Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Favorite Books I READ in 2014

                Hello everyone, I hope you had a fantastic Christmas!  I did not get anything else done before Christmas besides baking and I’m sorry about that, but to prepare for the New Year I wanted to discuss with you some of my favorite books of 2014.  Now these are going to books that I read this year, not so much books that came out this year as I was playing catch up as usual.  I could simply say my entire reading list, because looking back I can only think of 1 book that got less than 4 stars. 

Reading only 1 meh book in a year is fantastic.  I call it a reading wonder this year.  I’m also catching up on a bunch of books that were huge hits and highly recommended.  I’ll like my Goodreads account here if you want to add me or simply see my whole reading year list.  It took a very long time, but I’ve narrowed it down to my top 14, for 2014.  These are in no particular order just the way they were jumbled down on my notes as I slowly whittled down my list.  I didn’t count any that were re-reads though because that wouldn’t be fair. So let’s get started, oh and I'll link any reviews I have with the books:

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments) by Cassandra Clare
                Come on this was the final book in The Mortal Instruments series.  Sure it’s not the end of the Shadowhunter world with some of the characters we were introduced to for the next series, but it was the end of something major.  I started this series late, go figure.  Later part 2013 and I was so happy to be able to power through them and The Infernal Devices to be ready for this finale with everyone else.  It was a huge and filling book that kept me on the edge of my seat, made me cry, laugh, scream, and everything else in between.  It also got me further pumped for the next series The Dark Artifices.

 Sinner (The Wolves of Mercy Falls) by Maggie Stiefvater
                I had the excited fangirl pleasure to meet Maggie Stiefvater and chat with her about books and random stuff.  I was just proud I didn’t stutter like a star struck fool or faint.  The one book I didn’t get signed, because I already had the special cover edition signed copy one, was Sinner.  I first fell in love with her beautiful way of writing with Shiver and was sad to see the end of the series and know she had no intention of writing anything further about Sam and Grace in The Wolves of Mercy Falls series.  I had been pranked via social media before about another book in the series so I doubted Sinner was real at first.  Boy was I doing my happy dance when I found out it was real.  I was getting another book in the series, a companion novel focused on other characters, but I was game.  Sinner was everything I expected and more and I loved following Cole and Isabel and also hearing snippets from Sam and Grace.  Heaven!  Click here for my full review of Sinner.

Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead
                I LOVE The Vampire Academy series!  I was ecstatic to find out they were doing a spin-off / sequel series called Bloodlines.  I read all TVA books when the last one came out no waiting between books.  Bloodlines I have been buying them the day they come out, reading it in a day maybe 2 depending if I had work that day or not, and then waiting another year yearning for more.  THIS ONE…was the longest wait.  Maybe not literally, I don’t know the exact days anymore but the way The Fiery Heart leaves you hanging…such an ending was pure torture to wait.  It was went above and beyond my HIGH expectations and left me sated until February 10, 2015 when the last book in this series The Ruby Circle comes out.

Lux Beginnings:  Obsidian and Onyx (Lux) by Jennifer L. Armentrout
                I marathoned this whole series in the span of 10 days and I want to pick all the books as my favorites but if I had to pick I’d go with the first 2 Obsidian and Onyx because they were the catalyst that had me hooked.  Yes I can cheat and pick two because, haha, I got the matching set so I have the 3 bind-ups which technically means 2 books is 1 book on my shelf.  I’m claiming it.  I did a review I’ll link here for the series so I won’t say much accept how much I adored this series.  I loved Katy and how relatable she was and how down to Earth things were even with Aliens.  Okay my lame attempt at puns aside, the story that plays out over the series brings out every emotion in you several times not caring where you are when you happen to be reading.  I reviewed the first book, Obsidian and the series as a whole here.

 Rook (Allie’s War) by J.C. Andrijeski
                This book surprised me.  I got it through NetGalley, my review is here, thinking it was a new book/series, as I was reading and went to update my Goodreads I found I was wrong.  First book in a series that had several books out already.  This one falls more in line of New Adult to Adult as the characters are a bit older, 20’s, and age through the series of course, but there are serious adult themes as well like lots of sexual content both in good fun times and not so fun ways, violence, language, and everything.  This book had it all.  After finishing it I couldn’t just review it I had to read more.  I am currently caught up with all the Allie’s War books currently out.  She is a very talented writer who weaves characters and stories together and never lets you rest and think you have a hold on things…it will just be shaken up all over again.  This book got me into a series and into a new author for me which has expanded my reading and that is important.

 Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
                Adorable!  That’s the best I can do to describe it.  I just loved it.  It was a happy break between the more serious books I was reading about wars and the end of the world.  I plan to get a review up on it soon as well with all of my thoughts and also to read the other two books Lola and Isla.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
                Like Anna this was one of the more adorable books I have read.  For my full review check here.  Cath is just so relatable and easy to understand you feel like you are on her journey with her.  Her story resonated with me and in doing so captured my heart J

Champion (Legend series) by Marie Lu
                I just finished the last book in the Legend series, Champion the other day.  I again would pick the whole series but the conclusion just blew me away.  It wasn’t that I liked it better than the others by any means but that it was the end and I was very satisfied with the ending, even if I did have to put it down for a bit before I could finish.  You cannot have too many feels at work or your co-workers start to talk.  I’ll have more up soon for the series as a whole.

 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
                Another series I am behind on.  I’m currently working my way through the second book in the series Crown of Midnight now and loving it as well.  Calaena is an assassin, the best assassin.  She comes from a dark place and manages to bring herself out of that hollow and into something.  The situation isn’t the best, but it is leaps and bounds above where she was.  Throne of Glass is a fantasy world full of action, intrigue, romance, and a compelling story that pulls you in immediately.  I plan to do a full review once I get caught up with the series.

Angelfall (Penryn & the End of Days) by Susan Ee
                I had heard about this book series from a few people and wanted to check it out.  Turns out my brother had read the first book on the Kindle by the time I ordered my copies and was telling me how amazing it was wanting me to find out when the 3rd book comes out.  I’m slowly teaching him about book related apps but am also more than happy to be his book info source.  I read them both quickly and now eagerly await for May 12th for the next one.  Penryn is compelling, a girl who had to grow up before her time which helped her be somewhat prepared for the end of the world with evil angels.  And Raffe…oh Raffe.  Come on May 12th.

 Running on Empty- Colette Ballard
                This is a book I had the pleasure of receiving before it came out to review it (here) and then for the paperback release got to interview the author here and hold my very first (and yes thus far only) giveaway.  River’s story touched me, to have such amazing friends that they would go on the run with you. 

Trial By Fire- Josephine Angelini
                Another book and author I had not heard of before I received this book for review (here).  I have since fell in love and have ordered her other series to check out hopefully in 2015.  I haven’t heard anything new on the sequel yet but I keep checking back regularly hoping for news.

Grimnirs- Ednah Walters
                This book is the first book in the Grimnirs series which works in conjunction with the Runes series.  It focuses on Cora and Echo and has both a clean and regular version.  I overall like the Runes series but having another angel and seeing things from her best friends POV was refreshing and the back and forth with Echo, we see him in a different light to. Full review here.

Cipher - Aileen Erin
                This is a new book series from Ink Monster.  I’ve raved about them before and they had 5 amazing books I adored come out this year.  I ended up choosing this over the others because it was a new start and honestly I didn’t have to choose between 2 books in the 2 other series.  Cipher was an intriguing new start to a series with all the great elements we love of intrigue, actions, romance, and a kick ass heroine but for my full review I’ll link it here.

Those are my top 14 books I read in the year 2014.  Now here are a few honorable mentions that I had trouble cutting from the list. I simply read too many good books this year to pick only 14.

If I Stay- Gayle Forman
                Like the movie I balled my eyes out in both.  The feels are for real.  Review here.

Charming- Krystal Wade
                 Another of my favorite authors.  A horror story fairy tale retelling that was perfect for the Halloween season!  Review here.

And as I mentioned the other Ink Monster works I didn’t want to decide between (click the title to go to reviews):  

Scala & Armageddon- Christina Bauer

What do you think?  I would love some comments and feedback to start the year out.  What do you think of my top 14?  Also please share your own picks, my TBR list is never ending.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Keep Calm and Fangirl On...

It’s almost Christmas!  We only have a few days left and I know I for one am so far behind.  I have a ton of baking to do in the next couple of days that my apartment will be insane.  I hope you all are having a fantastic time enjoying the season and all the joys it has to offer.  Before I disappear for the next few days into the land of cookies, I wanted to send well wishes to all of you who take the time to visit and read my little blog, and of course share my next review Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell.

Fangirl is a standalone contemporary story; one that I have heard nothing but praise for.  The story is that of Cath and her journey through starting college.  Oh and she is a Simon Snow fan, more than a fan, being a fan is her life.  It’s what she knows.  Cath has a twin, Wren, and this is the first time they have really went their own ways, same college but not roommates. Simon Snow got them through most things growing up, reading the books in the series, hanging out in forums, writing fan fiction, dressing up like the characters for the movie premiers, that was life.  But now she is on her own as Wren pulls away from that part of their childhood. 

