Friday, December 31, 2010

Follow Friday (12)

It's New Year's Eve, and I can honestly say I'm looking forward to greeting the new year.  It's also Follow Friday (hosted by the awesome-esque Rachel at Parajunkee's View), and the last Friday before school starts back for students in the US.  Well, at least break was very sweet while it lasted.  :) I'd like to welcome everyone stopping by my blog for the first time via Follow Friday, as well as any old followers checking in.  Leave a comment so I can visit your blog and follow you back.

The question this week is: What are your new years book blogging resolutions?

My answer: I really want to feature more authors on my blog and have more giveaways, as well as maybe some guest posts.  I also need to stop screwing around with the design and find one that works!  My blog is still super-new-- less than three months-- so I've got a lot to perfect as far as posting and design goes.  I'm going to review more and meme less, because I often find that I've read way more books than I actually have time to review.  I also want to try to comment more on other bloggers' posts, rather than just read through.  Anyway, those are my blogging resolutions for 2011!

I wish everybody the energy and/or caffeine buzz needed to stay up and celebrate New Year's Eve tonight, as well as a very Happy New Year as the ball drops on 2010!

YA Favorites of 2010: Part 3

And our final categories are... *drumroll* 

Most Beautiful/ Amazing Cover 
Intrinsical by Yara Woodland 
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff 
 Halo by Alexandra Adornetto 
Torment by Lauren Kate 

Best Paranormal Romance 
Nightshade by Andrea Cremer 
Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia& Margaret Stohl 
  The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting
Paranormalcy by Kiersten White 

Best Science Fiction 
 Virals by Kathy Reichs 
Dark Life by Kat Falls 
 Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines

Overall Favorites-- My Top Three for 2010 
 Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins 

   Zombies vs Unicorns edited by Black, Larbalestier 

 Incarceron by Catherie Fisher

And...Top Three Books I Wish I'd Read This Year
The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan 
 Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins 
Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien

Hopefully I'll get around to reading all of those books in the last category (so, so many are unlisted) in 2011.  This was a really fun series of posts.  Please tell me what you think, and what your favorite books of 2010 were.  I wish everyone a very Happy New Year filled with lots of luck and awesome new books!  :D

Thursday, December 30, 2010

My YA Favorites of 2010: Part 2

And today's categories are...*drumroll* 

Coolest Creature(s) 
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (for Fenris werewolves)
  Ascendant by Diana Peterfreund (for killer unicorns) 
Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn 

Best Graphic Novel 
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin, Lisa Brown 
 Children of the Sea series by Daisuke Igarashi 

Best Movie Adaptations of Books 
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part 1) by JK Rowling 
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by CS Lewis 
 Eclipse (Twilight #3) by Stephanie Meyer 
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan 

Best Historical Fiction 
Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare 
 Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran
Splendor by Anna Godbersen  

All of these books were released in 2010, except for Cleopatra's Daughter, which I read in 2010, but was released in late 2009. 
So what do you guys think?  Comments and suggestions for new categories are always welcome. :) 
Next up: Most Beautiful Cover and Best Paranormal Romance.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Daughter of Xanadu by Dori Jones Yang

Genre: YA, historical fiction
Page Count: 352 (hardcover)
Will Be Published: January 11th, 2011 by Delacorte Books
Recommended for: anyone who enjoys historical fiction and a strong heroine

Athletic and strong willed, Princess Emmajin's determined to do what no woman has done before: become a warrior in the army of her grandfather, the Great Khan Khubilai. In the Mongol world the only way to achieve respect is to show bravery and win glory on the battlefield. The last thing she wants is the distraction of the foreigner Marco Polo, who challenges her beliefs in the gardens of Xanadu. Marco has no skills in the "manly arts" of the Mongols: horse racing, archery, and wrestling. Still, he charms the Khan with his wit and story-telling. Emmajin sees a different Marco as they travel across 13th-century China, hunting 'dragons' and fighting elephant-back warriors. Now she faces a different battle as she struggles with her attraction towards Marco and her incredible goal of winning fame as a soldier.

My Take:

Daughter of Xanadu tells an enthralling story which is unique in so many ways.  A lot YA historical fiction seems to be set in Victorian England or America, so it was really refreshing to read a novel set in a time and place of history I knew almost nothing about-- the Mongolian Empire in the time of Kublai Khan. 

