Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday is a meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish that allows us to list our top ten answers to a different question each week.

This week is a freebie week, and I’ve decided to do: Top Ten Books That Made Me Cry

Disclaimer: I am not proud of my reaction to many of the following books. Procede your own risk (well, really, it’s a risk to my credibility as a blogger, but regardless…).

1. The Host by Stephanie Meyer
I’m not a hardcore Twilight hater. I’ll admit, I have the books, and while they don’t tend to make their way into my reread pile, I probably won’t discard them anytime soon (all flaws and abusive relationship portrayals aside). The same goes for the movie (though luckily, I have enough pride to have limited myself to owning only the first, and that’s because it’s hilarious[ly bad]). However, I actually think The Host is rather underrated. Meyer will never be a literary author, but after slogging through the first two-hundred pages, I was shocked to find myself tearing through this. And when I reached the end, I was sobbing: big, heaving, ugly sobs. I’m not saying it’s great literature, but give it a chance; it might surprise you.
2. A Walk to Remember by Nicholas Sparks
All kidding aside, Sparks isn’t an author who usually makes it onto my TBR list. However, I hold a special place in my heart and on my bookshelf for this one title. I’m not quite sure why, because I really don’t like Jamie very much, but Landon gets to me every time. The setting (unlike the movie, the book is set in the 1950s) also really works for me. I like that Sparks left the ending of the book purposefully ambiguous, because otherwise I would be an utter wreck whenever I finished this one.
3. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta
This book gutted me, utterly. It remains my favorite Marchetta title, and Tom is my absolute favorite of her characters. The intertwining of his troubles with those of his family is painfully raw, and though he manages to come out in a positive place, the journey is excruciating at times.
4. If I Stay by Gayle Forman
I wasn’t a huge fan of Forman’s If I Stay duology, but I have to admit that the first book did have me teary-eyed at times. It was more of a mist than a full cry, but it gets credit nonetheless.
5. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
The Time Traveler’s Wife ruined me for all other books for months. I still haven’t gotten over the beautiful tragedy of Claire and Henry’s romance, and I doubt I ever will. This is one title that, as much as I loved it, I haven’t been able to reread since my first experience because I just can’t bear putting myself through the pain a second time.
6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Alright, I admit it. For as much as I’ve ragged on Rowling’s writing in the past, this last one got to me. I believe that Fred’s death was what did me in (same goes for the movie the first couple of times I saw it). And for those who haven’t yet read or watched Harry Potter…whoops.
7. Lover Awakened/Lover Mine by J.R. Ward
These two are by far my favorite installments in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. After a dubious start with Dark Lover, Ward managed to create a world and characters so dynamic that my heart beats alongside theirs despite the more ridiculous elements of the stories (slang and product-placement being among its foremost flaws). Zsadist and Bella, John Matthew and Xhex: my favorite couple is a toss-up on any given day. Of course, that’s not including Qhuinn and Blay, the conclusion to whose story we will finally be getting next year.
8. A Separate Peace by John Knowles
This book nearly collided with a wall. When I think of reading experiences in which I became fully immersed in the story, to the point where the outside world ceased to exist, this one usually to comes to mind. The last few pages threatened to shatter the delicate thread of emotion that had built up within my seventh-grade heart throughout the day.
9. The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
I read spoilers. I read the last page of a book before I buy it. I knew what I was getting into. That didn’t make the inevitable any less severe. I fell in love despite myself, knowing all along that my heart would get broken, and even so, I’m already looking forward to my next reread.
That’s all she wrote for this week. My choices are a bit unconventional, to say the least. What can I say; I’m a hardened cynic except for when I’m not, and that’s usually at unexpected times. Are there any books that are guaranteed tear-jerkers that I’ve omitted?

Title and Cover Release: Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

Earlier last week, J.R. Ward teased fans that we should be expecting an exciting reveal soon. Well, this morning she delivered on her promise, revealing not only the title of the next book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series, but the cover as well!

Fans have been clamoring for Qhuinn and Blay to have their story elevated from a sideplot for years now. Last year, Ward stated that she believed her publishers would allow her to tell Qhuay’s story in a novella. Then, late last year, Ward hinted that she had huge news to reveal at the signing for Lover Reborn. Qhuay fans rejoiced and crossed our fingers that our wishes had actually been granted, and in March of this year our waiting finally paid off as we received the news that the next full-length installment in the BDB series would in fact be Qhuay’s story.

Lover At Last by J.R. Ward

Lover At Last, indeed, as this story has been fueling the series slowly on the sidelines since Lover Unbound was released back in 2007. Not only am I very pleased with the final title selection for Qhuay’s novel, but the cover is nearly perfect. I love how Qhuinn is depicted quite differently than the rest of the Brothers who have come before him; that sweatshirt hood really works wonders to set him apart. And it definitely is Qhuinn, based on those electric blue and green eyes. My only regret is that the publishers didn’t push the envelope that last inch and let Blay grace the cover alongside his partner, but if only one character could get the cover spotlight, I’m glad they chose Qhuinn. Though I love both characters, I’ve found Qhuinn’s development over the last few books to be the more dynamic of the two and, if indications from Lover Reborn play out the way I expect them to, then Qhuinn will soon be inducted as the newest member of the Brotherhood, so it’s only fitting that it’s him on the cover.

