Monday, December 29, 2014

Top 10 Resolutions / Goals for 2015

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10. 

In honor of the new year this week’s topic is Goals and Resolutions for 2015.  If I accomplish half of these I’ll be happy, but here’s what I would like to happen.

Reading Goals

1. Read 100 books (I just want to do it once)

2. Have at least 25 of those books be written by men

3. At least 1 classic (probably Jane Eyre)

Blogging Goals

4. Start blogging again

5. Write at least one post a month that is not a meme or review

6. Make custom blog background

7. Comment more on other blogs/be more active on Twitter

Other Goals

8. Start to Sew

9. Learn Photoshop

10. Keep my house picked up

2014 End of the Year Survey

Jamie @ The Perpetual Page Turner is host her end of the year survey for the 5th year and I’m actually participating!
2014 Reading Stats
Number Of Books You Read
As of December 29th, I’ve read 74 and have two books I’ve started and believe I will finish by the end of the year.
Number of Re-Reads
Unknown but in the triple digits. I only like to read new books when I know I can sit down and read them cover to cover in case I get enthralled.  When I just have a few minutes here and there I reread.
Genre You Read The Most
For the least shocking answer on this survey – Contemporary Young Adult
2014 Reading Stats
Best Book You Read In 2014?
hyperbole Young Adult Non Contemp: Cress by Marissa Meyer – the books in this series just keep getting better!
Women’s Lit: Unsticky by Sarra Manning – Elizabeth at Don’t Take my Books Away recommended this to me and I bought it, but every time I read the description I chose to read something else.  I finally picked it up earlier this year and read it about 5 times in a row. Love, Love, Love this book, these characters, and this relationship!
Humor: Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things that Happened by Allie Brosh – I laughed so hard at these stores that I had to take breaks to recover and breathe.  I literally could NOT read all at once.
Mystery: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line (Veronica Mars, #1) by Rob Thomas – Get the audio!  More Kristen Bell is always awesome!
Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
Ten Tiny Breaths by KA Tucker – this was super highly reviewed on Goodreads and I hated it.  I basically thought the relationship was supremely unhealthy for both parties.
Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
She is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
I knew We Were Liars by E Lockhart had a twist at some point but I still wasn’t prepared.  Also Burned by Ellen Hopkins broke my heart on a day I just was not in the mood to have my heart broken. 
Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
Successfully – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Unsuccessfully – Unsticky by Sarra ManningStill blue
Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
 Started: Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas 
 Sequel: Cress by Marissa Meyer
 Ender: Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi &
Ruins by Dan Wells
Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I read three books by Sarra Manning this year.  I left myself a few for next year!  Also Sarah J. Maas although I’m wishing I’d held out on the Throne of Glass series til the end like I did with Harry Potter.  Too much waiting.  Side note – I read lots of books by authors named Sara/Sarah/Sarra.
shadow and BoneBest book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
I’ve hit a fantasy kick here at the end of the year. A month ago my answer was Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardulo, but since then I’ve devoured four Throne of Glass books by Sarah J Maas. It’s weird for me because I haven’t read a lot of fantasy in the past and when I’ve tried it previously I’ve been disappointed.  (I did not like Daughter of Smoke & Bone or The Girl of Fire and Thorns).
Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Living by Matt de la Pena is terrifyingly real. Yikes.
Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Most memorable character of 2014?
Sara from Tease – It was a different experience to be inside the head of the bully and have empathy for her.
Celaena Sardothien from Throne of Glass – teenage assassins tend to be memorable.  Add that she’s a female YA protagonist who’s a little full of herself – Celaena definitely stands out. 
Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
Burned by Ellen Hopkins

Most Though-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2014
Tease by Amanda Maciel
Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Shadow & Bone by Leigh Bardugo
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series by Ann Brashears
Favorite Passage/Quote from a Book You Read in 2014?
I’m terrible about noting quotes from books, but I did mark this one from Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
“In a novel, you always knew the moment when something Happened, when someone Changed.  But real life was full of gradual, piecemeal, continuous transformations.  It was full of accidents and undefinables, and things that just happened on their own.  The only certainty was "It's complicated".”
Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?
Shortest: Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern (159 pages)
Longest: Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield (599 pages)
It’s really sad that my longest this year is under 600 pages. Usually I have at least one in the 800 range.
OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
I think it will be a REALLY long time before I get as excited about a couple as I am about Grace and Vaughn from Unsticky.  I think it’s because they are both totally flawed characters but so perfect together. 
Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Cress by Marissa Meyer
Best Book You Read in 2014 Base SOLELY due to Peer Pressure
As I said before, the description to Unsticky by Sarra Manning didn’t do anything for me.  Without peer pressure I wouldn’t have read it and it’s my most mentioned book in this post.

