authors! I can’t wait to check out the 2012 Debuts and have already signed up for the 2012 DAC!! How about you? Which debuts did you read this year?


1. Beth Revis – Across The Universe
2. Cynthia Hand – Unearthly
3. Kristi Cook – Haven
4. Julia Karr- XVI
5. Laruen DeStefano – Wither
6. Ransom Riggs – Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
7. Karsten Knight – Wildefire
8. Veronica Roth – Divergent
9. Amy Plum – Die For Me
10.Jo Treggiari – Ashes, Ashes
11.Anna Carey – Eve
12.Jennifer Castle – The Beginning of After
13.Anne Ursu – Breadcrumbs
14.Moira Young – Blood Red Road
15.Gretchen McNeil – Possess
16.Kendare Blake – Anna Dressed in Blood
17.Tahereh Mafi – Shatter Me
18.Susan Ee – Angelfall
19.Suki Michelle and Carlyle Clark – The Apocalypse Gene
20.Amy Kathleen Ryan – Glow
21. Ruta Sepetys – Shades of Gray


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Bewitched Bookworms


I didn’t do too bad with the audiobook challenges I signed up for at Bewitched Bookworms and Teresa’s Reading Spot. While I didn’t quite make it to 20, I came close. I have so much fun listening to audiobooks!! With the right narrator and the right story, an audio book can be the best way to experience a book. For example, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys were two examples of an amazing story with a phenomenal narration!! I didn’t listen to quite as many audiobooks as I would have liked in 2011, but I still finished 17 which isn’t a bad number. I’m going to try for twenty in 2012! 


1.The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
2.If I stay by Gayle Forman
3.Need – Carrie Jones
4. Neal Shusterman – Everlost
5. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver
6.Dolen Perkins-Valdez – Wench
7. Julie Berry – The Amaranth Enchantment
8. Brom – The Child Thief

9.Amy Kathleen Ryan – Glow
10.Robert Kirkman – The Walking Dead – Rise of the Governor
11.Meg Cabot- Abandon
12.Veronica Roth – Divergent
13.John Connolly – The Gates
14.Mary E. Pearson – The Adoration of Jenna Fox 
15.Suzanne Collins – Hunger Games Trilogy

16.Ruta Sepetys – Shades of Gray
17. Suzanne Young – A Need So Beautiful




Which challenges did you complete in 2011? Were there any that you, like me, didn’t quite manage to finish? 



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Review: Touch of Power–Maria V. Snyder

December 30, 2011 § 5 Comments

Title: Touch of Power
Author: Maria V. Snyder
Publisher: Harlequin

Date Published: December 27, 2011
Format reviewed: eARC via NetGalley

First of all, let me say that I love Maria V. Snyder’s exceptional use of details and wonderful world building. I am such a huge fan of her Study series and I was thrilled to read and review the first book of her new “Healer” series.

Touch of Power features a richly detailed high fantasy world which has been decimated by plague and the blame has been placed on the shoulders of the Healers who are routinely hunted and killed. Avry, a young healer, has been on the run for what seems like ages. Forced to move from town to town, never setting down roots, and never letting anyone get too close. When Avry makes the mistake of healing a sick child, she finds herself arrested and sentenced to die. The night before her scheduled date with the guillotine, a rag tag group of rescuers break her out, saving her life only to try to force her to heal their friend, a potential political rival to the powers that be. With the world in such a state of political upheaval, it seems that everyone who can gather an army can proclaim themselves a ruler. Chaos and lawlessness is the rule of the day, and Avry believes that the man they wish her to heal is the main cause of all of the problems.

While I found the pacing to be sometimes tediously slow, I thoroughly enjoyed many of the details, such as the man eating Death-lilies. I wouldn’t like to stumble upon one of them in a forest!! The many different types of magic were also fascinating. For some reason, I found the characterization in Touch of Power to be the weakest of all of Snyder’s books. However, this could simply be because of all of the world building and plot development necessary to set up this series. I sometimes find this to be the case with the first book in a high fantasy series. There are so many details that need to be covered, world, plot, magic systems, and other minutia, that the characters sometimes fall flat. With that being said, I still LIKED Touch of Power, it simply wasn’t one of my favorites. I will absolutely read the next in this series because I love Maria V. Snyder’s writing and I’m sure this series will only get better!

