Friday, 31 December 2010

The one where I tell you what I read in 2010

I've been having a little internet break. I don't know about you but I always feel like the days between Christmas and New Year are the dead days when nothing happens. I had to mark the end of 2010 though, and what better way than a list of 2010 reads.

I was intending to borrow one of the rather brilliant meme's I've seen around the internet, but inspired by a recent Friends marathon, I thought I'd bring you my 2010 reads, Friends style.

So here we go. . .

The one I have a huge crush on

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Who can resist the charms of this book?

The one that made me burn the midnight oil

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. Was anyone able to take a break from this book?

The one that lived up to the hype

Matched by Ally Condie. I know it hasn't been everyone's cup of tea but I truly adored it.

The one that tugged at my heart

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The one that still haunts me

Grace by Elizabeth Scott. Oh, this book is so well done you'll be thinking about it months, possibly years afterwards.

The one whose world I want to live in (and my favourite book of 2010)

The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta. I do wish I could hang out with Tom and his friends and family.

The one with utterly beautiful imagery

A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley. Review to come in 2011 but I adored it.

The one that I've recommended the most

Restoring Harmony by Joelle Anthony. Love. This. Book.

The one that I has me dying for the sequel

The Demon's Covenant by Sarah Rees Brennan. Six months to wait!

The one with the best supernatural beings

Linger by Maggie Steifvater. Sam AND Cole - enough said!

The one I wish more people had read

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly. So beautiful and real, please read it.

The one that broke my heart and left me cheering

The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney. A powerful read!

The one that made me rush out and buy all the authors other books

The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty

And that's it for 2010. 

It's been a great year both reading wise and life wise. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read and comment. It means a great deal to me.

If you'd like to tell me one of your favourite books of 2010 Friends style, that would be lovely.

Have a Happy, Fun and Safe New Year.

See you tomorrow for the resolutions!


Saturday, 25 December 2010

Thursday, 23 December 2010

And the Winner is . . .

CASS 
OF 
WORDS ON PAPER

CONGRATULATIONS CASS AND THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED
More giveaways coming 2011

EDIT

Thanks to Cass Christmas Spirit  Sniffly Kitty also gets to pick one book.


Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Book Review - Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers



When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered? (from Goodreads)

Love and adore

Those are my most used words when recommending books and they feel so wrong for describing a Courtney Summers books. And yet I do love and adore her books. Which sounds so weird, because why would I love books that are the literary equivalent of having someone rub at your skin with sandpaper and then put salt on the wound? Why do I adore books that make my skin feel too small, that make me uncomfortable, that break my heart and reduce me to tears?

The answer would be because

 they are fabulous, 

 they are true,

 and the writing is absolutely amazing.

Fall for Anything, while a departure from the mean girl main character, has everything else I expect from a Courtney Summers' book, and I was up late reading it, unable to stop.

Eddie is a far easier character to relate to, and sympathize with, than Parker and Regina. Her grief and her desperation for answers are so clear and compelling, and the real force that carries the story, as she tries to work out why her father killed himself.

Every character in this novel feels real and unique. Their relationships with each other complex and fraught. Sometimes it was hard to remember I was reading a novel and not a memoir. I spent a lot of time being absolutely furious at people on Eddie's behalf.

The dominant relationship in the book is between Eddie and her best friend, since second grade, Milo. Having been talking a lot about friendship in books  recently, it was great to find such a brilliant and realistic one. Eddie and Milo have that easy familiarity, that short hand way of speaking, and that deep understanding that goes beyond words. It makes their relationship feel so authentic. Milo is such a wonderful character too. While he's most definitely swoon-worthy, he's also such a teenage boy too. I loved how Courtney portrayed him and I loved his conversations with Eddie.  

Loss and grief stories seem to be everywhere at the moment, but this is one of the standout ones. Courtney Summers is an amazing writer. I'm always reading on blogs and in writing books about how every single word in a book needs to count. Fall For Anything is a perfect example of this. I am in awe of how Courtney can show so much and make me feel so much with so few words.

Fall for Anything is out today. It's not exactly a holiday read but it is a must read.

Note: If anyone's read this and wants to email me and chat about it, please do because I am desperate to talk about this book!

FTC: ARC requested from the publisher

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Wrap Up



image from weheartit


Thank you so much to 

all my wonderful Guest Bloggers, your posts were fantastic, 

to everyone who entered the contest,

to everyone who stopped in every day to read,

to everyone who commented (especially those of you who commented on every post, you rock!),

and to the authors who wrote such wonderful books and compelling characters, and took me into another world for a while.

Here's recap of all the Guest Post


And here's my top Ten

10) Molly and Spill from Restoring Harmony 
9) Lennie and Joe from The Sky is Everywhere 
8) Sam and Grace from Shiver
7) Calla and Shay from Nightshade
6) Kate and Taggle from Plain Kate
5) Justin and Drea from Harmonic Feedback
4) Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss
3) Tom and Tara form The Piper's Son
2) Nick and Alan from The Demon's Lexicon
1) Ly, Cass and Em from The Year of Secret Assignments

You have one day left to enter the contest. The winner gets to pick three books from my top ten!

