0

Familiar Places: Virals by Kathy Reichs

Hi there!

I’m currently typing this post up in our attic/office with the roof windows open on this rare sunny day in Manchester. It really is the perfect place to enjoy a cup of tea and write a book review!

Recently I finished listening to the audiobook for Kathy Reich’s Virals, the first book in a sci-fi series of the same name. I waited a long time to finally read this one and I’m so glad I read it now, after just moving across the pond from South Carolina, because the story is set in Charleston. Reading about the familiar places was soothing to my heart as I adjust to life in a new place out of my home country! It was comforting!

Overview

Tory Brennan, niece of acclaimed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan (of the VIrals by Kathy ReichsBones novels and hit TV show), is the leader of a ragtag band of teenage “sci-philes” who live on a secluded island off the coast of South Carolina. When the group rescues a dog caged for medical testing on a nearby island, they are exposed to an experimental strain of canine parvovirus that changes their lives forever.

As the friends discover their heightened senses and animal-quick reflexes, they must combine their scientific curiosity with their newfound physical gifts to solve a cold-case murder that has suddenly become very hot if they can stay alive long enough to catch the killer’s scent.

Fortunately, they are now more than friends. They’re a pack. They are Virals.

My Thoughts

I don’t know what I was expecting, but when I decided to read Virals, I wasn’t sold. I assumed I wasn’t going to enjoy it and I have no earthly idea why! What I got was a fast paced sci-fi mystery/thriller that hooked me from the start. The first page lands you smack-dab in the middle of a forest where our main character, Tory, is being chased by unknown and armed pursuers. From that moment on the story is full of dead bodies, breaking and entering, fake identities, hunting for evidence, and even more being chased by armed men. As if the mystery plot wasn’t interesting enough Reichs also weaves in this whole science fiction virus plot that just takes the story to a whole new level! I was immediately sold.

Super exciting plot aside, it also helps when your main character is engaging and likable. Tory, is your average teen who is also not-so average -she is incredibly observant, intelligent, courageous, funny, and really interested in science. She feels like an outsider at her posh Charleston private school, but is also building deep friendships with the other kids on Morris Island. She is exactly the type of girl I’d want to be friends with, if you know….I was a character in a sci-fi YA novel… Out of her group of friends, Tory is the “idea person”. She’s the one who has all of these ideas that are really good ideas (mostly) but make the other characters nervous because they usually involve breaking into someplace they shouldn’t be-all for good reasons of course! haha

Virals is set on the numerous islands that dot the coast of South Carolina, just outside of historic Charleston. As I mentioned before having just moved from South Carolina, it was so comforting to read about a location I’m familiar with. I think that when you’ve been to a place it always changes how you read a book set in that same location. The story seems more alive and exciting when you have experience in that particular setting. I loved reading about King Street, Sullivan’s Island, Mount Pleasant and Fort Sumter. It felt like I was home!

I will definitely be picking up the next book in the series and if you’re into sci-fi and mysteries you should also give this series a try!

Details

Author: Kathy Reichs
Publisher: Penguin Razorbill (November 2, 2010)
Format: Audiobook
Narrated by: Cristin Milioti
Length: 9 hrs and 43 mins
Series: First in the Virals series
YA/MG: MG/YA

 

1

Satisfyingly Fun: Sisters’ Fate by Jessica Spotswood

Hiya!

Moving Sale

Our first yard/moving sale earlier this month.

So, things are getting pretty chaotic around my house! We make our big trans-Atlantic move in less than three weeks and the house is a mess of boxes, not to mention all the stuff we’re selling! Selling most of your things is strange in two ways. First getting rid of it all has mad me understand that yes, it is all just stuff that can be replaced. However, I have also seen myself go all “Gollum” about certain objects! For example, I have these two naked New Kids on the Block dolls (Joe and Donnie for those of you interested) from childhood and Husband gently tried to get me to throw them away. I responded in a very “precious my precious” kind of way and now, needless to say, they are safely inside a box that has been taped up and is going on our shipping pallet.

Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos and NKOTB doll hoarding, however, I managed to find time to read the concluding book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles, Sisters’ Fate! I had been looking forward to this final installment in the series for so long and I’m glad it was able to be my relaxing read in the midst of the transition and change!

Sisters' Fate by Jessica SpotswoodOverview

A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.

To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.

My Thoughts

I am not specifically drawn to witches when reading but definitely to any storyline where characters have special magical abilities. I can’t help it! I just am a little obsessed with fantasy! Spotswood’s alternate history series mixed with fantasy is one of my favorite because its just a fun read and a good conclusion to the series. Honestly, sometimes I am let down by the concluding book in a series (ahem… we shall not name some of those infamous let downs here), but none of that happened with Sisters’ Fate. This installment picks right up where book two left off—I would have freaked if it hadn’t—which means that there is pretty much a ton of things happening at all times! We have secret meetings, memory erasing, romance, fighting, angry mobs, prison breaks, fires, pestilence…and did I mention romance?! *winky winky*

Interestingly enough Sisters’ Fate doesn’t read like your average final installment. There wasn’t this sense of things being closed down throughout like in most final books in a series. In fact I found myself wondering just how Spotswood would end everything because there was so much going on! I even checked Goodreads to double check that it was, in fact, the last book. This a unique quality for the end of a series because it shows that Spotswood didn’t check out of the storyline early — she instead continued to bring the same action that we found in the first two books and doesn’t begin tying things up until the last quarter of the story. In the end, some relationships were healed and some weren’t. Some loose ends were tied and some were not and I enjoyed that it wasn’t all tied up in a pretty package!

To be fair however, sometimes I did get annoyed with the back and forth bickering between Maura and Cate…and even sometimes Tess. Maybe this is normal for sisters? I don’t know because I don’t have any. It did seem as though a spat between Cate and Maura punctuated every cool action the storyline had for us and at times I felt like some of the arguing could have been reduced, but it does all play a roll wrapping the story up so I guess I really shouldn’t complain. Either way, the sisterly arguments, while maybe annoying at times, didn’t seriously interfere with my enjoyment of seeing the Cahill sisters’ stories come to conclusion.

Don’t read Sisters’ Fate unless you have read the first two books in the Cahill Witch Chronicles, or else you’ll be utterly and totally confused. But, if you did read and enjoy Born Wicked and Star Cursed than I definitely think you’ll find this to be a satisfying end to a fun trilogy!

Want to win this book? Check back tomorrow morning for my interview with author Jessica Spotswood and a giveaway of Sisters’ Fate!

Details

Author: Jessica Spotswood

Publisher:G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers (August 14, 2014)

Format: Hardcover

Length: 368 pages

Series: Third/Final book in The Cahill Witch Chronicles

YA/MG: YA/MG

1

An Art History Mystery! Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Hiya!

It was recently announced that Under the Egg, a debut by Laura Marx Fitzgerald, is on the 2015-16 South Carolina Junior Award Book list! I read it this past fall and I  can tell you that this art history mystery definitely deserves the recognition!

Overview

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgeralddiscovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo’s search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she’ll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

My Thoughts

Two topics of history that my students are always interested in are World War II and the Holocaust. Under the Egg is a middle grades mystery with quirky characters that includes a little bit of WWII, Holocaust, and art history tidbits in it. These history tidbits are definitely an intriguing side story to the WWII narrative, one that might not be known to many middle grade readers.

One thing that makes Under the Egg such a fun book is the quirky characters and friendships formed between them. Theo, our main character, is not your average thirteen year old – she has been raised mostly by her grandfather, who has recently died, has a mother who requires more care than Theo can give, and because of her family’s financial situation worries about how to make ends meet and wears the strangest clothes. Theo doesn’t realize that she’s lonely until she meets Bodhi, the daughter of two movie stars who lives in the neighborhood, who is also quirky and also lonely. The friendship that unfolds between Bodhi and Theo while they attempt to solve the mystery of the painting is one of the things that makes this book so special because neither girl realized just how much they needed companionship. The supporting cast of characters are also eccentric and each (An Episcopalian priest, the local diner owner and a helpful librarian) play an important role in uncovering the truth behind Theo’s painting. Characters like these are just plain fun to read!