I loved that Touch of Power did not end on a cliffhanger. This story could stand on its own, leaving those details left unknown up to the readers’ imagination. I can’t wait to see where the author takes this story in the next installment in the series. I would recommend this to fans of Maria V. Snyder and those who enjoy YA high fantasy.

Rating: 3
StarStarStar


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Book Stars Guest Post : SQT from Fantasy and Sci-Fi Lovin’ News and Reviews Top 5 Reads of 2011

December 28, 2011 § 7 Comments

Book Stars of 2011

The final guest post of The Happy Booker’s Book Stars of 2011 is from SQT from Fantasy & Sci-Fi Lovin’ News & Reviews. I have been a huge fan of SQT’s amazing blog since I first began blogging last year! I can always count on her book recommendations, particularly in the Epic and High Fantasy genres, she always manages to find all of the hidden gems in that genre! I was so happy that she agreed to write a guest post for this feature! Here’s a quick list of her favorite reads from 2011. Were any of them on your favorites list too?
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SQT’s Top 5 Favorites of 2011

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor With her poetic style Laini Taylor showed that YA fiction doesn’t have to be all about angst-ridden teenagers and non-stop sarcasm. This is a beautiful fantasy that alternates between a modern, picturesque Prague and a world of fantastic creatures. I loved this atmospheric fantasy. Review HERE

Dead of Night by Jonathan Maberry “Dead of Night” isn’t Maberry first foray into zombie-themed fiction but this story is less of a thriller than a full-fledged horror story. Maberry doesn’t forget the characters and the story is as introspective as it is taut. A very original take on the zombie story that does a credible job of creating a real-world explanation for a usually unbelievable monster. Review HERE

The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss Rothfuss brings back his hero Kvothe in another soulful foray into his long and event-filled past. Rothfuss has the unique ability to take his time with a story without making it boring and his prose is beautifully rendered. This isn’t a book for the fan of fiction that has the characters rushing around with a lot of pointless action. It’s a grown-up fantasy for the reader that knows what it’s like to look back on life with both fondness and regret. Review HERE

Divergent by Veronica Roth “Divergent” has garnered a lot of comparisons to “The Hunger Games” thanks to its action-packed style. But Roth deserves credit for creating her own brand of dystopian fiction that is perhaps more uncomfortably plausible than “The Hunger Games.” Tris, the main character, is just the right kind of blend of stubborn and resilient who never ventures into the cookie-cutter territory of annoyingly sarcastic like so many YA heroines. I’m eagerly looking forward to the sequel Insurgent , due in May of 2012. Review HERE

Among Thieves by Douglas Hulick I read “Among Thieves” early in 2011 and it still ranks high on my list of this year’s favorites. The thief as the main character and sometimes-hero is nothing new, but in Hulick’s hands the story is nonetheless fresh with subtle magic and lots of intrigue. It’s action packed but never overly busy and I can’t wait for the release of the sequel Sworn in Steel, due in June of 2012. Review HERE


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Thanks for stopping by The Happy Booker today and for participating in my Book Stars of 2011 feature! I hope everyone has enjoyed the wonderful guest posts and has found several awesome books to add to their to-read list!! Happy Holidays! 


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2011 YA Story Scavenger Hunt!

December 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

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I’m today’s hunt stop for the 2011 YA Story Scavenger Hunt!

Follow the hunt every day during the month of December! Answer the daily trivia questions from MG and YA books published during 2011 to be entered into the YA book giveaway.

Today’s question is from The Iron Knight by Julie Kagawa.

Question #51: Where does Puck find a copy of A Midsummer Night’s Dream?

Remember to fill out your answer in the form at Most Important Letter here!

Linda

Most Important Letter

(reviewers: Linda, Tori, and Thy)

Happy Holidays!!

December 24, 2011 § 4 Comments

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!! Whether it is Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa or however you choose to celebrate the holidays, I hope that they bring you and yours an abundance of happiness!! It’s supposed to be a fairly warm Christmas here in eastern NC this year, so I am looking forward to enjoying the beautiful weather! I hope everyone is keeping warm and enjoying time with friends and family!!

