Tuesday Top Ten-Favorite New Releases of 2013!

 Well, stuff its the end of the year, more about and what an absolutely INCREDIBLE year it was for books. Honestly, view I am blown away from all the books that I managed to read this year. I dove even further into the world of book blogging and, by doing so, opened myself up to more and more book recommendations. Its not the end of the year yet, but I’m less than a handful of books away from reaching my 200 book goal. Of those 197 that I’ve read so far, 168 of them were brand new novels, either new releases or new books that were recommended to me.

I mean, I literally discovered SO many authors this year. I’m part of SO many new fandoms this year. 8 of the 10 books on this list are brand new authors to me for the year 2013.

But beyond just new books to me, there were so many brand new releases this year that blew my mind. This week’s Top Ten counts down the best new releases of the year. According to me. Which is basically known as expert and legit opinion that you have to trust. Seriously. I know you’ve seen a ton of other lists, from other book bloggers, and authors and such that count down the best books of 2013, but come on, are they really as awesome as me? I don’t think so ;)

 Anyway, here’s the list! Also, if you click on the title, you’ll get the full review! If there is a review. I didn’t review all of these.

10. Untold by Sarah Rees Brennan

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I have known who Sarah Rees Brennan is for a LONG time, because she’s a close friend of Cassandra Clare’s and we all know how I feel about Cassandra Clare. I just never sat down to read her books. I read The Demon’s Lexicon and liked it but just not enough to have me fall madly in love with her as an author. I asked her to do an interview for her new release, Untold, and figured, okay, I gotta be a good book blogger and actually read this series. I sped through Unspoken, the first novel, and loved the second novel, Untold as well. Untold picks up with two teenagers, obviously in love with each other, but full of so many struggles. They are wondering if their love is real or a result of the bond they had for their entire lives. But they are also struggling with their own families and to keep their town safe. What I love about Sarah’s series is that its good for a fan of YA paranormal romance, but its also so much more than that. Jared is a character to crush on, leaving you panting like mad, and Kami Glass is a seriously badass protagonist who always wants to save the day first before throwing herself into the arms of the one that she loves, and I think that’s incredibly awesome. Plus, that cliffhanger wasn’t even fair. I can’t WAIT until the third book comes out. I’m DYING for it to come out.

9. Here Without You by Tammara Webber

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I absolutely adore, love, admire, love love love love Tammara Webber. I discovered her when I first bought my first Kindle a few years back, and was looking for something to read that was fairly cheap. I discovered Between the Lines, and ate up those books. I LOVE them. They are exactly the type of YA contemporary that I love to read. It has everything that you love about YA but it has that little extra spice, and I love that. Call it mature YA, YA or NA, whatever, its awesome. I also give her much props for being self-published and doing well with it, and getting noticed. Not many authors can do that, but she does and she deserves to be noticed for that. The Between the Lines series mostly follows Reid Alexander, who is a teen actor with a wild streak. You name it: the girls, the parties, the scandals. I thought the series was over with Good for You, when Reid finds the girl who can make him better and he falls in love. When I found out this was coming out, I squealed with SO much excitement. We get more of Reid in this book, of course, but we also get the POV of a character named Brooke, who has always been there, but we don’t know much about. The story of the two of them tackling a part of their past they’d like to forget was beautiful and I was constantly tearing up.

8. The Fiery Heart by Richelle Mead 

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Okay, this is a little bit of cheating because I literally just finished it a couple days ago but it counts because I busted through the entire Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series recently and I am so in love with both of them, and Richelle Mead and Dimitri Belikov and Adrian Ivashkov. I read the four books of the Bloodlines series in about a week, and I was blown away that Richelle Mead was able to take the world she built in six books in the Vampire Academy and continue it in ways that were new and exciting. I love Sydney Sage as a main character and, like I said, I’m madly in love with Adrian Ivashkov. I loved that this book delved into the dual points of view. I am actually getting really tired of that and kind of scoff when I see that now but I think she did it perfectly and it created the perfect amount of drama and action and mystery. Having both Adrian and Sydney’s reactions at the end of the book, leaving us hanging for the 5th book, was perfect. Everything from the previous books culminated into the end of this book and I can’t wait to find out what happens next. My impatient body can barely handle the wait until June (July?) when Silver Shadows comes out. I am so excited for it.

