Top Ten Books I read in 2013

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This feature is hosted by the ladies of The Broke and the Bookish

This was an interesting year for me. I started this blog in April and since then, I’ve found some simply amazing books of all different genres. Books that I probably wouldn’t have found if I wasn’t blogging.

So here goes my list…

It should shock no one that I am putting The Program by Suzanne Young on here. Every single time I’ve been asked for my favorite book of the year, The Program has been my immediate answer. The feels are all there and the character development is amazing. Go read it right now if you haven’t already.
Splintered by A.G. Howard quickly became a new favorite of mine. I had never read retellings before but it looked amazing. So when I got it as a Christmas present, I dove right in. And I loved it. It was absolute perfection.
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi was a surprise to me. I had no idea how much I would like and yes even love this one.This one was an unexpected and happy surprise.

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu had the power to be amazing or be terrible and it was amazing. It was awesome to see the characterization of OCD done right and not understated or overstated.
If You Find Me was an amazing debut and it had me pondering my own life and being thankful for the people in it. It also had me pondering the idea of sending Emily Murdoch my therapy bill.It broke me in the best possible way.
Oh how I love books about cults. Gated by Amy Christine Parker was awesome and I loved it big time.It brought out the feels in me a lot towards the end. Yet I totally understand that it’s not a book for everyone.

Pushing The Limits by Katie McGarry actually came out in 2012, but since this is a list of books I’ve read in 2013, I figured it’s okay to put Pushing the Limits on this list. Um, this book was amazing, beautiful and full of feels. Go read this one if you haven’t already.
The Sea Of Tranquility also came out in 2012, but I just recently read it so it made it’s way onto the list.Amazing book, yet another one that broke me into teeny tiny pieces by the time it was the end of the book. I teased the lovely Katja Millay that I was going to send her my therapy bill. I am stunned that it took me this long to read this book.
Uninvited by Sophie Jordan doesn’t come out until the beginning of 2014, but I did read it this year so it also gets to be on this list.It was awesome and different and heartbreaking. Go pre-order this book right now.

Pivot Point by Kasie West was awesome and beautiful and amazing. After only reading one of Kasie West’s books, she has cemented herself on my list of auto-buy authors.Pivot Point was beautifully written and it had one of the best friendships I’ve ever seen in Addie & Laila.Go read this book right now and get ready for Split Second.

All of these authors were actually new to me. That’s been another perk of book blogging. I’ve been introduced to hordes of new authors.Looking at my list, over half of them were contemporaries.Of the other 4, one was fantasy,one was paranormal,one was science fiction and one was dystopian.

So let me know if you’ve read any of these and if you did a Top Ten list this week, link me to that as well. See you guys next year!

Happy New Year!

Splintered (Splintered #1) by A.G. Howard

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Book Title: Splintered (Splintered #1)
Author: A.G. Howard
Release Date: January 1st, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Series: Book 1 in Splintered series
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleBook Depository 
Synopsis from Goodreads:
This stunning debut captures the grotesque madness of a mystical under-land, as well as a girl’s pangs of first love and independence. Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice Liddell, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together. For now.

When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her gorgeous best friend and secret crush, or the sexy but suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me as a Christmas present.

Review:
As a child I never really liked the Lewis Carroll version of Alice in Wonderland. Nor did I like the Disney version. However, Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland was dark, mysterious and intriguing. I went back to the Lewis Carroll version and to the Disney version as an adult and this time, I loved the magic that was in it.

Imagine, if you will, that Lewis Carroll and Tim Burton made a baby. That baby is Splintered. A.G. Howard managed to keep the magic of the story that Lewis Carroll first told children and mixed it in with the dark and zany qualities of Tim Burton’s version.

Yet, despite the similarities to both Lewis Carroll’s version and Tim Burton’s version, A.G. Howard still manages to write an amazing story with her own imagination. I am normally a pretty fast reader, but this took my speed reading abilities to new heights. I had to know what was going to happen and when. So I had a really hard time putting the book down at any point.

The writing was absolutely gorgeous and if writing could be swoon-worthy, this writing would be.A.G. Howard managed to create a beautiful and mysterious Wonderland through her writing.  The text was in purple which I thought was awesome, It still was readable but it brought in yet another magical element to the story. I cannot gush about the cover enough. I have a serious cover crush right now. The pictures absolutely do not do this book cover justice.

