Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Aw yessss, my graphics are top quality. I have been dying to make this review since Perpetual Page-Turner posted it at the beginning of December. Obviously this is my first year doing a blog, so even though it's the 4th Annual Review, it's my personal 1st, but will eventually be an annual event!

Perpetual Page-Turner mentions that she does it at the beginning of the year because she doesn't get a lot of reading done in December. I had to wait until December was officially over because I squeaked in several last minute reads.

So without further ado...

1. Best book you read in 2013?

Hands down, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. I recommend this to everyone.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn't?

I was really excited about The Maze Runner by James Dashner, and it ultimately just disappointed me. 

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

This is hard because I didn't really read any books that I was expecting to not be good. But probably Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard. I thought they'd be alright, but I totally fell in love with the series. 

4. Book you read in 2013 which you recommended to the most people in 2013?

Again, probably Eleanor & Park. I just loved it so much. 

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Definitely Pretty Little Liars. It was really one of the only series which I started this year. The other being the Flappers series by Jillian Larkin which was also good, and I'll finish, but it wasn't quite as good as PLL.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

RAINBOW ROWELL. I can't rave enough about her. I'm excited to read Attachments, but I'm sad that it's the last book out of hers which I can read. 

7. Best book which was out of your comfort zone or a new genre for you?

I read Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi which is a general fiction novel which I don't read much of. It was pretty good. Definitely not like anything else I'd read. I enjoyed it.

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book of 2013?

No one will be surprised by this, but Eleanor & Park. I finished it in about three hours during a summer where I didn't read nearly as much as I should have.

9. Book you read in 2013 which you are most likely to reread next year?

Haha once again, Eleanor & Park. Maybe also The Night Circus or Jane Eyre, but definitely E&P.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013? 

I really liked the cover of Paper Valentine. I think it's so intricate, and it relates to the plot quite well. My runner up would be the Night Circus which is similar in a lot of ways.

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Both Eleanor and Park from E&P for sure. Also Jin Wang from American Born Chinese. And Hannah from Thirteen Reasons Why. 

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Ughhhhhhhh. Eleanor & Park and Fangirl are pretty high on this list. So are Thirteen Reasons Why and the Night Circus. And The Captain's Verses by Pablo Neruda, which like it's poetry so of course it'd make this list.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

As far as impact goes, probably Thirteen Reasons Why. It's just so meaningful and it definitely made me pay more attention to my actions. I'm still a sarcastic little shit, but I try to make sure people know when I'm teasing, and I try not to say things I can't take back.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Oh man, this one's hard. Because I read a couple of classics this year. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (which I think I would have liked more if I had read it earlier in life), The Hobbit (which I also might have liked more at a younger age?), Jane Eyre (which I feel pretty sure I would have loved in high school and I'm not sure how I didn't read it then), and Peter Pan (which I might have liked more when I was younger, but I can't tell because it was super weird. And probably something I'll read to my own kids.)

15. Favorite passage/ quote from a book you read in 2013?

From "The Cut-Glass Bowl" from Flappers & Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald:
"You see, I am fate," it shouted, "and stronger than your puny plans; and I am how-things-turn-out and I am different from your little dreams, and I am the flight of time and the end of beauty and unfulfilled desire; all the accidents and imperceptions and the little minutes that shape the crucial hours are mine. I am the exception that proves no rules, the limits of your control, the condiment in the dish of life."

16. Shortest & Longest Books you read in 2013? 

Longest: A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin (surprise, surprise. Those books are monsters.)
Shortest: Since I'm not going to include the picture book, it becomes the middle grade book Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace by Eric Wight (which was fantastic!!!)

17. Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to someone about it (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc)? Be careful of spoilers!

Eleanor & Park had one of those. So did Allegiant for sure. 

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc)

This is gonna surprise y'all, but Eleanor and Park from E&P was amazing. Celia and Marco from the Night Circus. Jane and Rochester from Jane Eyre. Minho, Newt and Thomas from the Maze Runner series. 

19. Favorite book you read in 2013 from an author you'd read previously?

Probably A Dance with Dragons.

20. Best book you read in 2013 which you read SOLELY based on the recommendation of someone else?

Probably Ghana Must Go which Rosianna recommended in this video.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2013? 

Looks like young adult fantasy. 

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Park. All the way. Oh my god, Park. Like Levi was great, but Park is possibly perfect for me. 

