Wendy Archibald

Favorite Books of 2011

In Random on January 27, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I wish I had time to write a review about each one of these books, but since I’m trying to finish writing one of my own I’m going to keep it to a list. I read over one hundred books in 2011. These are my favorites (in random order) (okay, it isn’t exactly random order–it’s the order I read them–but is random as far as I didn’t rank them beyond, “Oo, this is one of the best books I’ve read this year!”):

  • The Limit by Kristen Landon (Early YA)
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (Middle Grade)
  • The Scorch Trials by James Dashner (YA Dystopian)
  • Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (Middle Grade)
  • Matched by Ally Condie (YA Dystopian)
  • Sean Griswold’s Head by Lindsey Leavitt (YA Contemporary)
  • Paranormalcy by Kiersten White (YA Paranormal)
  • Cross My Heart by Julie Wright (Adult Romance)
  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (books 1, 2, and 3) (Middle Grade)
  • Slayers by CJ Hill (YA Fantasy)
  • Cotillion by Georgette Heyer (Adult Historical-Regency)
  • The List by Melanie Jacobson (Adult Romance)
  • Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann (Adult Suspense)
  • The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal (YA Fantasy)
  • Dining With Joy by Rachel Hauck (Adult Contemporary)
  • Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George (Middle Grade Fantasy)
  • Freshman for President by Ally Condie (YA Contemporary)

Happy reading.

Cold River By Liz Adair

In Adult, Liz Adair, Reviews, Romance on October 17, 2011 at 2:59 am

I don’t normally read romantic suspense. I’m more of a cozy-type gal. However, when I heard the premise for Cold River I was intrigued. Here’s what the back cover says:

Mandy Steenburg thinks her doctorate in education has prepared her to run any school district–until she tangles with the moonshine-making, coon-dog-owning denizens of a tiny district in Pacific Northwest timber country. She’s determined to make a difference, but the local populace still looks to the former superintendent for leadership. When Mandy lands in the middle of an old feud and someone keeps trying to kill her, instinct tells her to run. And though she has to literally swim through perilous waters, she finds a reason to stay and chance the odds.

Hmm. A lady superintendent? A small school district in the Pacific Northwest? I’m so there.

I bought the book and read for an hour one afternoon while my daughters were at piano lessons. When I got home, I couldn’t find the book anywhere. It was incredibly annoying. I looked in all the usual places, but it did not reveal itself. I read two other books over the next few days, but in the back of my mind I was gnashing my teeth. “What happens to Mandy? Does she fall in love with Vince? Does Grange get over his grudge?”

I found it that weekend (on the bookshelf, of all places!) and happily plowed through the rest of the book to reach the satisfying conclusion. And then I had to go back and read it slower so  I could savor the good parts.

Adair has drawn a large cast of likable, quirky characters. She captured the feel of the Pacific Northwest perfectly (I should know–I live here. So does she!) and kept the mystery going right up until the end.

Cold River is a great read, with wonderful characters and several unique twists (steel drums, for one) in the plot. I enjoyed it very much.



Slayers By C.J. Hill

In C.J. Hill, Fantasy, Reviews, YA on September 27, 2011 at 8:48 pm

This amazing book comes out today! I was lucky enough to win an ARC (advance reader’s copy) on C.J. Hill’s blog last week, so I’ve already read it.

And loved pretty much every second of it.

Tori Hampton, the sixteen-year-old daughter of a senator, has to talk her parents into letting her go to St. George and the Dragon Camp. She’s wanted to go for years, but once she’s there, well, she’s not sure she really wants to stay. First of all, the camp is a little primitive. When the camp director sends her off with a couple of buff boys to the advanced camp–hidden in the trees two miles away, complete with its own stable, gun range, and mysterious large building–the only way she decides to stay is to prove herself to the other advanced campers who somehow have it in their minds that she’s pampered and unable to handle the rigors of advanced dragon camp.

Even after Tori finds out about the other campers’ special powers she still isn’t convinced she’s where she wants to be, and it goes double when they tell her that dragons really do exist and, oh, by the way, she’s got special DNA from her ancestors that makes her a dragon slayer.

Not exactly what she was looking for in a summer camp.

While dragon camp wasn’t exactly what Tori was looking for, this book is exactly what I was looking for.

It has all the things I look for in a great book: a strong voice, interesting characters, a little magic, and kissing. There were some unexpected twists in the plot that were believable and enjoyable, as well as some awesome fight/battle scenes. And a dragon, naturally. This is the first book in the series, so be ready for a conclusion that isn’t entirely conclusive, as well as a couple of major plot points/mysteries that carry on to the next book (which I am already anxiously awaiting).

This is a great YA fantasy pick. Simply thumbing through it to refresh myself with a few details to write this review made me want to start from the beginning and read it again.