Overall Under the Egg is a really quick read. I finished it in less than a day because I was so fascinated by the painting’s puzzle. Middle grade readers who are interested in World War II history or those who are just looking for a quality mystery with a witty, smart, and resourceful heroine will most definitely enjoy this one. Also if fans of other art related mysteries like Shakespeare’s Secret, Masterpiece, and Chasing Vermeer will find Under the Egg just as entertaining!

Details

Author: Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Publisher: Dial Books (March 18, 2014)
Format: Hardcover
Length: 247 pages
Series: Standalone
YA/MG: MG

7

Reading Queue: March

The Reading QueueHi!

Happy March! Here at BookTasty we are officially on Baby Watch! My due date is tomorrow and I’ve been having contractions every hour or so, so things are definitely progressing and are about to real, really soon!

It’s also time for another Reading Queue! The Reading Queue is a monthly event hosted by myself and Jessica at Books a True Story where we reflect on our reading from the previous month and set our reading plans for the upcoming month. I find that having reading plans for the month (even loose ones) helps keep me relatively focused…most of the time! haha

___________________________________

How I Did Last Month

Audiobooks are my friends! When I feel like I don’t have time to sit and read a print book, audiobooks keep my “reading” going! In February 3 of the four books I finished were on audio.

Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd Her Dark Curiosity by Megan Shepherd

The Madman’s Daughter by Megan Shepherd (audio)

Her Dark Curiosity (The Madman’s Daughter #2) by Megan Shepherd (audio)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas Gathering Darkness by Morgan Rhodes

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (print)

Gathering Darkness (Falling Kingdoms #3) by Morgan Rhodes (audio)

___________________________________

 My March Reading Queue

With Marshmallow coming soon, I have no idea how much reading I’ll actually get done in March, but it’s totally okay to bit off more than I can chew right?!

Ruby Red by Kertin Gier The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford

Ruby Red by Kerstin Geir (audio)

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (print)

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo

Shadow Scale (Seraphina #2) by Rachel Hartman (e-galley)

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (print)

Siege and Storm (Grisha #2) by Leigh Bardugo (print)

___________________________________

Okay, so there you have it! March’s plans are, let’s say…optimistic…with a newborn on the very near horizon, but we’ll just have to see how things work out. I already started both Ruby Red and The Boy on the Bridge yesterday, but which titles from my queue should I pick up next?

As always, please join up with us for this month’s Reading Queue! We love to checkout what everyone else’s reading plans are!

0

More Than Zombies: Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Hi friends!

Welcome back! So, this past year I was on a committee to chose the titles that would go on the state middle grades award list and I read Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi while on this committee. So let’s talk about what I read!

Overview

The apocalypse begins on the day Rabi, Miguel and Joe are Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Pacigalupipracticing baseball near their town’s local meatpacking plant and nearly get knocked out by a really big stink. Little do they know the plant’s toxic cattle feed is turning cows into flesh-craving monsters…ZOMBIES!!! The boys decide to launch a stealth investigation into the plant’s dangerous practices, unknowingly discovering a greedy corporation’s plot to look the other way as tainted meat is sold to thousands all over the country. With no grownups left they can trust, Rabi and his friends will have to grab their bats to protect themselves (and a few of their enemies) if they want to stay alive…and maybe even save the world.

My Thoughts

First of all, isn’t this cover completely perfect for middle school? I know what when my boy students see it, they’re going to eat it up! But let’s not let the lighthearted (and hilarious) cover fool us, because while Zombie Baseball Beatdown is full of baseball, zombies and boys being boys, the author has also packed in a conscious and some social issues he’d like us to consider.

One thing I liked about this book right off the bat was the diversity among the characters. Ravi, our main character is Indian American, his friend Miguel is Latino American and his friend Joe is just American.  I’m a huge proponent of the We Need Diverse Books movement and it was refreshing to see these three very different boys and each of their different experiences with life in small town USA and how they relate to one another. I think my students will notice too (they’re always watching even when we think they’re not).