I loved that this book was so character driven. From Alyssa to her dad, to her mom and then of course to Jeb & Morpheus.Most of the people I’ve spoken to are Team Morpheus. I wish I could say definitively which team I am on but I can’t. Because I love both Jeb and Morpheus. Jeb for his loyalty and devotion to Alyssa and Morpheus because he’s quite funny despite being somewhat deceptive.

I just can’t get over how much I loved this book. It was amazing and I need to read Unhinged, right now.I am so anxious to find out what the future holds for Alyssa and her family as well as Jeb & Morpheus.It should shock no one that I am giving this book 5 stars.

Stacking the Shelves #24

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This feature is hosted by Tynga’s Reviews

Hey everyone, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas spent with loved ones. I had a great Christmas this year. I ended up getting only one book from my wishlist this year but that’s okay.Today is actually my birthday so I’ll be celebrating with my family later on this afternoon. Hoping for more books or at least gift cards so I can go book shopping.
I did get Splintered from my grandmother and I finished it in a day. My review for that one will be posted tomorrow. My grandmother also got me a Harry Potter mug that I wanted. So YAY for a new coffee mug. The surprises kept coming when it turned out to be my mom who bought me the complete Harry Potter boxed set! Eeeeek,now those will definitely be staying IN the packaging.
There was a flash giveaway on Twitter a couple of days before Christmas and that package arrived Friday night. There was a ton of swag in there so I was really excited. I wanted to get a really cool artsy pic together to show all the swag items but that didn’t happen.
But anyway, on to the fun stuff. The goodies.
Bought
Received For Review
Gifted

Harry Potter by J.K.Rowling (Boxed Set)

Harry Potter Mauraders Map Mug

Won

Swag from Britta
Includes 2 tote bags
Two temporary tattoos
One CD
Pins
Keychains
Bookmarks
All sorts of other things as well.

So I definitely want to know if you have read Splintered and maybe even some of the highlights of your Christmas (if you celebrated it of course) Definitely leave me links to your Stacking the Shelves posts/vlogs so I can make sure to stop by.

Review: Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott

Book Title: Heartbeat
Author: Elizabeth Scott
Publish Date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA/Contemporary
Standalone
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble
Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Life. Death. And…Love?

Emma would give anything to talk to her mother one last time. Tell her about her slipping grades, her anger with her stepfather, and the boy with the bad reputation who might be the only one Emma can be herself with.

But Emma can’t tell her mother anything. Because her mother is brain-dead and being kept alive by machines for the baby growing inside her.

Meeting bad-boy Caleb Harrison wouldn’t have interested Old Emma. But New Emma-the one who exists in a fog of grief, who no longer cares about school, whose only social outlet is her best friend Olivia-New Emma is startled by the connection she and Caleb forge.

Feeling her own heart beat again wakes Emma from the grief that has grayed her existence. Is there hope for life after death-and maybe, for love?

Disclaimer: I received this book from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:
Grief manifests itself in so many ways, and sometimes it’s hard to feel pity for someone who uses their grief as an excuse to treat people like crap. There is no reason to treat people like crap. 

That was my biggest issue with Emma. She’s grieving the loss of her mother to the point where she treats her stepfather like crap.He’s clearly hurting as well but Emma doesn’t see it. All she sees is the decision to keep her mom on life support until it’s safe for her baby brother to be born. She doesn’t even consider the probability that her stepfather and her mother had already had that “what if” conversation.

I get it. I get feeling like no one else knows her mother like she does. I feel the same way about my own mother. But  what I don’t understand is why she is so angry at Dan. He didn’t kill her mother. Yet Emma blames him completely for it.

Emma was horribly selfish all the way through the book and it frustrated me to no end.I felt worse for Dan actually. He was trying to talk to her. He was hurting and he was scared for the baby.Yet Emma turned a deaf ear to him. He was the only family she had nearby and he still loved her and needed her in his life. Emma was so angry that she didn’t see it.

The thing with Caleb was weird too. I didn’t buy that they could be in love by the end of the book. That was a relationship formed out of convenience. Caleb and Emma understood each other, but a couple has to have more than just a shared experience of watching someone they love die.While a truamautic experience can and often does change people, this was just too much. She didn’t even know Caleb before her mother died and suddenly just because she dies, Emma notices him? Yeah, call me skeptical, but that’s not how it works.

The only portion I liked was the bit with Dan about 3/4’s of the way through it. Emma finally got all her feelings out and Dan was allowed to get his out too. However, I don’t think the instant forgiveness thing worked here.Given how angry Emma was throughout the book, it’s just not plausible that she’s suddenly not angry with Dan for his decision. 