Also, I will review this :) I just haven’t had time yet for it!

7. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas

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Another new discovery for the year of 2013, Sarah J Maas knows how to do fantasy. Seriously. There are very few authors nowadays in the YA genre who can do some legitimate beautiful fantasy and she is definitely one of them. The world that she creates is incredible, so incredible that I sometimes find it hard to keep up. I have to pause to remember the intricacies of the world that she has created. But I think the beauty of her novels is her main character, Celaena. Celaena is a trained assassin, overly capable of keeping herself safe, whip smart, and also super fun at the same time. She loves to read, and to eat, and wear pretty dresses. She is exactly what I wish I could be, you know, if I knew how to wield daggers, and kill people. Which I don’t. Just as a disclaimer. The first novel is about Celaena’s bid for freedom, but the sequel just creates a more twisting and secretive storyline, with more and more popping up. Celaena’s life is more complicated than she had expected it to be after winning the tournament in the first book, and its hard for her to keep up sometimes. Sarah takes an already beautifully built world and expands it even more. Its just absolutely amazing.

6. Reality Boy by A.S. King

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I decided to check out this book after it was highly recommended by an author that I admire so much, Andrew Smith. More on Andrew later. But I trust his opinion thoroughly and decided to buy this book, especially since it was the Kindle deal of the day. Always gotta check those out because there can be some GREAT books for deals. This was another book that I whizzed through. King has this amazing story, a hugely addicting and compelling story, but she also addresses a question that we never really think about: what happens to children who are exploited on reality TV shows. It is also a story about serious emotional abuse and neglect. I’ve read so many books about actual physical abuse but emotional abuse and neglect can be just as damaging. Gerald has been traumatized by his stint on reality TV, where his problems as a child were exploited hugely and have followed him for the rest of his life. He also has a very abusive, psychotic sister, whose problems are excused by his very absent mother. Its a beautiful story, one in which Gerald learns to move past the image that he has of himself, built from that TV show, and finds love and strength outside of his home. This book blew me away and AS King is definitely going to be on my radar for now on!

5. Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

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Talk about another author who blew my mind this year. I met Leigh at the Ontario Teen Book Fest, where her humor and her affinity for Tamora Pierce novels (agh, Tammy!) made me so happy that I just had to buy her book, Shadow and Bone. I finished it quickly and was so excited when I found out the sequel was to be released in a couple weeks. I went to her book release party (which was incredible!) and immediately went home to read the book. I didn’t believe it to be possible, but this one was even better than the first one. What I like a lot about this novel is that there’s a much bigger picture than just Alina but there is also so much more to Alina, as well. Alina is the protagonist, essentially the “good guy” of the novel, but she has her own struggles with her powers and how to use them. She can’t help but let them overtake her, and her confidence can get the best of her. She is young and impressionable and people are after her, so many people want to use her, and it goes to her head. Plus the world building…I can’t handle the amount of world building in these novels. Its absolutely incredible. Then when I learned that she used chemistry to build her magical system, I was just floored. Oh, and Sturmhond is introduced in this novel. You haven’t lived until you’ve fallen in love with Sturmhond.

4. Champion by Marie Lu

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What an amazing finish to easily the best dystopian series for YA. Maybe, period. Let me put it to you this way: I LOVE The Hunger Games and Divergent. I wouldn’t camp out for days for Catching Fire red carpet premiere if I didn’t love The Hunger Games. But I say this with complete honesty that Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy blows them all out of the water. Prodigy ends in a serious cliffhanger, one that nearly had me throwing my Kindle across the room. I couldn’t believe that I had to wait a whole TEN months for the end ;) But I did it, and what happens in this book is beautiful, genuine and just the perfect ending. There were so many twists and turns and surprises. I loved that Marie opened up her world even more than it already was. She addresses nations outside of the US, which not a lot of dystopian novels do! I also think its the most beautiful, realistic, bittersweet endings ever, and it made me cry and I loved it. I hate happy endings, I’ve made that clear, but this one had so many good and bad things at the end, which felt so real. I am incredibly satisfied with the way this series ended. I can’t wait to read more from Marie Lu because this girl knows how to write a novel!