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Once again, I have to mention The Night Circus, and Thirteen Reasons Why, and Hyperbole and a Half. I want more from all of these authors. (And I have The Future of Us in my tbr for 2014!! Yay!!)

24. Most vivid world/ imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Either A Dance with Dragons or the Night Circus. I think Night Circus wins on the basis that it manages to tie with a book that had four other books' worth of build up. That's pretty damn impressive.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?

It may have been the shortest I read at 96 pages, but Frankie Pickle and the Mathematical Menace was a lot of fun. 

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?

This is a shitty question for me because I am a cryer in general. 

So, here's a list: The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson, The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein (even though I saw the reason coming from a mile away, I still couldn't hold back my tears.), Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi, Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth.

27. Book you read in 2013 which you think got overlooked this year or the year it came out?

I think American Born Chinese has not gotten enough love that I've seen. It's just so good. 

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013?

Ugh this is so hard because I just discovered ALL THE BLOGS this year. I guess you can guess my favorites are AnnaReads and PerpetualPageTurner. But I also love, love, love The Broke & the Bookish, Adventures of Cecelia Bedelia, So Obsessed With, Hopeless Romantics, The Book Addict's Guide, Book Rock Betty, Paper Riot, The Grown-Up YA, Sash and Em, and The Paper Sea...just to name a few, haha.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013?

Hahahaha, I haven't written many review on this blog yet. But the one that's closest to my heart is definitely my review of Eleanor & Park which is over on goodreads.

3. Best discussion you've had on your blog? 

I haven't really had much discussion on my blog, yet. Thanks Stephanie from Hopeless Romantics for my one and only comment!! I look forward to more discussion on my blog in 2014!

4. Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on someone else's blog? 

I feel like I've read quite a few blogs lately, but nothing that's been super intense. I mean, for me personally, I really liked two of Jamie's post of Perpetual Page Turner. Check them out here and here

5. Best event that you participated in?

Definitely this survey!

6. Best moment of book blogging / your book life in 2013?

Starting this blog!

7. Most popular post this year on your blog?

Well by number of views (since I haven't gotten many comments yet) this post on the 10 books I'm most thankful for is the winner!!

8. Post you wished got a little more love?

Uhm. Probably all of them. I haven't written something that I feel really passionate about yet. 

9. Best bookish discovery?

Book blogging in general!! I hadn't realized how large and awesome it is! I'm excited to join in with my own thoughts.

10. Did you complete any reading goals or challenges that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Uh. No.

1. One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be your number one priority in 2014?

This is a hard one because I do have a huge stack of books to get to. I guess I'll say Splintered by A. G. Howard because I have an ARC of Unhinged to read as well.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?

Isla and the Happily Ever After!! PLEASE COME OUT IN 2014!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

3. 2014 Debut you are most anticipating?

Probably No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale. It looks awesome.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2014?

Uhhhhhh. I don't know that I'm really anticipating any at the moment. I haven't quite gotten to most of the series which I know have books coming out in 2014.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?

Read 100 books!! This will be the year I do this!!

I've been keeping an eye on other surveys, but for those of you who don't officially blog, answer your favorite questions! I'm a particular fan of books which make me cry, so if you have any suggestions, let me know!

Happy New Year's Eve Lovelies!! I hope you are all out having a terrific night and that you won't see this until 2014 has officially rung in. 

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by the wonderful people over at The Broke & the Bookish--check out their post or their list of other awesome blogs who have participated!

1. Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: Once I put up my year in review survey, no one will be surprised by this, but this book is definitely my favorite of the year. It is the most amazing book I've read in a long while. 

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: Oh Fangirl, I just barely squeezed you in to 2013, but I managed it. Mostly because once I picked it up I didn't put it back down. I couldn't. It was sort of like reading a pseudo-AU of my life.

3. American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang: This was a wonderful book that showed the commonalities and differences of people of all ages across cultures. I loved it. 

4. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh: This book was hilarious and sad and everything I could have asked for. It was one of the very few full price books I bought this year.

5. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher: This book should be encouraged reading for all people. It's a reminder of how something that seems so little can have such huge effects on a life. 

6. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard: I waited nearly 7 years to read this book because the cover put me off, but this series is sooooo goood. And frankly, it's much more accurate and feminist than a lot of mainstream literature. I can't wait to read my way through this series in 2014. 

7. A Dance with Dragons by George R. R. Martin: This series gets more and more intense with each passing book, and I can't wait to read the next one (whenever it comes out). 