The premise was good and I was super excited for it. However the execution of it fell flat. The only character I actually liked was Dan, the rest of them were boring and obnoxious.Editing-wise the book was great.This book will be getting 2 stars. I didn’t enjoy this one all that much.

Top Picks of 2013

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So I know I already took part in this for another blog, but I also wanted to make a best of post for my own blog. So look at my choices for books that were published & that I read this year. In the comment section, let me know what you think of my choices.

Best debut novel(s)
OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu was in my opinion one of the best debut novels. It was written wonderfully and the characterization of OCD and it’s variables was quite accurate.Splintered was also one of the best debut novels. It was definitely a “dark” book but so, SO good.
Best start of series
The Program by Suzanne Young. I adored this book more than I ever expected to. It was beautifully written and the characters were amazing.
Best series finale/ Continuation.
So I haven’t read any series finales this year so I decided to pick the best 2nd book in a series. For that, I go with Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi. It was amazing and left me desperate for the final book in the trilogy.
Best standalone
There are not enough words in my vocabulary to accurately describe my love for If You Find Me. It was beautifully written and the characters were wonderful and enjoyable. It had all of those feelings that are so important to the enjoyment of the book.
Best unexpected favorite
My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi. It was one of my favorite YA contemporaries of the year. I bought this one after a friend recommended it to me. I had no clue how much I would love it.
Best all around
The Program by Suzanne Young. I had heard some iffy things about it prior to purchasing it but I went ahead in purchased it anyway. It had romance, action and all the feels that a reader could ever want.
Most anticipated 2014 book
My most anticipated 2014 book is definitely Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi. I am dying to see what happens to all of the characters.
Cover Love
The cover of Splintered is absolutely gorgeous. I drooled over the cover for ages after I unwrapped it on Christmas morning. The pictures absolutely do not do it justice.

Review: Uninvited (Uninvited #1) by Sophie Jordan

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Book Title: Uninvited (Uninvited #1)
Author: Sophie Jordan
Release Date: January 28th, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA/SciFi
Series: Book one in Uninvited duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Pre-Order Links: AmazonBarnes & Noble, Book Depository 
Synopsis from Goodreads:
The Scarlet Letter meets Minority Report in bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s chilling new novel about a teenage girl who is ostracized when her genetic test proves she’s destined to become a murderer.

When Davy Hamilton’s tests come back positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome (HTS)-aka the kill gene-she loses everything. Her boyfriend ditches her, her parents are scared of her, and she can forget about her bright future at Juilliard. Davy doesn’t feel any different, but genes don’t lie. One day she will kill someone.

Only Sean, a fellow HTS carrier, can relate to her new life. Davy wants to trust him; maybe he’s not as dangerous as he seems. Or maybe Davy is just as deadly.

The first in a two-book series, Uninvited tackles intriguing questions about free will, identity, and human nature. Steeped in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s trademark mix of gripping action and breathless romance, this suspenseful tale is perfect for fans of James Patterson, Michelle Hodkin, and Lisa McMann.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

Review:
Oh man, I really, REALLY liked this one. I had never read any of Sophie Jordan’s work before but when I was auto-approved awhile back for all of HarperTeen’s titles, I snatched this one up in a hurry.I was so hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed. And I wasn’t. I was fully thrust into this world where it is so very much like it was prior to the end of segregation of African Americans and Caucasians.

Davina “Davy” Hamilton has a bright future but all of that comes to a crushing, heartbreaking end when she is found to be carrying the HTS gene. Suddenly, all her friends abandon her, her boyfriend ditches her and her parents seem afraid of her. She is now sent to a different school where the carriers are separated from the other students, the normal ones who don’t carry this gene.

Davy’s lost everything and I could feel the grief through the pages of the book.Suddenly she’s friendless and terrified.She’s thrust into a room at her new school that’s dubbed The Cage. It’s here where she meets both allies and adversaries.I really liked Coco from what little we saw of her and I was really wishing she was more of a presence in this book.

Now to the guys who were very mysterious initially, although they couldn’t have been any different. Gil was more outgoing and friendly. Sean was quiet and not all that friendly. He definitely wasn’t mean to Davy, but he definitely had an edge to him.Maybe it was the HTS thing or maybe it was his home situation, but I think it was a combination of both.

