Booking Through Thursday

Booking Through Thursday is a meme created at the blog of the same name that poses a different question about reading each week.

This week’s questions is: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Who and what about them did you love?

A more apt question would be, “Is there any fictional character that you haven’t fallen in love with?”

But for the sake for brevity, I’ll list some of my all-time favorites.

Jane and Rochester- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

Jane and Rochester are my first and greatest literary love affair. They complement each other so well, and the growth of their improbable friendship into something even more improbable takes my breath away every time.

Daemon, Saetan, and Lucivar- Black Jewels series by Anne Bishop

These three men stole my heart from the first. They are unbearably charming when they’re with each of their respective women, but they truly shine when they are together in their hilarious family dynamics.

Gen-The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

Few times have I been more proud of a character than I have of Eugenides. Among the many things he has stolen during his career, not the least of which is mine and many other readers’ hearts.

Poe- Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

I love Amy and Poe because they enhance each other without detracting from their own separate identities.

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’s theme is: Top Ten Books I’d Quickly Save If My House Was Going To Be Abducted By Aliens

The following are but a sampling of my favorite books, because it would be impossible for me to pick only ten to save. I’m sure there are many that should be included yet that eluded my mind for the time being.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

2. The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

3. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

4. I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

5. The China Garden by Liz Berry

6. The Pride of the Peacock by Victoria Holt

7. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

9. Society Girl Series by Diana Peterfreund

10. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

“Waiting On” Wednesday

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a meme created at Breaking the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases that we can’t wait to read.

This week I’m skeptically interested in For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund.

Here’s the summary, taken from Goodreads:

Generations ago, a genetic experiment gone wrong—the Reduction—

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

decimated humanity, giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Eighteen-year-old Luddite Elliot North has always known her place in this caste system. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. But now the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress and threatening Luddite control; Elliot’s estate is floundering; and she’s forced to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth—an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliott wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she abandoned him.

But Elliot soon discovers her childhood friend carries a secret—-one that could change the society in which they live…or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she has lost him forever.

Inspired by Jane Austen’s PERSUASION, FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.

I know I’ll probably regret seeking this book out, as adaptations of classics rarely turn out well, but the combination of Diana Peterfreund, young adult dystopian, and Jane Austen’s Persuasion is too incongruous to ignore.

This title is released on June 12, 2012.

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’s theme is: Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2011

1. The Black Jewels Trilogy by Anne Bishop

There are two series that have shown up consistently on every favorites list since I started blogging. The Black Jewels Trilogy is one of them. Bishop’s world might be dark, convoluted, twisted, and heavy-handed, but it’s engrossing nonetheless. I adore Daemon, Saetan, and Lucivar, with their family dynamic that was both hilarious and heartbreaking at times.

2. Fever series by Karen Marie Moning

The second perpetual resident of my favorites lists, Moning’s Fever series was nothing like I expected it to be. I had avoided it for years, having heard it was very much angst with very little joy to be had for the heroine. Thankfully, I decided to ignore those reviewers this year, and was immediately swept away into Mac’s world of fae-infested Dublin. In a year of great character discoveries, Barrons is definitely one of my favorites.

3. Blackout by Rob Thurman

I’ve been following Thurman’s Cal Leandros series for years, yet for some reason, I always manage to forget just how great it is before reading a new installment. Blackout likely cured me of that habit for good, for as great as the series had been until this point, the sixth book is her best by far. Blackout is like a love letter to fans who have stuck it out since the beginning. I won’t explain how that’s the case for fear of revealing too much, since the reward lies in piecing together each bit on your own.

4. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

It was with reluctance that I purchased this book at the start of the year. Everything about it seemed too young to resonate with me: the inane title, the saccharine cover, even the description failed to truly appeal to me. Yet it was receiving such rave reviews that I knew there had to be something deeper lying beneath the surface. What I found was one of the most charming, realistic, and sympathetic love stories I’ve read. Anna and the French Kiss captures utterly what it is like to be in the beginning stages of crushing, friendship, and love. Its characters aren’t perfect, but Anna is such a relatable and likable narrator that your devotions and hope never sway.

5. Hunt the Moon by Karen Chance

I believed that I had given up on the Cassie Palmer series, having read and been slightly annoyed by Cassie’s incessant whining in Curse the Dawn. While Cassie’s relationship with Mercea was interesting at the start, I didn’t really care for the direction it was going in, and Cassie herself wasn’t compelling enough as a heroine for me to stick with her story. Yet after several years’ hiatus, the series returned this summer with Hunt the Moon, and the excellent reviews prompted me to pick it up despite myself. The fifth installment returned to the action-packed, high-speed storytelling of the first novels, yet for once Cassie seemed confident and competent. She still did her fair share of whining, but it no longer came across as petulant. Shockingly, as I became engrossed in the story, I realized a faux pas of my own that I rarely make, yet that will affect how I view the series going forward. It’s not often that I jump on the wrong ship at the start, but suffice it to say my affections have shifted, and having reread the series with that perspective in mind, I’m now fully on board.

6. Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

This series is so far outside my comfort zone that I expected to set it down within the first twenty pages. I care nothing for chick lit, especially when the heroine is a rather self-absorbed, promiscuous college student being sucked into the underbelly of secret society life. Yet while I never managed to warm up to Amy fully, I fell in love with the camaraderie she shared with her fellow Diggers and with the unusual courtship she shares with one particular Rose and Grave member.

7. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

Despite my love of romance, I tended to stay away from pure romance novels, particularly contemporaries. Yet this title showed up so frequently on Best Of lists that I had to give it a try. Bet Me wound up being a rare one indeed, one in which I was consistently surprised yet never disappointed. I hugged it when I finished, which is a rare honor.

8. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

I made it halfway through Shiver in college before putting it down, having determined that the instalove romance was nice yet not intriguing enough to take time away from the other books in my TBR pile. After winning a copy of Forever this summer, I decided to give the series one more chance, and while I had the same initial impressions, by the end of the book, I realized that Stiefvater’s lovely writing and the conviction with which she writes Sam and Grace’s relationship elevates this series above its peers despite its questionable premise.

9. The Piper’s Son by Melina Marchetta

After months of searching for this title, I finally found an arc for a dollar in a thrift store. While I hadn’t read Saving Francesca in a while, I remembered having liked Tom’s character in the previous novel and was interested to see how Will and Francesca were faring. As with every Marchetta novel, I was captivated by the storytelling, yet The Piper’s Son took me to a place that Saving Francesca only hinted at. I’m confident that adults and teens alike can enjoy Marchetta’s novels, yet this was the first that I felt really deserved a spot in the general fiction section. Tom’s story is frustrating, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, yet it wrings your emotions out several times before it achieves its ultimate goal.

10. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

While reading this series, I knew I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t sure whether I found it merely entertaining or compulsively readable; since I rarely start a book without finishing it in the same day, I wasn’t able to set it down and answer that question. It wasn’t until I had completed the third book in this series that I realized how brilliant it is. As Turner follows Gen through triumph and tragedy, she shifts perspective in each novel so that, even with Gen as the narrator, no one is ever as they seem. Thus, even those revelations guessed ahead of time taste all the sweeter.

 Honorable Mentions

Ravished by Amanda Quick, When Beauty Tamed the Beast by Eloisa James, and The Proposition by Judith Ivory

I read at least a dozen Beauty and the Beast-inspired novels this year, and of them all, these three were my favorites.

What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

A quick, easy read, this novel written in verse tells one of the sweetest love stories I read this year. Unfortunately, you have to wade through quite a bit of teen melodrama to get there, but the payoff is worth it.

The Curseworkers series by Holly Black

White Cat and Red Glove are the first two in a trilogy of young adult urban fantasy novels that introduce a world unlike anything I’ve read in the genre before. Throw in a male narrator reminiscent of Cal Leandros, and my love for this series is sealed.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

This young adult book about love and loss managed to take multiple tropes that I despise and work them is such a way that I loved the story and the characters anyway.

One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire

Every book in the Toby Daye series is golden, and the latest upped the game in such a way that my expectations for Ashes of Honor are ridiculously high.

Aftermath by Ann Aguirre

This penultimate book in the Sirantha Jax series was hard to read, yet it cemented my dedication to the characters. Sirantha has displayed one of the most pronounced character developments in any series that I’ve read, and while her ending has no guarantee of happiness, I have no doubt that Aguirre will give these great characters a worthy finale.

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’s theme is: Top Ten Books I Read Because Of Another Blogger (In honor of BBAW!)

Touched by an Alien by Gini Koch

Honestly, I read so many blogs that I’ve lost track of where any of my book recommendations have come from. And since blogs are one of my main sources for researching new reads (along with goodreads and, occasionally, Amazon) there are few books on my shelves that I didn’t read at least in part because a fellow blogger had sung its praises.

1. Divergent by Veronica Roth

2. Kitty Katt series by Gini Koch

3. The Vampire Empire series by Clay and Susan Griffith

Naked in Death by J.D. Robb

4. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

5. Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie

6. In Death series by J.D. Robb

7. Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

8. What My Mother Doesn’t Know by Sonya Sones

9. The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner

10. The Wolves of Mercy Falls series by Maggie Stiefvater

Musing Mondays

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

This week’s question is: Who do you think is the hottest male/female character from a book?