8. The Madness Underneath by Maureen Johnson: I follow Maureen on Twitter and she's just a fantastic person. I loved The Name of the Star, and the only reason I didn't love this one quite as much is that it was clearly the second of a series. Second books are hard for me. 

9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte: I love dark, romantic novels from centuries passed.  Wuthering Heights is my favorite, but Jane Eyre is probably a close second. It was a slow build, but I thought it was delightful after about halfway through.

10. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern: I CANNOT WAIT for Morgenstern to publish something else. This book was beautiful and graceful and everything I could have ever asked for in a circus tale. 

There's my top ten! What would be on your list? 

Monday, December 30, 2013

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell was SPECTACULAR.

I stayed up until 1 am on a work night to finish it. Admittedly, I've been a devoted Rowell fan since I read Eleanor & Park this summer, but while I still think I loved Eleanor & Park more, Fangirl spoke to me on a fundamental level. Mild spoilers ahead.

I wish I'd had this book when I was a college Freshman. I was Cather. Except I was Cather rooming with my Wren (not a twin sister, but a best friend from high school). I didn't go to many parties, I spent a lot of time in my room on my computer, I spent a lot of time doubting my life and my choices. She makes a comment about not feeling like a real adult but a pre-adult, and I still feel that way.

I loved that Simon Snow is basically Harry Potter (except Rowell throws in a few HP references to make it seem like it isn't HP, but it so totally is). Harry Potter is still the biggest fandom I've ever been a part of. I started reading fanfiction in 8th grade, and I wrote fanfiction from that point forward. Drarry was the first slash ship I ever shipped. I cried when the last book came out, the last movie came out, pretty much anytime I thought I was going to lose Harry Potter. But I think something that helps is remembering that the fandom is always there for you. And I hope Cath realizes that at the end too.

Levi is darling and certainly reminds me of people I know/knew in college. And Reagan is like my total favorite. Wren's hospital visit really hit me because I've been in situations where people have overindulged in alcohol, and it's terrifying. And people really don't think it's a problem.

I was really glad that Rowell didn't make Levi have some sort of problem and that's why he didn't read. Like he didn't have dyslexia or ADHD or some medical condition. He just had a hard time paying attention, and I think that's pretty common but also unfairly condemned. I'm glad that he already has coping mechanisms in place too. Like Cath assists him, but she doesn't save him. He's just fine the way he is.

Overall, I think Eleanor & Park is her more powerful novel, but Fangirl is so relateable and darling.

Favorite quote: "How do you not like the internet? That's like saying, 'I don't like things that are convenient. And easy. I don't like having access to all of mankind's recorded discoveries at my fingertips. I don't like light. And knowledge.'"

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum is the classic tale of Dorothy and Toto's adventure to Oz. There are 14 Oz tales in all, but the first book reflects what we know and love as The Wizard of Oz film. I had never read the book(s), and it's been a few ages since I've seen the movie, so it was exciting to look at the story from a new, fascinating angle. 

Of course, the tale is so ingrained in my brain from my childhood that it all came back to me as I was reading. I've also seen Oz the Great and Powerful fairly recently (which was a misogynistic piece of crap in my opinion, but the tale does incorporate some of the traditional Oz elements) so that assisted my memories quite a bit.

My favorite part of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is that besides Dorothy who is actually far from home, the others already have the qualities they're going to the Wizard to get. On their journey, the scarecrow demonstrates over and over again how intelligent he is. The Tinman shows his kindness and love to all creatures. And the Lion faces down many fearsome circumstances. 

Overall, however, the story does feel dated. Maybe it's because I'm no longer a child, but even for a short book parts of it dragged on. It wasn't very exciting, and I constantly knew what would happen before the characters themselves.

Favorite quotes:
"Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man."
"I shall take the heart, for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world."

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Hello Lovelies!!

Tis another Sunday night here in Montana, and I feel like I've had a very busy week.

This week, I...

worked two of the busiest retail days for our store so far.

wandered around half our town looking for cool Christmas lights on Christmas Eve--but did not succeed in finding them.

opened many Christmas presents from my wonderful friends and family.

had two days off in a row!!

went shopping on Thursday which was a crazy busy day, but I found some awesome shoes on sale.

went to a friend's house to watch Star Wars IV.

went to a friend's house to have a delicious and wonderful family dinner.

went to Oula!!

watched I'll be Home for Christmas, Halloween, The Celebration, and It's a Wonderful Life.

watched some Teen Wolf and some American Horror Story: Asylum.

