End Of Year Book Survey – 2012!

8:46 PM Posted by Bonnie @ A Backwards Story

In case you missed it, I received a cold for the holidays, so my blog remained empty for most of last week.  I planned to have a few posts for Best Books via categories, etc., each day, but had no energy to put it together.

Luckily, Jamie from both The Broke and the Brokish and The Perpetual Page Turner put together an awesome survey and is inviting fellow bloggers to link up!

Check it out, and read on for a few of my 2012 favorites!

And since I'm not doing any other "Best Of" posts...

~Other favorites that didn't make the following list in any of the categories included:~

 DEFIANCE by C.J. Redwine, WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang, BITTERBLUE by Kristin Cashore, WAKING STORMS by Sarah Porter, THE RIVALS by Daisy Whitney, GRAVE MERCY by Robin Lafevers, ENCHANTED by Alethea Kontis, CINDER by Marissa Meyer, and INCARNATE by Jodi Meadows!

~Best in Books 2012~

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? 
*My favorite YA novel was THE CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson.  I had high expectations going in and was still blown away.  The sign of a great fantasy writer!
(It looks like my review is still in draft mode and unfinished.  I'll finish it this week!  For now, check out reviews for THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and the short story THE SHADOW CATS!)
*My favorite adult novel was GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn.  While it started out slowly, there were so many surprises and twists that I was up until 2 am reading!
(My review)
*My favorite MG is a tie between:
ORDINARY MAGIC by Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, which was so unique, and written in such a fresh, funny voice.
(My review of ORDINARY MAGIC; I also did a guest post with the author on world-building and a cover design interview with art director Donna Mark!)
My other favorite in the category is WINTERLING by Sarah Prineas, which I apparently never reviewed, even though I read it back in February!  Guess I'll have to do that when SUMMERKIN comes around in 2013!
*My favorite novella e-book was AFTER THE BALL by Sarah Cross, which I just read last night and haven't reviewed yet.  It reminded me of how much I loved KILL ME SOFTLY and the fairy tale world of Sarah Cross!
(Check out the short story AFTER THE BALL for FREE and read my review of KILL ME SOFTLY, one of my 2012 favorites!)
*My favorite indie/self-pub title was DEITY by Jennifer Armentrout.  Spencer Hill Press continues to amaze me with what they are putting out!
(My review)

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? 
I didn't fall for John Green's THE FAULT IN OUR STARS as much as everyone else did.  I think it's because I purposely detached myself from the book because medical issues were too hard for me to read about this year.  Also, there was a lot of hype.  I think I expected wonder babies!
(I just read it in Dec, so there's no review yet)

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2012? 
KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross.  The cover is really bloody, and the title doesn't indicate that this is a fairy tale.  I never would have even looked at this twice at the bookstore if someone hadn't named it a Best of 2012 So Far title back in June for Armchair BEA!
(My review)

4. Book you recommended to people most in 2012? 
"What should I read if I liked THE HUNGER GAMES?" I've recommended Veronica Roth's dystopian series to SO many people!  I literally loaned out my copies of DIVERGENT and INSURGENT to six or seven people.  They are BATTERED now! (And I've learned that book loans should ALWAYS be in a book sock, because you never know who reads your shiny books with potato chip fingers!)
(My review of INSURGENT; I never reviewed DIVERGENT in 2011.)

5. Best series you discovered in 2012?
The Elemental series by Brigid Kemmerer!  I have yet to review STORM, SPARK and the novellas because I was waiting to do one big week for everything and have Brigid stop by.  We haven't been able to coordinate yet.  But ooooh, so good! 

