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2013 End of the Year Book Survey

2013 End of Year Book Survey

Happy New Year’s Eve!

So much has happened in 2013! I’ve read tons of books (although I didn’t reach my goal of 80), moved to South Carolina, began work at a new school, went to Europe, celebrated our 8 year wedding anniversary (!!), among so many other things! Thank you to all the BookTasty friends out there who helped make 2013 a wonderful year! Since this is a book blog, we’re going to take some time to reminisce on the books I read in 2o13 with the annual End of the Year Book Survey!

Relating to Books!

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

Apparently, 2013 was the year of fantasy for me because my 5 favorite books were ALL fantasy! In 2013 I loved:The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

  • Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger
  • The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas
  • The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  • Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
  • Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

I really thought I’d adore The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater so much more than I did. It took me forever to finish it because I just couldn’t get into it. I should have just put it down and not finished it, but I felt so bad because I loved The Raven Boys (book 1).

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

I had seen Icefall by Matthew Kirby sitting on the shelves in my Media Center for a LONG time. I always looked at it and then put it back down, never thinking it sounded really interesting. Well, I finally read it because it is on the 2013-2014 SC Junior Book Award List and lo and behold I REALLY LIKED IT!

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

I definitely recommended The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson to the most people this year!

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Hands down Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series! I love fact that it is a mash-up of fantasy, steampunk, and mystery genres! Seriously, these books are so refreshing and fun, they’re my favorite!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth RossI really enjoyed “meeting” three new debut authors this year. Elizabeth Ross (Belle Epoque), Rachel Hartman (Seraphina), and Alex Lidell (The Cadet of Tildor) are all authors whose future work will definitely be on my radar!

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

I don’t know if it was the best “out of my comfort zone” book or if I’m listing it because it was the only one I read that was out of my comfort zone…but I’m listing If I Stay by Gayle Forman. This was a 100% pure CRYING book. I generally do not do crying books. I didn’t love it, but it was out of my comfort zone.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

I seriously could not put down Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys! I was absolutely riveted from the start!

 9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Honestly? I don’t know…it’s rare that I re-read books (unless it is Pride & Prejudice which I have read three times).

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

Most definitely the covers for Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series. Aren’t these covers just breathtaking?! I want to wear the gowns!

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Is it cheating if I choose three? They kind of come together in a pack so I’m including them as one: Ronan, Gansey, and Adam…The Raven Boys! Although I wasn’t a fan of The Dream Thieves, I really liked book one, The Raven Boys. These three boys together are all pretty awesome in their own ways, but they also have magic among them!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys was just so moving I have to give it this title. The subject matter and Sepetys writing wove together to create a haunting story full of beauty, pain and hope.

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

This is a tough question. As much as I hate to say it (ducks from internet wrath about to come at me) Paper Towns by John Green just may have been the book that impacted me the most. Although this story was entertaining, it was not in any way a favorite of mine. I didn’t hate it, but it did leave me thinking a lot about relationships, selfishness, and pain. I think that Margo Roth Spiegelman may be one of my least favorite characters ever written, but she did make me think about things, so she has that going for her.

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

With the movie releasing this past November, my Husband and I listened to the audiobook of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card and neither of us could believe that it had taken us that long to actually read it!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

Lions of Little Rock

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Longest: Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare with 570 pages

Shortest: The Humming Room by Ellen Potter with 192 pages

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Definitely The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson! I was dying to talk to my friend Mandi about a certain someone and specific scenes, but she hasn’t made it past book one yet! Get reading Mandi!! We have lots to discuss!

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Okay so we all know romantic is the type of relationship I’m going with here. The smouldering relationship between Grave Mercy by Robin LaFeversIolanthe Seabourne and Prince Titus VII, in The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, was by far one of my favorites of 2013! I can’t wait for the other books in this trilogy! Another favorite was the romance between Ismae Rienne and Gavriel Duval in Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers! And let’s not forget Elise and Hector from The Girl of Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson!

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

I used to read a lot of Philippa Gregory novels in college, but hadn’t been excited about any of her recent titles until I saw Changeling, her foray into YA, at my school Book Fair! I bought it and read it in like a week. I had forgotten how quick and enthralling her books are!

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

I’m pretty sure Delirium by Lauren Oliver had been recommended to me by about fifteen students in less than a week’s time. I figured it was time to read it! I liked books one and two but was disappointed in book three.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

No questions asked, I was completely in love with fantasy in 2013!

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

Okay, definitely Prince Titus VII from The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas! He reminds me a a little of Will Herondale with his cocky swagger!