As quickly as her former friends turned against her, I never would have believed that her ex boyfriend and her ex best friend along with other kids would have turned her in for a seemingly minor crime. But they did and I was heartbroken for Davy.It wasn’t right and it made Davy feel even more hopeless. 

When she’s given an unexpected opportunity, she takes it instantly. What she doesn’t know is that by taking this offer, she’s putting herself in even more danger.Soon she meets other kids like her, who have the HTS gene. She meets more adversaries and one more ally, all the while trying to ignore her growing feelings for Sean.

Watching that relationship slowly develop was awesome. It wasn’t a case of insta-love, thank goodness. Sean worked his butt off to protect Davy throughout this book. They were friends long before they became anything else.Their romance added a bright light in a very bleak world.

Oh my goodness, I almost forgot to mention the FEELS. Ohhhh boy there were a lot of feels for me in this book. Not just one or two feels either. A whole range of feels. From sadness, to happiness to glee and many other feels.Books that give me these kinds of feels are always going to be some of my favorites.

I really did enjoy this book a lot. There are only a few things I didn’t like so much. I wish we had learned how the HTS gene was discovered and a little backstory on that. I also didn’t like Davy’s parents that much. I know they were scared but I didn’t particularly love the way they treated Davy. It wasn’t like she asked for this gene. Her brother was awesome though. He seems bound and determined not to see Davy as a threat to his safety. He treats her normally unlike her parents and her former friends.

So this book will be getting four stars from me and I cannot wait to read the final book in the duology. I have a feeling that it will be amazing.So go read it if you like action, romance and above all, books that make you feel.

Top Ten Books I Want Santa To Bring Me

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This feature is hosted by The Broke and Bookish
So my mom & grandmother had been bugging me to make a list (yes at almost 28 I am still asked for lists) So I made them and emailed them. I got the same response from both of them “Um Lexi, isn’t there something other than books, that you want?” I seriously didn’t know how to answer that. To me, the answer would have been an emphatic “NO” but I know exactly how they get and how much they like to surprise me. So I put a few non book related things on there.
There have been a lot of books that have caught my eye over the past 8 months or whatever. Even more so than normal and I can thank my fellow bibliophiles for that.So these ten books are a compilation of books that either look amazing, or bloggers have raved about it or if it’s just something that I must have in my hands RIGHT NOW!
All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill
-The premise drew me in big time and this one has been taunting me from my Amazon wishlist for weeks-
-Amazing cover. Plus the synopsis. Plus an amazing author who regularly interacts with her readers on social media-
Not A Drop To Drink by Mindy McGinnis
-I haven’t heard a whole lot about this one, but what I have heard, is all positive stuff-
-Kasie West is a goddess and I’ll read whatever she writes-
-I absolutely love the cover and that’s what’s drawn me in the most, although I have to say, the premise looks great-
-I’ve heard so much about this book. Like how it was life changing. I need this book in my life-

-If I had to pick only one of these to be sitting under my tree, it would be this one. Hands down-
Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn
-I’ve heard nothing but amazing things from this one. The premise sounds amazing-
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
-My grandmother read this one and LOVED it. It’s normally not a book she’d love so I’m excited-
The Fault In Our Stars by John Green
-This book just sounds like something I’d be all over. I am really excited about this one-

I am sure a lot of you have already read most of these. Or maybe you haven’t gotten around to it yet. Anyhow, let me know if you’ve read any of these and what you think about them. Leave me the links to your TTT posts so I can come by and see what’s on your list.

Stacking the Shelves #23

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This feature is hosted by Tynga at Tynga’s Reviews


Hello everyone,hope your week was awesome, and for those who celebrate, full of Christmas prep. This week was a busy week. My sweet kitty Tiffany was spayed on Monday and has had some problems post op. She appears to be on the mend now.Yesterday, we went to a new vet because our usual one didn’t have emergency hours. Tiffany was diagnosed as still being in pain. So she got an injection of pain medication and she seems to be doing a TON better.
Now, moving on to the fun parts of the week. I got two books this week. I got We Were Liars by E. Lockhart from NetGalley. I found out from a fellow blogger that it was up on NetGalley and I immediately requested it. Over the next 24 hours a TON of fellow bloggers did the same and the majority of us got it.
Now months ago I had requested Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott.I had totally forgotten about it until the pictures of the ARC’s came flooding through my Twitter feed. By the second day, I started to feel crappy because it didn’t seem like I was going to get it. Day three came and I got a package from Scholastic. I instantly knew what it was and I was thrilled. So thank you bunches Scholastic.