2011 has been such an awesome year! Thank you to all of the incredible authors, publishers, book bloggers, readers, reviewers, and THB followers for making 2011 the best year ever!! I appreciate each and every one of you who took the time to stop by and leave a comment, enter a giveaway, or just say hi. I made a couple new blogger friends this year and even had the chance to chat with a few amazing authors! My first year blogging books has been so much fun and I look forward to sharing my love of books with all of you in 2012!!

Next week I’ll be wrapping up my Book Stars of 2011 feature and posting my 2012 Reading Challenges. I didn’t do so well at those this year but I am hopeful for 2012! There are so many awesome reading challenges to choose from, I’m trying to choose which ones I can reasonably commit to. And I am considering creating one of my own, I haven’t decided for sure yet….

Until then, here’s a picture of our tree and my son Damian and his friend Victor in their Power Rangers stance in front of the bookshelves….

Happy Holidays!!!

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

December 23, 2011 § 3 Comments

Title: Under the Never Sky


Author: Veronica Rossi


Publisher: Harper Teen


Publishing Date: January 3, 2012













Under the Never Sky

Under the Never Sky deposits the reader into a disconcerting futuristic world where most of the remaining population lives partially underground in what are called pods. In order to keep their sanity in such a crowded enclosed space, these Dwellers spend most of their time in virtual reality “Realms” which advanced technology has created to almost perfectly simulate life, including senses like touch and smell. Within these realms, a simple thought causes action, no need to even walk or talk, just think it and you will be doing it in these “realms.” Its absolutely fascinating.

Aria’s mother is a geneticist doing some top secret studies in a pod hundreds of miles away from their home pod “Reverie.” When their link in the Realms is suddenly broken and Aria doesn’t hear from her mother for over a week, she is determined to find out what is going on. When her search causes her to cross people in high places, she finds herself exiled from the pods and deposited on the outside, which she is sure is a death sentence. All Aria knows of the outside is that those that live out there are savages, cannibals, and who knows what else. Not to mention the unpredictable Aether storms that rain fire down onto the earth, leaveing whole stretches of land nothing but scorched desolate wastelands. In order to survive, Aria strikes a deal with one of the dreaded Outsiders with the hope that he will help her locate her mother and get herself back inside and back into the Realms which is much better than reality.

At the beginning of Under the Never Sky, the main characters, Aria and Peregrine are not very likable characters at all. Both are immature, selfish, and inconsiderate. Both have ideas about who the other is based on the things they have heard, the stories they’ve been told about “Moles” and “Savages”. Aria thinks he is a mindless violent barbarian and he thinks Aria is a weak idiot. Neither of them do much to prove the other wrong for a while, both so focused on their own personal pain and intentions that the other’s needs seem inconsequential to them. Throughout their journey, however, they come to discover the value in each others strengths and learn to appreciate one another a bit more.

Peregrine, or Perry, seemed at the beginning to be an immature, impulsive, brat who threw temper tantrums when he did not get his way and made dangerous choices with no thought for the consequences to himself or others. The power struggle with his brother over establishing dominance was fascinating but it was relationship with his nephew that brought out what was good in Perry at first. His character grows so much as he begins to learn from some of the consequences of his actions. By the end of this book, I’m halfway in love with him myself. I’m typically not one to go on about the romantic aspect of a book, but this was nearly perfectly done. The author made me go from dislike, to respect, to attraction right along with Aria, so of course the romance was completely believable for me!! And it definitely gets pretty hot and heavy!! Aria also grew as a character throughout the book and I came to really like and empathize with her. But to be honest, from when Peregrine first appeared in the pages, for me, the story became all about him. He’s one of those larger than life kind of characters that seems to fill up all the space on the page even when he’s the one that says the least.

I really enjoyed the contrast of the high tech world that Aria grew up in with the almost primitive world that Perry inhabits. Those that live outside the pods have adapted to the everchanging landscape and fierce and unpredictable ether storms. Some have very primitive and animalistic features and have also developed intensified senses, such as sight (night vision), smell (can scent emotions) and auditory (can hear minute noises from long distances). Perry is one of those rare people that have two overdeveloped senses, sight and smell. For him, all emotions have a very specific scent and he can nearly determine someones thoughts by the smell they give off. Its incredibly intriguing. I hope to learn more about what occurred to cause these changes in those that live outside the pods and how that caused some people to inherit these abilities.