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

I didn’t read as many debuts as I wanted to this year, but I think my favorites was definitely The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas, The Cadet of Tildor by Alex Lidell, and Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross. I can’t pick just one!

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

Oh most definitely the most vivid world was found in Gail Carriger’s Finishing School books, Etiquette & Espionage and Curtsies & Conspiracies. I cannot even begin to tell you how much I want to live in this fantasy steampunk world she has created! I want to play with all the cool gadgets and wear all the pretty Victorian gowns. Also I want a mechanimal named Bumbersnoot!

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Probably Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card because my Husband and I listened to it together and now we have all these hilarious (to us) inside jokes from the book that come up frequently!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

So this is a short list because I strive to keep my distance from books that want to make me cry. If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys were the two I allowed into my reading list this year. This is all we shall ever say of the crying…let’s never speak of this again.

Icefall by Matthew J. Kirby27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I think Icefall by Matthew Kirby got overlooked whenever it was released. How could have not known about such a gem of a book until now?!

Relating to the Book Blogging Life

(optional)

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013? 

Okay, so for sure Jessica B. from Books a True Story! She and I met on Twitter and we decided to create a new monthly meme called Reading Queue! It has been really fun and helpful to organize my reading plans and Jessica has been super friendly and sweet!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013? 

Oh I think the books I loved the best get the best reviews…so let’s go with my review for Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger! I was definitely fangirling, but I believe I had a right to be!

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

I had a lot of fun with my Escapism or Emotion? post over the summer. I loved hearing form people with differing opinions on why they read. It was enlightening to consider a reader’s reasons for reading and remembering that we all have out own preferences when reading.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?YALL Fest2013

GUYS! In November I went to YALL Fest in Charleston, SC for the first time ever! AND. IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Seriously, I have been a bad book blogger the past two months, but I will post a highlight post from YALL Fest. I had such a good time mingling with “my people” and showing love to some impressive books and authors!

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

Definitely starting Reading Queue with Jessica B.! You should check it out and participate with us!

6. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

My most popular post of 2013 with a whopping 82 views (haha) was my April New Releases post which posted on March 26, 2013.

7. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Definitely my regular reviews. I know it’s been a while since I posted one, but they just don’t get as much love as weekly memes do, which makes me a little sad.

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

Okay, so in regards to my regular Goodreads Reading Goal for 2013, I have failed miserably! haha Seriously, though my goal was to read 80 books this past year and I only made it to 53 books for 2013. Oh well…53 is still a lot of books!

I did do a fab job with my 2013 YA Audiobook Challenge coming in at 35 audiobooks finished in 2013! This was 5 more audiobooks than 2012! WHOOT!

However, I didn’t succeed at my 2013 Debut Author Challenge. I only manged to read 6 of the 12 I had planned on finishing. Oh well! Of the 6 I did read, I discovered some awesome authors who I will definitely be seeking out in the future!

Regarding Looking Ahead to 2014

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?United we Spy by Ally Carter

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell for sure! Also United We Spy by Ally Carter!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2014 (non-debut)?

Oh Lord! I haven’t even begun to think about my most anticipated releases for 2014.

  • Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
  • The One by Kiera Cass
  • Cress by Marissa Meyer
  • Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger

Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Bajaj3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I think Alienated by Melissa Landers sounds like it could be a really fun read as does Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj!

 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?The One by Kiera Cass

The One by Kiera Cass! I really just love this fun series and can’t wait to see how Cass wraps it all up.

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging In 2014?

I did a really good job with keeping my blogging schedule organized during the first 3/4s of 2013.  I want to start 2014 organized and continue it through the end of the year. I already bought my 2014 blog planner, so I’m off to a good start!

May 2014 be filled with love, joy and really good reads!

 

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Fulfilling Fantasy: The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson

Hi there!

Have I told you how much I am loving my winter break? Because I totally am loving it! This morning we went to the local SodaCity Market. It was cold (yay!) but fun as usual!

In addition to fun outings my winter break has been full of blogging! I’m finally getting back on track after about two months of letting the blog lag a little. Normally, when I read a trilogy I either review the books as a whole, or each title individually. Well, I already reviewed the first book in Rae Carson’s trilogy, The Girl of Fire and Thorns, but to make things a little easier on me, I’m going to combine the last two books, The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom together into one review.

Elisa is the hero of her country. She led her people to victory against a terrifying enemy, and now she is their queen. But she is only seventeen years old.The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson Her rivals may have simply retreated, choosing stealth over battle. And no one within her court trusts her-except Hector, the commander of the royal guard, and her companions. As the country begins to crumble beneath her and her enemies emerge from the shadows, Elisa will take another journey. With a one-eyed warrior, a loyal friend, an enemy defector, and the man she is falling in love with, Elisa crosses the ocean in search of the perilous, uncharted, and mythical source of the Godstone’s power. That is not all she finds.

