Saturday 31 December 2011

2011 In Review

First up: HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone! 2011 has been a bit of a mixed bag for me, although overall it's been more good than bad, thankfully. Highlights include: an amazing trip to America with the fiance, getting properly started on wedding plans (especially getting a gorgeous dress, woo!), a promotion at work and, of course, starting this blog and discovering so many other book-loving, blogging buddies out there. It's been a fun ride so far and I can't wait for even bigger and better things in 2012...

The Posts

The first: Review of Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright and David Leslie Johnson on March 7.

Most popular: Review of The Vampire Diaries, Stefan's Diaries Vol 1: Origins, with 5,583 views.

Total number: 270

The Comments

The first: Stephanie from Read in a Single Sitting, on the post about my top five favourite books.

Post with the most comments: The top five characters I'd switch places with post wins, with 28 comments.

Total number: 2316

The Search Terms

Top Five:

1. Edward Cullen (1,108 searchers...*hangs head*)

2. James Dean (921 searchers)

3. He will never have a girlfriend (712 searchers)

4. Vampire Diaries (358 searchers)

5. Audrey Hepburn (334 searchers)

The Books

Top Five:

1. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

2. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

3. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

5. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

Total: 41 (since March)
Here's to 2012!

2011 Challenges Round-up

Yeah. I failed. But it's OK, coz 2012 is going to be epic, and I'm totally going to complete the bajillion challenges I've signed up for (I'm nothing if not optimistic).

In the meantime, here's how I did (or rather, didn't do) in the 2011 challenges I signed up for:

-Books to Movies, created by Two Bibliomaniacs. I aimed for Oscar Buzz, which was to read eight books and watch the movie adaptations. Since starting the challenge, I read/watched a total of... four. These included A Little Princess, The Last Unicorn, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and A Christmas Carol.

-Books I Should Have Read By Now, hosted by Gabriel Reads. My aim was to chip the below off my TBR list:
  1. A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
  2. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey.
  3. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.
  4. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford.
  5. The Beautiful and the Damned by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  6. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
  7. If I Stay by Gayle Forman.
  8. Dracula by Bram Stoker.
  9. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare.
  10. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
  11. Delirium by Lauren Oliver.
  12. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
The bolded/linked books are the ones I actually got to, bringing me to a total of four out of 12. *hangs head*

-Aussie Author Challenge, hosted by Booklover Book Reviews. I aimed for "true blue" status, which meant 12 books from at least nine different Aussie authors. I read I Came to Say Goodbye and Ghost Child by Caroline Overington, Cargo by Jessica Au, Not Meeting Mr Right by Anita Heiss and The Nest by Paul Jennings, giving me a total of five books from four different authors. Despite my failure, I've signed up for the challenge once again, coz I really want to read more Aussie books.

-Classic Bribe, created by Quirky Girls Read. The aim was to read at least one classic by September, which I actually did (A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett), however I totally forgot to post about it when the challenge ended, so I kinda failed anyway. Whoops!

...OK, so I didn't do so great on the challenge front this year, but I had a lot of fun trying - and that's the important thing, right?!

Friday 30 December 2011

Faves of 2011 Book Awards: The Covers

The Faves of 2011 Book Awards are hosted by Nomes at Ink Crush.

Day Five: The Covers

TEN favourite covers selected from books you read in 2011

1. The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It's such a beautiful illustration and perfectly captures the feel of the book. 

2. Spoiled by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan. It's pretty, colourful and fun, and a great representation of the glossy, poppy, bright content.

3. Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. For starters, it's pink. It also has super cute illustrations, and the back is designed to look like a postcard. Adorable.

4. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Creepy girl levitating + vintage feel + cool fonts = awesome cover.

5. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I got the movie tie-in, so the cover is actually the movie poster, but I adore it. It's haunting and beautiful, just like the book itself.

6. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens. I have the hardcover, and I love the green and gold design once the dust jacket is removed.

7. Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I'm not a fan of the photo, but the hardcover underneath the dust jacket is a beautiful colour. Unfortunately I can't find a picture of it and I don't have the book with me at the moment to snap one, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

8. Cargo by Jessica Au. Amazing illustration.

9. Dash and Lily's Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn. It's fun, quirky, unique and adorable - a perfect representation of the characters and story within.