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2012? 
Three come straight to mind:
*Zoë Marriott: I had read THE SWAN KINGDOM before 2012, but thought it was ordinary compared to DAUGHTER OF THE FOREST by Juliet Marillier's version of the fairy tale.  This year, I read SHADOWS ON THE MOON, which is a dark Japanese version of Cinderella, and was blown-away. I also read Zoë's two non-fairy tale fantasy novels and loved them, too.  I'm so excited for her new series in 2013!
(Check out a guest post with Marriott and a review of SHADOWS ON THE MOON, along with an author interview!  I also reviewed DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES and FROSTFIRE.)
*Jackson Pearce: I had SISTERS RED and SWEETLY, but never read either until 2012.  I also read Pearce's latest novel, FATHOMLESS this year.  All three are fantastic and twisty, and I love Pearce's way with words.  I am so excited for COLD SPELL in 2013!
(Check out my reviews of SWEETLY, SISTERS RED, and FATHOMLESS!)
*Sarah Cross: KILL ME SOFTLY was so well-written, and reading her free novella AFTER THE BALL yesterday made me remember why I loved Cross so much.  She creates such unique, delicate sentences.  Read the opening hook in my review of KILL ME SOFTLY to see what I mean.  Gorgeous!  I loved her so much that I had to read her older, non-fairy tale novel DULL BOY this year as well!
(Check out the short story AFTER THE BALL for FREE and read my review of KILL ME SOFTLY, one of my 2012 favorites!)

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you? 
*I don't read a lot of mystery or crime thrillers, so GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn was out of the ordinary for me.  I got really into it, though.  One of the most unputdownable reads of 2012!
(My review)
*SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo was another title that fits this category.  I didn't like the sound of flesh-eating monsters in the book's summary and thought the book sounded paranormal, so I didn't want to read it.  When I heard it was a fabulous high fantasy, I decided to give it a try...and I'm so glad I did!
(My review; my interview when I met the author)
*A third book in a genre I don't read a lot was RADIATE by Marley Gibson.  It was about cancer and illness, a genre I loved in high school when Lurlene McDaniel was a favorite of mine, but steer away from now because it's too depressing.  This was an unsolicited send from a publicist that I almost didn't read, but I'm so glad I did!
(My review)

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2012? 
To repeat #7...
GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn!
(My review)

9. Book You Read In 2012 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year: 
Either INSURGENT by Veronica Roth or THE CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson.  I'm sure I'll re-read both before the final book in each trilogy releases!
(My review of INSURGENT.  THE CROWN OF EMBERS is in draft mode and coming soon!)

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2012? 
I love so many covers that I'm just going to go with the top five that come to mind :

*SISTERS RED isn't from 2012, but I read it this year. I love the way the cover is an illusion and looks like two different things depending on if you see the two sisters or Little Red and the Wolf!  I was disappointed when FATHOMLESS launched a cover re-design for this series!
(My review)
*The UK cover for Jay Kristoff's STORMDANCER is my favorite, though I also love the US version created by Jason Chan (Then again, I am a HUGE FAN of anything by Jason Chan!).  The UK version has a more traditional Japanese feel, while the US version reads more steampunk.  The traditional scene wins my heart here!
(My review)
*I love the illustrated cover for SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo.  I wish more YA and Adult novels had grand illustrated covers!  Rich Deas has designed so many fabulous covers that I loved this year.  I interviewed him back in January about his cover design for Marissa Meyer's CINDER!
(My review)
*The cover for VESSEL is soooooooooo pretty, which is fitting, because this is perhaps my favorite book from Sarah Beth Durst.  The lush fantasy, the coloring, the intrigue, the sheerness of it all!  I can wax poetic for hours!
(No review just yet, but look for treats in 2013!  For now, check out my reviews of her titles ICE (my other favorite by her), ENCHANTED IVY, and DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!)
*ELEMENTAL by Antony John is take-my-breath-away gorgeous in person.  It's embossed and shiny, beautiful to look at no matter what direction you're turning it in!
(No review yet, but it's coming!)

11. Most memorable character in 2012? 
A from EVERY DAY by David Levithan.  Levithan created a character so unique, so extraordinary, that I've never seen anyone similar.  Truly memorable!
(I read this one in December, so a review is again forthcoming) 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2012? 
*To beat a dead horse and sound redundant, I'm going to go with KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross.  Seriously.  At least check out the hook in the review I'm linking you to and you'll see what I'm talking about. This woman's way with words....!
(my review)
*I also covet Lauren Oliver's way with words, which I've said in past years.  It's one reason I'm so drawn to her titles.  This year, her middle grade novel THE SPINDLERS stood out as being chock-full of beautiful, descriptive sentences.
(This is another review in draft mode...mostly because I never have energy/time to cross-check all the ARC quotes I want to use against the finished copy!)