I have to start by saying this fantasy trilogy is wonderful. I adored the first book, and the last two didn’t let me down. Elisa’s world of Joya d’Arena is so full of magic and mystery, I don’t think I could ever get enough of stories set in this world! One of my favorite thing about both The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom is that both books are centered around journeys (both physical and emotional). Because of these journeys we get to see so much more of Joya d’Arena and the surrounding nations. In general, I prefer when stories open up and the author gives us a glimpse of the world our characters live in. Also, journeys, like Elisa’s allow for more adventure and excitement to enter the plot…which of course, is awesome.

Elisa’s, like before, is an inventive character. She has already gone through so much maturation and BitterKingdomgrowth in the first book, that I was afraid Elisa would fall a little flat in the sequels. Elisa, however continues to be as interesting as before: she is strong, vulnerable, afraid of her older sister, wise, frustratingly stubborn, and massively in love with a man who doesn’t always seem to reciprocate her affections. Elisa has a lot going on! And at the start of The Crown of Embers Elisa is forced to stretch herself even further as she now has the weight of a nation on the brink of war on her shoulders.

Also, I have to add that my favorite character by far is Storm, the enemy defector. He is completely sassy, suspect, grumbly, and all around hilarious. His presence adds just the right amount of sarcasm and intrigue to the already strong story.

And we cannot forget that there is some major, major swoon-worthy romantic tension going on in these second and third books! The back and forth between Elisa and her man (you’ll have to read to find out who…although it’s pretty obvious from the get-go) due to some heavy power and gender issues. But all this pent-up passion makes for amazing romance scenes! I think I swooned a thousand times. Yes. It is true.

So, in the end The Crown of Embers and The Bitter Kingdom are a fulfilling final two books to Rae Carson’s trilogy. If you’re a lover of fantasy, whether you’re in high school or older, this trilogy is completely recommended to you! You will not be sorry!

Author: Rae Carson

Publisher: Harper Collins, Recorded Books (September 18, 2012 & August 27, 2013)

Format: audiobook

Length: The Crown of Embers (11 hours and 41 minutes), The Bitter Kingdom (12 hours and 58 minutes)

Narrator(s): Jennifer Ikeda, Luis Moreno (The Bitter Kingdom)

Series: Fire and Thorns trilogy, books 2 and 3

YA/MG: YA

Buy the Book:  The Crown of Embers (Girl of Fire and Thorns) The Bitter Kingdom (Girl of Fire and Thorns)

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Something Familiar: Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Hola!

As you may know my husband and I moved from Florida to Columbia, South Carolina this past July. We’re loving the fact that we get to experience the change in seasons and that we’re really close to the mountains. It is just a great area to live in. It’s not that we didn’t like Florida, it’s just that it wasn’t the place we wanted to be forever.

Pretty shortly after we moved however, I realized that Chomp by Carl Hiaasen was on the South Carolina Junior Book Award list for the 2013-2014 school year. I was pretty excited to read Chomp because it, like all of Hiaasen’s books, takes place in southern Florida and in the midst of our move I needed to read something familiar.

Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his bChomp by Carl Hiaasenackyard. The critters he can handle.  His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called “Expedition Survival!”, Wahoo figures he’ll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show’s boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo’s acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who’s sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They’ve only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna’s dad shows up with a gun.

Although I’ve always enjoyed the Hiaasen books that I have read, his books are not always my favorite. However, I think out of all of them Chomp might have been the one I liked the most. There was just so much more humor in this story and I stopped my husband to tell him about the story more than I usually do when reading. I especially loved the reality show idea and my husband and I are big fans of Bear Grylls and his survival shows, so I got a kick out of the Derek Badger character, who is obviously a mocking portrayal of Grylls and survival show hosts like him.

In Hiaasen’s books the setting is always a character in its own right. And although I’ve never been to the Everglades (even after living in Florida for around 15 years) I know enough about Florida wildlife and geography to completely understand and appreciate this setting. Hiaasen throws in so many Florida “inside jokes” or references that I absolutely felt like I was back in the Florida sunshine.

The main character, Wahoo and his friend (something more?!), Tuna, are really fun and lovable characters. These two are one of the main reasons why I enjoyed Chomp more than Hiaasen’s other books. Wahoo and Tuna were both so realistic and tender in their new-found friendship that you can’t help but fall for them both.