10. Red Riding Hood by Sarah Blakley-Cartwright and David Leslie Johnson. This book is a novelisation of the movie, so it makes sense for the cover to be the same as the movie poster. If there's one thing that's great about the movie/book, it's the imagery!

What were your fave covers of 2011?

Thursday 29 December 2011

Faves of 2011 Book Awards: The Random

The Faves of 2011 Book Awards are hosted by Nomes at Ink Crush.
Day Four: The Random

1. Fave first sentence
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens was a reread this year, but it's got one of my fave first sentences ever: "Marley was dead, to begin with." Tell me you don't want to keep reading! Bah!

2. Fave book title 
That'd have to be Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. Love the alliteration, the intrigue and the peculiarity (natch).

3. Fave reading experience (ie: created a great reading memory)
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. It was just a lovely read, and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Naw.

4. Book with the best food in it (made you so crazy-envious-hungry)
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson. Amy and Roger do a lot of eating in this book. It's mostly junk food, but it all sounds amazing.


5. Book with the most sensual weather (made you shiver/sweat)
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson. A big chunk of the book is dedicated to describing how freaking freezing it is, brrrr.

6. Most embarrassing book cover (feeling sheepish in public or just plain ugly) 

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. Loved the book, but man, that cover is embarrassing AND ugly.


7. Can’t believe you waited this long to read the book (!)
There were a few that I was late on the bandwagon for this year, but the one that I really can't believe I only read recently was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

8. Book you'd give your mum/sister to read

I Came To Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington. It's just a brilliant, heartbreaking, beautifully-written story. 

9. Book you'd give your dad/brother to read

Well, neither my dad or my brother read at all, so I'm going to apply this one to my fiance - I've been urging him to read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins ever since I finished it.

10. Book you'd like to give your past-self to read (ie, me, when I was 15)
This is such a hard question! I think I'd have to go with The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, just because I've always loved the movie and I wish I'd discovered the book sooner.

11. Book that lived up to (or superseded) the hype
I was surprised to find that The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins more than lived up to the hype.
12. Book you stayed up the latest to finish (confess!!!)

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. I couldn't put it down, and read it in two rather late-night sittings.  

13. Book you were *dying* to get your hands on the most 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. After finishing Anna and the French Kiss I was itching to get my hands on Perkins' next offering.

14. Fattest brick of a book you read (by page count)

At over 500 pages, this was The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson. Took me waaay longer than it should have to read.

15. Killer cliffhanger award
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. It left so many loose ends I actually got kinda mad. I wish the sequel would come out already!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Faves of 2011 Book Awards: The Scenes

The Faves of 2011 Book Awards are hosted by Nomes at Ink Crush.

Day Three: The Scenes

1. Best first chapter
The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. Beagle's beautiful, whimsical prose is evident from the very first line, instantly pulling me in and effectively setting the tone for the rest of the novel: "The unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone. She was very old, though she did not know it, and she was no longer the careless colour of sea foam, but rather the colour of snow falling on a moonlit night. But her eyes were still clear and unwearied, and she still moved like a shadow on the sea..."

2. Best climax
Don't ask me how I got to my age without knowing what happened in The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but the climax completely blew me away. 

3. Best ending
Amy and Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson is designed in a scrapbook style, with photos and receipts scattered throughout. The final receipt on the last page made me smile and do a happy sigh - it says so much while saying so little.

4. Best plot twist/revelation (no spoilers!)
The revelations in the final third of I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington are heart-breakingly amazing.

5. Scariest/most disturbing scene
While it didn't turn out to be a very scary book, the first third of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is pretty frightening. The scene where Jacob is in the basement at the old house, and it suddenly gets dark and you can hear the peculiar children coming, and then they peer down into the hole at Jacob - eep! I'm getting goosebumps writing about it now.

6. Steamiest scene (or sweetest/sexiest kiss award)
This is a hard one, but I think the absolute steamiest (AND sweetest) scene would have to be Alex and Brittany in the garage in Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles.

7. Best swoon-worthy moment
Etienne meeting Anna at the top of Notre Dame in Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Swooooon! 

8. Biggest nail-biting moment
When Katniss pulls back her bow at the end of Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. 