Although the plot line is full of boys being boys, chasing and killing zombies the author manages to pack in a social awareness into the story, which although I think a good thing, was a little heavy handed at times. Ravi and his friends are not just dealing with bullies, rude baseball coaches, and zombies, but they’re also facing racism, immigration issues, ethics in the meat packing industry. While each of these topics relate strongly to the story line, I wish Bacigalupi had been a little more creative in bringing them up. I did find myself rolling my eyes at times because these ethical plot points were pretty thinly veiled and I’d argue that his own opinion comes through strongly rather than letting the reader make their own decisions on things. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad he adds these themes to the story, I just think it could have been done in a less “preachy” way at times.

All that said regarding the socially conscious themes, I enjoyed Zombie Baseball Beatdown (although it’s not the type of book I’d normally choose for myself), and I feel strongly that my middle school students, mostly the boys, will enjoy this very different zombie/sci-fi read. I’m excited that many of them will see themselves in these diverse characters.

 

1

Completely Captivating: The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Welcome Back!Twizzler Bites

I’m sitting here at my dining room table munching on Twizzler Bites (YUM) and enjoying the pretty sunlight coming in through the window while I work on this post. South Carolina winters are strange. One morning it’ll be a frigid 23F and five hours later it’ll be a comfortable 64F. I have the front door open (with the doggy gate up of course) and Miles the Pup is lounging on the rug. I’m pretty pleased with today overall!

Overview

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

I adore this cover…le sigh…

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

My Thoughts

A new fantasy series?! Yes please! I tried to get my hands on The Winner’s Curse all summer and fall but the waiting list at my local library was seriously a mile long! Finally it popped up on Overdrive, so I was able to listen to the audiobook. Although this book is classified as fantasy, I’d say it has more of a political intrigue plot with some fantasy elements woven throughout. Whatever it is, The Winner’s Curse is completely captivating and I couldn’t help but lose myself in the setting, characters, and story!

The world Kestrel lives in is well thought out and seems to resemble the Roman Empire in a lot of ways. Kestrel is member of the ruling Valorians and her people are the ruthless conquerors who have enslaved the Herrani people and treat them as cattle sold at auction. Despite the similarities to the Roman Empire, however, Kestrel’s world has its own qualities that give it a unique presence on the page, not to mention the political intrigue that begins to unwind! It is a well set up world that I am excited to visit more in the following books!

The romance between Kestrel and Arin, her newly acquired slave is subtle at first. It is slow to build as every interaction between the two in wrought with cords of romantic and emotional tensions. I didn’t feel rushed with this forbidden romance like one sometimes does in popular YA fiction, but every scene did leave me wanting more.

Recommended For

Because The Winner’s Curse is a slower paced read, with not a lot of action until the later half, I’d recommend it for older middle school readers and above, especially those who love a good romantic fantasy. I question whether  younger readers would have the patience to appreciate the slowly growing heat that is The Winner’s Curse. If you are one who can appreciate the gradual building of a good story, however, then you’ll enjoy this one like I did!

Details

Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux (March 4, 2014)
Format: Audiobook
Length: 8 hours and 24 minutes
Narrator: Justine Eyre (one of my faves!)
Series: First in a trilogy
YA/MG: Both

0

It Stands Out: Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Hiya!

I hope your week is going well bookish friends! Today we’re going to talk about Gated by Amy Christine Parker, a book I read back in September. I’m doing a little bit of catch up (not with all of the books I’ve read, but a few that stand out to me).

Overview

In the Community, life seems perfect. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Pioneer invited Lyla’s family to join Gated by Amy Christine Parkerhis group and escape the evil in the world. They were happy to be chosen, happy to move away from New York and start over in such an idyllic gated community. Now seventeen, Lyla knows that Pioneer is more than just their charismatic leader, he is their prophet . . . but his visions have grown dark.
Lyla is a loyal member of the Community, but a chance encounter with an outsider boy has her questioning Pioneer, the Community—everything. And if there’s one thing not allowed in the Community, it’s doubt. Her family and friends are certain in their belief. Lyla wishes she could feel the same. As Pioneer begins to manipulate his flock toward disaster, the question remains: Will Lyla follow them over the edge? From the outside looking in, it’s hard to understand why anyone would join a cult. But Gated tells the story of the Community from the inside looking out, and from behind the gates things are not quite so simple.

