Friday, December 28, 2012

"I hate waiting": Our most anticipated books of 2013

There is no small amount of irony in the fact that I volunteered to post about our most anticipated books of the new year. My reading diet of late has almost exclusively consisted of the literary equivalent of stuffing and mashed potatoes. I read for comfort, which means I've been re-reading rather than trying new dishes storyworlds. As a result, I am woefully out-of-the-proverbial-loop when it comes to thinking about upcoming books. My co-bloggers, however, have been busy reading and building anticipation. Here are their lists. 

Esso expects 2013 to be the year of series books, and looks forward to reading:

The Final Descent by Rick Yancey 
My dreams have finally come true! I can’t wait to read about Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop going on another twisted adventure. If only I could read about Will Henry forever. Sigh.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo 
Shadow and Bone was one of my few five star books for the year and I can’t wait to see how Alina deals with the Darkling in this next book.
Infinityglass by Myra McEntire 
Time travel plus great characters, I love this series! It will be interesting to see how McEntire wraps it up, but I’m secretly hoping that she returns to Em as the narrator.
Detergent (aka Divergent Untitled Book #3) by Veronica Roth
After a bad case of “Second Book Syndrome,” I’m hoping that Roth can redeem this last book. I know it’s possible, but we’ll just have to wait and see. [Totally annoying and intrusive authorial note: When I first saw Esso's list, I thought the name she included for this as-yet-untitled-book was a typo, so I responded, "As in the story needs some serious cleaning up? Or was that just a fortuitous typo?" Turns out the author herself has joked about the fake title, which just further proves my extreme out-of-loop-ness.]
Prodigy by Marie Lu
I really enjoyed Legend, and I’m super excited to get back into the series. I’d like to see the action continue without getting bogged down by any unnecessary romance. Fingers crossed.

Rebecca's most anticipated books of 2013 (aka the books she's dying to read) are:

Reached by Ally Condie. 
I am hoping the conclusion to the Matched series is good.  I can't wait to see how the society falls.
Unwholly by Neal Shusterman. 
I was satisfied with Unwind's ending, but I am curious about the sequel. Will unwinding meet its demise?
Detergent (aka Divergent Untitled Book #3). 
Can the experiment be reintroduced into the real world?  Can Tris find herself?  Can Tris and Tobias make it work? Ah!
Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
I am ready for another kickbutt girl and her adventures.  Esso's review makes me want to read it now, right now, before I am done with my list!
Cast in Sorrow by Michelle Sagara West
Kaylin Neya is in the middle of a journey surrounded by difficult odds.  Will she make it to her destination and perform her part in the ceremony?  Will there be more books?!?!?

As part of my assignment for this post, I went scouting for links, and found myself astonished (again!) that so many of the books mentioned above have already been "reviewed." Here's your RANT WARNING...

I think that people should not review books they have not read. I think it is wrong that books which have yet-to-be published already have reviews on goodreads! Just Wrong. For example, the third book in the Divergent series has 219 reviews, and has been rated 701 times. Even better: 80% percent of the ratings award the yet-to-be-written/published-book five stars. That's pretty impressive for a book no one has read. What is going on?!?

I am partly confused and somewhat sympathetic. I know there are professional review writers out there, who "blurb" books for money, but I don't think the reviews I saw on goodreads fall into that category. So what motivates people who aren't getting paid to rate a book-not-yet-read? Is it an attempt to make other fans jealous? An overwhelming need to squeal (OMG! I luv this bk s000 much!)? An attempt to curry favor with authors? I don't mean to be a grouchy old person (well, can't help the "old" part), but the pre-rating phenomenon really bugs me. On the other hand, I do understand what it's like to love a book and be super excited about a sequel or companion. So, maybe I'm experiencing a medium > message issue. It would be great if people had a way of expressing excitement about an upcoming book without actually assigning it a rating. You know, on a blog or something. Speaking of which...

Here's a snippet of the conversation we had recently to discuss upcoming posts:
Kara: "I want to read the book that takes place between the end of Fire and the end of Bitterblue."
Rebecca: "Is the author writing that book?"  
Kara: "Uh, not that I know of..."  
[Esso said that she, also, would like to read that book]
As far as I am aware (which really is not very far at all), Ms. Cashore is not currently writing the book I want to read (which is why I'm not assigning a rating!), and may never write that book (which is a sad possibility). Why let a small detail like a book's non-existence stop me from dreaming? SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't read Fire, you have two options: 1) skip the next paragraph; OR 2) read the next paragraph, and accept the fact that I'm going to include details.