Go HERE to enter


Monday, 20 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Guest Post - Jaclyn Moriarty

For the final post in the Couple Christmas Countdown I am delighted to welcome Jaclyn Moriarty. Jaclyn is the author of some of my favourite books, including Feeling Sorry for Celia, The Year of Secret Assignments and The Ghosts of Ashbury High. I can not wait for her next book, which is the first in a series titled The Kingdom of Cello. The tiny snippet of information on Goodreads (read it here) is killing me. It sounds like a departure from the Ashbury books, but a good departure. Jaclyn also has a blog, I have a Be Made of Buttermilk Pancakes. Although she's not currently posting, it is worth reading the achieves for some truly lovely posts. Now here's Jaclyn on her favourite couples, enjoy!



My Favourite Couple

I’ll tell you who I like from tv. I like those two from Extras, Andy and Maggie (Ricky Gervais and Ashley Jensen). I like how they make fun of each other, sometimes gently, sometimes cruelly, but call each other late at night and talk about nothing like best friends. They’re so relaxed around each other, and they want to make one another laugh.

I also like Gavin and Stacey from Gavin and Stacey, but even more than them, their sharp-edged best friends, especially the chain-smoking woman dressed in black. Those two make a great couple, circling each other, him agitated and not making eye contact, her gazing steadily into the middle distance. (And the actors who play them were funny on the DVD special features.)

In movies, I always found the couple in Room with a View extremely sexy, and the opening sequence of Up made me cry. I wish Up had been more about that couple rather than about all those dogs. All those dogs bothered me, like a nightmare or madness.

In books, I like CC and Shrimp from Rachel Cohn’s Gingerbread and its sequels. I also like this very old couple in an Alice Munro story that I once read, only I can’t remember its name. There was a moment of such tenderness right at the end of the story. I like many couples from the short stories and novels of Carol Shields – older couples again, with chipped and damaged relationships, who are now intertwined and enormously grateful for each other. But my favourite Carol Shields book is about a younger couple, The Republic of Love, the two characters drawing closer and closer together, along a stream of lively, lyrical, funny, warm prose.

Finally, at the moment, I am very keen on Jackson Brodie from the Kate Atkinson novels. Not him in a couple, but single, as I wouldn’t mind ending up with him myself.

Thanks so much Jaclyn. I must just add my own two cents and second Jackson Brodie as a truly wonderful character, and Kate Atkinson as a spell binding writer.

Tomorrow I'll be doing a round up and then on the 22nd I'll be picking the winner, or random.org will be. So there is still time to enter!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas No 1 - Lyd, Cass & Em

My absolutely favourite couple this year is actually a trio of friends - Lydia, Cassie and Emily from Jaclyn Moriarty's The Year of Secret Assignments and The Ghosts of Ashbury High. I love these three and the relationship they share. 





Image from weheartit


In most of the YA books I've read, friendships are breaking up, or new friendships are being formed or one person is dominant, usually too dominant. It's rare to find a friendship like this. Where the girls have been friends since they were little, and completely love and support each other. Where the fact of their friendship is never in any doubt. I have no trouble believing that Lyd, Cass and Em will live in a flat over looking Sydney harbour, that they'll be bridesmaids at each others wedding (Lydia's will be to Seb, naturally), godparents to each others children, and that when they are old and grey haired, they'll be causing as much mayhem as they do at Ashbury.


In these books Jaclyn Moriarty has created some of the most authentic teen voices I've read. Both books are told in epistolary form, and all three girls as well as the other characters have such distinct voices. I barely needed the signatures at the bottom to tell me who was writing.


As well as being authentic, Jaclyn Moriarty is funny. The kind of, oh my god I'm going to fall off the bed in a minute because I'm laughing so hard, funny, that I love. She's truthful, the way she captures that moment when your longing to be an adult, but longing to stay a child, is amazing. She took me right back there. She's also slightly crazy, especially in The Ghosts of Ashbury High, which is crazy and genius. The plot is twisted and baffling, and yet it makes utter sense and is completely spellbinding too.  It's pretty much one of my most favourite books, ever. 


Anyway, we were talking of the girls, and if you want a book with great female friendships and sassy, funny, confused, real girls, look no further than Jaclyn Moriarty's books. I also must give a shout out to Feeling Sorry for Celia and The Spell Book of Listen Taylor, which are equally wonderful.


Stop by tomorrow to hear about Jaclyn's favourite couple.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Sarah Rees Brennan

I am thrilled to welcome Sarah Rees Brennan to the blog today. The Demon's Lexicon is one of my favourite series, I can't wait to see how it ends and Sarah has created some of my favourite fictional characters. Her books make me laugh, and cry and, stay up far too late to see what an earth will happen to the Ryves brothers next. Actually that should be what on earth the Ryves brothers will do next, Alan and Nick are very pro-active!