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2012? 
This year, I was shocked by the raw grittiness being released from Harlequin Teen.  It wasn't all about the romance.  One title in particular stood out.  PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry had so many nuances that I still find myself thinking about the characters and their lives every now and again.
(My review)

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2012 to finally read? 
SISTERS RED by Jackson Pearce!  I had it first, too...and it was the third book by Pearce that I read in 2012.
(My review)
I also finally began reading Cinda Williams Chima in 2012 after sitting on her Heir Chronicles books for a while.  I'm still only two in, and I'm eager to get a kick-start on her Seven Realms Quartet in 2013.
(No reviews yet)

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2012? 
I can't think of any one offhand, but this past month, I was constantly updating Goodreads with quotes from THE FAULT IN OUR STARS by John Green and EVERY DAY by David Levithan, so they're fresh in my mind.  As I mentioned in #12, Sarah Cross (KILL ME SOFTLY) and Lauren Oliver (THE SPINDLERS) also have profound ways of describing things.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2012? 
*Longest — TILT by Ellen Hopkins clocks in at 604 pages (Though it doesn't have as many words as other, "shorter" books might since it's in verse!)
(My review)
*Shortest — I'm assuming we're excluding ebook novellas and picture books, but just looking at novels.  Looking at Goodreads, the shortest novel is ELEMENTAL by Emily White, clocking in at 180 pages.
(My review)

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!
I NEEDED to talk to my co-workers who had read GONE GIRL by Gillian Flynn immediately after finishing the book.  OMG, you can't even...I can't even... that book just SLAMS you. It is absolutely a book club book that will have the conversation going for hours!
(My review)

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2012 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).
*One thing that made PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry work well was the way the two main characters interacted with one another.  They were at two extremes in their lives, and only together could they begin to heal.  This interaction is a big part of what makes PUSHING THE LIMITS so incredibly good.
(My review)
*I was also a big fan of the way Caitlen Rubino-Bradway shared the Hale family with readers in ORDINARY MAGIC.  The family is so close-knit and caring and loving, and they reminded me a lot of the Weasley family.  I loved them so much and miss them already!  I wish more families like the Hales existed in literature!
(My review)

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2012 From An Author You Read Previously 
*THE CROWN OF EMBERS by Rae Carson, which was my favorite YA novel of the year.
(It looks like my review is still in draft mode and unfinished.  I'll finish it this week!  For now, check out reviews for THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS and the short story THE SHADOW CATS!)
*I also loved Sarah Beth Durst's latest offering VESSEL.  It's her best book yet!
(No review just yet, but look for treats in 2013!  For now, check out my reviews of her titles ICE (my other favorite by her), ENCHANTED IVY, and DRINK, SLAY, LOVE!)
*Before 2012, I had read one book by Zoë Marriott, which was good, but didn't blow me away.  All three of the ones in 2012 did, but especially her latest offering, SHADOWS ON THE MOON.
(Check out a guest post with Marriott and a review of SHADOWS ON THE MOON, along with an author interview!  I also reviewed DAUGHTER OF THE FLAMES and FROSTFIRE.)

20. Best Book You Read That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else: 
I would have never picked up KILL ME SOFTLY by Sarah Cross if it hadn't been for another blogger talking about how good it was during Armchair BEA.  I didn't even know it existed because the cover and title turned me off!
(my review)

 ~Book Blogging/Reading Life in 2012~ 

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2012? 
©Margot Wood at The Real Fauxtographer
As much as I love the cover art for Libba
Bray's BEAUTY QUEENS, I sort of love
this version even more!!!
This past week, I discovered The Real Fauxtographer.  It's a photography blog, but Margot Wood has started staging and re-creating book cover designs.  Her version of Libba Bray's BEAUTY QUEENS is my favorite so far and I can't wait to see what else she shares with us!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2012? 
*SHADOWS ON THE MOON by Zoë Marriott
or TIGER LILY by Jodi Lynn Anderson or PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry are three that I remember loving offhand.

3. Best discussion you had on your blog? 
I personally loved my recent Scribble Post entitled The Perfect Gift for Aspiring Young Writers.  I just had so much fun with it and sharing my own childhood experiences with you.