I want to live vicariously in Fire's world for just a little while longer (OK, I admit, for a lot longer); to stay right there with her as her relationship with Brigan grows; to watch Hannah blossom into the woman referenced in Bitterblue; to witness the love between Roen and Brocker rekindled; to sit back and watch Mila and Clara's children get to know each other; to find out if the river mare ever allows Small into her heart. That's the book I want to read. In 2013 or whenever Ms. Cashore has the inclination. In the meantime, I'll try to stop snarking and enjoy some of the books my colleagues listed above.

Happy New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Best Books of 2012

   Another year has come and gone, and with this change comes our Best Books of the Year post. This year, we have decided to split the ten best books into our top five picks for both of us. We hope you read them and enjoy them. (If you want to read our original reviews, click the link in the title for that book.)

Rebecca & Esso

Rebecca's Best Books:



Rebecca says:

by Sarah Dalton

It was a great mix of many dystopias without overdoing clichés.  Lots of action and truth mixed into the story.

Cast in Peril (Chronicles of Elantra #8)
by Michelle Sagara

This is the continuation of my new favorite series.  Kaylin Neya continues to navigate her way through different cultures on her own terms.

by Veronica Rossi

It is a tale of two outcastes learning to survive together.

by Jodi Meadows

It is an unlikely favorite as it is the story of a new soul in a world where reincarnation is the norm.

by Veronica Roth

This is the fast-paced, heart wrenching continuation of Tris and Tobias’ search for truth about their society.

Esso's Best Books:



Esso says:

by Kristin Cashore

By far the best book of the year, Fire has it all: action, great characters and a completely swoon worthy Prince Brigan. I also need to mention that Fire is Kara’s top pick for the year, proving that great minds think alike (and Rebecca should read it already!)

by Erin Morgenstern

An enchanting story about two magicians pitted against one another by their masters. It has a dreamlike quality that makes it easy to be drawn in.

by Leigh Bardugo

A great fantasy book that is jam packed with action, deceit, and discovering oneself. I was actually left a little heartbroken by the turn of events.

by Marie Lu

Great characters and dialogue really sealed the deal with this book. Only downfall is that it’s too short.

by Rick Yancey

This book has exquisite depth and emotion. Will Henry will remain one of my all time favorite characters.

Monday, December 17, 2012

I Love Him, I Love Him Not? - Possession by Elana Johnson

Just the facts:

Overall: 2 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it when I had spare time.

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: The world has been turned upside down and all hope is lost!


As much as I try not to write reviews with many spoilers, sometimes it just can’t be avoided. So, here’s your warning that the following review may be riddled with spoilers, but only minor ones, of course.

            First, let me say that I happily received this book at our annual Christmas present exchange at District 13 (thanks, Tina!) and started it right away. It was a very fast, easy read and I was able to finish it in less than a week (and we’re not even on Christmas Break yet). I enjoyed the story and despised it at the same time. Yes, that is possible.

            Possession follows the young Violet Shoenfield, who happens to be one of the worst rule breakers in a society were everyone stays in line and only does what they’re supposed to, thanks in part to the society’s mind control tactics. Because of her rule breaking attitude, she is sent to a prison of sorts were she is placed in a cell with the notorious Jag Barque. Many rules are thus broken and Violet and Jag decide to go on the run together in search for a place where they can live without fear of always being caught. Oh yes, and Violet also decides to leave behind her long term best-friend-turned-boyfriend-fiancée to escape the controlling society which may headed by her own “dead” father. (I warned you about spoilers. You would have figured it out right away anyway).

            On to what I liked. I liked the fact that the story was an easy read. I liked that Violet has a naturally snarky attitude. And I liked the overall premise of the book. Overall, I liked it, but it drove me crazy at the same time.

