Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop (Dec 27-31)

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. 🙂 Thanks for getting those lines stuck in my head, Julie Cross. haha

This year was full of great reads, but only a small collection hit 5/5 stars on my chart. For this giveaway, I’m offering them to you!

Best of 2011 Giveaway Hop (Dec 27 – 31)

Best of 2011The year is quickly coming to an end. It’s time to spotlight my favorite reads of 2011.

The Rules: The giveaway should be for one of the blogger’s favorite reads of 2011. It can be a book that was released in 2011 or a book read in 2011. Alternately bloggers may include a list of favorite 2011 reads for the winner to choose from. Prizes may be provided as a gift card. No erotica (a reminder for me). This blog hop is sponsored by I’m a Reader Not a Writer.

I’ve opted to present a list for my wonder readers. One winner will have the opportunity to choose a book from my favorite reads of the year. All 5 star reads and highly recommended by yours truly.

Prizes (winner’s choice)

Click on image to read my review

As always, entering is easy. :)

  • You’ll earn 1 point for completing the form.
  • An additional point for sharing the giveaway and leave the link (Twitter, Facebook, Blog, Linked, MySpace, etc.). *OPTIONAL*
  • Sign up for my newsletter for an additional 2 points. *OPTIONAL* See special incentive note below.
  • Comments are appreciated, but only entries from the form count.
  • Giveaway ends Saturday, December 31, 2011 at 11:59 PM ET.
  • Please read the giveaway policy for the nitty gritty.

Special note about my newsletter. Starting in January, I’m starting subscriber-only monthly giveaways in addition to the blog giveaways. If you’re already a subscriber, you’re already entered.

Not a subscriber yet? Subscribe to our newsletter here or fill out the form in the sidebar (upper left).

Novel Review: Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand was recommended to me at least twice. The first time I received the recommendation, it hadn’t been released yet. So, I put it on my to-read list, thinking I may or may not get around to it when the time came. Really, it was one of those books which barely hit my radar. I’m not even sure I read the blurb. At least, I don’t remember the blurb. A month or so later, the book-buying bug hit me again. I put out my typical “what should I read?” request on twitter and Unearthly came up again. Alright… I’ll give it a try. First, the blurb from Ms. Hand’s website.

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she’s part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn’t easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place—and out of place at the same time. Because there’s another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara’s less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she’d have to make—between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?

Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

I almost gave up on this one early. I’m glad I didn’t. It started well. The stakes were practically set on the first page. I was mildly interested. Then the story dragged until page 40ish, and I feared the entire book would be a snoozer. I’m an impatient sort of reader. I have too many reads on my shelf to bother with the dull ones. But folks had raved about this book. I was afraid of giving up too soon. So I pushed through, and around page 60 I was hooked.

The way I judge if a book is good is if I can move past the tendency to critique and just enjoy the story. From page 1-40, I was in full critique mode, constantly rewording each sentence, substituting words, rearranging paragraphs, make cuts… Yeah. I had it bad. After page 60, I was too involved in the story to nitpick. 🙂

I hated Clara at first. For a book I truly enjoyed, that was quite odd. My dislike of the main character really didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the book. For the first half of the book or so, she struck me as a spoiled brat, and the sad thing about it was she didn’t even realize it. She just seemed like a user. Ugh. I suppose that was a good thing. I always enjoy a book with great character development and growth, and she had a long way to go to be likeable. The novel had picked up to have me stick with it, but I’d hoped to see Clara transform into something wonderful. What I found was Clara was one of those gals who seemed to change personalities according those around her. Not a bad thing but not good either. The verdict is still out on that one. 🙂 I will admit, toward the end, the gal wasn’t so bad.

A quick rundown of the rest of the characters. Loved Tucker. Digged Wendy. Christian was just okay. Angela was… not quite sure I liked her. Jeffrey–I didn’t see too much of him, but what I did see of him, I wasn’t exactly fond of. HOWEVER, I do want to see more of him. I so hope his story is next, cause I’m quite curious about that fella. Loved Mom and hope to learn more about her. For a cast of thousands, Ms. Hand did an excellent job giving each character a unique personality.

Plot wise: Wicked awesome. Yeah, it started slow, but the rest was enthralling. And the humor was great. It wasn’t slap stick, which irritates me. It was more on the lines that sometimes real life is just funny–the little things that go wrong that bring a chuckle.

One thing for sure, I had a bunch of favorite lines. 75% of my notes included lines I loved.

  • “You want a Jolly Rancher.” [It’s just so simple yet so funny. But later we get…]
  • My red-hot Jolly Rancher is lying next to his head in the snow.
  • He loves the color of my lips and now the taste of my mouth is making his knees feel weak and he doesn’t want to seem weak in front of me. [Okay. That’s just cute.]
  • I think he seriously believes that deflowering an angel could mean an eternity in fiery hell.

If this novel had a stronger start and a more likable character, it might have made it to my 2011 favorites. Still a great read though. Once my daughter finishes The Hunger Games, I’m pushing Unearthly next.

I see Ms. Hand has her next title (Hallowed) scheduled for 2012. Long wait, but definitely a work I’m looking forward to.

Available at Barnes & Nobles || Amazon || The Book Depository || Kobo || iTunes

Gimme! Gimme!

My Book Depository goodies are starting to trickle in. Apparently the mail has been a little slow in the Old World. So! Let’s see what the mailbox has vomited over the last few days.

I’ve heard folks talking about this book. Finally after Aimee Laine boasted about it, I picked it up. ‘Nuf said. We’ll see how this goes. I’m typically not a non-fiction fan, but this is worthy, I think.

We all know how disappointing anthologies can be. I finished Burning Up a few weeks past, and Meljean’s story really rocked (read review here). Save for the Hero’s obsession with the Heroine never being explained it would have made my top 2010 read for sure. Anyway, Ms. Brook earned herself a fan with her Burning Up Contribution. If she keeps up the good work, I might become a permanent fixture hoarding her prior books.

Okay, this one. 🙂 Mind Games, the first in the series, was a twitter recommendation. It was my first Urban Fantasy book, and I absolutely LOVED it. 2010 Favorite, by the way (see review here). So of course, I had to come back for more.

I’ve had a couple of people from twitter recommend Unearthly to me. I have no idea what it’s about. However, it seems to be getting decent reviews, so I’m in. That’s it. Cool cover though.

The Book Depository