I couldn't wait to read her guest post and of course it is wonderful and funny. I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks Sarah!



Image from weheartit

Well, since the rules were changed to accommodate my fictional brothers, I felt like it was only fair to pick some fictional brothers too!

And therefore I nominate to you... Damon and Stefan Salvatore, of CW's The Vampire Diaries.

You know how it is. An angsty vampire, loving a human girl from afar, finally winning her love...

His crazy wayward older undead brother, who likes to show up and kill people for larks.

Things have just been really tense between them ever since they were human and both sleeping with the same lady. (Ew! What! They're brothers! ... No, it's cool, because their vampire girlfriend compelled Stefan to think it was okay. ... Don't ask about Damon. ... Don't judge. They were kinky in 1864, all right?)

You know how it is, being an angsty vampire. You're just so sorry about all the terrible things you did in the past: forcing your brother to turn into a vampire. Being a blood junkie. (Being a blood junkie all those times you relapsed.) Eating your dad.

(Stefan has a lot to be upset about okay.)

And then your brother just shows up and hits on your girlfriend! (Stefan: Damon this is not 1864 okay. Elena: What happened in...? Stefan: I DON'T TALK ABOUT 1864.) And he kills all these people, which is quite upsetting as well! Especially if he kills your best friend. Actually people are starting to talk about killing your brother! And intellectually you can even sort of see their point! Soon the town will have hardly any people yet.

... Except the thing is.

The thing is

You still love your psychotic mass-murdering brother. And he's really funny. And he has a heart. SOMEWHERE IN THERE. And he starts to get on with your girlfriend, and he rescues you from torturers, and he even helps you protect innocent people a little bit, and when you relapse he's sort of there for you. It's starting to seem less like he's stalking you while being evil and more like he's living with you while being quippy. (The crucial difference is that he winds the clocks now.)

Of course, sometimes he seems to get on with your girlfriend a little too well. But you can learn to cope. (Damon: I have feelings for your girlfriend. Stefan: Oh Damon. Damon: I know I am so bad. Stefan: You have FEELINGS. Damon: ... Stefan: The thing to do is hug this out.)   

And sometimes he relapses and you know, snaps a neck. One or two, here or there. But you can learn to cope. (Elena: I will never forgive him! Stefan: But look at his face! WHO COULD STAY MAD AT THAT FACE. Damon: has that face.)

Basically you might just have a shot at being a evil-fighting, undead duo of awesomeness.

Just as long as no-one brings up 1864. 

(The first rule of brotherhood is that nobody ever talks about 1864.)

Thanks so much Sarah. Now I have to go and give The Vampire Diaries another chance because it sounds much more amazing than that pilot led me to believe.

Note: If you love The Demon's Lexicon series you should check out Sarah's blog (well you should check it out anyway, it's very funny). Her Christmas present is the rather wonderful short story, Nick and Jamie Go to the Movies, part 1 and part 2. It's set at the same time as The Demon's Covenant so there are spoilers (pretty huge spoilers), but it's very funny and a little sad too. Plus, we learn Alan likes costume dramas and prefers reading to football. Oh Alan, I didn't think I could love you more, but apparently I can. I bet you never leave the milk out the fridge and always rinse your plate before putting it in the dishwasher too.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas No 2 - Nick and Alan


Image from Weheartit
Obviously the swords and knives are concealed!

Ah Nick and Alan, those demon fighting brothers, from Sarah Rees Brennan's marvelous The Demon's Lexicon Trilogy. This was the pair that started the whole alternative couples thing that I mentioned. Oh, I do love those Ryves brothers.

For those who haven't read the books Alan and Nick kind of fall into the roles of good brother/bad brother. So of course Alan is my favourite. For those who have read the books, yes I'm completely willing to overlook both brothers, ahem, flaws, large as they may be.

Although I do get swoony over both of them, it is their relationship with each other that really gets me. I haven't loved a sibling relationship this much, since the Mitchell Brothers in Eastenders (UK soap opera). The end of The Demon's Lexicon made me adore them and just about killed me, but it was seeing the Ryves brothers through Mae's eyes, in The Demon's Covenant, that sealed my love for them. Their relationship is so wonderful and complex and heartbreaking.  I cried twice during The Demon's Covenant.


So Nick and Alan definitely deserve their place on the list. Although I have everything crossed that next year Alan will be making an appearance here with someone else!

Side Note: Mae is one of my all time favourite characters. How can you not love a girl who has pink hair, adores her brother, is independent and tough and wears t-shirts that proclaim Heathcliff had it coming. If you're looking for a strong female lead, look no further than Mae. Plus she isn't a slayer, witch, vampire, fairy, she can't see dead people or read minds, no one gave her mystical powers. She's just amazing, all on her own.






Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas No 3 Tom, Tara & Co



Tom and Tara from The Piper's Son by Melina Marchetta.

Well I can't have a list of favourites and not include Melina Marchetta. She's absolutely my favourite YA author; her books are magic. Whether she's writing about family dynamics in Australia or a fictional war torn realm I just fall into her books and lose myself there.

Anyway, we're talking of Tom and Tara. We last saw them, at the end of Saving Francesca, on their way to a maybe relationship (well I did anyway). Five years down the road, Tom has managed to royally screw up both their almost relationship and their friendship, and Tara is now living overseas and dating someone else. While Tom is messing around causing his friends and family a lot of heartache.

They communicate solely by text and emails all through the book. Yet their chemistry and love for each other is as clear as if they were together on every page, you just need to read between the lines to find it! I wanted so badly for them to get back together or to at least be real friends again. Honestly, there were moments when I was set to climb into the book and slap Tom (well maybe shake him a little, because I do adore that Mackee boy).

I won't spoil by saying how The Piper's Son leaves them as I know a lot of people haven't read it yet seeing as it's not out here until February! But if you loved Saving Francesca, you'll love revisiting old friends in and seeing what happens to Tom in life and in love.

Also bonus points in the countdown because the friendships are just so brilliant. Tom's group of friends is one I want to hang out with.

Plus it contains my favourite romantic line of the year, spoken by my favourite YA boy Will Trombal

Honestly, whether you're preference is for couples or friendship, this book has it all. Get it pre-ordered!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas No 4 - Anna and Etienne

Couple four are Anna and Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.


photo from weheartit

Well, I think you may all be sick of hearing me rave on and on about this book. Plus, Nomes wrote a rather fantastic guest post on why Anna and Etienne are so great together.

But all this swooning is with good reason.

This book is just perfect, PERFECT!

It's definitely a re-reader and for me, it is a Christmas book, because - a) It makes me happy, which is always good at Christmas b) there are the most swoony scenes during the Christmas holidays.

Even though Anna and Etienne don't spend Christmas together, I felt it was their emails and phone calls that really cemented there friendship.

And that's reason 101 that I adore this book, because they are friends first.

So you may be wondering, if I have this level of LOVE going for Anna and Etienne, who can the other three couples possibly be? Stay tuned to find out, and if you haven't, do go and enter the giveaway.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Tara Kelly

I'm very happy to welcome Tara Kelly, author of the wonderful Harmonic Feedback to the blog today. She picked such a fantastic couple too, from one of my favourite shows. Thanks for sharing Tara!


Tara can be found blogging at her personal blog and also at the fabulous new YA blog YA Outside the Lines. Her new book C-Side Tales is out 2011, I can't wait.






When I think of my favorite couple, Scully and Mulder immediately come to mind. I also think of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe. But I'm pretty sure these couples have been covered numerous times. There's a reason they're popular--they're awesome characters with great chemistry!  I also have another favorite couple...one I don't see mentioned too much. So, I'm going to talk about Lorelai and Luke from The Gilmore Girls. 

I'm a huge sucker for the best friends who fall in love story. It's been done a million times, but I never get tired of it. Maybe it's because I had a massive crush on my male best friend in high school...I don't know. I'm a big believer in being friends first. Plus...all that pent up sexual tension? Hot! 

Okay, so here's why I love Lorelai. She's strong, witty, and at the end of the day--a great mom. There were times I wanted to smack her, but that's part of what makes her such a great character. She has very real flaws, and she doesn't always make the right choices. 

And Luke...well, I'm also a sucker for the surly guys. But only if they have a big heart, and they wear a backward baseball hat. Okay, so the last part isn't true. I'm actually not huge fan of baseball caps. But Luke's baseball cap is part of what makes him so loveable. That and his brooding flannel shirts and his amazing breakfasts. Not that I've ever tasted his breakfasts, but in my imagination they are the best thing ever. 

No Gilmore Girls episode is complete without witty banter between Luke and Lorelai. They don't always agree or get along, but they absolutely adore each other. To quote MSNBC.com (http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/6022423/ns/today-entertainment/): "He built her a chuppah for her ill-fated wedding. She bailed him out of jail." There is never a dull moment in their friendship. Really, the chemistry between these two is just off the charts--and that's without kissing and all that mushy stuff. Through the seasons we get to see their friendship grow and finally--at the end of season four--turn into something more. 

So many fictional romances move quickly. Girl meets boy. They're in love within five minutes. Insert conflict of some kind that threatens to keep them apart. They live happily ever after. Blah. 

I've never been a fan of that type of love story. Where is the challenge? Where's the tension? Shouldn't that first kiss make you hold your breath? To me--a good romance builds, it takes its time...it waits for the right moment to surprise you. And it involves two characters who are real and flawed. They don't always say or do the right thing--or what you expect. 