There is so much I could say about how incredible this book was. From the fascinating yet terrifying world to the swoon-worthy romance to the intense plot, I LOVED this book. I also truly enjoyed the secondary characters, none of whom ever fell flat and each one continued to surprise me with unanticipated layers of depth. If I have one complaint about Under the Never Sky its that it ends on a cliffhanger, nothing is actually resolved in this story which is certainly frustrating, but I liked this books so much that I’m even willing to overlook that. That awesome twist at the end makes it all worth it! Wow, I didn’t even see that one coming at all!

I think Under the Never Sky is one of the best YA dystopias I’ve read and I highly recommend it! If you like thrilling, intense, sweeping, dramatic dystopias filled with action and a bit of romance then trust me, you definitely want this incredible read on your shelf!! This is a brilliant debut by Veronica Rossi and I am simply dying to read the sequel!!

Rating:

StarStarStarStarStar




Guest Post- 2011 Book Boyfriends by Missie from The Unread Reader

December 22, 2011 § 13 Comments

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Before I ever started blogging, I was a follower of Missie at The Unread Reader. Her reviews have so much personality that its always such a treat to drop by her fun and entertaining blog. One of my favorite features on The Unread Reader is “My Book Boyfriends”. So of course, she was the perfect choice to list the most sigh-worthy, swoontastic and squeelicious fictional male characters of 2011!! Welcome Missie and thanks for stopping by!!










Howdy, Y’all. Missie, The Unread Reader, here, taking over Donna’s blog with a Texas sized YeeHaw!
As a 30’s something gal, who constantly and inappropriately swoons over boys in books, it was quite the challenge to narrow down my massive list of book boyfriends to the Top 5 of 2011! Since I had such a hard time choosing, I just had to throw in a bonus boyfriend. Hope y’all don’t mind. 🙂

My Top 5, plus 1 Book Boyfriends!




#6. Jack, the Devil from Crushed Seraphim by Debra Anastasia.
Not only is Jack sexy as sin, he’s also hot as hell, which is so appropriate since he’s the devil, and a pretty horny one too. Of all the book boyfriends I’ve had this year, he was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting to fall in love with him like I did.

“Imagine what happens when the Devil kisses an angel.” ~Jack


#5. Leif Helgarson from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne!
Leif is a Viking and he’s a vampire. I honestly don’t know if there is a more perfect combo in the world for me since I happen to love both! Thank you Norse Gods and Cain!

“Tell me, Atticus, have you ever, ah, squeed?” ~Leif


#4. Ryan (Rhino) from Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar.
I was so blown away by how Ryan didn’t freak out when the girl he was interested in had a break down and started sobbing buckets. Any guy who is willing to let a girl cry it out has my heart forever! He was so tender, yet he never lost his tough guy appeal.

“I want to be here.” ~Ryan


#3. Rodolfo Greco from River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren.
He’s dark, dangerous and Italian! I honestly don’t know if there is a more perfect combo in the world for me. Oh wait! Didn’t I already say that? Anyhoo, I’m powerless to resist a knight in shinning armor, especially one that wants me to want him.

“What is it you long for most?” ~Lord Greco


#2. Atticus O’Sullivan from The Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne.
Make me full belly laugh, and I’m yours forever! Yes, Atticus, you’re stuck with me, and I’m totally ready to have 250 kids with you! Plus, how could I ever resist a guy who isn’t shy about running around with his twig and berries exposed!

“Shut up. I’m Irish.” ~Atticus


#1. Thomas Finch Mackee from Saving Francesca & The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta.
Tom is exactly the kind of guy I would have loathed (secretly loved) in high school. From the exterior, he may seem like a guy who could care less, but he’s actually the type that cares too much. My heart swells every time I think about him.

“The guacamole was a mistake,” ~Tom

So that’s it! My top book boyfriends of 2011! They’d be perfect for me if only they weren’t so fictional. *le sigh*
Special thanks to Donna for letting me share my love for boys in books today!
Happy Holidays!





Thanks for stopping by Missie!!


Who are some of your “Book Boyfriends” of 2011?? My vote is for Raffe from Angelfall and Ryan from Raw Blue! Leave a comment and let us know who you’d like to catch under your mistletoe!!



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