3. The Enchanter Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

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Speaking of amazing fantasy writers (especially ones that TOTALLY don’t get as much as they deserve), Cinda Williams Chima blew me out the freakin window, down the street and far far away with this installment of the Heir Chronicles. I love the Heir Chronicles but they didn’t become an obsession with me as much as her Seven Realms series did. Now that this fourth book has been released, I must say…they’re basically tied up. The Enchanter Heir was brilliant. It continues the story built in the first three books, but also stands alone. In fact, you can read this one without having ever read the other ones. Both characters in this novel are fantastic. Jonah is a badass fighter, with a scary power, and is incredible to watch, even in my own mind as I read. Emma is new to the magical Weir world but she is so strong and awesome, and she fumbles her way through with grace. Cinda takes an already amazing series and makes it so much better. I cannot even begin to say how much I loved it. She wraps up the third book of the series so well that you think, there’s no way it can continue but she does, she spins a whole new story and it works so well. Her world is that extensive and awesome. Seriously. God people read this book. Read all her books.

2. Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare

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I was so incredibly nervous when I first bought this novel. One, Cassandra Clare has a way of tearing my heart out and stomping all over it. She has a way of pulling at my emotions in a way that not many other authors have been able to. Two, there is a distinct love triangle in this series and I was hoping with all my heart that I would not be disappointed in the ending, because love triangles get on my nerves. What I got was a beautiful novel about love and friendship. She took what has become stereotype and, frankly, annoying and turned it into a lesson on love. Tessa loves Will…and Jem. She loves them both and is able to have time with them both. How often is it that you love one person in your entire life? I know I haven’t. And there’s such a fantastic story of friendship between the three of them. They all love each other so much, they’re so connected, that they’ll do anything for each other, and that includes basically saving the world. Will goes to save Tessa, the rest of the Institute goes to save them both and together, they save the world from Mortmain. This book had me sobbing my eyes out, in the saddest and also happiest epilogue in a book that I’ve ever. And it should be noted that I don’t like epilogues usually. I read this until 3 am. Worth every bit of sleepiness I had the next day. Beautiful beautiful conclusion to the trilogy.

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I cheated. I picked TWO books for number one. I honestly couldn’t pick between the two. There was just no way. They both completely blew my mind.

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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I have literally never had a book that literally jumped into my soul, my very being, and just KNEW me. Fangirl is a term that is applied a lot lately, everyone is a fangirl but I think there’s that select few of us that have been fangirls for ages, and know exactly what its like to be Cath. Cath is obsessed with a fantasy series called Simon Snow, which is a sort of fictional Harry Potter. She has posters, commemorative busts, fan art, and writes her own fan fiction, fan fiction that ships the two main male characters together. Not only does she write the fan fiction, but people LOVE her story and they eagerly await her next chapter. And she’s an introvert. She doesn’t always know how to operate in the outside world, because she’s so wrapped up in the fictional world of Simon Snow. She cares about the characters and those worlds so much, and people just don’t get it. If you don’t see this as me, you don’t know me. I literally felt like Cath was ME. I was laughing and crying the entire novel because there were so many times where I felt like screaming “Yes, yes, yes! Exactly! How did you know?” I can’t stop talking about this book because it just effected me so much. I know exactly what its like to be Cath and feel the way she does. I have been wanting to re-read this but I haven’t had the time. Its a goal of my 2014 reading challenge to re-read this book!

