Winter Reading Challenge!

12 December, 2011 Uncategorized 4 comments

For the months of December 2011 to February 2012 I’ll be participating in a Winter Reading Challenge from the YA Book Club on GoodReads! Who doesn’t love a good challenge? The idea is to choose ten books that meet certain criteria. Most of the books I’ve chosen have either been sitting on my kindle or To-Be-Read list for months or I’ve heard so much about them and just have yet to get to them. Here are the books and criteria:

Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

Criteria: Winter is the time when books are given awards are and are placed on a variety of Best of lists. Read a book which received some critical or popular acclaim in 2011.
Why I chose this book: I have been hearing a lot of great things about this series and I have both the first book and second on my kindle.

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever.

Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

Told from Adam’s point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay, Where She Went explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.

Clockwork Prince (The Infernal Devices #2) by Cassandra Clare

Criteria: Read a book that is a new release published in December of 2011, January or February of 2012.
Why I chose this book: This will be my last attempt to give Cassandra Clare a chance to impress me. She has an insane fan base and I’m trying to figure out why.  To be honest, I really want to change this one to A Million Suns, but I’m trying very hard not to change up my Winter Challenge list since it’s already started.

In the magical underworld of Victorian London, Tessa Gray has at last found safety with the Shadowhunters. But that safety proves fleeting when rogue forces in the Clave plot to see her protector, Charlotte, replaced as head of the Institute. If Charlotte loses her position, Tessa will be out on the street and easy prey for the mysterious Magister, who wants to use Tessa’s powers for his own dark ends.

With the help of the handsome, self-destructive Will and the fiercely devoted Jem, Tessa discovers that the Magister’s war on the Shadowhunters is deeply personal. He blames them for a long-ago tragedy that shattered his life. To unravel the secrets of the past, the trio journeys from mist-shrouded Yorkshire to a manor house that holds untold horrors, from the slums of London to an enchanted ballroom where Tessa discovers that the truth of her parentage is more sinister than she had imagined. When they encounter a clockwork demon bearing a warning for Will, they realize that the Magister himself knows their every move and that one of their own has betrayed them.

Tessa finds her heart drawn more and more to Jem, though her longing for Will, despite his dark moods, continues to unsettle her. But something is changing in Will; the wall he has built around himself is crumbling. Could finding the Magister free Will from his secrets and give Tessa the answers about who she is and what she was born to do?

As their dangerous search for the Magister and the truth leads the friends into peril, Tessa learns that when love and lies are mixed, they can corrupt even the purest heart.

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu and Erin Mcguire (Illustrator)

Criteria:  Read a book set in winter, has a “wintery” cover (snow, skiing, etc.), features Christmas.
Why I chose this book: I think this one is a bit obvious. It can be hard to find a decent book with a “wintery” cover. Plus this one received favorable reviews from my GoodReads friends.

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. They had been best friends since they were six, spending hot Minneapolis summers and cold Minneapolis winters together, dreaming of Hogwarts and Oz, superheroes and baseball. Now that they were eleven, it was weird for a boy and a girl to be best friends. But they couldn’t help it – Hazel and Jack fit, in that way you only read about in books. And they didn’t fit anywhere else.

And then, one day, it was over. Jack just stopped talking to Hazel. And while her mom tried to tell her that this sometimes happens to boys and girls at this age, Hazel had read enough stories to know that it’s never that simple. And it turns out, she was right. Jack’s heart had been frozen, and he was taken into the woods by a woman dressed in white to live in a palace made of ice. Now, it’s up to Hazel to venture into the woods after him. Hazel finds, however, that these woods are nothing like what she’s read about, and the Jack that Hazel went in to save isn’t the same Jack that will emerge. Or even the same Hazel.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” Breadcrumbs is a story of the struggle to hold on, and the things we leave behind.

Tempest by Julie Cross

Criteria: Read a book whose title starts with one of the letters of the word WINTER.
Why I chose this book: I joined Wendy Darling’s ARC tour for this book over at her blog The Midnight Garden, so I figured I’d just use this for my challenge. I’ve already finished this book and my review can be found here.