Our narrator Emmajin is a Mongol Princess, but she's no proper and pampered lady of the court-- she's determined to become the first woman soldier in the Mongol army.  Emmajin is a heroine who I immediately connected with-- she's strong and clever and fierce, while still being wonderfully flawed in her unexpected shyness, and her unwilling attraction to a strange but charismatic visitor to their court, who hails from the faraway land of Venice-- Marco Polo.  As the court moves to their summer home of Xanadu, Emmajin's grandfather the Khan assigns her to get to know the foreigner Marco, so that the Mongol Empire may one day soon invade his homeland of Europe as they have China and the East.  I loved how Emmajin's feelings towards Marco evolve from distrust and unease to friendship and then, eventually, love. *sigh*  Emmajin herself grows so much over the course of the story as she travels with the army and Marco and wins glory in a great battle, only to discover that maybe intellectual, peace-loving Marco was right-- war is not all fame and bloodlust.

Good historical fiction makes a reader feel as though they're completely immersed in the time period, and Daughter of Xanadu's pages transported me right into Old World Mongolia.  Dori Jones Yang is an expert on the history and culture of Mongolia, and it definitely shows.  The details of the army parades and vicious battles-- the cruelty of war is never shied away from, nor is the somewhat condescending treatment of women by the Mongols-- are beautifully intricate, while still fleeting enough to make me want more.  I began reading this book with the vague expectation that the plot might resemble Disney's Mulan, but finished it a whole lot wiser about the Mongol Empire and their conquering of China.  Emmajin herself is a fictionous character, but most of the other characters (Kublai Khan, and of course, Marco Polo) really existed. The story is fast-paced and addictive.  I literally read the book in a few hours, and recommend this fantastically-realized tale of war, star-crossed love, and betrayal to absolutely anyone.

My Rating: 5/5

Heads-up:  On January 21st, author Dori Jones Yang will be making A Myriad of Books a stop on her blog tour for Daughter of Xanadu.  I'm so excited to have the opportunity to interview Dori about her novel and her travels to find the ancient city of Xanadu.  She has also generously offered up a copy of Daughter of Xanadu for a giveaway.

*Thanks to Good Golly Miss Holly ARC Tours for the review copy!* 

Waiting on Wednesday (11)

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted at that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.  This week I'm waiting on...  

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
To be Released: May 24th, 2011 by Scholastic 

(from Goodreads): From bestselling, Printz Award-winning author Libba Bray, the story of a plane of beauty pageant contestants that crashes on a desert island.

Teen beauty queens. A "Lost"-like island. Mysteries and dangers. No access to emall. And the spirit of fierce, feral competition that lives underground in girls, a savage brutality that can only be revealed by a journey into the heart of non-exfoliated darkness. Oh, the horror, the horror! Only funnier. With evening gowns.  And a body count. 

Libba Bray is one of those precious few authors whose books never let me down.  This sounds at least as hilarious as Going Bovine.

So, what are you waiting on this Wednesday?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My YA Favorites of 2010: Part 1

And the categories are...*drumroll*

Best Dystopia 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Colins 
Best New Series Book 
  The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan 
 The Dead-tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan 
Lies by Micheal Grant 

Most Amazing Fantasy/Sci-fi World 
 Pegasus by Robin McKinley 

Best Short Story Collection 
Zombies vs Unicorns (edited by Larbalestier, Black) 
 The Poison Eaters by Holly Black 

Best Modern Faerie Tale 
Tyger Tyger by Kersten Hamilton

Well, what do you guys think?  There are more categories to come-- I'm thinking of making this a three-part series of posts, since it's so much fun.  The linked titles lead to reviews, except the Incarceron one, which leads to my giveaway.  Anyway, drop a comment saying which book you would nominate for whatever category, which book you wouldn't, etc.  
Next up: Best Graphic Novel and Coolest Fantasy Creature(s).



Winner of the Incarceron& Sapphique Giveaway

Today is the US release date of Sapphique by Catherine Fisher, and so that means it's time for me to announce the lucky winner of my latest giveaway, who will be receiving a copy of both Incarceron and Sapphique in their mailbox! 

And the winner is *Drumroll*...