1. Winger by Andrew Smith

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You guys are probably getting so tired of me pushing this book on you, but I kind of hope you are so then you’ll go out buy this book and read it just to shut me up already. And then you’ll realize how silly you’ve been for so long and you’ll love it. Just like my boyfriend. I know whats best, everyone. Just trust me on this. I’ve said it a hundred times, and I’ll say it again. Do you like John Green? Did you like Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, The Fault in Our Stars? Then you will love Winger. Winger is exactly that kind of novel, but so much better. Ryan Dean is hilarious and this book will make you laugh and cry and have an all around good time. It such a beautiful piece into being a teenager, and even more so, a teenage boy. It has sports and a love story. It has LGBT themes, and its ultimately a coming-of-age story. It has artwork in it (the comics are SO funny). It has everything that you need in a great book. I haven’t seen this book on not ONE top list of the year and it disappoints me to no end. This is easily the best book (besides Fangirl) of the year, and I can’t push it on you guys enough. Andrew Smith’s novel is the kind of novel that lasts. Its contemporary and recent but the story and the characters, the jokes, the love, the lessons, are all timeless. Andrew Smith became a favorite author of mine, easily, with one novel. Thats magic.

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s Tuesday Top Ten! I hope that you loved these books as much as I did, and if you haven’t read them, I hope they make it on your “to-read” lists for 2014! They are all must-reads and I am going to push all of them on you until you just give in and read them.

What were some of your favorite 2013 books? Share in the comments! 

Book of the Week-Champion

It’s here, salve its here, cost its finally here!

And okay, Prodigy totally released back in January and I haven’t even had to wait a year, like you do for most books, but I was just so excited that Champion had finally released. I downloaded it to my Kindle as soon as I was able to, and spent the next three hours, devouring the novel.

This was a finale worth waiting for, and I can’t wait to dive into it, so let’s do it!

Champion by Marie Lu 

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GoodReads / Barnes and Noble / Amazon / Book Depository

Genre:

Young Adult, Dystopian

Part of a Series?:

The third and final book of the Legend Trilogy

Please keep in mind that while there will be no spoilers for Champion, there WILL be spoilers for Legend and Prodigy. You can read the review for the first book, Legend, by clicking here

You May Like if You Liked:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth

Age Recommendation:

14+

Plot Summary:

From Good Reads:

The explosive finale to Marie Lu’s New York Times bestselling LEGEND trilogy—perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT!

He is a Legend. 

She is a Prodigy. 

Who will be Champion? 

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic-and each other-and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government’s elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them one again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic’s border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country’s defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu’s best selling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion. 

The Bad:

This is going to be so insanely vague, that if you haven’t read the book, you’re not going to know what I’m saying in the slightest. But if you’ve read the book, you’ll understand. Something happens in the end, something very dramatic, and a certain character’s reaction just…it bothered me a lot. It did seem very fitting to the character, but I think I was still in the immediate emotional reaction and I could barely deal with it myself, and the certain character’s reaction just surprised me. The more that I think about it, the more that it makes sense, especially for that character, but I think I expected more. Maybe I’ve been still stuck in the dramatic and emotional ending of Allegiant, so that’s why I reacted this way. Marie Lu’s ending was perfect for HER story, and HER characters. I think the lack of emotional reaction from a particular character just rubbed me the wrong way.

The Good:

There are so many reasons why I think Marie Lu is the top notch writer of young adult dystopia, and it really culminates in this finale. She takes everything and brings it all together in this final book, and she does it so beautifully. I was so incredibly satisfied and impressed with this book.

The relationships that Marie builds is so incredible. It was enjoyable to watch June and Day’s relationship in this book, especially after the lie that Day told at the end of Prodigy. Day is dying and he tells June that they aren’t going to work, and the book starts off with them in two very separate lives. The way they are brought together, and the way their friendship and relationship evolves in the book is so real, and raw, and beautiful. It all seems so real, and mature. The other relationships and connections are so real too. Day’s relationship and commitment to his brother Eden. His friendship with Tess. Even the relationships between June and Thomas, and Commander Jameson, even Ollie, all are so real, and they hold you in the novel.