This week, I read...

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz which has a review coming shortly.

Fangirl (!!!!!!!!) which I just started tonight but I'm already halfway through, and I'm incredibly tempted to stay up and finish it tonight.

This week, I added several books to my library.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher
Reboot by Amy Tintera
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
Bone #1 by Jeff Smith
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

I'm so excited about all these books!! I'm glad I squeaked in a last good haul before my new year's resolutions kick in :)

How was your week? What did you do that was fun and delightful?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Blogging Goals for 2014

Hello lovelies!!

It's almost a new year

but I've got some ideas on where I want this blog to go in 2014. So I made a list of ten goals which I'm going to share with you!!

1. Get commenting!!!

Something that I see a lot of in this blogging world is community. And I really want to be a part of it. I think the best way to do so, on my end, is to comment on other people's posts. So I'm going to work really hard at commenting on other's posts in 2014. 

2. Get better at design.

I have virtually no skills at design right now. I'm always jealous when I look at other people's blogs and posts and they're always so beautiful and so well done. 

3. Blog at least 3x a week

This isn't really a hard one. I just tend to lose focus of projects if I don't set specific goals. So I'm planning on posting on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Plus reviews whenever I get to them.

4. Finish 3 series.

This is really a simple goal, but I do have the tendency to just start a series and then not finish it. Not necessarily because I'm not interested, just because I get overwhelmed by how many books I'd like to read. 

5. Read 100 books.

This is my goal every year, but this year, I'm going to really strive to meet it. The last few years I've been reading more stuff online (okay okay FANFICTION mygod it's so good), and I really miss reading physical books. So I'm really going to strive to meet this goal in 2014. Plus Anna (yep at Anna Reads, she's just so cool!) reads way over a 100 books, so I'm feeling a tad bit competitive now.

6. Read 1 book I own for every 1 new book or ARC

This stems from the fact that I have a ton of books which I own and would really like to read, but I also work at a bookstore and get ARCs from Goodreads rather frequently. So I set this goal in an effort to balance new books and old books.

7. Participate in a readathon.

I'm going to be honest. I really have no idea what this entails. But it sounds cool. So I'd like to do one in 2014!

8. Gain 5 followers.

I feel like this is a fairly reasonable goal. I just need a few people to actually follow along with this blog so that I have a little bit of an impetus to keep going. I don't need a ton of followers. I just need to know that I'm not just shouting into the internet void. 

9. Reread 5 books.

Not that I always reread books or anything. I just really have a few books that I'd like to reread, and I feel like if I don't make it a "goal" I won't do it.

10. Pare down book owning.

I was already planning on doing this since I can get credit for my books at my work which I can then use to get new books! So this is just a goal that will be easy to check off.

11. Read a classic a month.

This is like my extra credit goal. I'd really like to read some of the classics I own, and/or have had on my reading lists since high school. So I'm going to try this. I figure it'll factor in pretty well with my read one I own goal. 

So that's it! The things I'm planning for 2014. What about you? Do you have any reading goals? Or other goals?

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant is the concluding novel in the Divergent triology. Therefore, there will be some spoilers in my review. Actually, there will be a lot of spoilers in this review. Because I have a lot of feelings and a lot of things to say. So skip to the end if you don't want any spoilers.

I'm actually not entirely sure how I felt about Allegiant. Like Roth threw a major curveball in this novel, and it's been almost 24 hours since I finished it, and I'm still not sure how I felt about it.

So in Allegiant, we find out that this entire world we've grown to love in Divergent and Insurgent is a total lie. It's a genetic purity experiment. And I guess part of my problem with this curveball is that I don't think that's how it would go. On one hand, it reminded me of Haddix's Running Out of Time where the main character also finds out her world's a lie (which I LOVE. That book is one of my favorites from my youth). On the other hand though, I just don't think it's realistic. I think that people are not as good as that. I think it would end up being a lot more like the Holocaust again. Which I guess Roth does imply sort of happens--we decimate our population down to nothing before they start these experiments. But frankly, I think Tris is right in thinking that genetics doesn't explain behavior.

As to the ending, I actually rather liked it. Don't get me wrong, I cried so much. I hate when love is broken by circumstances outside of their own control. It was very upsetting, but it was so in character. Tris loves people around her. She wants to demonstrate her love in a tangible way. And she's someone who can think of the big picture outside of her own life. It's tragic but also wonderful. I really appreciate Roth's blogpost on the matter. I think even if you don't like the ending, you can appreciate what Roth was attempting to do.

