Monday, April 30, 2012

Reading Challenge Update - April 2012

Here's my monthly challenge update for April

2012 Reading Challenge
Hosted by GoodReads

April Completed: 6
Grave Mercy, Crushed, Shatter Me, Borderline,
The Immortal Rules, Stardust

Total Progress: 11/50


Off The Shelf!Off The Shelf Challenge
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

April Completed: 3
Crushed, Borderline, Stardust

Total Progress: 6/15



Read-A-Phrase Challenge
Hosted by Books, Crafts, & Life In General

April Completed: 2
Borderline, The Immortal Rules

Total Progress: 4/25


Girl Power Reading Challenge 2012Girl Power Challenge
Hosted by The Wolf's Den

April Completed: 4
Grave Mercy, Crushed, Shatter Me,
The Immortal Rules

Total Progress: 7/35


Dusty Bookshelf ChallengeThe Dusty Bookshelf Challenge
Hosted by Books: A True Story

April Completed: 3
Crushed, Borderline, Stardust

Total Progress: 6/15


Free Reads Challenge 2012Free Reads Challenge
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

April Completed: 4
Grave Mercy, Crushed, Borderline,
The Immortal Rules

Total Progress: 8/15



Audiobook ChallengeAudiobook Challenge
Hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner

April Completed: 1
Stardust

Total Progress: 1/12



Witches & Witchcraft Challenge Witches & Witchcraft Challenge
Hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

April Completed: 2
Crushed, Stardust

Total Progress: 2/16



Keep track of my progress on my Reading Challenges page.

Dusted With Tiny Stars

Stardust

Hopelessly crossed in love, a boy of half-fairy parentage leaves his mundane Victorian-English village on a quest for a fallen star in the magical realm. The star proves to be an attractive woman with a hot temper, who plunges with our hero into adventures featuring witches, the lion and the unicorn, plotting elf-lords, ships that sail the sky, magical transformations, curses whose effects rebound, binding conditions with hidden loopholes and all the rest.


I've owned this book for quite sometime, though it's taken Reading With Tequila's group read to finally delve into it. I've also been long overdue, according to certain friends, for reading Gaiman's books. And having seen the movie, I was interested to see how the book/movie stacked up, and if I preferred one over the other. With all that in mind, I dove into Stardust.

Friday, April 27, 2012

We Live By A Different Set Of Rules

The Immortal Rules
~The Immortal Rules~
Blood of Eden
Book 1
By Julie Kagawa
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks

MY VAMPIRE CREATOR TOLD ME THIS:

"Sometime in your life, Allison Sekemoto, you will kill a human being. The question is not if it will happen, but when. Do you understand?"

I didn't then, not really.

I DO NOW.

Allison Sekemoto survives in the Fringe, the outermost circle of a vampire city. By day, she and her crew scavenge for food. By night, any one of them could be eaten.

Some days, all that drives Allie is her hatred of them. The vampires who keep humans as blood cattle. Until the night Allie herself is attacked—and given the ultimate choice. Die…or become one of the monsters.

Faced with her own mortality, Allie becomes what she despises most. To survive, she must learn the rules of being immortal, including the most important: go long enough without human blood, and you will go mad.

Then Allie is forced to flee into the unknown, outside her city walls. There she joins a ragged band of humans who are seeking a legend—a possible cure to the disease that killed off most of humankind and created the rabids, the mindless creatures who threaten humans and vampires alike.

But it isn’t easy to pass for human. Especially not around Zeke, who might see past the monster inside her. And Allie soon must decide what—and who—is worth dying for.


This was another offer NetGalley was kind enough to e-mail me about. I've heard so much about Kagawa's Iron Fey series (though I haven't read them yet) that I was eager for a chance to finally read her work. And it starred vampires, for crying out loud. Why wouldn't I jump at the chance?