My Thoughts

Let’s be honest here. What other dystopian novel out there today deals with the idea of religious cults? Not too many! Gated, although not most well written book out there is pretty unique and stands out amid the multitude of YA dystopian titles out there.

As I said, the writing had flaws. Lyla, our main character, was a little confusing at times. We see her struggling with and questioning the world she knows but don’t really understand why she is different from her friends in this. Our villain is pretty obvious from the beginning, so no real surprises there, although I am interested in knowing more about this character and the motivation behind it all. There is some major instalove and the plot doesn’t stray much from what we assume will happen.

Despite all of this I was riveted to Gated – completely unable to put it down! Most popular dystopian fiction worlds are very different to what we know in our real world today, but Parker places her story in the decade following 9/11 allowing us to imagine this sub culture within our contemporary world. Plus, cults and why people join/stay in them are inherently fascinating topics! Overall, the story moves quickly forcing you to keep reading “just one more chapter!”, and I’m pretty sure I read it in about two days.

Recommended For

Despite its flaws, those interested in a unique take to the dystopian fiction genre will enjoy Gated. I believe that it works for a wide range of readers because of its distinct plot, fast pace, and psychological thriller ambiance (so go ahead middle grades, high school and older readers!).

Details

Author: Amy Christine Parker
Publisher: Random House Book for Young Readers (August 6, 2013)
Format: Hardcover
Length: 352 pages
Series: First in a series
YA/MG: Both

6

Reading Queue: January

The Reading QueueHappy 2015!

It’s a brand new year friends! There are going to be a lot of changes happening for me this year as we Hi Catwill welcome our first baby in early March. It’s really intimidating but really exciting all mixed together!

As usual, as the New Year arrives I can’t help but think about how my 2015 “Bookish Landscape” will look. I always get so excited to start the year of with a reading BANG!

Since today is January 1st I have decided that one easy way to start 2015 off right is to attempt to read more from the books I already own. Every good library contains a ton of books one hasn’t read yet, but I’d like to begin by finally giving some attention to these titles.

——————————————-

How I Did Last Month

The month of December was a pretty good reading month for me. Having the start of my two-week Winter Break allowed me ample to time to read, relax, and repeat! In the end, I was able to read 8 books in December, which helped me finish my 2014 Reading Challenge Goal with 86 books read!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (print)

Exquisite Captive by Heather Demetrios (audiobook)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater We Were Liars by E Lockhart

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (audiobook)

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (e-book)

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins (print)

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski (audiobook)

Forest Born by Shannon Hale WaistcoatsAndWeaponry

Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger (e-book)

Forest Born by Shannon Hale (audiobook)

Did Not Finish

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne (print)

——————————————-

My January Reading Queue

I always have high reading spirits in January and I know I tend to bite off a little more than I can chew in the first few months of a new year, but oh well! I will have more quiet evenings for reading time this month since my Husband will be in the UK for about 10 days. So here goes!

Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by HeleneJanuary Reading Queue Boudreau (print)

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson (print)

The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (print)

The Boy on the Bridge by Natalie Standiford (print)

Firelight by Sophie Jordan (print)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas (print)

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld (print)

Not Pictured

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers (e-book)

Champion by Marie Lu (audiobook)

——————————————-

I know I have a big goals for this month! How about you? What titles are on your Reading Queue? Feel free to link to your Reading Queue post below we love to see what everyone else is reading!