Lorelai and Luke always surprised me. I mean, yeah, I knew they'd always be friends (even when they hated each other), and I knew they'd end up together at some point. But I never knew how or when...or if it would last. And seriously, the banter is fabulous. It makes every frustrating moment with these two worth it. 

Now excuse me while I get back to my own best friends who fall in love story. Thanks for having me, Alexa! 

Countdown to Christmas No 5 Drea and Justin

Couple five are the wonderful Drea and Justin, from Tara Kelly's amazing debut novel, Harmonic Feedback.




Love this cover!

The title of this book, not to mention the cover, completely captured me. Then I read the first few pages and was hooked by Drea's voice. I absolutely LOVE this book and I love Drea. I love how she sees the world and how passionate she is about music. Even though she's convinced she's different she's so easy to relate.

And Justin definitely falls into the swoon-worthy category. A reformed bad-boy musician - there isn't a surer way to my heart, except perhaps a reformed bad-boy welder - Justin is such a great character; strong, independent, trying hard to do the right thing and completely willing to accept Drea for who she is. I get swoony just thinking about him (I'm even willing to overlook the piercings).

Drea and Justin together are magic, they have conversations, they have fights, they learn to deal with each other and what makes the other tick. . .oh and of course they share some rather fabulous kisses.

So if I haven't been clear enough I really do love this book. I'm so sad I haven't seen it everywhere, so go buy it for Christmas or an end of year gift if Christmas is not your holiday.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by James of Bookchic

I'm delighted to welcome one of my favourite bloggers James of BookChic to tell us about his favourite couple. If you don't read James' blog you should, he does fantastic reviews, the brilliant fresh new voice, plus Friday Fragment and he pretty much knows everything about YA. Plus he's always going to fantastic author events and then doing very funny write ups of them (he seems to bring the drama where ever he goes) that make you feel you were there too.  Thanks for sharing James.








One of my favorite couples this year is Alex and Nathen from What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson, which was originally released in 2008 but I only just now read it this year. The book itself is amazing and I really enjoyed seeing the romance blossom between these two guys. It happened very sweetly, but also very realistically as well. Wilson doesn't hold back with these two and there's more than just hugs and kisses going on. It's such a positive portrayal too of a gay relationship and, in these times, that's sorely needed. Seeing a relationship like this in a book gives hope to gay teens out there that they can find love too, that they aren't alone in this world. That's the same sort of thing I'd like to portray in my own writing and so it's nice to see it here.

Countdown to Christmas No 6 - Plain Kate and Taggle



Plain Kate by Erin Bow was one of my favourite books of the year and the relationship between  Kate and her cat Taggle is one of the reasons why. They're not a couple in the traditional sense of the word, but their friendship is real and true and heartwarming.

Kate is a fantastic heroine and Taggle is probably my favourite animal in a story ever! I don't want to say too much about why, because I don't want to spoil anything. If you haven't read it though, get it on your Christmas List, it is amazing and beautiful. A book you will want to linger over.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Guest Post - Andrea Cremer

Today I'm delighted to welcome Andrea Cremer, author of the New York Times Bestseller Nightshade to the blog. Thanks for stopping by Andrea and telling us about your favourite couple.


Andrea can be found blogging at A Blurred History. Her novel Wolfsbane, the second book in the Nightshade Trilogy, is out July 26th 2011!








My favorite couples are those who are pairings of equals – complementary, but not too similar, who have at least a little tension between them, and who end up saving each other. In 2010 a new couple showed up that I adored: Rapunzel and Flynn (aka Eugene) from Tangled. I’ve never been a fan of Disney’s princesses – they spend too much time pining, while I like to see my heroines wielding swords. But Rapunzel won me over and Flynn – well, I have a soft spot for rogueish guys, ‘nuf said. Finally – a princess who’s funny, imaginative, and full of infectious idealism and a hero who isn’t prince charming! I adored the constant banter between Rapunzel and Flynn. I loved that he was an anti-hero, quasi-scoundrel who was living an invented life. I loved that they were both willing to give up everything for each other. This pair definitely ranks as my favorite Disney couple (though book-loving Belle is still my favorite princess) because they worked so well as a team. They both had flaws, but by exposing those faults to one another they were each able to become their true selves and fall in love with who the other person actually was, not some idealized version of them. Rapunzel and Flynn were both heroes. They had equal parts to play in the story and in each other’s lives. I like my romance spicy and spunky  and filled with moments that make me laugh as well as swoon – Tangled pulled that off beautifully.






Sounds wonderful. I can't wait to see Tangled, I just have to find someone to go with. Thanks for sharing Andrea.

Countdown to Christmas No 7 - Calla and Shay

Photo from weheartit

Now I must admit that I am a huge fan of the friendship first romance. You know, lots of talking over coffee, long walks, wistful gazes, finger tips brushing and the does he/doesn't he like me angst. I adore tension. I love sitting there, gripping the book, screaming, oh my god just kiss already, because I can't stand it! I just finished such a book and it will almost certainly be featured here next year!

