Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created over at The Broke and the Bookish. This feature was created because they're particularly fond of lists at The Broke and the Bookish (and who isn't?). They're all about creating new lists including a little bit of everything and I've been meaning to participate for so long but always seemed to get behind. So here we are and hopefully you'll head over to their page and check out what everyone else put up for this week's Top Ten.
I was lucky enough to have the time and opportunity to read quite a large amount of books and most of them were down right amazing and became instant favorites of mine. Still, despite the number of winners that I came to know and love, there will always be those that stand out among the others as being immediately close to my heart and while there are more than ten on my mind (sorry I can't list them all), I've done my best to narrow the list down for today's post.
Favorite 2012 Read #1: Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1) by Jamie McGuire
INTENSE. DANGEROUS. ADDICTIVE.
Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate number of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance from the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University’s Walking One-Night Stand.
Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby wants—and needs—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.
When I saw this topic header I had no doubt I'd be able to fill up the slots, the hard part would be narrowing it down to just ten choices. Despite that, I had to include this title! I think I can honestly say it was my favorite find this year.
Favorite 2012 Read #2: Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.
During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.
This one threw me for a loop to say the least. I didn't think another book would ever trump The Hunger Games in my opinion within the dystopian genre, but I was so wrong. Never say never because I think this one blew it out of the water!
Favorite 2012 Read #3: Significance (Significance, #1) by Shelly Crane
Maggie is a seventeen year old girl who's had a bad year. She was smart and on track, but then her mom left, her dad is depressed, she's graduating - barely - and her boyfriend of almost three years dumped her for a college football scholarship. Lately she thinks life is all about hanging on by a thread and is gripping tight with everything she has.
Then she saves the life of Caleb and instantly knows there's something about him that's intriguing. But things change when they touch, sparks ignite. Literally.
They imprint with each other and she sees their future life together flash before her eyes. She learns that not only is she his soul mate, and can feel his heartbeat in her chest, but there is a whole other world of people with gifts and abilities that she never knew existed. She herself is experiencing supernatural changes unlike anything she's ever felt before and she needs the touch of his skin to survive.
Now, not only has her dad come out of his depression to be a father again, and a pain as well, but Caleb's enemies know he's imprinted and are after Maggie to stop them both from gaining their abilities and take her from him.
Can Caleb save her or will they be forced to live without each other after just finding one another?
A fresh and new change of pace for me from what I was reading up to this point and I loved it; so much so that I couldn't stop with just the series opener, but had to continue reading the rest of the series installments as well.
Favorite 2012 Read #4: Touch of Death (Touch of Death, #1) by Kelly Hashway
Jodi Marshall isn’t sure how she went from normal teenager to walking disaster. One minute she’s in her junior year of high school, spending time with her amazing boyfriend and her best friend. The next she’s being stalked by some guy no one seems to know.
After the stranger, Alex, reveals himself, Jodi learns he’s not a normal teenager and neither is she. With a kiss that kills and a touch that brings the dead back to life, Jodi discovers she’s part of a branch of necromancers born under the 13th sign of the zodiac, Ophiuchus. A branch of necromancers that are descendants of Medusa. A branch of necromancers with poisoned blood writhing in their veins.
Jodi’s deadly to the living and even more deadly to the deceased. She has to leave her old, normal life behind before she hurts the people she loves. As if that isn’t difficult enough, Jodi discovers she’s the chosen one who has to save the rest of her kind from perishing at the hands of Hades. If she can’t figure out how to control her power, history will repeat itself, and her race will become extinct.
I've always been a fan of mythology and to have the chance to touch on Medusa and the spin Hashway threw into this series was nothing but fun and entertainment. I'm looking forward to seeing what the rest of the series brings.
Favorite 2012 Read #5: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
It's the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.
Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.
And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune--and remarkable power--to whoever can unlock them.
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday's riddles are based in the pop culture he loved--that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday's icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes's oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.
And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.
Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt--among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life--and love--in the real world he's always been so desperate to escape.
A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?
I've never considered myself to be a computer nut or a video game connoisseur, but I am a child of the 80s so when I was asked to consider this read for review I couldn't say no. I'm so glad I got this opportunity. The brilliance behind Cline's world and the competition he created was magical to say the least. My only regret is that I wasn't able to be a contestant myself!
Favorite 2012 Read #6: Such A Rush by Jennifer Echols
When I was fourteen, I made a decision. If I was doomed to live in a trailer park next to an airport, I could complain about the smell of the jet fuel like my mom, I could drink myself to death over the noise like everybody else, or I could learn to fly.
Heaven Beach, South Carolina, is anything but, if you live at the low-rent end of town. All her life, Leah Jones has been the grown-up in her family, while her mother moves from boyfriend to boyfriend, letting any available money slip out of her hands. At school, they may dis Leah as trash, but she’s the one who negotiates with the landlord when the rent’s not paid. At fourteen, she’s the one who gets a job at the nearby airstrip.