Bought
Received for Review
-NetGalley-
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

-From Publisher-

Won
Gifted

So, it was a quiet book week for me. I guess that is probably a good thing as I have so many books to read right now.So let me know if you got either of these or if you’ve read them by now.Also, leave the links to your Stacking the Shelves posts/vlogs. For those of you who celebrate it, Merry Christmas!

Book Blogger Challenge- Week 15

This feature comes from April at Good Books & Good Wine.

Wow, I can hardly believe that I did this for 15 weeks straight. I’m tired just thinking about it.Honestly, I’m glad to be finished with it. Now I can go back to writing my own discussion posts and talk about all the things that I’ve been wanting to talk about but didn’t want to do more than one discussion post a week.

The question for the final week is…

Who Are Your Book Blogging Mentors?

She is a great person. We seem to overall have very similar tastes in books and I know that when I make the move to self hosted, probably in April, I’ll be able to go to her with dozens of questions and she’ll answer them. Probably all the while muttering about how type A I am.She manages to put a lot of her personality in her blog, especially with her most recent subtle shift into doing more personal posts.
Okay, this girl rocks. She is so nice and kind to all of us in this community. She manages to do what some others cannot do, and that is review a book honestly and fairly without attacking the author.Her reviews are crazy long too. I want to be able to lengthen my reviews to at least close to the length of hers.

This lady is awesome. I mean she’s a bigger Potterhead than even I am. I seriously never thought that was possible until I read her post yesterday. Plus she’s a whiz at knowing exactly which GIF’s to use for what review and where. Her blog is just full of personality, which I love. So often, blog designs are not really connected to the person behind the blog. It often feels like someone slapped a background on it and that was it.

This post could go on and on, but I decided to keep it short by simply keeping it at top 3.
Thanks for reading, everyone!

Blog Tour: Stripped Without You by Brooklyn Skye

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Release date: November 30th 2013
Self-Published
Purchase: Amazon
Book Link: Goodreads

BOOK DESCRIPTION:
STRIPPED (a novel) 
College freshman Quinn Montgomery will do anything to avoid the mistake her sister made—killing herself over a boy. But when she is forced into nude modeling at a local college to support her family after a bankruptcy, she begins to crack, just enough to let Torrin, the university’s top varsity oarsman, see that the real Quinn is not as feisty and unapproachable as she wants everyone to think. But letting someone in comes at a steep cost and, it turns out, Torrin is connected to Quinn’s family in more ways than she could ever imagine.

WITHOUT YOU (a novella)
She was broken when I met her, shattered from the death of her sister and running from love. Not to sound like an egotistical douche or anything, but I fixed her. Put her back together, filled in the cracks, and made her whole. A true fairytale in her eyes. 

But now real life is getting in the way: school, jobs, and the unexpected opportunity to travel the world under a legendary photographer. This internship will open doors not even my father’s influence could. It’s something I’ve been waiting all my life for. But so is Quinn, and accepting this internship will mean leaving her. 

And breaking her all over again.


Review:
This sounded like something that I would absolutely love so I was excited to read it despite my recent vow to eliminate 90% participation in book tours. The premise looked good and unique so I suspected that it would be good.

It wasn’t great but it also wasn’t terrible. I had heard that Quinn was a feisty character which I was excited about but I didn’t connect with her at all and that’s a huge thing for me. If I can connect with a character, chances are good that I’ll enjoy the book.Normally I really like damaged characters but Quinn just didn’t work for me.

Yet in contrast, Torrin did. He was sexy and the best thing was that he wasn’t a doormat. He called Quinn on her crap, which was great to see. He was also kind to her which I don’t think Quinn was really used to.

I really loved that the novella was told from Torrin’s point of view. Very rarely do we get a romantic love story from the male perspective. It’s nearly always from the female perspective so that was a really great treat.

The writing was really good though. From the beginning it seemed to flow well and there no issues from an editing standpoint. The dialogue flowed well and was not stiff which was great to see.All in all, I didn’t love these two books (well novel + novella) but I didn’t hate them either. So I’ll be giving them 3 stars.



Author Bio:

Brooklyn Skye grew up in a small town where she quickly realized writing was an escape from small town life. Really, she’s just your average awkward girl who’s obsessed with words. Stripped is her debut novel.


Connect with the Author: