Looks like I’ll be getting this post up just in the nick of time! Where in the heck is this year going? Who took my first 6 months already? Whoever you are, why didn’t you take all the stress and problems with them? Explain yourself!
Well, first of all, you may or may not have noticed that my blog layout has changed recently. I’ve been wanting to update my theme for a while now, but no amount of stalking the theme sites was turning up anything I liked well enough to a. make the effort to switch to and b. looked decent and c. were responsive. You know – responsive, the kind of site that shrinks down if your screen is smaller while still maintaining your most important info. They are supposed to be especially handy for mobile devices and tablets, which, as we all now, are sooper aweshum and speshul right now in terms of the technological scene. So, finally got that all squared away! I like its more simplified layout as well and the fonts and general design and visual elements are more up-to-date.
I’m also at a point where I needed a positive change, any positive change, to help everyday shenanigans (includes the lands of Work and Home Stress) seem less shenanigany. They say you should go to your happy place, and since reading is mine, it’s fun to give the space, where I voice book opinions, a face lift.
Now – the books. Since there’s been even less time to read this year as well as an inordinate amount of books that have pinged my WTFdar, that only makes the gems more sparkly. In fact, that’s how I’m going to talk about the books I’ve adored so far this year: How much did it sparkle? I’m being completely serious. Non of that vampires can’t sparkle malarkey allowed. By all that’s preciousss, I need that sparkle more than ever. So sparkle, my pretties! Sparkle till it makes me cringe. I want the books I read to bring me to my knees – that’s how much I want the sparkle. Unfortunately, I still need to write up reviews for some of these, so you’ll just have to make do with my shortened thoughts on them.
Most Sparkliest Pixie-Dusted Book of 2012 So Far
It’s really too bad I don’t have a review up for this one yet, but suffice to say it knocked my socks right off. I was familiar first with the animated movie – and just as in love with it – and I felt like this would be a perfect book to explore for my Year of the Fantasy Classic reading challenge (which I’m sucking a, though it’s not too late). I have no idea why I did not read this author as a child, but you don’t need to be a child to appreciate her way with words. As an adult, this book made me breathless, had me on the edge of my seat and I fell in love with the characters in totally different ways than I did their animated movie counterparts. If anything in the entire world can exemplify why a strong imagination put to paper is one of the most important things in the world, this book is it.
Biggest Sparkly Surprise Read
Over the last few years I’d developed an allergic reaction style aversion to angel PNR-related books, especially of the young adult persuasion. I’d just read one too many awful examples and it’s become one of those dreaded trends. Those wily Book Pusher folks, though, they convinced me to part with a measly .99 cents American for this book, though…and wow, what a ride. It’s absolutely nothing like the tired angsty trendy stuff traditional publishers are churning out because it’s the popular, and money-producing, thing to do. For one thing, there’s a very decent plot. That doesn’t revolve 100% around will they/won’t they styles of romance and bad love triangle messiness. Not that love triangles and a strictly romance-oriented YA book of this nature couldn’t work, but I’ve yet to find one that has. Anyway, moving on. What we get is a very cool, character-driven apocalyptic style read that is scary, brutal and edge-of-your seat kind of reading. I know I, along with plenty of other readers, are highly anticipating the sequel, which now is set to be out….who knows. It only says “to be determined” on the author’s site ATM. Which sucks, preciousss.
Best Sparklerific Start to a New Series
I’m such a huge fan of this author’s other urban fantasy series, the October Daye series, that it was almost a no-brainer that I’d like this one. Still, anxieties, cuz we don’t always necessarily like a fave author’s every effort. Thank goodness this one fell into the Realm of Awesomesauce, because it is indeed sparklerific. McGuire seems to truly be a master at creating compelling, motivated and just plain old terrific female lead characters, not to mention grat alternate urban realities for them to play in. While I had a few reservations about it, overall I was really pleased with it and I still want my own colony of Aeslin mice.
Sparkliest Young Adult Fantasy with Awesome Girrrl Lead
There’s been a ton of buzz about this one since it came out in September 2011, and I was pleasantly surprised and eventually elated to agree with it. It’s such a different YA read. It’s been pretty disheartening here lately with how popular Ya books have become, but so few seem to actually feature strong female characters that aren’t doormats to lift up the male characters. The Girl of Fire and Thorns is exactly as Dear Author Jane told me on twitter – very female empowering. But it does so without sacrificing believability or credibility. The heroine, Elisa, must overcome a lot to get to the fierce and hero-worthy state she finds herself in eventually. There is romance, but that aspect has no easy time of it. There is sorrow and heartache, sacrifices and war, and at the end of it all is triumph made all the more worth it for what the heroine goes through. I almost never pre-order books, but I did pre-order book 2, The Crown of Embers (September 18, 2012) and I await it with plenty of impatience.
The Biggest Sparkle for My Romance Buck
Hello, I am a devoted, unapologetic drooling fan of Mayberry’s kind of romance. In other words, the kind of romance that makes my heart skip a beat, my breath catch and, occasionally, my face flush a bit. If I remember correctly, this title was self-published, or maybe just done through a smaller press, whereas her other work is Harlequin represented. I’m not sure what happened that this didn’t get snatched up by Harlequin, but it’s one of the best romance stories I’ve ever read by Mayberry – and it’s really almost a short story in comparison. But for all its short length, it packs a seriously meaty read full of wonderful characters, hot sex and a beautiful, tension-laced romance. It’s a sequel of sorts to Hot Island Nights, but I enjoyed this one more.
Steampunk Sparkle That Keeps On Winning
I’m not going to stop pimping this awesome steampunk series – because book two maintained the awesome just about perfectly. I reviewed the first one last year, and fervently wished more would read these books so I could blather incessantly with them about it all. I still feel that way, wholeheartedly. I think I enjoyed book one a little more than this one, at least at first while reading The Impossible Cube, but it really picked up after the first several chapters and in no time I felt as sucked into the steampunk adventure in it as I was with book one. If you’ve ever felt like steampunk was just another trend people are hopping on, and there’s nothing of quality available as a result (a sentiment I just do not share), I urge you to try this series and see that many of the elements that are becoming common in the genre today can indeed work splendidly. Zombies, airships and mad scientists – oh my yes, please.
That takes care of, pretty much what I read and all-out loved in the first half of 2012. Some of my most notable honorable mentions are:
- A Perfect Blood by Kim Harrison (reviewed here, also 1st time a book in the series not an all-out fave)
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (reviewed here for my Year of the Fantasy Classic challenge)
- Talk Me Down and Start Me Up by Victoria Dahl, hilarious and hot contemporary romances, reviewed here
- The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness, reviewed here
- Flora Segunda by Ysabeau S. Wilce (review coming soon)
No Sparkle at All – The Worst of 2012 So Far
I think my absolute worst reads for the year so far are In Shade and Shadow and Through Stone and Sea by Barb and J.C. Hendee. I talked a little here about why the second installment in what had been one of my most favorite series, the Noble Dead saga, just wasn’t cutting it. In short, these two books are absolutely mind-nunbingly boring and miserable compared to the first set of books in the saga. I’m pretty torn on whether to continue with what is clearly just a cash cow (or herd, rather) for the authors.
What I’m Looking Forward to Sparklfying the Most in the 2nd Half of 2012
(OOPS – I already read this one. Review coming soon. Sorry to be such a tease….but I’m actually not sorry to be a tease. IT IS FABULOUS. One Word – MEOW. Yes, that’s a hint.)
(I LOVED the first book in the series. Will squeal like the addict I am when I lay my hands on this one.)
(Love love love this series.)
(I’m reading the first book, Firelight, currently and am enjoying it so much that I knew I had to have this one as well – AND pre-order book three, Winterblaze, due out next February.)
I’m sure there are PLENTY more books I could list that I want to devour, but that would make this a ridiculously long post, as it’s approaching now. So that’s a wrap for the first half of 2012! Let’s hope things shape up around here, which means a hell of a lot more reading and reviewing.