However, sometimes a book comes along that I love because there is so much kissing, so much chemistry. Where the characters desire for each other seems to seep from the book into your skin and every interaction is just so Hot, you are racing ahead for the next one.

This doesn't mean they don't have talky, soul connecting moments, but it's the kissing you remember. Last year that book was Prefect Chemistry. This year it is Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

If you haven't read it, let me just tell you that Calla and Shay and Calla and Ren, burn up the pages. Yes, it involves a love triangle, and yes she kisses both boys (more than once) but she has her reasons and I liked Calla, so I'm letting her off.

Nightshade is such a wonderful story and such a brilliant world. There is loads going on besides the kissing, but this is the couples countdown, and the kissing is very hot. So that's why Calla and Shay make the list. Yes I am firmly Team Shay, well until Ren strolls into view :)

Have you read it, which Team are you?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas Guest Post - Nomes of Inkcrush

Today I am delighted to welcome Nomes of InkCrush to the blog. Nomes just started blogging this year, but she quickly became one of my favourite bloggers due to her amazing reviews. Everything I've read on her recommendation, I have LOVED - we are on the same wave length where books are concerned! If you don't follow her you should.


I couldn't wait to see who her favourite couple was. Of course she picked a wonderful one and then explained, so perfectly, why they are wonderful!







Sooo - this is hard. I have so many literary crushes: characters I swoon over and others I wish were my best friends. 

To make it easier - I narrowed the choice down to YA books I read this year...

Here are my strongest contenders from couples I met this year (sorry, I just can't help myself...):

Three Aussie books:
Carly and Ryan from Kirsty Eagar's Raw Blue
Chris and Amelia from Laura Buzo's Good Oil
Gemma and Ty from Lucy Christopher's Stolen

Three US Books:
Jenna and Cameron from Sara Zarr's Sweethearts
Dani and Greg from Elizabeth Scott's Stealing Heaven
Anna and Etienne from Stephanie Perkin's Anna and the French Kiss

I am particularly drawn to characters who make me ache, relationships that are true, subtle and real development of relationships and, okay, guys who make me swoon. All six above are that. They also resonated with me long after the book - due to the richness of the characters and the powerful stories. 

Of the above six - three don't have happy endings for the couples (!) - although they do offer some hope, they don't follow the happily ever after formula, which really provokes an emotional response from me.

My top pick is *drum roll* Anna and Etienne

Because, well, SWOON. 

You want more substance than a beautiful beautiful boy?

Let me tell you about Etienne: He's beautiful and not at all perfect. Charming and sometimes elusive. He's funny and clever and stuffs things up. A lot. He's genuine and dynamic and lights up the pages of any scene he's in. He is a literary crush that will knock all your other crushes off the top of your list. He's got a British accent.

And Anna: She's whimsical and slightly OCD. She's dynamic and confident but also unsure. She's fun to hang out with, brave yet scared. She sometimes makes a mess of things despite her best intentions. I ADORED her from the first chapter.

As a couple: Well, you'll have to read the book. Etienne has a long-term girlfriend, Anna has an almost boyfriend back at home. They're not really a couple in that hand-holding, going out sense. but they have the perfect dynamic together and things are messy and complicated and as I read it I hoped and hoped things would somehow work out for them...

Mostly, I ADORE them both and could so easily slip between the pages and hang out with them. Good times.

And thanks so much to the beautiful Alexa for hosting my rave on - I so can't wait for the rest of your count down! I can never have too many literary crushes :)

Nomes


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas No 8 - Sam & Grace

Ah Sam and Grace they make me Shiver.




photo from Weheartit


The Wolves of Mercy Falls by Maggie Stiefvater is one of my favourite series and I just love Grace and Sam. I'm not normally a fan of a duel narrative (or the quadruple narrative that Linger employs) but it really works in these books.

I don't think I would feel as attached to Grace if I never got to see her through Sam's eyes but all the little things he notices about her, not to mention the way he feels about her make me like her.  As for Sam he is definitely up there with the swoonth-worthy guys. He's sweet, sensitive, a musician, and he tries really hard to do the right thing.

I love the connection these two have, it feels like a love that can last forever, and the way Maggie describes everything is just so beautiful. It gets you lost in Sam and Grace's world and relationship. Like this



You're beautiful and sad," I said finally, not looking at him when I did. "Just like your eyes. You're like a song that I heard when I was a little kid but forgot I knew until I heard it again." For a long moment there was only the whirring sound of the tires on the road, and then Sam said softly, "Thank you."

I can't imagine anyone else with Grace or anyone else with Sam and as the last book is called Forever I'm hoping that's where we are going. The only question is will their forever be as humans?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Kim Harris Thacker

Today I'm delighted to welcome Kim Harris Thacker to the blog. Kim is one of the nicest people I have ever not met! We became blog buddies about a year ago (in fact she won last year's Christmas Countdown!) and have since become good friends. Kim blogs weekly at Kim Harris Thacker: Writer, she's always interesting and original, and has some great tips on editing and writing. I love her view of the world and she has introduced me to some wonderful books, so I couldn't wait to find out her favourite couple. Thanks for coming by Kim.