I was never going to be able to answer this question. Asking me to single out a particular book or characters is so unfair, and the fact is I can’t. There are aspects to every book on my shelves that I adore, and rarely will any one aspect trump all the others. So I decided to try to pick a favorite male character from several different genres. Well, that didn’t work. Then I decided to be reasonable and pick a top ten.

As you can see, that didn’t quite work out either, so instead you get a top eleven of the hottest literary men.

1/2/3/4/5. Daemon Sadi from Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy;

Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series;

Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews

Tybalt from Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye series;

Bones from Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress series;

Curran from Ilona Andrews’s Kate Daniels series

These five guys are always going to tie for me. Much as I love all five series equally and could never pick a favorite, their male protagonists will perpetually vie for the hotness award and none will win, because they are all fabulous in their own right.

6. Rochester from Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre

Rochester has made me swoon since I was ten. His constant awareness of Jane, the many times he almost lets it slip and must leave the room before he is overcome, he easy rapport and respect for her all help to make him my favorite hero of the classics.

7. Poe from Diana Peterfreund’s Society Girl series

Poe is not an easy character to like- at first. For every inroads he makes, he takes it upon

Secret Society Girl by Diana Peterfreund

himself to take two giant leaps backwards. Yet in his dogged persistence in staying true to himself while nonetheless allowing Amy to help him grow makes his eventual attempts to win her all the better.

8. Cal from Jennifer Crusie’s Bet Me

Cal and Min are one of my favorite couples. Both are unerringly stubborn, so neither wants to admit the affect each has on the other. So the moment when Cal looks at Min and thinks “Look at me that way,” the reader is hooked.

9. Judd from Nalini Singh’s Caressed by Ice

I have always been partial to the Psy in Singh’s series over the Changelings, and Judd remains my favorite. He may not ever be able to throw off Silence completely, but he surrenders himself in learning to express himself to Brenna.

10. Robin from Sonya Sones’s Things My Mother Doesn’t Know

Anyone who has read this book might be surprised to see Robin on my list of hottest males.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater

But honestly, amidst all of the alpha-types that perpetuate in the romantic genres (and seem to take up most spots on my list as well), Robin is closer to what I would actually look for in a

man. What women doesn’t want to fall in love with a best friend, one whose beauty is gradually revealed and whose presence evokes calm and butterflies at the same time?

11. Sam from Maggie Stiefvater’s Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy

Likewise, Sam is similar to the type of man I would actually want as a constant presence. Granted, the quiet musician type has never really been my thing, and a poetry-reading one at that pushes the boundaries of cliche, but his shyness and warmth still attracts me.

Review: Secret Society Girl series by Diana Peterfreund

I’ve never been a particularly social person. My college years passed me by without my ever joining a club or entering a sorority, and I largely preferred it that way. Thus, though I had heard nothing but positive reviews about Diana Peterfreund’s Secret Society Girl series, I doubted it would be something I could relate to. After finishing the first book, Secret Society Girl, I still had my doubts, as I had a hard time connecting with protagonist Amy. Though Amy is billed as being impressive in looks, brains, and social skills, I wasn’t sold. Sure, she has three guys vying for her (who doesn’t?), but the decisions she makes regarding school, friends, and men are usually misguided and often immature. Also, while she is a literature major and editor of the literary magazine who can supposedly out-reference the best of them, more often than not her inner monologue sounds like that of a middle schooler.

Still, I decided to read on, and while Amy manages to mature a little bit as the series goes on, I never completely embraced her as someone I could identify with. Which only increased my surprise in how voraciously I devoured the remaining three books in the series. I’ve never been in anything remotely like Rose and Grave, nor do I really wish to, and yet I found myself engrossed in the accounts of the trials that the club endures. I think this was mainly due to the friendships that are forged among the club members as the series progresses. While none of the Diggers would naturally have befriended each other if left to their own devices, and in fact struggle to harmonize their oft-clashing temperaments, the necessity of working together makes them into a family by the end. While I have no desire to run out and join a secret society
any time soon, I can’t help but be a tad bit jealous of the dynamic that the characters share by Tap & Gown‘s conclusion.

And of course, one of the most rewarding aspects of reading the series was to watch Amy’s gradual change in feelings toward a fellow Digger alum. With two such diverging personalities and so much water under the bridge between them, Amy and Poe have to fight merely to act cordially half the time. Nothing is picture perfect in their relationship, which is what makes them perfect for each other. They force the other not to change, but to grow.

This series came as a huge surprise to me, shoving its way onto my favorites shelf in merely two days. Even if it’s outside your comfort zone, give it a try.