OMG! I almost forgot! Do you even know who narrates this audiobook!?  I freaked out when I pressed play for the first time and heard the voice I hadn’t heard in like 10 years…DAWSON LEERY! Yes. You read correctly. Chomp is narrated by James Van Der Beek! High School Tina swooned a little. For real.

Chomp, definitely comes recommended for middle grade readers considering jumping into Hiaasen’s books who enjoy survivalist stories with some humor thrown in. Although, I do enjoy Hiaasen’s books they are definitely written mostly for their middle grade audience and I think it would be a stretch for older readers (especially adults) to really get into.

Author: Carl Hiaasen

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers (March 27, 2012)

Format: Audiobook

Length: 6 hours and 13 minutes

Narrator(s): James Van Der Beek

Series: Standalone

YA/MG: MG

Buy the Book: Chomp

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It’s Giveaway Time!

Hi there BookTasty friends!

Yeah! You read it right! It is definitely giveaway time! Whoot!

Being a middle school librarian, my heart has a special place for middle grades fiction. In fact some of my favorite authors write primarily for those readers in the middle school years!

One of the most popular authors in my library right now is I Funny by James PattersonJames Patterson. Yes! The very same James Patterson who writes adult thrillers also writes middle grade books. His Daniel X books are rarely checked in and it’s the exact same with his Middle School series! Additionally, Patterson’s humorous I Funny has a hold list a mile long and it’s popular among both my boys and girls.

Well, I Funny has a new sequel called, I Even Funnier, which releases TOMORROW Monday December 9!!

Middle schooler Jamie Grimm has big dreams of being the best stand-up comic in the world – and he won’t let the fact that he’s in a wheelchair get in his way.

I Even Funnier by James PattersonAfter winning the New York state finals in the Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic Contest, Jamie’s off to Boston to compete in the national semi-finals. But when one of his best buddies runs into trouble at school and a sudden family health scare rears its head, Jamie has to put his comedic ambitions on hold and stand by the people he cares about. Can Jamie pass up the big competition for the sake of his friends and family?

To celebrate the release of I Even Funnier I’m giving away a copy of BOTH I Funny and I Even Funnier! YAY! Thanks so much to the people at Little, Brown  for donating both books for this giveaway! I’m so excited to be able to host this giveaway!

Okay! So, how do you enter the giveaway? Well, there is just one step to enter. The only thing you have to do is fill out the form below.

All entries must be completed by Sunday, December 15, 2013  (midnight Eastern Standard Time). This giveaway is only open to U.S. residents. I will announce the winner on Monday December 16, 2013 on a special winner post. That person will have 48 hours to email me their mailing address or I will select another winner.
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Reading Queue: December

The Reading QueueWelcome to my December Reading Queue!

The Reading Queue is a monthly meme, hosted by Book Tasty (hi there!) and Books: A true story , where we share our reading plans  for the month. You can hop to other blogs and see what others are reading and maybe find someone reading the same thing as you! Or you can ask for people to vote on what you should read next if you can’t decide. Please feel free to contact me in the comments if you’d like to join and/or if you have questions!

Each month I love getting the chance to visit the other blogs who participate, it’s just fun to see what everyone else is reading!

How I Did Last Month

Okay, so November turned out to be pretty crazy what with all the traveling through Europe I did!

Belgium 2013

Here we are in Bruges! (Max, me, Greg the Husband, and Steve)

So, I only made it to four books and only two of them were on my original November Reading Queue. And here they are!

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas

The Burning Sky by Sherry Thomas (audiobook)

I absolutely adored this fantasy!

Icefall by Matthew J. KirbyIcefall by Matthew J. Kirby

This was such a surprise for me! I did not expect to enjoy this one as much as I did!

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth (print)

So, I really, really thought this was a great ending to the series! I can’t wait for the Divergent movie!

Curtsies & Conspiracies by Gail CarrigerCurtsies & Conspiracies by Gail Carriger

Seriously, this series is hands down one of my favorite newish series right now. I can’t even begin to explain to you how much I love these books.

My December Reading Queue

Fangirl by Rainbow RowellFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie StandifordThe Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

The Dark Unwinding by Sharon CameronThe Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron

Runaway King by Jennifer A. NeilsenThe Runaway King by Jennifer A. Nielsen

Okay! Well, these are my reading plans for the upcoming month.  What are you planning to read during December? Have you read any of the titles on my Reading Queue? Do you have any suggestions on which I should start with?

If you’re interested in joining up, add your Reading Queue post to the linky below! We’re happy to have you!