5

2014 End of the Year Book Survey

2014-end-of-year-book-survey

Well hello there and Happy New Year! It feels good to be back at my laptop working on a post for this blog! I couldn’t let 2014 slip by without reflecting on all the bookish things. In some ways this past year has been challenging and difficult, but overall it was a very good year and I have high hopes for 2015. Please enjoy my End of the Year Survey and feel free to leave a link to yours in the comments, so I can see what you’ve been up to this year!

 reading-stats-2014

Number Of Books You Read: 86
Number of Re-Reads: 0
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy

 best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Contemporary: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Fantasy: Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge

Historical Fiction: A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

We Were Liars by E Lockhart Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller

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

The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. I thought I’d be really into Dessen’s newest summery contemporary novel because I have loved the other books that I’ve read by her. In the end the storyline in this one just wasn’t up to par with her other novels so, in the end I was pretty disappointed.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

The Boy on the Wooded Box by Leon Leyson. I normally don’t lean toward nonfiction reads and probably wouldn’t have picked this one up if it wasn’t required reading for a committee I’m a member of, but I’m so glad I did! This was such an enthralling true story of the Holocaust that I just couldn’t put it down.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

 The Crossover by Kwame Alexander. This was by far my most recommended book in 2014. I pushed this book on almost every student I met, especially my reluctant readers because it’s different (written in verse), it’s realistic fiction, and it’s about basketball. A lot of students (mostly boys) took my advice, read it, and shared it with their friends. It is a middle school librarian’s dream! haha

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

The Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes was probably the best series I started in 2014. I love fantasy and this series has it all even though I’ve only read the first two books so far.

TIE: Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger was one of my favorite sequel of the year. Carriger’s steampunk/supernatural Victorian, England has yet to treat me wrong. Cress by Marissa Meyer is by far my favorite book in the Lunar Chronicles series and Cress is my favorite of all Meyer’s heroines so far!

The One by Kiera Cass was my favorite series ender of the year. Okay, so I know that the series is technically not over yet since the announcement of The Heir (which Goodreads has marked as #4), but it doesn’t count in my mind because it’s supposed to be about a different generation and a totally different Selection. It just doesn’t count okay?!

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Airborn by Kenneth OppelKenneth Oppel. I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed his Matt Cruse trilogy that I ripped through those audiobooks like no one’s business! The mix of adventure and steampunk/fantasy knocked me off my feet. I’ll definitely be looking for more of his books in 2015.

 7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki. Anything in the horror genre usually sticks in my mind and gets worse as my imagination mulls over it, which is why I tend to stay away from anything scary. This one was required reading for the previously mentioned committee I’m on, and I was surprised at how much I liked it, even though I did have to stop reading it when I was home alone!

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Diviners by Libba Bray. I was completely obsessed with this paranormal thriller set in the roaring twenties! My husband had to ask me on numerous occasions to take my earbuds out and press pause on the audiobook for a while! It was that intriguing!

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Honestly, probably none. I don’t usually re-read books…unless they’re written by Jane Austen. There are just SO MANY new books to explore I can’t justify spending time on one I’ve already read.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

 Shadow and Bone by Leigh BardugoShadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I just love how gorgeously typographic this cover is. The illustration at the bottom and the use of only three colors just makes this cover stand out in my mind. It’s simple yet dramatic all at once and when you know the story better you see that there are symbols representing the different characters on the cover itself.  It helps that I completely loved this book too!

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Alanna of Trebond. I started The Song of the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce because it was one of those “OMG You haven’t read that series yet and you call yourself a fantasy lover?!”.  So I finally read it and yes I adore Alanna in all of her stubborn, strong, fearful, brave confusion! She could be Katniss’ older sister!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Forest Born (Books of Bayern #4) by Shannon Hale. Shannon Hale will always be one of my favorite authors because she creates these poetic and lush fairy tale retellings that just make her stand out among all the other authors out there. I always love her books.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

Counting by 7′s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed this story. I would say that it really got me thinking about relationships, community and the importance of being connected to people. It was too much of a crying book for me to actually like, but it did get my thoughts moving.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? 

Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCaffertySloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. For years everyone has been talking about this book and how awesome Jessica Darling is. Now, since I’ve read the first two books, I finally know what the fuss is about!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“Gogo’s word make me feel taller. / People really are like plants – / kind words make them grow.”  -Serafina’s Promise by Ann E. Burg

This beautifully true quote comes when Serafina is working on a garden with the help of Gogo, her grandmother, who praises Serafina’s hard work with the plants. It’s one of those quotes that reminds me why being a middle school educator is so significant and the responsibility I have to speak kind words.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

March: Book One by John Robert Lewis. This graphic novel memoir of John Lewis experiences during the Southern Civil Rights movement was my shortest read in 2014 with just 128 pages.

Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor. This trilogy finisher was my longest read of the year at 613 pages. I did listen to it on audiobook which though, with translates to 18 hours and 11 minutes.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I’m completely sure that almost every other YA fan will also list this one for this category. I JUST read it about two days ago and my mind was pretty much blown. Not because what happened was that shocking, but because Lockhart’s writing was so excellent that I TOTALLY did NOT expect it to happen. I had no idea. THAT is great writing!

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

Jessica Darling and Marcus Flutie.  I know I’m like over a decade behind with The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty but COME ON! I’ve only read the first two books, and already I swoon thinking of their secret little coded messages and realistic friendship/relationship.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Jack Baker and Early Auden. The friendship between these two boarding Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpoolschool outsiders in Clare Vanderpool’s Navigating Early is so sweet and tender. You have these two teenage boys who both feel abandoned in some way forging a friendship while at that important coming of age time in their lives. Its good.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. I read Westerfeld’s Uglies series years ago (and LOVED them) and have known about this steampunk alternate history series for a while, but just never got around to giving it a try. I can’t wait to get my hands on book two, Behemoth!

 

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I’ll be honest. I was not interested in this one when it first came out. I think it was mostly because of all the hype it got online. Everyone was talking about how amazing it was and I kind of thought…meh. But then I read it and yeah…I understand the hype! haha

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan RhodesI apparently had a thing for “bad boys” in 2014 because this is normally not my type! Some of my most major book crushing has been on guys that aren’t stereotypically good and might even be bad when you get down to it! Here are the first four that come to mind. Prince Magnus and Jonas Agallon both from Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes. How is it possible that I would be happy if she ended up with either one?! Also, The Darkling from Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo.  I know he’s pretty evil and really like a hundred years old, but he’s also pretty sexy! And don’t forget Ignifex from Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge.

 23. Best 2014 debut you read?

A Mad Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller. I really like historical fiction and this debut had me hooked from the very beginning! It’s full of art, suffragettes, hot cops, romance, Victorian England…who wouldn’t love it?!

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

The Diviners by Libba Bray. This book is a great paranormal thriller, but the roaring twenties setting was by far my favorite part of the book! From the clothing, to slang, to historical events, music and cultural trends Bray had me thinking I was living in 1920s New York City the entire time I listened to this audiobook!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg

Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg. This was such a sweet story of friendship, romance and coming of age. I purely enjoyed every minute of this book! If you’re looking for a quality feel good contemporary novel, this one is sure to make you happy.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan. I’ve already said it but I didn’t enjoy this book. I tend to stay away from crying books as a general rule, but if one book was going to make me cry this one gave it a good try. It almost did, I promise.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald. This was such a clever and quirky middle grades mystery I can’t believe it didn’t get more press.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

 Icons by Margaret Stohl. I thought “Margaret Stohl…she’s really popular it has to be good”. I was wrong. I read it all the way through though just to be sure. This book was so bad that my soul was crushed because I can never get back that time spent reading it.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Gated by Amy Christine Parker

Gated by Amy Christine Parker. Was it the best book I read this year? No. But there is no other YA dystopian title out there about a religious cult/commune. I read it as a part of that committee I’m on and I’m really glad I did because like, I said, although it had its faults Gated sticks out the most to me as the most unique book of 2014.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

My Basmati Bat Mitzvah by Paula J. Freedman. I was just so disappointed in this one that it made me angry.