The year is 2009. Nineteen-year-old Jackson Meyer is a normal guy… he’s in college, has a girlfriend… and he can travel back through time. But it’s not like the movies – nothing changes in the present after his jumps, there’s no space-time continuum issues or broken flux capacitors – it’s just harmless fun.

That is… until the day strangers burst in on Jackson and his girlfriend, Holly, and during a struggle with Jackson, Holly is fatally shot. In his panic, Jackson jumps back two years to 2007, but this is not like his previous time jumps. Now he’s stuck in 2007 and can’t get back to the future.

Desperate to somehow return to 2009 to save Holly but unable to return to his rightful year, Jackson settles into 2007 and learns what he can about his abilities.

But it’s not long before the people who shot Holly in 2009 come looking for Jackson in the past, and these “Enemies of Time” will stop at nothing to recruit this powerful young time-traveler. Recruit… or kill him.

Piecing together the clues about his father, the Enemies of Time, and himself, Jackson must decide how far he’s willing to go to save Holly… and possibly the entire world.

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles #1)  by Melina Marchetta

Criteria: Read a book written by an author who is absolutely new to you.
Why I chose this book: Melina Marchetta’s books almost always gain 4 or 5 stars from my most trusted GoodReads friends. For some unknown reason, I have yet to experience her awesomeness. I must remedy that at once.

At the age of nine, Finnikin is warned by the gods that he must sacrifice a pound of flesh to save his kingdom. He stands on the rock of the three wonders with his friend Prince Balthazar and Balthazar’s cousin, Lucian, and together they mix their blood to safeguard Lumatere.

But all safety is shattered during the five days of the unspeakable, when the king and queen and their children are brutally murdered in the palace. An impostor seizes the throne, a curse binds all who remain inside Lumatere’s walls, and those who escape are left to roam the land as exiles, dying by the thousands in fever camps.

Ten years later, Finnikin is summoned to another rock–to meet Evanjalin, a young novice with a startling claim: Balthazar, heir to the throne of Lumatere, is alive. This arrogant young woman claims she’ll lead Finnikin and his mentor, Sir Topher, to the prince. Instead, her leadership points them perilously toward home. Does Finnikin dare believe that Lumatere might one day rise united? Evanjalin is not what she seems, and the startling truth will test Finnikin’s faith not only in her but in all he knows to be true about himself and his destiny.

In a bold departure from her acclaimed contemporary novels, Printz Medalist Melina Marchetta has crafted an epic fantasy of ancient magic, feudal intrigue, romance, and bloodshed that will rivet you from the first page.

Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1) by Kendare Blake

Criteria: Read a book that features an animal, for example, a main character owns a pet, works with animals, or rides them.
Why I chose this book: A few of my GoodReads friends (Wendy, Karen, and Cillian) are pretty much stalking me to read this book. Everyone seems to like it, but the blurb doesn’t really excite me. In any case, it’s hard enough to find a good book featuring an animal. Wendy, Karen, and Cillian this better be good or I’m coming to troll your reviews!

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas’s life.


 Starcrossed (Starcrossed #1) by Josephine Angelini

Criteria: In celebration of Valentine’s Day, read a romance, contemporary, paranormal, historical, etc., or any book with a strong romantic subplot.
Why I chose this book: I had been dying to read this book since I first heard about it earlier this year. It’s been on my kindle for a few months now and I just keep putting it off, mostly in part to tons of negative reviews. I’m 99.9% sure this book will get a rather snarky review from me. Ah, nothing like a good snarkfest to put some hair on your chest.

How do you defy destiny?

Helen Hamilton has spent her entire sixteen years trying to hide how different she is—no easy task on an island as small and sheltered as Nantucket. And it’s getting harder. Nightmares of a desperate desert journey have Helen waking parched, only to find her sheets damaged by dirt and dust. At school she’s haunted by hallucinations of three women weeping tears of blood . . . and when Helen first crosses paths with Lucas Delos, she has no way of knowing they’re destined to play the leading roles in a tragedy the Fates insist on repeating throughout history.