Perhaps it was so much hype going in, but this book never clicked for me.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: All-Time Favorite Book Characters

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

Those characters that tug at your heartstrings, linger in your memory, and eventually call you back to re-read their adventures. That's right, this week the list is of our top ten favorite book characters! But, to be fair, I think I have to divide this into top five guys and five gals. Otherwise, I probably wouldn't get much testosterone here.

The Guys


5. Briar Moss ~ Emelan Series
Briar Moss
Art by ~Minuiko
Tamora Pierce will always have my vote for kick-ass heroines, but her guys are pretty awesome, too. Briar was first introduced in book one of the Circle of Magic quartet, but didn't get his own story until book four. And yet, the short snippets we got in his POV throughout the series, as well as observations of him from the other characters, made him a character I craved to know more about. And when he finally got his own story, he did not disappoint.

Briar Moss is that tough, street-smart kid who knows just how dark the world can be, but doesn't let it overcome him. His attitude is snarky, but he's (usually) smart enough to know when to keep his mouth shut. And though he has a lot of power, he doesn't use it to speak for him. In short, he's a great character and a great role model, and is one of my favorite guys.

4. Jameson Rook ~ Nikki Heat Series
Jameson Rook
Yeah, this one's probably mostly to do with the TV show, Castle. I mean, come on, the series is supposedly written by the title character, who is played by Nathan Fillion (sooo hawt!), and the writer tag-along in the series is named Rook aka the Castle in chess. In other words, Rook = Castle = amazing.

But really, the book character is pretty sweet too. He's a journalist who decides that the fine folks of the NYPD deserve to have a share of the limelight. And while he's at it, that smokin' hott detective Nikki Heat would be the perfect star... Okay, so a little shallow at first, but his humor, knowledge, and (at times) bravery and chivalry totally make up for it. It's tough to see him without seeing Castle—but is that really so bad?

3. Luc Cain ~ Personal Demons
Luc Cain
Okay, I'll admit, Luc does fit my usual formula of guys I fall for (see #1 below), but this goes a little deeper than that.

See, over the years I've had a few different writing projects. In the last couple years, I've been running through a story about a demon who eventually turns over a new leaf. Granted, mine's a girl and Luc is definitely not, but it's still hard not to connect with him there.

Then, back in 2005/06, years before I'd heard of Lisa or her books, I had a fan-fiction going through my head which happened to star an OC villain-turned-hero character I'd named Lucian Cain. Seem familiar? Granted, my story was in no way, shape, or form a romance, but I was already so far in Luc's head, it was near impossible not to absolutely love him. It's been interesting seeing 'my character' through another author's eyes, which makes his inclusion on this list a no-brainer.

2. Fred & George Weasley ~ Harry Potter
George & Fred WeasleyBy far, my favorite characters from the entire series were the joke-slinging, beater-bashing, mischief-making twin inventors. Sure, they weren't main characters, but with a cast of hundreds, I'd say they were pretty high up on the list of important seconds. And for such a dark plot line, they always knew when a good joke needed to be thrown in.

But not only were they the jokers of the series, they also gave us some of our most memorable moments. Sure, there were the humorous toilet seat and age-line crossing, but their departure in book five practically launched the whole rebellion against Umbridge, and I shouldn't even have to go into the last book. Heroes in their own right, and with humor to boot, the Weasley twins earned their spot near the top of my list.

1. Rodney Skinner ~ Movie Novelization of LXG
Rodney SkinnerI swear, I'm not cheating with this one!
...Okay, maybe a little, but with good reason.

I don't know why, but Rodney Skinner, 'Gentleman Thief' (played by Tony Curran) was probably the first character I completely fell in love with. He's sarcastic, mysterious, not bad looking (when he has face paint on), and has a cockney accent. All wins in my book. But even more than that, he's suspected as the villain but comes through for the group even when he could have easily left them to rot. And I tend to have major crushes on the under-achieving sidekicks who come through to save the day.