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

Honestly, I didn’t do much new blog shopping this year. I was barely able to keep up with my own and the blogs I already love.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

Probably my favorite review was the one I wrote for The Dream Thieves. It was not my favorite book in any way (Actually it was a major struggle for me to read) so the review was a difficult one for me to write. I feel like in the end I challenged myself and what I got was a very honest, sincere review.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

I have been a little (okay A LOT) M.I.A. with reviews and the blog in general since school started. I’m currently in my third trimester of my first pregnancy and honestly all I could manage for many months was work, reading, resting. It’s normal, but when I realized that I had forgotten my monthly Reading Queue for November, I felt awful. So I had to be brave to come back for my December Reading Queue and confess that I forgot and just couldn’t handle anything extra. The response from followers was so kind and encouraging. This was by far my favorite post of the year for that reason. Thanks guys!

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

I was pretty out of the loop for anything extra related to blogging this year (I didn’t even make it to YALL Fest boooo). But I have continued to love keeping up with my Reading Queue meme whom I co-host with the awesome Jessica at Books A True Story. The Reading Queue is still really small, but I like getting to know the others who participate regularly a little better!

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

My most popular post was: YA Reads for Fans of Period Dramas.

 6. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

My review for Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord, which was such a great contemporary middle grades read. Give this review some love people! :)

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

YES! After not meeting my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal for 2013 I am excited to announce that I surpassed my Reading Challenge goal for 2014! My goal was set at 70 books and I have finished with 86 books read this year! WHOOT!

Sadly though, I did not meet my 2014 YA Audiobook Challenge goal (hosted by Book and a Latte). I only listened to 34 audiobooks this year (instead of the planned 36) and because of my pregnant blogging slump I didn’t even come close to reviewing 24 of them. OOPS! Oh well, there is always 2015.

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

 Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers and The Perilous Sea by Sherry Thomas were both on my December Reading Queue, but I didn’t make it to them before the end of the year. Both will be some of the first books I try to attack in January!

PerilousSeaMortal Heart by Robin LaFevers

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

I can’t pick just one!!

Winter (Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer. (November 2015)Winners Crime by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Crime (Winner’s Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski (March 2015)

Manners & Mutiny (Finishing School #4) by Gail Carriger (November 2015)

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas (Feb. 2015).  A new fairy tale retelling!

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

See #2! haha

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to post more regularly. Even after the baby comes. That doesn’t have to be multiple times per week. Maybe only once a week…we’ll see. I’d like my posting to be more regular though.  I know a baby will be time consuming, but with staying home there might be some wiggle room! :)

————————

Thanks so much to everyone to reads/follows BookTasty! You’re all so encouraging and I appreciate you! I hope you have a fabulous New Year!

7

Reading Queue: December

The Reading QueueWell hello there!

Before I was pregnant I really doubted this whole “pregnancy brain” phenomenon. I actually thought it Forgetfulwas a cop out for women just dropping the ball. I completely admit it. Especially because now I know that it really is a thing! No joke. It wasn’t until about a week ago that I realized “Oh yeah. I didn’t post my November Reading Queue”! OOOPS!

So yeah.

But I’m really excited to say that I remembered December! But before we go through my plans for December, let’s take a look back at what I did read in November.

————————————-

How I Did Last Month

I may not have posted by Reading Queue for November, but I was reading!

Splendor by Anna Godbersen Curveball by Jordan Sonnenblick Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Pacigalupi

Splendor (Luxe #4) by Anna Godbersen

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi

Lawless by Jeffery Salane Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher

Lawless by Jeffery Salane

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher (DNF)

————————————-

My December Reading Queue

December means Winter Break, which is of course two glorious full weeks off from school. I get to relax and read all the books I want! So, I do have some big plans!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking by Erin Dionne ExquisiteCaptive

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Moxie and the Art of Rule Breaking: A 14 Day Mystery by Erin Dionne

Exquisite Captive (Dark Caravan Cycle #1) by Heather Demetrios

 Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins WaistcoatsAndWeaponry The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Waistcoats & Weaponry (Finishing School #3) by Gail Carriger

The Iron King (Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers PerilousSea WeWereLiars

Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

The Perilous Sea (The Elemental Trilogy #2) by Sherry Thomas

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

————————————-

What titles are on your Reading Queue for December? In your opinion, which books on my list should I prioritize? Let me know!