And the world building skills! Her world building skills are SO beyond amazing. She is able to create an intricate dystopian world. She builds each country so realistically, and the interactions between the different countries are so well thought out. We had already had the Republic of America and the Colonies, the two countries of the former United States, and we get to meet Africa as a power in the world, and Antarctica as well. Antarctica was especially interesting to learn more about, especially their weird system of…life. Its sort of like…a video game, or even like a real-life version of the Sims. Its an incredibly intricate and detailed world, which what makes it so real and compelling. I hope that we can return to this world later, perhaps through the eyes of other characters besides June and Day.

Oh, can we just talk about all the action in this novel? So much action. You have the Republic on one side and the Colonies on the other, and involvement on other countries, and its just awesome. I liked it in both points of view, because Day has all that passion. He’s not a soldier but he has done a lot against the Republic and so he does everything with so much effort and passion. Then there’s June, who is a soldier, who is trained for this sort of thing, but now she has so much to fight for, and it all comes together for some great action scenes.

Finally, I loved the end of it. The reactions of a particular character aside, I thought it was incredibly real, and bittersweet. It shows the maturity of the characters and the maturity of her series too. Its so different from any ending that I’ve read before but I loved it. There’s so much maturity in the ending, I can’t say that enough. Marie’s novel, and series, stands on its own two feet, without help. The ending surprised me, in the way that a really great ending can, but I loved it. I am looking forward to re-reading the book soon. It will definitely be re-read.

Rating:

4.5 out of 5 Stars

Recommended or Not?:

If you’ve read the series already, then definitely dive into this final novel. I absolutely positively loved it and thought it was an incredibly fitting ending to the best YA dystopian series out there. Marie Lu builds a beautiful, broad world and its an addiction until the very end. If you haven’t picked up this series yet, you definitely need to.

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I hope you enjoyed this week’s Book of the Week!

Don’t forget that you can check out other featured books here, and read all my other book reviews here.

Happy Reading!

WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is a weekly feature from Should Be Reading. I saw it on my friend Erin’s blog, sales That One Geek Girl, check and decided to join in.

To play along:

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll be reading next?

So here are my answers:

What are you currently reading? 

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My good friend Shaina, treat over at The Urge to Write, just debuted her first, self-published novel. Its FREE all day today, and then goes up to 2.99. I can’t wait to dive in and read her book!

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I couldn’t wait for this book to come out, and asked Susan Ee if she’d be interested in doing an interview for the blog. Not only is she interested BUT she sent me an ARC of World After :)

What did you recently finish reading?

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The last and final book of the Legend trilogy was released Tuesday and I finished this in less than three hours, and it’ll have a spoiler-free review tomorrow for the Book of the Week.

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The finale book for the Covenant series, you can read the spoiler free review here.

What do you you think you’ll be reading next? 

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I started this, I just need to go back and finish it. Its really great, and really informative but there’s no story so its hard to get through. But I want to dive back into it and find out more about Shadowhunters and their history.

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I was gifted this by a friend, and I’ve heard many many many good things about this, so I hope to get into that soon too!

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What about you guys? Share what you’re reading, what you plan to read, and all of that fun book jazz in the comments below!

Fandom Friday-Legend

Its been awhile since there’s been a Fandom Friday up on this blog. Mostly because I’ve just been so busy. Its about mid way through the semester, and I’m trying to work on my novel, and I’m reading a TON so keeping up with those reviews is difficult but I want to keep doing this, and now that I have my three LOVELY contributors (Kat, Clarissa and Christina Marie), I’m feeling good.

For those of you who are new, or may not be familiar with the Fandom Friday, its basically this: every Friday (I try, I do), myself or a guest blogger will feature a fandom. See, I remember I was teasing someone about a book series they liked because I thought it was just downright awful. Then I remember someone doing the exact same thing to me about a book series that means a lot to me.

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