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else’s blog? 
My brain can't think of any right now, but I know there have been some great ones that I loved reading and commenting on this past year.  I just can't think of any off the top of my head! *hides*

5. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? 
Macmillan brought four of its Fierce Reads authors my way and chose A Backwards Story to host the event!  They sent me books for an epic autographed giveaway, I had a one-on-one interview with the authors, and the signing and Q&A were so much fun.  Plus, I got to hang with Jamie from The Broke and the Bookish and The Perpetual Page Turner (Yes, the same Jamie who created this survey!), and I don't get to meet up with this girl often enough!

I also had a great time at PAYA, where I met up with so many great authors and saw some great local bloggers, including Jena from Shortie Says, Vi from Confessions of a Vi3tbabe, and Frankie from Frankie Diane Mallis and The First Novels Club!

6. Best moment of book blogging in 2012? 
When someone left me the sweetest, nicest comment in the entire world.  To me, it was profound, meaningful, and showed me that people truly care about both me and this blog.  I hold that comment so, so close to my heart because it was deep and meaningful.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? 
The top five high-hitting posts amuse me, because they're not the posts that I would think would become the most popular, but they all have four-digit hits!
*My Cover Reveal post for THIS IS WHAT HAPPY LOOKS LIKE by Jennifer E. Smith
*My Mythological Mondays post about trolls and Amanda Hocking's Trylle Trilogy
*During Splash into Summer, my Mermaid Spotting in Jodi Lynn Anderson's TIGER LILY
*My review of OFF-BALANCE: A Memoir by former Olympic gold medal gymnast Dominique Moceanu
*My Cover Crazy post featuring TANGLED TIDES by Karen Amanda Hooper

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? 
I wish the reviews I loved most from this section in #2 had more interaction, as well as a lot of the interviews I've done, especially with elusive cover designers!

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? 
I loved that so many movies that were book-world-related came out this year.  I saw both RUBY SPARKS and THE WORDS in theaters, and I just rented STRUCK BY LIGHTNING On Demand (It will be in theaters in January 2013).  I also found, purchased, and watched two older related movies earlier this year, DEDICATION and THE GHOSTWRITER.  None of them compares to my favorite book-related-movie, STRANGER THAN FICTION, but I loved seeing so many books with this topic in 2012!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? 
Last year, I participated in a lot of meme challenges, but this year, I didn't really link up to anything.  I had less free time in 2012 since I was promoted in late 2011 and began working longer/more hours.  I found that I spent a lot less time blogging than I would have liked this year, both from this, and from personal events going on in my life throughout the year.

My big challenge in December was to finish reading everything "major," and I'm still four books short since I've been too sick and/or busy to read in the last week or two!  That's better than usual, though!

~Looking Ahead…~ 

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2012 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2013? 
If you saw my answer to the last question, you'll know there were four books I wanted to have read by the end of 2012 for a potential Best Of list.
They were:
*FOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS by Diana Peterfreund (reading now)
(This one makes me sick.  I've wanted it since the publishing deal announced in 2010!)
*THE DARKEST MINDS by Alexandra Bracken
(Another one that makes me sick.  I've wanted this since reading BRIGHTLY WOVEN when it came out in HARDCOVER in early 2010 after reading snippets on the author's blog.  I even had an ARC of it...and no time!)
*COLLATERAL by Ellen Hopkins
(After reading TILT, I was so eager to try an adult novel by Hopkins.  I tried to start this before it came out, but haven't had time yet!)
*THE CHAPERONE by Laura Moriarty
(I've read all three of the author's other books and was eager for a historical novel from her, especially after it was called the Book of Summer.  I even won an early ARC from Library Thing!  Have I had time to read it?  No!)

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2013? 
I've been REALLY good about sitting on my 2013 ARCs until, well...2013!  I wanted to finish some 2012 titles first.  They're really stacking up, though, and I don't know which of these ten to read first! I want to read them all this second.  Which order would you choose?

I'm going to start with either REQUIEM by Lauren Oliver, SCARLET by Marissa Meyer, ASUNDER by Jodi Meadows, DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers, POISON by Bridget Zinn, PROPHECY by Ellen Oh,  THE TWICE LOST by Sarah Porter, THE STORYTELLER by Jodi Picoult, INK by Amanda Sun, SEIGE AND STORM by Leigh Bardugo, or APOLLYON by Jennifer L. Armentrout (which just came in the mail today!).

3. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2013? 
I want to review at least two books every week, as well as do more features again.  I got really behind in blogging this past year, and didn't always have as much content as other bloggers.  I want to bring you more great features and reviews to interest you in more titles!

This was really long, I know.  Thanks for sticking around till the end!  Link me to your post below and I'll check it out! ^_^

{Review} SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington

9:14 AM Posted by Bonnie @ A Backwards Story

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

in which
national geographic
inadvertently changes my life 

KEEPING SECRETS ISN'T MY SPECIALTY.  It never has been, ever since kindergarten when I found out Becky Swanson had a crush on Tommy Barnes, and I managed to circulate that fact to the entire class, including Tommy himself, within our fifteen minute recess--a pretty impressive feat, in retrospect.  That was ten years ago, and it still may hold the record for my personal best.

The secret I have now is so, so much juicier than that.  I'm just about ready to burst at the seams.
(Page 7, US paperback first edition)

Earlier this year, I reviewed two other books revolving around bullying getting a lot of acclaim: KEEP HOLDING ON by Susane Colasanti and THE LIST by Siobhan Vivian.  SPEECHLESS felt rougher, grittier, and more compelling to me, especially since the reason that main character Chelsea Knot is in her predicament to begin with is because of a secret blurted at an inopportune time.  Author Hannah Harrington focuses on the devastating consequences of a popular girl's fall from grace, as well as extreme bullying techniques due to the fact that she got two popular athletes into trouble with the law.  Harlequin Publishing has long been associated with frou-frou romance titles, and when I first noticed their Teen imprint, I expected more of the same.  This year, I've been pleasantly surprised with just how deep and raw and real the imprint is, steering far away from its roots.  PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry dealt with hard issues, and I gushed all over it in my reviews earlier this year.  SPEECHLESS also pushes boundaries, and I found it the best book revolving around school torment this year.

By the end of SPEECHLESS, readers truly care about Chelsea and her life.  This is a complete 180 from the beginning, when Chelsea is a supremely unlikable character.  Chelsea would fit right in with the popular crowd from the movie Mean Girls, living it up at the top of the social pyramid with her friends and trash-talking everyone around her.  After her fall, a lot of her peers thought she got what was coming to her.  After all, "everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret."  In a way, Chelsea reminds me a lot of Samantha Kingston from Lauren Oliver's award-winning BEFORE I FALL.  Both Chelsea and Sam are easy to dislike, and it's hard to care about their plight.  They both learn hard lessons about the consequences of their actions and become stronger, kinder characters along the way.  This particularly shines through in SPEECHLESS because Chelsea must make amends with the friends of the student who was the victim of her words, especially as she realizes how much she likes them.

It's interesting to see the way Chelsea's words and actions change her life.  She even takes a vow of silence after reading an article in National Geographic, which fuels more teasing at school from students who don't understand.  I know from personal experience that long-term silences (even with just one person) are hard, especially when you want to talk, but don't know how to start things up again after going so long without.  In that aspect, I connected with the book on an additional level that other readers might not.  I also liked the unflinching way Harrington highlights the consequences of one's actions, the negative side of bullying, and the benefits that come from sticking up for your beliefs and doing what's right.  SPEECHLESS is a powerful addition to the teen genre and should be read by teens of all ages, forcing them to consider thinking before they speak.~*~
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

This cover is so simple, yet so striking in person.  It made me stop and take notice!  At first, I didn't even realize I'd expressed interest in the title before as an ARC.

Take a look at this video for a close-up look, but I love everything about this one!

O F F I C I A L   I N F O:

Author: Hannah Harrington
Release Date: Out Aug. 28, 2012
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Received: Purchased

Everyone knows that Chelsea Knot can't keep a secret 

Until now. Because the last secret she shared turned her into a social outcast—and nearly got someone killed. 

Now Chelsea has taken a vow of silence—to learn to keep her mouth shut, and to stop hurting anyone else. And if she thinks keeping secrets is hard, not speaking up when she's ignored, ridiculed and even attacked is worse. 

But there's strength in silence, and in the new friends who are, shockingly, coming her way—people she never noticed before; a boy she might even fall for. If only her new friends can forgive what she's done. If only she can forgive herself.