My favorite quote:
I wonder if this is how it is with all evil men, that to someone, they look just like good men, talk like good men, are just as likeable as good men.

Over all, I appreciated the ending to the series, although I still feel a little ambivalent about the third book in general. Rating of three cupcakes!

Have any of you read Allegiant? What did you think of it?

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish Top Ten Tuesdays give me a chance to order some lists out of the chaos of my head. Yay for book lists!! This week is Books that Santa should Leave Beneath my Tree

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell: It would have been Fangirl, but I opened a present from a friend a few days ago, and she had gotten me Fangirl (woohoo!!!) so I changed to Attachments because I also really want to read that.

The Selection by Kiera Cass : I don't know how this managed to slide by my notice earlier this year, but I happened to have a customer ask about it the other day, and I've been a little obsessed with it since. It looks so delightfully good and girly.

Death, Dickinson, and the Demented Life of Frenchie Garcia by Jenny Torres Sanchez : I can't remember exactly how I stumbled onto this title, but it sounds so good. I'm really excited.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen : This is another one that I had a customer ask me about, and it sounds fabulous. I am so very excited to read it. It sounds like a fantastic series.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness :  One of the people I follow on Tumblr said this was her favorite book. It sounds super fantastic, so I'm excited to read it eventually.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline :  I realize I'm like a year behind on this one, but I love books with virtual reality worlds, so this sounds right up by alley.

Shadows by Robin McKinley : I love McKinley's Sunshine, and this one sounds just as delightful. I'd be psyched to find this under the tree.

Zen Shorts by Jon J Muth : I stumbled on this Caldecott winner when I was doing my Amazon loops the other day and it looks so beautiful. I do love picture books, and anything that I could possibly use in a future classroom is wonderful. 

What do you guys want for Christmas? Any of these books on your list?

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Hello Lovelies!!

As I mentioned last time, I got this fantastic week in review idea from Anna who is flawless and you should definitely check out her blog.

Anyway...this week I--

Went to a delightful group dinner at The Silk Road (one of the nicest places in town!). It's a tapas restaurant so all the dishes are very small, but if you go with a big group, it's fun to take a bite of each dish. We enjoyed some sangrias and got one of each dessert on the menu! There were only 5, but it was a fun thing to do.

Learned how to knit! Check it out--I'm working on a scarf, I hope.

Watched It's a Wonderful Life for the first time this year. What a perfect Christmas movie.

Started watching season two of American Horror Story.

Went to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

I put down a book with no intention of picking it back up for the first time in a long time.

I started reading Allegiant!

I read this delightful blogpost at Hopeless Romantics about rating systems. I think I'm going to be implementing the little cupcakes!

And I got Fangirl from one of my friends for Christmas!!

I've been sick, so I missed out on a few things. A "leaving" party for one of my work friends. I should have gone, but I was just so tired. I wanted to crawl into my onesie and write this blog post and go to bed. So that's what I'm going to do!

What about you lovelies? Did you do anything good this week?

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Ah!!! My first did not finish post! I feel so ashamed.

It's pretty rare for me to not want to finish a book but I've decided to give up on A Lady Most Lovely by Jennifer Delamere.

Honestly, the cover is what drew me into this book in the first place. It's a delightful cover, and it looked like the perfect wintry read.

I got 123 pages into it before deciding to call it quits which is about a third of the way through with the novel being 383 pages long.

Here's my problem: I thought it was a historical romance. I've read plenty of those before, and I know what to expect to a certain degree.

What I wasn't expecting is that this is a Christian historical romance.

I'm not really big into reading Christian literature. I just get annoyed by the constant, useless inserts of "God" all the time. And I'm putting "God" into quotation marks because I mean, the word and speaking of the wisdom of "God" not actual acts of God which would be much more interesting.

Frankly, my to be read list is like a mile and a half long right now, so I have other things I'd rather read. This one just wasn't making the cut for me.

Do you like Christian historical romances? Have you read this one? What do you think? What upsets you most about giving up on a book?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hello lovelies!

As usual Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week's topic is Favorite New Authors of 2013. I'm taking that to mean author's I've read this year which I'd never read before, so most of these people have been around for a while, I just hadn't really gotten to them before this year.