But why count a movie character? Well, in the novelization of the movie (which isn't half bad), they actually expand on his character a bit. Yes, he's attributed some of the abhorrent acts that Hawley Griffin committed in the original graphic novel—which I was about ready to kill over. BUT, at the very end [spoiler alert] it's revealed that he was actually a government agent the whole time. So not only is he a sarcastic, mysterious, heroic, and such, but that horrible stuff from before was likely just a part of his cover story. Ah, Rodney, I knew it wasn't so.

Honorable Mentions:
Will Parry ~ His Dark Materials
Simon Lewis & Magnus Bane ~ The Mortal Instruments
Tobias ~ Animorphs
Ben ~ Mercy Thompson Series
Arthur Dent ~ Hitchhiker's Guide

The Girls


5. Alanna, Daine, Kel, Aly & Beka ~ Tortall Series
Ladies of Tortall
Artwork by *GillyPerkyGoth
Each of these girls could easily top my list. I adore Tamora Pierce's heroines, and praise them regularly. But, to be fair, I haven't read these books in a while and...I can't really decide who my favorite would be. I will be re-reading their adventures soon, and am excited to do so, but at the moment I'm forced to group them here.

If you're in want of some strong females, look no further. Each has her own trials to face, all in an Arthurian style world where magic and mythological creatures exist. And whether it be chasing knighthood, struggling with magic, policing the streets, fighting a war or trying to stop one, these ladies are sure to keep you coming back for more.

4. Ramona Quimby ~ Ramona Books
Ramona Quimby
Ramona was one of the very first series I remember reading. But she didn't just teach me how to read, she taught me some important life lessons, too. Like how it was okay to be strange, imaginative, creative, and a little messy sometimes. How grown-ups didn't always understand, but they still loved you no matter what. And how living with an annoying older (or younger) sibling meant a little give and take.

She may not be as magical as some of the other girls I've read, but she'll always have a special place in my heart.

3. Rachel ~ Animorphs
RachelThe Animorphs series was another one that shaped my childhood. And I remember eagerly awaiting every 6th book for the next Rachel POV to come out. Rachel was the warrior of the group—she wasn't prissy and got downright cutthroat at times. She was probably the first girl I'd ever read with that kind of attitude about things.

It's been a while since I've read this series, but from what I can remember, Rachel was by far the toughest of the group. But even as a warrior she wasn't completely heartless. In fact, hers was probably the first romance I'd ever read, too. Add in her loyalty and her smarts, and there's no way she wouldn't make my list.

2. Nita Callahan ~ Young Wizards
Grave Mercy
Next to Rachel (above) Nita is the character I've followed the longest: through nine whole books now. And though a ton of time hasn't passed in the books, it sure seems like it has. From saving the world/universe from Death Itself about once every book, she's got a lot of pressure on her shoulders. She even battled and lost her mom to It.

But what I find magical about Nita isn't just her wizard powers, but her strength and conviction, even after suffering through grief. She's probably the most realistic character I've ever encountered in a fantasy novel, especially because she's dealing with real issues as well as magical ones. It was a lot of fun in the latest book to finally get a little romantic tension after eight books of partnership. Seeing her grow and live, even with Death/Entropy on the horizon, I find it absolutely inspiring.

1. B) Hermione Granger ~ Harry Potter
Hermione Granger
How could I not include Hermione? The young witch who finally made it okay to be strong and smart.

Hermione is a little harder to explain, mostly because she doesn't star in her own series, but rather stars in spite of being a secondary character. We don't get a ton of insight into her character, except what she chooses to show her best friends Harry & Ron. But her actions often speak louder than words, and we're shown an incredibly strong-willed, intelligent, loyal, ambitious, and moral character who still is able to rely on her friends to help with her flaws. She's not perfect by any means, but that's another reason I relate to and love her.

1. A) Tris Chandler ~ Emelan Series
Tris Chandler
I know, I know— Another Tamora Pierce character?!
But how many slightly chubby, bookish female protagonists can you name?

She's not gorgeous (despite this particular rendition of her), slightly snobbish, so powerful she can be scary, and is by far my most favorite character ever.