As Helen unlocks the secrets of her ancestry, she realizes that some myths are more than just legend. But even demigod powers might not be enough to defy the forces that are both drawing her and Lucas together—and trying to tear them apart.


 The Girl of Fire and Thorns (Fire and Thorns #1) by Rae Carson

Criteria: Read a book which has a character of noble blood – this character can belong to royalty or aristocracy, in a novel set in present or past, real world or fantasy.
Why I chose this book: Again, it’s on my kindle and I’m trying to clear out old titles. I’ve checked this book out twice from the library and took it back each time before even starting it.

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.

Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can’t see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he’s not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people’s savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

Eve (Eve #1) by Anna Carey

Criteria: Read a book about a character with a single parent or no parents.
Why I chose this book: Mostly because I have a strange addiction to dystopian books. LOL.

The year is 2032, sixteen years after a deadly virus—and the vaccine intended to protect against it—wiped out most of the earth’s population. The night before eighteen-year-old Eve’s graduation from her all-girls school she discovers what really happens to new graduates, and the horrifying fate that awaits her.

Fleeing the only home she’s ever known, Eve sets off on a long, treacherous journey, searching for a place she can survive. Along the way she encounters Caleb, a rough, rebellious boy living in the wild. Separated from men her whole life, Eve has been taught to fear them, but Caleb slowly wins her trust…and her heart. He promises to protect her, but when soldiers begin hunting them, Eve must choose between true love and her life.


White Cat (Curse Workers #1) by Holly Black

Criteria: Try an audiobook. If you learn that this format doesn’t work for you, you can switch to a written version of your chosen audio.
Why I chose this book: It was hard trying to find a book that seemed interesting that also came as an audio book. This series has gotten very good reviews and I’m looking forward to checking it out. I’m not sure how I’m going to manage listening to an audio book with Thing One and Thing Two running around, but we’ll see. 😉

Cassel comes from a family of curse workers — people who have the power to change your emotions, your memories, your luck, by the slightest touch of their hands. And since curse work is illegal, they’re all mobsters, or con artists. Except for Cassel. He hasn’t got the magic touch, so he’s an outsider, the straight kid in a crooked family. You just have to ignore one small detail — he killed his best friend, Lila, three years ago.

Ever since, Cassel has carefully built up a façade of normalcy, blending into the crowd. But his façade starts crumbling when he starts sleepwalking, propelled into the night by terrifying dreams about a white cat that wants to tell him something. He’s noticing other disturbing things, too, including the strange behavior of his two brothers. They are keeping secrets from him, caught up in a mysterious plot. As Cassel begins to suspect he’s part of a huge con game, he also wonders what really happened to Lila. Could she still be alive? To find that out, Cassel will have to out-con the conmen.

Holly Black has created a gripping tale of mobsters and dark magic where a single touch can bring love — or death — and your dreams might be more real than your memories.


So that’s the list! One down, nine to go!

Steph Sinclair

Steph Sinclair

Co-blogger at Cuddlebuggery
I'm a bibliophile trying to make it through my never-ending To-Be-Read list, equal opportunity snarker, fangirl and co-blogger here at Cuddlebuggery. Find me on GoodReads.

4 Responses to “Winter Reading Challenge!”

  1. Lisa

    Several of those books are on my to-read list as well. I'm in agreement about Anna Dressed in Blood. Everyone raves about it so I'm planning on reading it, but the blurb doesn't excite me either. Marchetta is amazing. I haven't read her fantasy series yet, though, but it's high on my list.

    • cuddlebuggery

      Hopefully I'll end up loving it. I hate when everyone loves a book and I'm the odd one out.

  2. Lexie

    If I Stay and Where She Went are absolutely fantastic. Some of my favorite contemporaries. I haven't read the others, but they're all on my to-read list, whether because I've heard great things or terrible things about them.

    • cuddlebuggery

      That's good to know! I haven't heard anything bad about them, so it's a positive sign, especially since I don't read a lot of contemporary novels. However, the few that I have read recently (Gone, Gone, Gone and Invincible Summer) have been excellent.

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