Sara Shepard: She's been around for a few years now, but I just started reading her Pretty Little Liars series this year. They're so good! I just want to sit and read through all of them at once, but I'm trying to intensify the mystery by not allowing myself to do that. It's really really hard though. I'm on the 3rd one Perfect and I can't wait to see what happens next!

Rainbow Rowell: Anyone who can do this list and not put Rainbow down either read Attachments when it came out last year or has yet to read anything by her. She is a phenomenal writer, and I'm so excited to keep working my way through her books. 

Gene Luen Yang: I can't believe it's taken me this long to read American Born Chinese. I'm pretty privileged to be a white girl growing up in Montana, and this book reminded me of how it feels to be different. I think people sometimes look down on graphic novels, but I find it more difficult in a lot of ways from a writing standpoint because all you write is dialogue--you have to demonstrate the rest through the art itself, and Yang does a phenomenal job of really making an important story shine. 

Erin Morgenstern: She's not marketed as a young adult author, but her book The Night Circus can be enjoyed by readers of about 14 and up. It's a fantastic tale and she really created an amazing world in the circus. I would really recommend reading it.

Jay Asher: Thirteen Reasons Why left me actually speechless. I cried. I wanted to share it with everyone. It's so relevant as to how the "tiniest" of things can really build up and create a wave. It's the whole idea of every drop fills the bucket, but in a completely heart-wrenchingly depressing way. I just got The Future of Us, so I'm excited to see what else Asher has in store.

Allie Brosh : Hyperbole and a Half has been around the internet for a while now, but Brosh just released a collection of her amazing comics and paper form. I really only began seeing her comics online this year, and when the book came out, I bought it on its release date, which hasn't happened in a while. It was well worth it. I find Brosh's ability to connect sadness and humor outstanding. Definitely check out the link on her name which leads to her blog. It's well worth a little visit. Of several hours.

Honestly it was a little hard for me to come up with 10 new authors this year, so some of  these last 4 (okay 5, whatever) are maybe not my favorite or they write actual children's books (which I read fairly consistently for work). 

Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl: I read Beautiful Creatures earlier this year before the movie came out. I enjoyed it, but I didn't feel the need to go get the sequel immediately. I do have it on hold at my work and will likely read it eventually, but I just wasn't enthralled by the story. It was interesting, and I'm intrigued to see where it's headed.

Karma Wilson: (and frankly Jane Chapman) Karma writes and Jane illustrates a series of children books about a group of woodland friends. Bear Snores On might be my favorite.  If you have any little people to read with or give a book to, I would definitely recommend this series.

Holly Hobbie: Toot and Puddle are the cutest books! This is another kids series, but it is well worth the read. They also apparently have a show but I love the books so much.

Jillian Larkin: I read Vixen earlier this year, and I enjoyed it, but I haven't quite gotten to the rest of the series yet. They are on my to be read list, hopefully soon! 

Have you read any of these authors? Which authors are on your list? Let me know in the comments! 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Book Review: James Dashner's The Kill Order

Summary: This prequel to the Maze Runner starts in a world already destroyed by Sun Flares. Mark and Trina are two teenagers who have survived the unthinkable: the destruction of Earth as we know it. However, just when societies are beginning to reform and people are starting to live again, their camp is attacked by a ship. They shoot darts at their community and leave. But Mark and his mentor, Alec, aren't quite so ready to let the attack go. They need to find out what's happening and why.

My Review: I liked The Kill Order better than the last two books of the Maze Runner series, but I don't think that I actually liked it over all. I ended up having to sticky note problem spots in the book for me because I was getting so annoyed. The middle section of the book is covered in orange sticky notes.

The beginning wasn't terrible. I mean, Dashner has a fixation on making boy/girl couples as the main focus of his novel and ignoring most other relationships, but I was willing to admit that that is pretty typical of YA novels and move on.

But the most annoying thing that Dashner does in my mind is say one thing and then show another. Like he says several times how smart Trina and Lana (the other female character at the beginning of the novel) are, but then when a fire breaks out in the forest, (of course when they've split into the two boys together on a mission and the two girls waiting back at camp) Mark and Alec freak out and are like we have to get back to the girls! Like the sticky note I wrote literally says "WTF James. They're not scared deer entranced by oncoming headlights. They're intelligent women. They're going to move away from the flames." DUH.

BUT THEN. It takes Mark and Alec 12 pages to reach this conclusion. LIKE WHAT. HOW. URGHHHHHHHHH.