9. Most hilarious scene
There are so many funny moments in Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I especially loved the commercial breaks and footnotes. But the scene that comes to mind most when I think about the funny is when the reality show pirates crash land, and the girls subsequently go nuts over being near boys again.

10. Most heart-breaking/tear-jerker moment
Oh boy, there were quite a few of these. Like, pretty much all of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Perhaps the most heartbreaking of all was Tommy, screaming in agony as his heart breaks. It's overwhelming in the book, and brilliantly portrayed by Andrew Garfield in the movie (check out the two minute mark in the trailer below to catch a glimpse).

BONUS: Favourite meet cute
Anna literally running into Etienne in the hallway in Anna and the French Kiss. Cuteness.

What were your fave scenes of 2011?

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Faves of 2011 Book Awards: The Characters

The Faves of 2011 Book Awards are hosted by Nomes at Ink Crush.

Day Two: The Characters

1. Favourite female main character
I'm going to cheat and say the collective cast of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. They share the spotlight as main characters, and are all so awesome in completely different ways. I loved Tiara for her ditzy wisdom, Taylor for her kick-arse cray cray, Adina for her snarky smarts, Petra for her brave confidence, Mary Lou for her wild girl ways, Jennifer for her self-assurance, Shanti for her dedication, Nicole for her fierceness and Sosie for her Helen Kellar-bration. Such an amazing ensemble.

2. Favourite male main character
Med Atley from I Came to Say Goodbye by Caroline Overington. He was vividly drawn, totally realistic, completely lovable and utterly heartbreaking.

3. Best couple
I read a helluva lot of love stories, so this one is really hard to narrow down. But after some (not so) serious consideration, I'm giving this one to Petra and Sinjin from Beauty Queens. I love the way they're both a little kooky, but totally get one another and accept each other unconditionally. Plus they flirt by quoting Dickens, which is, like, way hot.
4. Who I so want to be best friends with
Kiara from Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles. She's smart, kind, funny and doesn't care what anyone else thinks of her. Oh, and she can bake. She'd make an awesome BFF!

5. Who I fell completely in love with (new literary crush)
Etienne St Clair from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Love, love, love, love, love him. There are a lot of other book guys I've crushed on this year, but Etienne is a head above the rest. Not literally, of course - he's kinda short, which is SO not my type, but he's so amazing he more than makes up for it.

6. Worst (best & baddest) villian
President Snow from The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Creepy, manipulative and just pure evil. 
7. Best character twist (who you loved then hated or vice versa)
President Coin from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. I wouldn't say I loved her to start with, but there was a big twist that definitely made me really, really hate her.
8. Best kick-arse female
If you looked kick-arse up in the dictionary, there'd be a picture of Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games trilogy.
9. Best kick-arse male
Alex Fuentes from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. He goes up against a whole gang of thugs for the woman he loves. *sigh*
10. Broke your heart the most
Lochie from Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma. Gut. Wrenching. Seriously, I'm getting tears in my eyes just thinking about him.
11. Favourite pet/animal character award
Bernie Kosar in I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. I'm not exaggerating when I say he's the best character in the whole book.

12. Best YA parents award
There were a couple I could have given this award to, but ultimately I have to go with Lola's dads in Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. They're just adorable, not to mention really awesome parents.

13. Favourite sibling relationship
Maya and Lochie from Forbidden. Jokes! As much as I like the book, incest doesn't really make for an ideal sibling relationship. Ahem. No, I really adored Mia and Teddy in If I Stay by Gayle Forman (sob!).

14. Favourite best friends/friendship award
This has to go once again to everyone in Beauty Queens. They might not start out as besties, but by the end they're 100 per cent supportive, caring and encouraging of one another.

15. Best/worst character names
Best: Call me crazy, but for some reason I really love the name Cricket Bell from Lola and the Boy Next Door.
Worst: Pretty much everyone in Forbidden, but especially Lochan, Tiffin and Willa.

Bonus: Best love triangle
It feels like every YA book has a love triangle these days. I would have to say my favourite of 2011 was the one in The Hunger Games trilogy, purely because for most of the series, I was actually really torn between the two guys in it and didn't feel like it was at all obvious who Katniss would or should end up with.

Who were your fave characters of 2011?
*With the exception of Donald Sutherland (Snow), Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) and Alexander F. Rodrigues (Alex), the actors pictured here are my own interpretation of the characters, not official casting.