            I felt like Johnson cut corners by using lame words to describe things. For example, if you followed the rules you were considered a Goodie, if not, that made you a Baddie. You either lived in the Goodlands or the Badlands. Really? Then there are words like techtricity, ascender, and diminisher. Need I go on? Just wait, it gets worse. Violet and Jag drove me insane. I don’t even know how many times Violet hit Jag or threatened to hit him, not to mention the number of times they “break up” and leave each other. And yet, supposedly they are in love?

            I could go on about the annoying things, but I’ll leave it on a good note. Just to give me a glimpse of hope, Johnson salvages the last three chapters. Of course, because now I have to borrow (not buy) the second book.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

1st Blogoversary Giveaway

             Today marks the one year anniversary (blogoversary?) of Apocalypse Reads! We are so happy and blessed to have made it this far, especially during a year filled with challenges. There is obviously a learning curve to running a blog, and I think we’ve navigated our share of difficulties. For example: Did you know that you actually have to post things to your blog? Which means that you have to actually read books and not take the summer off? I think Rebecca understood this idea, but you know, sometimes it’s easier to be a slacker.  I hear they say that the first year is the hardest, and that applies to blogs as well, right?

As a thank you for celebrating our blogoversay with us we are giving away a SIGNED COPY OF Reached to one of our lucky followers! We hope that you continue to read along with us, and we look forward to sharing our recommendations and reviews in the coming year. Here’s what you need to do to enter:
            1. Become a follower of Apocalypse Reads
            2. Use the form below to enter the drawing!
            3. Share the news, of course!

The winner of the giveaway will be announced on January 1, 2013.

            Lastly, we want to give a shout out to our favorite bookstore in the whole wide world, Alamosa Books! If you are ever in the ABQ area or even somewhere in the entire state of New Mexico (really), stop by and meet the wonderful guys over at Alamosa Books. We absolutely love you and thank you for giving us a killer deal on our giveaway book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 7, 2012

Side Effects and Suspense: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Just the facts:

Overall: 5 Stars

Addiction Level: I read it every waking moment (less the school day).

Believe-ability: It was believable.

Dystopia Factor: The world has been turned upside down and all hope is lost! (Kind of).


     Apparently when you haven’t read a good story in a long (long) time, there are some side effects you should be warned about. For example, feeling an intense knot in your chest and the overwhelming sensation that you are about to hurl. If this is what it feels like to read a good book, then why haven’t I been reading lately! No? You’ve not experienced this? Actually, I’ve never experienced the urge to hurl after a good book, so perhaps this is a side effect of my twenty-three sickly third graders.

     In all seriousness, I really do like a book that leaves you physically reeling and all worked up. A book should make you feel something, and Shadow and Bone delivers thoroughly. Shadow and Bone is so good it’s mind-blowing. As in, my mind is so overwhelmed I can’t even describe it to you. I can tell you that it has best friends, action, romance, suspense, and lies all wrapped up in one. Plus, I read it in less than a day, during the school week. (Yes, it’s that good.) I even attempted reading while on the elliptical. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it.

     If you enjoyed Eon and Eona, like stories where all is not what it seems, and prefer something a little dark and different, then this book will not disappoint. After all, it’s just not Christmas without a good book!

Happy reading!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Don’t Mess with the Future: The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Overall Rating: 2 stars
Addiction Level:  I read it when I had spare time.
Believe-ability: The setting was believable.

I wanted to like The Future of Us, because I loved 13 Reasons Why.  The message behind 13 Reasons Why made me want to see what else Jay Asher had in store in The Future of Us.  I was interested in this story, because I had AOL dial-up in the 90s.  In fact Emma and I were both juniors in 1996.  Relating to the story was easy.
Emma gets AOL and is able to logon to a futuristic Facebook.  Every time she and Josh log on, some aspect of their future changes.  They attempt to discover how to change the future.
It is hard to tell where the story fell apart.  The story is told in opposing viewpoints between Josh and Emma.  I appreciate how that was crafted as each chapter picks up where the last chapter left off, but I had a difficult time distinguishing between their two voices.  They were too similar. 
I was halfway through the book before I became engaged in the story.  It was interesting to see that everything they did had an effect on the future.  However, nothing really pulled at my heart strings.  I was not invested in the characters.
It seems the moral Asher and Mackler wanted us to learn was obvious from the beginning:  Don’t mess with the future; worry about today.  
I was hoping for more.  Next time I might not pick up one of his books so easily.