Kristin of My Bookish Ways

Congratulations, Kristin! I'll be sending you the Incarceron dualogy via Amazon shipping.  To everyone else, thank you so much for entering my giveaway, and I hope you snag a copy of Sapphique anyway.  :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Review: Ash by Malindo Lo

Genre: YA fantasy, LGBT
Page Count: 264 (paperback)
Published: 2009 by Little, Brown

Cinderella retold
Synopsis: In the wake of her father's death, Ash is left at the mercy of her cruel stepmother. Consumed with grief, her only joy comes by the light of the dying hearth fire, rereading the fairy tales her mother once told her. In her dreams, someday the fairies will steal her away, as they are said to do. When she meets the dark and dangerous fairy Sidhean, she believes that her wish may be granted.

The day that Ash meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress, her heart begins to change. Instead of chasing fairies, Ash learns to hunt with Kaisa. Though their friendship is as delicate as a new bloom, it reawakens Ash's capacity for love-and her desire to live. But Sidhean has already claimed Ash for his own, and she must make a choice between fairy tale dreams and true love.
Entrancing, empowering, and romantic, Ash is about the connection between life and love, and solitude and death, where transformation can come from even the deepest grief. 

My Take: 

I read a lot of very mixed reviews of Ash before ever picking it up.  I really do think it is just one of those books that some readers adore right away, and some readers really just don't.  

That said, I absolutely loved it.  Malinda Lo's beautiful, flowing writing captivated me right from the start in this bittersweet story about a girl who has lost everything and finds her only escape in fairy tales... until one day, a very real person helps her begin to believe in truth again.  Ash has the feel of a fairy tale-- that distant, slightly dream-like quality that I remember from the Grimm and Anderson stories.  The book parallels and retells Cinderella-- but it's Cinderella as you've never read it before. (Sans the singing mice, luckily.  ;)  

In Malinda Lo's version, 'Cinderella' is a dreamy girl called Ash who is forced to move to the city with her cruel stepmother and sisters from the superstitious town in the country where she once lived happily with her deceased parents.  There is indeed a Prince Charming, but he never gets his hands on any of Ash's slippers, and her 'fairy godmother' benefactor is the darkly beautiful faerie, Sidhean, who has been cursed to love her since she was a child.        

Just as Ash is ready to let Sidhean spirit her away into his world-- the world of her childhood dreams-- forever, as his bride, she meets Kaisa, the King's Huntress.  We never find out quite as much about Kaisa as I would've liked, but she is an enigmatic young woman-- kind to Ash, and strangely tender-hearted despite her occupation of hunting and tracking animals through the forest.  Ash slowly and very subtly realizes that she is falling in love with Kaisa, despite her promise to Sidhean that she will stay with him in his world forever, abandoning her tragic mortal existence.  Ash is a lesbian love story in the softest sense-- sweet and powerful, the kind of book that you will remember fondly despite its tragic beginning.

My Rating: 5/5

Sunday, December 26, 2010

In My Mailbox: The Under-My-Christmas-Tree Edition

In My Mailbox is a weekly meme hosted by The Story Siren and inspired by Alea of Pop Culture Junkie.  The idea behind IMM is not only to put new books on our radars but also to encourage blogger interaction. IMM explores the weekly contents of our mailboxes: books bought, received, won, and borrowed, along with other goodies and swag.

This Christmas was a very, very merry one-- I had a great time with my family, and was able to check off most everything from my holiday wish list.  Needless to say, most of these items were bookish in nature. :)  Here's what I got:

--Pegasus by Robin McKinley 
--Burned (House of Night #7) by PC+ Kristin Cast 
--Firelight by Sophie Jordan 
--Ascendant (Killer Unicorns #2) by Diana Peterfreund 
--Unwind by Neal Shusterman 
--Fullmetal Alchemist volumes 13-14 by Hiromu Arakawa (to feed my increasingly worrisome manga addiction)  
--The Sorceror's Companion (A Guide to the Magical World of Harry Potter) by Allan Zola Kronzek 
--Music of Glee CD (Volume 4) (Couldn't resist adding it to the pic-- any Gleeks reading here?)
-- A super-awesome Muggle t-shirt from Hot Topic

My people know me well-- I'm such a Harry Potter freak.  I was especially excited to receive this gigantic reference guide to the world and mythology of HP: 

I hope everyone had an excellent Christmas and I wish you all an equally awesome New Year's!  Check back soon for my three-part round-up of Best I've Read 2010 to close out the year.  :) 
So, what's in your mailbox this week?

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