Newest fictional crush from a book read in 2014?
I don’t think I have a new crush this year.  As much as I love Grace and Vaughn together it’s because THEY are an OTP – I would end up punching Vaughn in the nose or at least throwing a book at him.  (I love this gif)
Stitch book throw
Best 2014 debut you read?
Tease by Amanda Maciel
Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Smoke & Bone by Leigh Bardugo and The Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas both had really impressive world building.  I didn’t have any trouble picturing what was happening even though the world was so foreign.
Also Landline by Rainbow Rowell was impressive.  The concept of a magic phone that communicates with the past sounds a little hokey, but Rainbow made it work SO well!
Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?
Boomerang by Noelle August.  I think this is one of those books where I read it when I was in the perfect mood for it.  I just wanted a fun romance and this delivered.
Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?
Books make me emote so tears are frequent. These are books I KNOW I cried reading, but it’s not exhaustive. I’m sure other books made me cry.
we were liarslandlineunsticky
stars still shineslammedstory of a girlburnedtease isla
Book That Crushed Your Soul?
Burned by Ellen Hopkins
We Were Liars by E Lockhart
Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?
Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld
Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Made me mad still loved it – Burned by Ellen Hopkins
Made me mad ended up hating it – Ten Tiny Breaths by KA Tucker
Blogging life
Since I’ve been a negligent Blogger this year I’m going to answer these a little differently
New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
Hmm – it’s hard to remember exactly when I started following certain blogs. Technically I discovered Paperiot last December, but I officially started following in January.
Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
I wrote exactly two reviews this year and they were fine but not especially inspired.
Best discussion/non-review post I read on a blog?
Since I didn’t blog much this year I changed the working of this question a bit. I really enjoyed and identified with Jamie’s post on being a Mood Reader.
Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
I’m annoyed with Goodreads inconsistent review/shelf policy, so I’m hoping Leafmarks takes off…although if/when it does it will probably also get purchased by Amazon.
Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I have an arbitrary goal to read 100 books in a year, but it’s not going to be this year.
I did improve my male/female author ratio from 12% last year to 22% this year (goal was 25%)looking ahead
One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?
Right now my top priorities are books 2 and 3 in the Grisha Trilogy and then The Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith. 
Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?
Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
no place to fall2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown (technically Dec 2014)
Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Winter by Marissa Meyer – pushed back til December and I have this terrible feeling it’s gonna get pushed to 2016 (whimper)
One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?
Resume Blogging

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow and Bone
Leigh Bardugo
358 pgs, Jun 2012
Physical book

Summary from Goodreads
Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.
Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.
Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.
My Thoughts
I finished this one in a day (it was a day in which I also worked 12 hours). 
Orphaned as a child, Alina and her best friend Mal have been drafted into the army.  During a dangerous mission through the Shadow Fold, the army is attacked.  When Mal’s life is in danger, Alina demonstrates a power that no one – including Alina – knew she possessed. 
Suddenly Alina’s entire life changes. The Darkling is thrilled with her power. She’s ripped away from Mal, the only constant in her life and into a somewhat pampered life in the palace.  While in the palace she begins training on how to use her power and other combat skills, she constantly feels out of place and is terrified that she won’t be able to catch up from not starting training as a child.  Alina also misses Mal terribly, but letters to him go unanswered. 
Basically, I loved this story.  I struggle with fantasy sometimes.  I think I read to fast – skimming too many necessary descriptions to be able to really picture what’s going on.  I did not have that problem reading Shadow and Bone.  Leigh Bardulo did an excellent job of integrating the descriptions into the story so I never went into skimming mode.
The established relationship between Alina and Mal is well done and the loss of that relationship really compounded the loneliness Alina felt during training.  I also thought the growing relationship between Alina and the Darkling was well done. He’s so secretive that he’s intriguing and you’re never quite sure what to think of him.