ATTENTION!  HARRY POTTER SPOILERS (movie and books)!!!

My favorite couple of the year would have to be Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.  I just saw the movie of Harry Potter 7 Part 1, and while I adore the Harry Potter books (J.K. Rowling is a genius), it was nice to see the romantic tension on screen.  Though Hermione and Ron don't officially come together in this first part of the seventh movie, I could see their romantic relationship building.  And after all the books and all the movies, I thought, "It's about time!"  Their romance is just so right.  They've been friends for years, they've been through more together than the average couple (at least, they've face a heckuvalot more death together than the average couple), and they're just plain perfect for each other.  Ron tries so hard to impress the ever-intelligent Hermione, and Hermione is so understanding of Ron (except for that bit where he ran off in the forest--but he deserved what he got from her, in my opinion, horcrux hanging around his neck and making him wacky or not!).

Ginny and Harry also have a tender romance, but perhaps because Ginny doesn't get as much book or screen time as Hermione and Ron, I just don't long for her and Harry to be together like I long for Harry's best friends to be together!  Don't get me wrong--Harry deserves love in his life, if anyone does.  But his romance with Ginny doesn't make my heart zing like Hermione's and Ron's romance does.





What's your favorite romantic or hinting-at-romantic scene in the seventh Harry Potter book or in part one of the seventh movie?




Sunday, 5 December 2010

Countdown to Christmas No 9 - Lennie and Joe



Lennie and Joe from The Sky Is Everywhere.  If you've read this wonderful novel you'll know exactly why Lennie and Joe made my list, and if you haven't, you must. There's a reason why it's popping up on so many end of year lists. It's gorgeous and heartbreaking and it will make you ache and swoon.

I absolutely adore this novel, although my favorite aspect is the notes Lennie writes and leaves everywhere (they break my heart), Joe Fountaine is a close second. Imagine the boy that name should belong to and you have a good idea of Joe.  Sweet, sensitive, funny, a stunning musician and owner of the worlds longest eye lashes; he's one of the swoon-worthist boys I've encountered this year.



I love Lennie too, I didn't always like her but I could always understand her. I just wanted to reach into the book and press her and Joe together. Talk about soul mates, these two are meant for each other, but do they end up together? You'll have to read the book to find out.

Here's a taste.



This is it - what all the hoopla is about, what Wuthering Heights is about is about -it all boils down to this feeling rushing through me in this moment with Joe as our mouths refuse to part. Who knew all this time I was one kiss away from being Cathy and Juliet and Elizabeth Bennet and Lady Chatterley!?


Any other admirers of Joe Fontaine out there?


Side note: If you haven't read this and are planning on buying it I recommended hunting down the UK copy (it;s the cover I used above) it's beautifully illustrated inside and the cover is lovely too, unlike the US edition which freaks me out!

Friday, 3 December 2010

Christmas Countdown: Guest Post by Caroline Tung Richmond





I'm delighted to welcome Caroline to the blog today. I discovered Caroline's blog Adventures in Space recently and it quickly became a favourite. She is an interesting, funny and thoughtful blogger. She mainly talks about writing and books, but occasionally film and fashion and her hatred of pancakes (yes you read it right!). I couldn't wait to see who her favourite couple would be - she didn't disappoint! 


Caroline's Guest Post for Alexa's Lovely Blog Readers

First of all, I want to thank Alexa for asking me to write this guest post. I’ve been very lucky to have met Ms. Barry in person and she is awesome—smart and funny and absolutely lovely!
Plus, she doesn’t think I’m weird. That’s a definite bonus. :)

Okay, onto the guest post…

When Alexa first asked me to write about my favorite TV/film/book couple, I was tempted to choose something literary. Perhaps Jane and Rochester from Jane Eyre. Or Rick and Ilsa from Casablanca. But then I remembered that I haven’t read Jane Eyre or watched Casablanca…so my grandiose idea of being cool and suave went straight out the window.

To be honest, I’m pretty cheesy when it comes to romance. Movies like “27 Dresses” and “Valentine’s Day” may have gotten panned by the critics, but I love them anyway. And so, I decided to choose a couple from one of the cheesiest movies of all time. 

Want a hint? 
The Pamchenko Twist.

Want another hint?
“Tooooe piiiiiick!

Yep, my favorite couple would have to be Doug Dorsey and Kate Moseley from the 1992 flick “The Cutting Edge.” Come on, you have to admit you love this movie! I mean, what’s not to like? A hunky hockey player, a sassy figure skater, awesome ice skating, and the freakin’ Olympics! A recipe for awesomeness!