Then when they're still supposedly freaking out about Trina and Lana and Deedee (the little girl they pick up out of nowhere) running away from the fire, Alec makes a joke about being "all man". It is so incredibly out of place and distasteful that I literally had to stop reading. There are other descriptive moments where Dashner will say "It was a woman." And it's so irrelevant to anything else. It's very frustrating. How much daily sexism can you put in a novel without someone asking you to stop? Did no one else see these moments when they were reading??

And frankly, let's talk about Mark and Trina's "relationship" for a minute. Mark says that they've been friends by circumstance. They lived next door to each other growing up, so it kind of just happened. But Mark has always had a crush on Trina (and it takes the world ending for her to notice him, how not cliched at all). But the entire book is about Mark trying to get back to wherever Trina is. And it isn't shown in a healthy way. There are huge codependency issues through out the novel. Mark mentions several times that without Trina he doesn't want to keep living. Which is the typical melodramatic statement found in these situations, but because Dashner doesn't really describe their relationship from both ends, it just comes across as really sad and scary. I don't particularly want to have my little brother read this and think it's the right way to approach life.

Also Dashner repeatedly references "talking like a soldier" but in very strange instances. For example, at one point, after being told that their situation is risky, Mark replies, "But they have our friends," and Alec (who is a veteran soldier) replies "Said like a true soldier." Whaaaaa?? Isn't that just said like a true friend?? How is that "like a soldier" at all?

I also have some questions about Dashner's story of the sun flares. Like I'm willing to suspend disbelief for a certain amount, but I at some point, I always end up questioning what's happening. In this book, it was when the Sun Flares came down and then within a few hours, the subway in Manhattan was flooding with hot water?? That makes no sense. And then everyone around them starts dying immediately? Water itself isn't detrimental to people.

I did like the end. I think that in a lot of ways the Flare is the more possible route of a zombie apocalypse. I really enjoy zombie apocalypse theories and when the action picks up at the end with people dying left and right, Dashner doesn't have as much plot to annoy me with. I guess. That's the only thing I can think of.

Overall, readable but not my next die-for series. I also wouldn't necessarily call it a prequel to The Maze Runner. Like they tie it in with about five pages of text total, but it certainly isn't presented that way throughout the book.

Have you read The Kill Order? Let me know what you think in the comments!

Hello lovelies!

I meant to write this post yesterday, but then I went to my work's Christmas party and my night went delightfully downhill from there.

Anyway! I love reading Anna Reads' week in review posts, so I thought other people might like to read mine--guess we'll see!

This week I did some Christmas shopping! Just have a few people left to gather gifts for. I also wrapped most of the gifts I had lying about my house which was nice -- made me feel like I had my life in some semblance of order. I've watched a wonderful amount of Christmas movies: The Holiday, Elf, The Holiday again, A Muppet's Christmas Carol and A Christmas Story! I love Christmas movies so much!

I had a little too much fun at my work's Christmas party, but I have almost recovered 24 hours later.

I finished The Kill Order by James Dashner with a review coming soon!

I got my ARC of Unhinged (The sequel to Splintered which I will be reading soon!) by A. G. Howard. It's delightful! And it came with two pins! "Team" pins which I'm not a huge fan of, but I do love that I can add them to my apron at work!

Anyway, I don't have any photo evidence of my week, but trust me it's been a good one.

What's your week been like? Has it been as exciting as mine?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday!

Hello Everyone!

Today you're in for a treat! I've decided to gift you with not one Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish ) but TWO TOP TEN TUESDAYS!! Because I really want to complete last week's as well, but if I keep pushing it off, it ain't gonna happen.

So for those of you who are more interested in this week's prompt, I'll have that one first!

This week's Top Ten Tuesday is Winter To Be Read Books!

It just so happens that I have about a million books to read right now, so it was difficult picking ten, but I'm hoping this will encourage me to actually get them read!

I have three "adult" books:

A Lady Most Lovely by Jennifer Delamere: I admit that one of my best friends got me reading regency romance novels a couple years ago. When I came across this one at my work, it seemed like the perfect happy winter read. So now I have a reason to actually get to it and read it! I mean, look at that frosty cover.

The Hope Factory by Lavanya Sankaran: I got this as a Goodreads First Reads Giveaway like seven months ago and still haven't read it. So I'm going to get that sucker finished. It's got a delightfully bright cover which I just couldn't resist.