Even though she's super powerful now, she didn't know it was magic at first. She spent most of her life being passed from one family member to another, never feeling like anything more than a burden. So her snobbish attitude is more of a self-defense mechanism—If I don't let you get close, you can't hurt me, type of deal.

All in all, I see a lot of myself in her. Self-conscious to a fault, extremely bookish, a bit prissy when it comes to the outdoors or filth, and on the heavy side. But she's also confident, kind, strong-willed, loyal, and intelligent. So, naturally, I had to put her at the top of my list.

FireHonorable Mentions:
Lyra Belacqua ~ His Dark Materials
Fire (pictured left) ~ Graceling Realm
Sandry fa Toren & Daja Kisubo ~ Emelan Series
Sophie Mercer ~ Hex Hall
Mercy Thompson ~ Mercy Thompson Series
Evie ~ Paranormalcy
Ella Varner ~ Ella Enchanted
Sioned ~ Dragon Prince

Okay, so I couldn't quite narrow it down to only ten, but I honestly couldn't swap out any of these guys.

And just to be clear, the honorable mentions are all amazing characters. Really I love them all. But in terms of personal connections, or memorable experiences, I just couldn't rank them as highly as those who did make the list. Still, do be sure to check them out sometime.

Who's on your list? Let me hear you howl!

Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Sort of Borderline

Borderline
~Borderline~
By Bonnie Rozanski

Amazon ~ Powell's

Another novel about adolescent angst? Well, the protagonist is indeed going on thirteen and, with some justification, he is seriously stressed, but there this wonderful story diverges from the stereotype.

Rampant hormones, peer pressure, romance — all take a backseat as Guy Ritter wrestles with the challenge of attracting the attention of parents preoccupied with the demands of his autistic brother. And then there is the wolf, condemned to euthanasia unless Guy can find a way to spring him from a pen.

Adolescents will love this book, but there is much here for adult readers as well, including a short treatise on genetics and a graphic evocation of the consequences of a fast-food diet.



This book was the very first author request I ever received for this blog. I probably knew then and there that it wasn't for me. I'm not much on realistic fiction—not enough escape for me. But it claimed to feature a wolf, and it had one on the cover, so despite my reservations, I said I would give it a try.

Unfortunately I was right, this book wasn't really for me.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge 2012


Since I have quite a few witchy books on my TBR pile this year, I figured this was a no-brainer.

I'll be aiming for the Crone level of being bewitched by 16-20 books this year.

Some options I'm planning on picking up:

Crushed by K.C. Blake
Hex Hall, Demonglass & Spell Bound by Rachel Hawkins
The Magicians & The Magician King by Lev Grossman
The Circle Opens Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce
The Immortals Quartet by Tamora Pierce
Provost's Dog Trilogy by Tamora Pierce

Any other witchy titles you think I should look into? Leave a comment below, and wish me luck!

Keep track of my progress on my Reading Challenges page.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Audiobook Challenge 2012


I tried my hand at listing to audiobooks last year and really fell in love with the process. I tend to listen to audiobooks on my computer with them sped up to match my natural reading speed, then read along with the print (or electronic) copy in front of me.

I've already got a few on hand that I've been meaning to tackle, plus was planning on going for some of my Amazon reads, so why not go ahead and make an official challenge out of it?

I'll be aiming for the Going Steady level of listening to 12 books this year.

Anything great you've heard recently that I should look into? Leave a comment below, and wish me luck!

Keep track of my progress on my Reading Challenges page.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Re-Reading on GoodReads

As most of you should know by now, I'm participating in the 2012 Reading Challenge on GoodReads.

Now, GoodReads (GR) has been a great site for cataloging what books I've read, am reading, or want to read. I've created shelves for genres, lists for my challenges, and even gathered books I was forced to read in school. It has a huge listing of editions, summaries, and reviews. And if you hadn't noticed, I link to it all the time in my reviews, sidebars, and even have the app linked to my Facebook page!

