Favorite Books of 2009

I read a lot of books this year – the most I’ve ever read in a year – and these are some of my favorites.  I had a hard time whittling the list down to just a few, but I didn’t want to spend all day working on this, so I had to stop somewhere.  You can check out my GoodReads profile for my ratings of other books not listed here.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – This isn’t just one of my favorite books of the year – it’s one of my favorite books of all time!  The Hunger Games is simply amazing.  Katniss is a fantastic main character.  She’s smart and resourceful, but at the same time a little vulnerable.  The rest of the characters are so well written – Peeta, Rue, Haymitch, Cinna, Effie – they’re all so fabulous.  The story is action packed and full of surprises.  I also read Catching Fire, the sequel to the Hunger Games this year and thought it was fantastic as well.  I can’t wait for the third book to come out in 2010!

Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols – Just thinking “John After” makes me swoon.  Meg is wild and doesn’t want to stay in the little town she grew up in.  John is the complete opposite – he doesn’t want to leave the town.  They’re forced to spend the week together because Meg got in trouble on a bridge one night.  Throughout the novel, we learn more and more about both of them.  It’s a romantic journey with a few twists and turns along the way.  I love Meg and John – who they are, who they become after spending the week together.  I really liked everything I read by Jennifer Echols this year.

Ballad by Maggie Stiefvater – This was the third Maggie Stiefvater book I read this year, but it was my favorite.  They’re all so good.  Maggie’s writing is very lyrical and enjoyable to read.  Ballad focuses on James, a secondary character from Lament, and his time at Thornking-Ash.  Nuala is a faerie muse that can give James amazing talent at a price.  James and Nuala are fantastic – they’re both sarcastic and multi-layered.  This book kind of continues Dee’s story in a way and introduces fantastic new characters like Sullivan and Paul.  I started reading Maggie’s books because she was at the Decatur Book Festival, where I got to meet her and be a dork.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner – Another edge of your seat, action packed book.  The world that Thomas is dropped into is confusing to him and to us and I loved learning about it with him.  Everything about the book is interesting – the things that go bump in the night, the dynamics in the boys’ society, the maze, the boys themselves.  It was just all fantastic.  The ending was crazy and I can’t wait for the next book in the trilogy to come out this year.

Percy Jackson and The Olympians Series by Rick Riordan – This is a fun series about an ordinary boy that finds out his father is a Greek god.  He goes to a camp for the sons and daughters of the Greek gods and goddesses, Camp Half-Blood.  From there, he has several quests that he completes with his friends.  The stories are so well thought out and weave Greek mythology into modern culture so well.  I loved Percy, Annabeth, and Grover.  They’re all great characters.  The first book, The Lightning Thief, is coming out as a movie in February, and I hope it lives up to the book!

Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead – Richelle Mead is another author that I started reading because of the Decatur Book Festival.  I am glad I did.  The Vampire Academy books are about a group of vampires (obviously), but the story is different than any other vampire book I’ve read.  The Moroi are more good vampires with special powers, while the Dhamphir are their helpers/bodyguards, and the Strigoi are the bad vampires.  Rose, a dhamphir and the narrator of the stories, is strong, sarcastic, and fantastic.  All of the characters are really great – Dimitri, Lissa, Christian, Adrian – all of them!  The books are part high school drama, part romance, and part action.  It’s a great combination!

The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose – I thought I should round this out with a non fiction book.  Going into this book, I was a little unsure of if I would like it.  I was really afraid he would spend the book making fun of Christians and the students at Liberty.  But he really didn’t.  Roose wrote about this experiences in a very straight forward manner.  He was honest about his feelings about the things going on around him.  He also presented the reasons that the school or other students acted in a certain way in a non-judgemental way.  Overall it was a very interesting and insightful book.

I may have one more review for 2009 if I finish the book I’m reading now, but if I don’t, have a happy new year!  See you in 2010!

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Picture 1The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, Bk 1) by James Dashner

When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

This book was fantastic!  If I didn’t read it over Thanksgiving with a lot of family and football around, I would have finished it in one sitting.  I wanted to keep reading and when I wasn’t reading, I kept thinking about the book.  The book was intriguing – there were so many mysteries introduced.  Of course, since this is the first of a series, many of those questions weren’t answered, which is driving me crazy now.  I want to know what happens next!

I really liked Thomas and the people around him.  The setting was really interesting with the civilization inside the Glade and the Maze with the Grievers.  There was very little about this book that was predictable, which is great in my opinion!  I definitely recommend this book, though I wish there wasn’t a wait to find out what happens next!

Waiting on Wednesday 9/30/09

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

The book I am eagerly anticipating this week is The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

mazerunnerWhen Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. He has no recollection of his parents, his home, or how he got where he is. His memory is black. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade, a large expanse enclosed by stone walls.
Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning, for as long as they could remember, the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night, they’ve closed tight. Every thirty days a new boy is delivered in the lift. And no one wants to be stuck in the maze after dark.
The Gladers were expecting Thomas’s arrival. But the next day, a girl springs up—the first girl ever to arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. The Gladers have always been convinced that if they can solve the maze that surrounds the Glade, they might be able to find their way home . . . wherever that may be. But it’s looking more and more as if the maze is unsolvable.
And something about the girl’s arrival is starting to make Thomas feel different. Something is telling him that he just might have some answers—if he can only find a way to retrieve the dark secrets locked within his own mind.

This book has been compared to Lord of the Flies and The Hunger Games, so I think it would be something I would like.  I’m interested in finding out what the maze is!

eta – This week there wasn’t a good excuse for missing Teaser Tuesday.  I flipped through my current read (Always Looking Up) Monday night for a good teaser and couldn’t find a good two sentence one and then I forgot yesterday.  My mom was over after work helping me finish getting settled in the new apartment.