What do you guys think? Has the wait been worth it? Are you happy with the title and cover, or would you have gone in a different direction? And most importantly, is everyone as anxious for March 2013 to get here as I am?

Musing Mondays

Musing Mondays is a meme started over on Should Be Reading that presents a different literary-themed question every week.

Lover Reborn by J.R. Ward

This week’s question is: What are you most excited about reading, right now? (can be a book you’re currently enjoying, or a book that’s yet to be published, etc.)

Thanks to J.R. Ward’s facebook update last week, I’ve gotten my hopes up for the possibility that all BDB fans wish would happen. According to the Warden, she has found out who the next book (after Tohr’s) will focus on, and she claims that her publishers rock. Putting two and two together, many fans are speculating that this means our dreams are coming true in the form of an entire book devoted to Qhuinn and Blay. Given how excited we all were when we learned of the likelihood of a mere novella, this news has many of us through the roof, even though nothing is confirmed yet. As it is, I’m hoping there’s some major progress made to the Qhuay storyline in Lover Reborn, which comes out on March 27, 2012.

And then what happened?

As more and more authors are choosing to tell their stories in series format, forcing readers to buy eight or ten books to see how their favorite characters ultimately fare, it is particularly disappointing to read a book that begs for a sequel only to find out that it is a standalone.

These are the books that I would love to see the author revisit, if only once more.

1. Sunshine by Robin McKinley

McKinley’s take on vampires proved to be one of the more interesting versions in recent urban fantasy literature, yet the ending to her tale was disappointingly vague. As in, there really wasn’t one. Fans have been clamoring for a resolution to Sunshine and Con’s story for years, but not only does McKinley not intend to write a sequel, she has also made it known that she does not allow fanfiction to be posted for her writing. Her stance has left many readers such as myself dissatisfied, forced to write our own version of an ending that is destined never to be shared with other fans.

2. Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan 

I’m really fine with how the story wound up for the two main characters. But I want to know how Levithan could introduce readers to a character as brilliant as Infinite Darlene without giving us more. Infinite Darlene deserves her own book. I’m looking at you, Mr. Levithan.

3. Salt and Silver by Anna Katherine

This was a Waldenbooks store-closing find that I snagged for two bucks. I had never heard of it, but was grabbing anything I could get my hands on. This little-known novel wound up being one of my favorite reads of the year in 2010. A protagonist with a sympathetic voice, a unique spin on the supernatural, a hot romance that begs for further development, and some truly terrifying scenes that had my skin crawling at points- this one had it all, and upon turning the last page I eagerly went to the author’s website only to find that a sequel seems to
be doubtful. I hope Katherine revisits this world soon.

4. Clockwork Heart by Dru Pagliasotti

Of all the novels I read in my steampunk phase last year, this one stands out as my favorite. The writing has a lyrical quality that makes the descriptions of Ondinium all the more vibrant. Taya is a strong heroine, and the relationships she forges continually surprised me and drew me in. Though a sequel is supposedly in the works, no word yet on when it will be released, so I’m hoping that I can remove this one from the list sometime in the near future.

5. Story of Son by J.R. Ward

While Zsadist and John Matthew remain my favorite men of the Black Dagger Brotherhood universe, Michael comes in a close third, which is no small feat considering the fact that his story spans less than a hundred pages in the Dead Until Dark anthology. Ward’s contribution was sultry, sympathetic, and made me yearn to see Michael finally learn to embrace his dormant strength. Ward has hinted that we might see Michael pop up again in the future, and I hope she follows through on this intimation, because I think he would make a wonderful
addition to the BDB cast.

What books are you craving a sequel for?

Author Extras: It’s not over just because you’ve turned the last page.

Whether you’ve finished reading the entire series or are simply waiting for the release of the next installment, authors’ websites often offer wonderful features, including extra stories starring beloved characters, that help to fill in gaps and tide you over til the next dose hits the shelves. Here are some that I’ve come across in my travels.

photo courtesy of Carolyn Crane

Carolyn Crane often guest-authors posts featuring character interviews and other goodies, including what you can expect to find in a Disillusionist’s closet, what does a Disillusionist carry around?, an interview with Packard, the Disillusionists discussing urban legends, an interview with Shelby, and Disillusionist trading cards.

Karen Marie Moning has interviews with Jericho Barrons and Dageus MacKeltar, among others. Also check out her facebook fanpage for a very special scene written from one Jericho Barrons’ POV.