But there is one thing that I wish they had...

A Re-Read Option

Has anyone else noticed that missing feature?

I tend to re-read books a lot. When the latest sequel comes out I like to re-read the entire series. Or perhaps it's for a reading challenge or book club. And heaven forbid reminiscing over an old favorite.

As it stands now, I can see a few different options to handle my re-reading.

Option 1: Don't count re-reads at all. Makes things a lot simpler, right? Unfortunately, this counts against my GR-sponsored reading challenge, as the "Date Finished" must contain the current year. I suppose I could say, 'computer be damned,' and make my own counter but...where's the validation in that?

Option 2: Change reading dates to current/last time read. I then add a personal note that tells me the last time I read it. Unfortunately, changing the dates read not only removes the book from my GR timeline, but also my Facebook one. It also gets complicated when I try to remember when I first read a book after I've re-read it a few times.

Option 3: Read/Review multiple editions of a single book. Unfortunately, that option hinders more than it helps. Firstly, it adds a copy to my overall books list, which is silly if anyone else looks through and finds 15 copies of the same book. Secondly, it clutters shelves if I label them with genre/theme/etc.. And lastly, it's confusing when I actually have read multiple editions (print & audiobook versions) of one book.

Obviously, I'm not a coding expert, so I can't say it'd be an easy thing to change. But here's the review form as it stands now. As you can see, under the main review space, there's "Date Finished" and "Date Started" followed by "Number of Times Read".

Now, here's the second part of the review form. As soon as you click the "I Own A Copy" box, a new section opens up, letting you fill in more information.

Why couldn't they add a "I've Read This More Than Once" bump-out?


I know I'm not completely alone in this, as there is a Suggestion Topic on GR specifically addressing the re-reading issue. Feel free to add your own two cents on the topic there, too.

But before you go off and do that, what do you think? How do you handle re-reading books? Is GoodReads the premiere book cataloging site, or do you use something different? Let me hear you howl!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Free Reads Challenge 2012

Free Reads Challenge
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

Are you one of those book lovers who receive lots of books for presents? Have unread books lying around that you won in giveaways, received as ARCs, were given second hand, or even found lying around in the street? Then you might want to join in this challenge because we’re aiming to read all those unread books received as freebies in some form.

I'll be aiming for the On The Cheap level of picking up 15 books this year.

Between Amazon's free Kindle books and the few I've been meaning to read/review from giveaways and requests...I should have a pretty good list to choose from.

Anything great you've seen for free lately? Leave a comment below, and wish me luck!


Keep track of my progress on my Reading Challenges page.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

...And I Want To Shatter

Shatter Me
~Shatter Me~
Shatter Me
Book 1
By Tahereh Mafi
Amazon ~ Powell's ~ Jan's Paperbacks


Juliette hasn't touched anyone
in exactly 264 days.

The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette's touch is fatal. As long as she doesn't hurt anyone else, no one really cares. The world is too busy crumbling to pieces to pay attention to a 17-year-old girl. Diseases are destroying the population, food is hard to find, birds don't fly anymore, and the clouds are the wrong color.

The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war— and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she's exactly what they need right now.

Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior.


When I first picked this up, all I knew was on the front cover: Tahereh Mafi had written it (one of the first bloggers I started following) and it apparently featured a female whose touch is lethal power. Not much to go off of, but I wanted to be surprised.

What surprised me the most was that 5 chapters had passed in a noisy bookstore (not my typical reading environment) and I wanted to keep reading. I was completely hooked.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reading Challenge Addict

I've always been a bit of a collector. Whether it's movies, music, or books, I just can't seem to stop from amassing a sizable (and gorgeous) collection. And I guess it's the same when it comes to reading challenges.

I've already signed up for 8, and am hosting another!
I think I have a problem...

So what better way to treat myself than to enter a challenge about challenges?