I think the best part of Doug and Kate’s romance is the tension. It’s one of those movies that crackles with sexual chemistry. (In a very PG way, of course!) Doug and Kate get off to a rocky start, but you can tell that they secretly pine for one another after working together day after day on the rink. In one scene of the film, Doug accidentally walks in on Kate after she gets out of the shower and the look on his face is priceless. In one simple look, he’s conveying: “Oh, wow. I never noticed how hot you were before. Um, I’m going to look away now because I’m not supposed to hate you.”

And the ending! *Swoon* Doug and Kate profess their love for one another and then they go on to win Olympic glory. Like I said, complete awesomeness!

So there you have it—my favorite couple of all time comes from a cheesy movie from the early 90s. Speaking of which, I really need to dust off my copy of “The Cutting Edge”…









Hand up who else swoons over The Cutting Edge? I know I do. Thanks again Caroline.

Countdown to Christmas No 10 - Molly and Spill



Molly and Spill are from one of my favourite dystopian reads Restoring Harmony. Their romance is not the main focus of the plot, but it will steal your heart. Molly is the kind of girl I'd like my daughter(if I have one) to grow into - kind and resourceful and smart. While Spill is, at first glance, a bad boy he's really a good guy with an edge.

The interactions between these two were the highlight of the book for me (sorry Joelle I know you weren't trying to write a romance!) and while you have to wait a long time for the kiss, it is sooooo worth the wait.

Do they end up together?

Well I'm afraid you'll have to buy the book and find out.

Molly and Spill are the perfect couple for book lovers who like their romance on the side :)

Don't forget to enter the Christmas Couples contest Restoring Harmony is only one of the books you could win!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Christmas Countdown Contest

Welcome to the the 



Second Year of the Couples Christmas Countdown!





The build up to Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I love the dark evenings, the twinkling lights, the carols, the movies, the food, the advent chocolate, the hope of snow and a white Christmas.  Basically me and Christmas are a a love fest.

Last year I was planning to count down my favourite books, in a kind of extend end of year wrap up. 



Then I had a better idea. A much better idea.


I would countdown my favorite couples of 2009, because I love romance nearly as much as Christmas. First kisses, crushes, snarky conversations, sweet moments, finding love in unexpected places, the butterflies in the stomach, the does he like me/hate me swings of emotion, the swoon-worthy boys (oh the boys, there were some good ones in 2009!). My favorite books generally involve two people falling in love.

So last year was all about romantic couples, but this year, as I sat scrolling thought my five star reads on goodreads, a particular book caught my eye. It's the second in a series and I loved it. There is a lot of kissing in it and so many twisted tangled pairings it brought joy to my heart. However, my absolute favorite "couple" in the book was a pair of brothers. Oh how I  love them (you'll find out who they a soon, if you haven't guessed already) and how I love their bond, because bonded they are. These two come first with each other.


I made a note of the book thinking I might give it an honary mention, but as I kept scrolling I found that while I still love a good romance, many of the books I have loved this year have been about friendships. So I thought I'd broaden the scope of the term couple..

Anyway I hope you enjoy the posts by me and my fabulous guests. Thank you SO  much guest posters, you've out done yourselves!

Anyway if you've still reading, your reward is


 The Contest! 


Last year I picked the books, but this year I thought I'd let you guys pick. So if you win you get to choose three books from my top ten couples list.

It's open to everyone as long as The Book Depository ships to where you live. Sorry if it doesn't but books are heavy.


Contest Ends 22nd December 2010


Just fill out this FORM!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

NaNoWriMo - The Finish Line

Well I made it over the finish line. A resounding Hoo-ray! I actually hit 50,000 words on Sunday night, after an epic day of writing, while the husband kindly took our son out (thank you husband!). But I hadn't reached the end of the story, so I kept going, and finally finished today during nap time.

Let's celebrate with a photo of Chuck, which is so good at the moment.



True North is 53, 264 words long and I will probably start querying in December.

I mean December 2011, of course :)

And that's if I'm lucky, because this book is a BIG mess. 

There is much work ahead, but I am very happy to have a first draft, because I hate first drafts and love editing.

Congrats to all the other NaNoers! Before you begin editing you might want to check out my friend Joelle Anthony's fantastic post

  The New Red Haired Best Friend, a look at the most over used things in MG and YA. 


Red hair rules, especially in side kicks!

Now I am looking forward to a relaxing December (well as much as it can be). I plan to read a lot, eat chocolate (Advent Calendars -woo-hoo!) and of course it is 

The  Christmas Couples Countdown

Not sure what that is? 

Come back tomorrow and find out. 

It is awesome, 

there are prizes, 

there are guest posts* 

and there is lots of squeeing over favourite boys in YA. 

See, it will be AWESOME!**

* well only one so far but I have been promised many :)

** Dear next door neighbour if you are reading, that second awesome was just for you!


Edit: Well you know what I forgot to do in all the excitement of finishing? Umm verify and win on the NaNo site - doh! - but I know I'ma winner which is what counts :)