My Rating
Enjoyability (4.5 out of 5 stars)
Relationships (4.0 out of 5 stars)
Writing (4 out of 5 stars)

This book will stay with me at least until I read Siege and Storm for sure. Very, very solid Trilogy opener.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday–Books from Santa

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10.

This week’s top 10…Books I want Santa to bring me.  This top 10 varies daily, but at this very moment this is my list for Santa.

top 10 santa

What about you?  What are you hoping to see in your stocking?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Books that Lack Research

A recent discussion with my friend Elizabeth on Twitter made me really think about one of my bookish pet peeves that I’d never really discussed until now. Lack of research.

I will never write a book. It’s not a skill I have or even feel like I can develop – writing this blog frequently feels like it’s taxing my writing abilities. But if I was a writer I think the one thing I’d be good at would be researching facts necessary for the novel so I didn’t get them wrong. And it’s inevitable that research is required unless every character is a version of yourself.

I’m a pretty big sports fan and I know several other readers who are too. Readers and sports fans are not mutually exclusive groups, but I have read several books where the author clearly didn’t research ANYTHING about the sport before putting it in the book. As a reader it’s distracting when you read something like, “I was a 37th round draft pick. That’s kind of a big deal.” The character was referring to the NBA.

At this point instead of my brain staying in the story (it’s a book I love BTW and have read multiple times) I get distracted and my brain goes through that following thought process.

The NBA draft has only 2 rounds. The only major league draft that I can think of with that many rounds is the MLB and even then the 37th round is definitely not a big deal. Odds are you’d be toiling in single A ball for a few years before getting cut or quitting cause the money sucks.

While these errors might seem minor to the overall story, they distract me as a reader, taking me out of the story while my brain says, “That’s not right”. It’s frustrating, especially with the ease of acquiring the information in this day and age. One word. Google.

This problem is not limited to sports, but it’s the most frequent offender for me. I could also talk about the book that quoted prices for an emergency rental of a small Lear jet and the price quoted was about a quarter of what it should be but that is pretty random info for me to have – although I don’t think I’m the only reader who noticed.

Any topics you are a subject matter expert on that authors frequently fail to research properly?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Top 10 Tuesday–Favorite Books of 2014

Every Tuesday the ladies over at The Broke and the Bookish host a book related Top 10 theme.

Top 10 2014Cress by Marissa Meyer – I liked Cinder, loved Scarlett, and adored Cress.  The books in the series just keep getting better and I can’t wait for Winter!

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi – Great conclusion to the series!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardulo – I don’t think of myself as a Fantasy reader but I loved this (and looking back I’ve read and enjoyed a fair amount of Fantasy at this point)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – I don’t think Rainbow can write something I won’t love.  Her ability to create characters that I want to be friends with, that I want to shake when they make mistakes because I CARE just amazes me.

Unsticky by Sarra Manning – this is my favorite book of the year.  I read it on the recommendation of Elizabeth at Don’t take my Books Away, but I resisted the rec for way too long because I kept reading the synopsis and finding the summary unappealing.  Wow was I wrong.  Love Grace and Vaughn!

Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh – I laughed so hard I had to take breaks between stories.  There’s just something about her sense of humor that just perfectly clicks with mine.

On Writing by Stephen King- This book is half advice on being a writer and half Stephen King’s autobiography both parts are fascinating.

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – These books just make me so HAPPY. 

Tease by Amanda Maciel – Fascinating look into the perspective of the bully.  So impressive that the author managed to make me empathize with Sara almost immediately even while I was so frustrated with Sara’s lack of empathy.

We Were Liars by E Lockhart – Heartbreaking book, but different then anything I’ve read in a long time.  Book that made me think.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable Mention

I’m about halfway through Throne of Glass and based on what I’ve read so far it will definitely make this list when I’m finished.  Boomerang was so much fun and just what I needed to read when I read it.