Reading Challenge Addict
Hosted by Reading Challenge Addict

So here's my official list of challenges.
I may or may not add more, but at the moment I'm shooting for the  
On the Roof level of completing 6-10 challenges.


2012 Reading Challenge
Hosted by GoodReads

Challenge: Count any and all books read this year.

Goal: 50 books

Completed: 7/50

Off The Shelf!Off The Shelf Challenge 2012
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

Challenge: Read books you own but haven't yet read. Books must have been acquired before the start of this year.

Goal: Trying ~ 15 books

Completed: 4/15

Amazon's Best Books of 2011Amazon's Best Books of 2011 Challenge
Hosted by Wickedly Delicious Tales

Challenge: Read books featured on Amazon's Best Books of 2011.

Goal: Novice ~ 5 books

Completed: 0/5

Read-A-Phrase Challenge 2012
Hosted by Books, Crafts, & Life In General

Challenge: Read a book for each letter in a phrase of your choosing.

Goal: When in doubt, shoot the wizard

Completed: 2/25

Girl Power Reading Challenge 2012Girl Power Reading Challenge 2012
Hosted by The Wolf's Den

Challenge: Read books written by or highlighting strong women
- no damsels in distress!

Goal: Duchess Level ~ 35 books

Completed: 5/35

Dusty Bookshelf ChallengeThe Dusty Bookshelf Challenge 2012
Hosted by Books: A True Story

Challenge: Read books you own but haven't yet read.

Goal: Cobwebs ~ 10-15 books

Completed: 4/15


Free Reads Challenge 2012Free Reads Challenge 2012
Hosted by Bookish Ardour

Challenge: Read books you've received for free from gifting, giveaways, ARCs, or promotions. No library books.

Goal: On The Cheap Level ~ 15 books

Completed: 6/15


Audiobook ChallengeAudiobook Challenge 2012
Hosted by Teresa's Reading Corner

Challenge: Listen to audiobooks.

Goal: Going Steady ~ 12 books

Completed: 0/12



Witches & Witchcraft Challenge Witches & Witchcraft Challenge
Hosted by Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf

Challenge: Read books featuring witches or witchcraft.

Goal: Crone Level ~ 16-20 books

Completed: 1/16


That's 9 challenges right there! Any others you think I should give a try?

Keep track of my progress on my Reading Challenges page.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Dusty Bookshelf 2012


Though, along the same vein as the Off The Shelf Challenge, for this one I can also count any books I've bought during 2012. You'd think that list would be a bit shorter...

I'll be aiming for the Cobwebs level of dusting off 10-15 books this year. Of course, I own far more than that, so here are the lists of all I have to choose from:





Giving me nearly 300 books to choose from! Amazon's free Kindle books are going to be my downfall...

Any ideas where to start? Leave a comment below, and wish me luck!


Keep track of my progress on my Reading Challenges page.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Were Totally Deceiving

Top Ten Tuesday
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.

They tell us not to judge a book by it's cover, but who can really say that they don't? And what if, even looking past the cover, the description leads us astray? Here's my top ten books that made me think I'd be getting one thing, but gave me another:

Settling
10. Settling ~ Shelley Workinger
I'll admit, I totally based my expectations on the title. In book one the characters just found out they have super-powers. Now, in book two, they're gonna spend the rest of the summer settling into their new environment and abilities. ...Not so much. The main character ends up discovering a second ability, suddenly and inexplicably making out with some guy (not her boyfriend), and alienating all of her friends. Uh...what?

Crusader
9. Crusader ~ Edward Bloor
After reading Tangerine, I decided I loved Edward Bloor. So when this one came out, sporting a really spiffy knight-themed cover and description, I was sold! Firstly, there was no historical/fantasy element whatsoever - the knight is from a video game. Secondly, that I recall, the game was never played, just debated about (over violence and racism). Total let-down for me.