Jeaniene Frost posts deleted scenes from her Night Huntress series.

Dianne Sylvan has extras including a deleted epilogue from Queen of Shadows and an interview with the cast.

Diane Peterfreund has posted short stories set during the course of the Secret Society Girl series.

Jackie Kessler offers Jezebel, the protagonist of her Hell on Earth series, the chance to host her own radio show.

Marjorie Liu has character profiles for her Dirk & Steele series, as well as deleted scenes.

Jeri Smith-Ready posts tie-in stories for her Shade, WVMP Radio, and Aspects of Crow series.

Larissa Ione has short stories focused on each of the couples in her Demonica series, set after the events of the books as well as The Demonica Compendium to help keep track of demon species and more.

Jocelynn Drake has multiple deleted scenes for her Dark Days series.

Kelley Armstrong has written a ton of free short stories set in her Otherworld universe, featuring both main characters as well as those who don’t get much airtime in the novels.

Karen Chance has posted some free short stories featuring characters from her Cassie Palmer series as well as a gallery of characters.

photo courtesy of Gail Carriger

Erin Kellison has an awesome interactive website for the Segue Institute. Poke around, play some games (hinthint) for a great surprise.

Gail Carriger offers tons of tidbits for her Parasol Protectorate series, including character studies and an interactive dress-up Alexa.

J.R. Ward posts short snippets featuring the Brothers as well as deleted scenes from her BDB and Fallen Angels books.

Rob Thurman has a great character gallery for her Cal Leandros series and a deleted scene from Madhouse.

Maria V. Snyder has posted three short stories featuring characters from her Study series, as well as a few others.

Seanan McGuire posts snippets starring characters from her Toby Daye series, as well as comic strips.

Keri Arthur has a Quinn and Riley short story.

Rachel Caine offers free short stories set in her Weather Wardens universe.

Stacia Kane has deleted scenes from her Downside series.

Stephanie Meyer has outtakes posted for Twilight and New Moon, as well as extras for New Moon, and the partial draft of Midnight Sun.

Lilith Saintcrow has a free serial novella starring Selene from her Dante Valentine series.

Ann Aguirre has free shorts featuring March and Vel from her Sirantha Jax series.

Ilona Andrews often posts snippets. Also check out the sidebar for a free Kate tweet short

photo courtesy of Ilona Andrews

story and Curran shorts.

Nalini Singh has deleted scenes and short stories set in her Psy-Changeling world as well as interview with Elena and Michael from her Guild Hunter series.

Kalayna Price has posted a deleted scene from her novel Once Bitten.

Nancy A. Collins has a wonderful website that takes you on a virtual tour through the world of her Golgotham series.

Meljean Brook has posted trading cards from her Iron Seas and Guardians series, as well as a deleted scene from Demon Moon.

Melissa Marr has posted extras from her Wicked Lovely series including deleted and retold scenes.

Beth Fantaskey posted a novella set after the events of Jessica’s Guide to Dating on the Dark Side.

Kevin Hearne posted a free short story set before the events of his Iron Druid series.

Jenna Black has a free short story prequel to her Fairiewalker series.

Elizabeth Hoyt has interviews with and articles written by some of her characters, along with some other goodies.

Amy Plum has extras for her novel Die for Me including a scene from Vincent’s POV and a deleted prologue.

Chloe Neill has extras for her Chicagoland Vampires series including virtual tours of Chicago and character casts.

photo courtesy of Leanna Renee Hieber

Leanna Renee Hieber has some free reads and deleted scenes set in her Percy Parker world.

Linnea Sinclair has posted a prologue and deleted scenes for Games of Command.

Liz Berry has posted photos to recreate a virtual tour of Ravensmere from The China Garden.

Becca Fitzpatrick has outtakes to Hush, Hush.

Sarah Rees Brennan has short stories set in her Demon’s Lexicon series.

Eileen Wilks has extras from her World of the Lupi series, including a deleted scene from Night Season and a short story starring Cynna.

Kat Richardson has a short story starring Harper from her Greywalker series.

C.E. Murphy has a short story from her Walker Papers series.

Jaye Wells has short stories from her Sabina Kane series.

Shiloh Walker has a free short story from her Grimm series.

Anya Bast posted a free short story from her Elemental Witches series.

Jaime Rush has a prestory and deleted scene for her novel A Perfect Darkness, the first of her Offspring series.

Katie MacAlister posts free short stories from her Dark Ones series, among others.

Stephanie Perkins posted a bonus scene from Anna and the French Kiss.

Holly Black wrote a series of interchangeable vignettes from the point of view of Lila from her Curse Workers series.

These links represent many of my favorite authors, but they’re not the only ones! There are tons more great authors out there, so if you come across any special features that you want to share, just shoot me a link and I’ll be happy to add it to the list. I’m also creating a page to keep track of author extras, which will be updated whenever I come across new ones, so check back!