The Sentinels A Matter of Importance by Gordon Zuckerman: This is another Goodreads First Reads Giveaway win which I haven't gotten around to reading. I'm actually not sure that I'm really interested in reading it anymore, but I'm going to give it a go anyway. I feel bad not reading books I got as First Reads!

My other seven books fall in the Young Adult category: woohoo!!

I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak: I read The Book Thief several years ago and it ripped my heart out. This book sounds more like something I would typically enjoy. I'm really excited to give it a read.

Shattering Glass by Gail Giles: This was recommended to me by one of my coworkers and since I trust her opinion I got it. It sounds intriguing! I haven't been reading very many mysteries lately, so I'm excited to dive back in.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead: I know, I know...I haven't read it yet??
Even more embarrassing, I didn't even realized I owned it until I was looking for another book and found it. EEEEEP!!! Clearly that's the first sign of a problem. Anyway, I saw the trailer for the movie when I went to Catching Fire, and it looks so good! I've heard good things about this book, so I'm excited to start--even though it'll mean another series to add to my list!!

And finally a bit of series round-up.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth: Argh...I've been procrastinating reading this one just a little bit because I've already heard the rumor that something bad happens in the end. And it hasn't been spoiled for me yet, but it makes me so nervous!

Perfect by Sara Shepard: This is the third book in the Pretty Little Liars series which I just discovered this year and berated myself for not listening to the girls telling me to read it a year and a half ago! I'm excited to watch the show, but I prefer to read before watching, so I'm trying to get several books in before I start watching. These books are so addictive too! They're fun and so infuriating because I can't figure out what's going to happen next or who the "bad guy" is! I love it.

Specials by Scott Westerfeld: I've loved other Westerfeld series, but Pretties has taken me forever to get through. I'm still determined to finish it though, so I'm going to get through this one and pick up Extras.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare: This is another series that like I don't not like but I don't love. I like it enough to keep reading it, but I'm not eagerly awaiting the next books to find out what happens. I haven't seen the movie yet, so I am sort of looking forward to that, but I also haven't heard great things.

And that's my Winter TBR list! I'm excited to get a start on it as soon as I finish this blog post!

Now last week's TTT prompt was the Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2014

One is the continuation of a series that I didn't realize was going to be a series when I started it and one is a continuation of a series which I haven't yet started but would really like to!

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs: I really really enjoyed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. I didn't realize that it was going to be a series, but I'm really excited to see what Riggs does with the second one. 

Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd: I haven't yet read The Madman's Daughter, but I am dying to. I love the Island of Dr. Moreau and I love female main characters and I love the cover. I just am so excited by everything that's going on there. 

The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine: I know that this technically comes out this year (12/31/13), but since I probably won't actually buy it until next year, I think it counts. It looks so amazing! I love delightful little romance stories, so I'm really excited about this one.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson: I don't think I've ever read something by Laurie Halse Anderson and not loved it. She writes about such powerful subjects and makes them both accessible and meaningful. I'm thrilled to get my hands on this one.

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale: This book sounds fantastic! I just watched Fargo which I loved and I just talked about my obsession with PLL so any book that supposedly combines the two is right up my alley. I'm so excited!

Landline by Rainbow Rowell: My love for Eleanor & Park knows absolutely no bounds, so I'm just about dying to get my hands on Rowell's newest book. I asked for both of her other books for Christmas, so I'm ready to have the whole collection.

Then we have a few other series starts (and finishes?):

Avalon by Mindee Arnett: Any YA book that sounds vaguely like a take on Firefly sounds like it should be nothing short of perfection. I'm excited to give this one a try!

Timebound by Rysa Walker: I love the Chicago's World Fair. Love it. So I'm excited to see what Walker has done with the whole time-travel amulet and murder connection.

The Program by Suzanne Young: This book sounds so heartbreaking, but like it's something I'll really like. I enjoy books that remind me of how it feels to be a teen. I also realize that it came out earlier this year, but obviously I'm waiting for the paperback release date. (That's a total lie, I didn't realize until two seconds ago, but I'm already excited about this one, so I'm sticking to my story.)

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins: I AM SO EXCITED FOR THIS BOOK. I don't really think of it as part of a series, but I know that other people do consider it as part of the series that "began" with Anna and the French Kiss. I seriously read that book in like a day because it was so good!! And then I had to go find Lola and the Boy Next Door. So when Isla finally arrives, I'll be screaming in joy.