The Hunger Games
8. The Hunger Games ~ Suzanne Collins
I'd heard too much of the hype without really reading any of the reviews out there. You see, I hate spoilers, so I sorta kinda knew what the books were about, but so much of what I'd seen were the Team Peeta/Gale badges that I thought it was going to be another fluffy teen romance series. Yeah, no. Way more heart-wrenching than I was prepared for, The Hunger Games was deceiving only in the way I'd heard about it.

Door Into Fire
7. Door Into Fire ~ Diane Duane
Pure and simple, I read this because it was written by Diane Duane. I'd read a good chunk of her Young Wizards series, loved it, and wanted more. I was probably in middle school, maybe 6th or 7th grade, waaay too young. I remember my biggest confusion being over the hero's companion being a shapeshifter of sorts and continually taking male form when they made love. ...Yeah, I was a bit out of my element there.

The Passion
6. The Passion ~ Donna Boyd
On the eve of a brutal murder in contemporary Manhattan, Alexander reveals to his son and heir a tightly guarded family secret--a world in which a superior race of werewolves holds the positions of power. The one human who is accepted naively embraces all things werewolf--an ambition that results in unspeakable tragedy.

Honestly, the only word I read was werewolf. I was probably in the 5th or 6th grade and had, for some unknown reason, been wandering through the library's adult books (non-kids section). Maybe I'd searched 'werewolves' in the computer? I don't know. All I know is I checked out this book and didn't understand practically any of it. I probably skimmed the majority of it, hoping to get to the werewolfy parts (which were few and far between, if I remember correctly), and ended up getting a lot more adult romance than I anticipated. Ah well, live and learn.

The Wish List
5. The Wish List ~ Eoin Colfer
Even though this one's description doesn't hide anything, it surprised me how religious it got. I mean, when you deal with angels and demons it's kinda hard not to be religious, but the ideology usually doesn't change. Having a main character who was straddling the line between the two sides put everything into a new perspective, and I was surprised by how much it spoke to me. You don't really expect a MG book to teach life-lessons, or at least I didn't.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
4. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
~ J.K. Rowling

When I first saw these books at the bookstores, I didn't give them a second look. They looked way too childish for me - I was into serious stuff...like Animorphs, Spy Girls, and Alanna. But seriously, it was that time when I was starting to make the transition out of Middle-Grade books. And it was before the big YA boom, so I was mainly moving into the 'Adult' sci-fi/fantasy sections. This colorful and cartoony book couldn't be cool to read.

And then my dad got it for me after a business trip. I owned it, so I guess I might as well read it. I think I pulled my first all-nighter finishing it. And I've never looked back.

The Bell Jar
3. The Bell Jar ~ Sylvia Plath
A book I had to read for a college class. I'll admit that I'd stopped expecting much from required reading. Then we read this and it was scary how logical, rational, and familiar the crazy narrator felt. I mean, a lit major in college who didn't know what she wanted to do with herself? If I bonded with a crazy book character, did that make me crazy too? Thankfully many of my classmates felt similarly, so at least we had our own support group ready to go. Making such a connection with a crazy person was certainly unexpected.

The Hour of the Star
2. The Hour of the Star ~ Clarice Lispector
Another book I had to read for school, but back in high school this time. This was a part of our foreign literature section, which had been fairly dry so far. And then we had this, a little bright blue book with some weird abstract art on it. But The Hour of the Star turned out to be one of the most beautiful pieces of literature I've ever read. New-age and poetic, it offered not only an interesting story but insights on the writing process that I savored and re-read over and over again. Not bad for 96 pages.

Grave Mercy
1. Grave Mercy ~ Robin LaFevers
This one didn't psych me out until I'd already started reading it. The book starts out with the main character at age fourteen, uneducated and illiterate in medieval France, and she's in charge of narration. It was soooo hard to read, I didn't know how in the world I'd get through 549 pages of it! And then I hit chapter 6, which skips ahead three years, and it was like a whole other book. Seriously, the contrast is amazing, and it makes sense in retrospect, but I will admit that I wasn't sure I could read the whole book. Sneaky, sneaky.

What's on your list?