But there’s one way Leah can escape reality. Saving every penny she can, she begs quiet Mr. Hall, who runs an aerial banner-advertising business at the airstrip and also offers flight lessons, to take her up just once. Leaving the trailer park far beneath her and swooping out over the sea is a rush greater than anything she’s ever experienced, and when Mr. Hall offers to give her cut-rate flight lessons, she feels ready to touch the sky.
By the time she’s a high school senior, Leah has become a good enough pilot that Mr. Hall offers her a job flying a banner plane. It seems like a dream come true . . . but turns out to be just as fleeting as any dream. Mr. Hall dies suddenly, leaving everything he owned in the hands of his teenage sons: golden boy Alec and adrenaline junkie Grayson. And they’re determined to keep the banner planes flying.
Though Leah has crushed on Grayson for years, she’s leery of getting involved in what now seems like a doomed business—until Grayson betrays her by digging up her most damning secret. Holding it over her head, he forces her to fly for secret reasons of his own, reasons involving Alec. Now Leah finds herself drawn into a battle between brothers—and the consequences could be deadly.
This is an author that can unfold a relationship to perfection. Her characters are real and easy to relate to on various levels, and readers find themselves hard pressed to avoid becoming invested in their fictional lives. Each of her books introduces new scenarios to learn from, new characters to fall in love with and keeps readers wanting more every time!
Favorite 2012 Read #7: Darkness Before Dawn (Darkness Before Dawn, #1) by J.A. London
Only sunlight can save us.
We built the wall to keep them out, to keep us safe. But it also makes us prisoners, trapped in what's left of our ravaged city, fearing nightfall.
After the death of my parents, it's up to me--as the newest delegate for humanity--to bargain with our vampire overlord. I thought I was ready. I thought I knew everything there was to know about the monsters. Then again, nothing could have prepared me for Lord Valentine . . . or his son. Maybe not all vampires are killers. Maybe it's safe to let one in.
Only one thing is certain: Even the wall is not enough. A war is coming and we cannot hide forever.
This mother-son writing duo have proved two minds can sometimes be better than one. Bargains with vampires, a dystopian society with a healthy mix of paranormal romance and I was hooked. At the time I wasn't sure if this series would be picked up and future installments added, but now I can rest easy because 2013 brings readers a sequel to devour.
Favorite 2012 Read #8: Touch of Power (Healer, #1) by Maria V. Snyder
Laying hands upon the injured and dying, Avry of Kazan assumes their wounds and diseases into herself. But rather than being honored for her skills, she is hunted. Healers like Avry are accused of spreading the plague that has decimated the Territories, leaving the survivors in a state of chaos.
Stressed and tired from hiding, Avry is abducted by a band of rogues who, shockingly, value her gift above the golden bounty offered for her capture. Their leader, an enigmatic captor-protector with powers of his own, is unequivocal in his demands: Avry must heal a plague-stricken prince—leader of a campaign against her people. As they traverse the daunting Nine Mountains, beset by mercenaries and magical dangers, Avry must decide who is worth healing and what is worth dying for. Because the price of peace may well be her life....
Thank goodness for authors like Snyder because I don't know what I'd do without her creative and unique fictional worlds, her sometimes outlandish and always wonderful characters, her magic, mystery and romance are hard to beat! Every time she starts a new series I get excited all over again, knowing without a doubt that I'm about to experience another amazing adventure!
Favorite 2012 Read #9: Healed by Fire (Artemis Lupine, #3) by Catherine Banks
“The dark approaches. Fire will consume and restore, happiness and pain must be experienced collectively. Death for three will be the end.”
Her memory taken and her whereabouts unknown Artemis is taken in by a coven of witches who give her the name Chandra. After an intense interaction with the Beta of the Werewolves, whom she can’t deny a connection to, Chandra learns that there are people who know her true identity and that she’s not the only halfbreed werewolf alive. Is he really her mate? Just who was she in this previous life? Does she even want to find out the truth? And can she decipher the meaning of her death prophecy before it’s too late?
What a dark horse of a series this turned out to be, and I mean that in the best possible way. I can't even remember how I came to find this series. I'll admit the cover art almost had me passing it up, but for some reason I gave it a try and couldn't be happier that I did. I fell in love with these characters and this third series installment left me with so much anxiety I wasn't sure I'd survive. Banks has a great writing style and a real winner of a series to call her own.
Favorite 2012 Read #10: Minder (Ganzfield, #1) by Kate Kaynak
Sixteen-year-old Maddie Dunn is special, but she needs to figure out how to use her new abilities before somebody else gets hurt. Ganzfield is a secret training facility full of people like her, but it's not exactly a nurturing place.
Every social interaction carries the threat of mind-control.
A stray thought can burn a building to the ground.
And people's nightmares don't always stay in their own heads. But it's still better than New Jersey. Especially once she meets the man of her dreams...
What a gem this title turned out to be! I've had it on my shelf unread for longer than I care to admit but I finally rectified that situation. As it turns out I'm kicking myself for not reading it sooner. I'm loving the characters, their special abilities, the adventure and danger, all of it. Kaynak is leaving nothing out and her readers and fans are in for a very entertaining ride.