Cath gets a roommate whom she is sure hates her and with her, her constantly there charming boyfriend, a fiction writing teacher whose hard to impress and oh yeah thinks fan fiction is horrible, a classmate who only wants to talk about writing, and her goal to try and finish her fan fiction, which has become one of the most popular out there.  Oh and worrying about her dad.  The question becomes can she do it?  Can she live her own life, write her own stories?  And does that mean leaving Simon Snow behind?

I will start out saying I give this book 5 Stars.  I LOVED THIS BOOK.  I fell in love so easily with Cath, even though the name was a bit odd at first, though it grew on me.  Cath was me.  I write fan fiction.  I have had plenty of people look down their nose at me for doing it and it took a lot to finally realize that those people are simply stupid and don’t matter.  To watch her go through this journey was so nice, and her dedication to her story and keeping it true and constant.  The way she was able to lose herself inside the series and her own story was beautiful and true.  I love that aspect of it the best.  I can lose myself when reading or watching a good show/movie, sure but there is something different about being the master behind it. 

The journey continues through the book as each thing seems to pop up and just like in life you have to adjust to overcome.  Trial and error.  Like adjusting from having your twin as your constant companion to branching out to make new friends, like with your new roommate.  Cath’s roommate, Reagan, reminded me of a good friend of mine in some ways.  She can come off as angry and bitchy at first but she’s sweet as can be, it just takes some time to get to know her blunt honest opinion is who she is nothing personal.  It just takes time to get to know someone and take the time to do so.

There is also romance.  Cath is strong and sure about what she likes and who she is but with romance, in person and not on the page, she is unsure.  A novice really.  I think this was something else that rang true with Cath and why she was so easy to relate to for me personally.  Being new and the least bit shy, the act of putting yourself out there only to be hurt is hard to move past.  You may not want to hold onto it, you may way to forgive and move forward, but it leaves its mark.  Much like many firsts, the first heartache sticks around.  She is blind at first, to Levi, not seeing or knowing what is clear to others.  Again easy to relate to.  I’ve been there.  Never noticing if/when a guy is interested when you aren’t expecting it.  If you are out at a club and someone comes over to you and starts chatting you’re expecting them to be flirting, right.  Out of context sometimes it’s hard to notice when you live with your head in the clouds.

 She has real things to contend with as well, aside from school, finding herself, romance, and writing, she has family struggles that are real and take their toll.  Rainbow didn’t shy away from them and really drove home many of the struggles that happen on a college campus, I know I work on one.  Cath is also the center for her family, she is the care taker and stepping away from that roll and trusting that everyone will be okay and not fall apart without you holding them together is hard.

This book was beyond relatable.  I read it in about 2 days, probably would have finished it in one sitting if I didn’t have pesky things like work, and cooking.  I wanted things to work out for Cath because I felt personally connected to her in a way I normally don’t.  I will recommend this book to pretty much everyone.  As is becoming a theme in books I’ve been reading, the open ending was in Fangirl.  It wraps up the story but it also leaves it in a way that allows the reader to draw their own conclusions, both with Cath’s story and her fan fiction we become a part of throughout.  After my first few moments of shock and wanting more…of course…I decided I understood and it fit the book very well. 

She was super nice!
I’ve also been able to dedicate a bit more of my own time to working on my fan fiction, I admit to slacking off as of late with life and such.  And it brings me such joy to work on it, so thank you Fangirl and thank you Rainbow Rowell for reigniting that spark. 

That’s all I have to say for now!  Become a fan and check out Fangirl as well, it would make a great last minute Christmas gift.  Just saying.  Please take a moment to share your thoughts below and tell me what you thought of Fangirl, other Rainbow Rowell books, fan fiction, and your holiday plans; I would love to start a conversation with you.  

Merry Christmas!  I hope to get another review in before then so stay tuned.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rite of Rejection by Sarah Negovetich

                It has been a while since I went onto one of my favorite sites, NetGalley, to look at available titles to request because I had too many to try and read before YALLfest.  I still have a ton of books to read but I couldn’t help myself from looking any longer and I found a couple that looked really interesting.  One of those titles is a new release and I believe the first book from author Sarah Negovetich called Rite of Rejection.

                Quick synopsis, sixteen year old Rebecca is ready and excited for her Acceptance.  A fancy ball full of eligible bachelors and her debut as an official member of society.  Instead, the Machine rejects her.  She is labeled as a future criminal and shipped off to a life sentence in a lawless penal colony.  A life behind barbed-wired fences with the worlds more dangerous, the rejects, terrifies her.  Rebecca joins with a band of misfit teens like herself in a hope of finding someone to make the place a bit less dangerous and lonely.  Her new friends form a risky escape plan and she ends up with an accidental fiancĂ© she’s almost sure she can learn to love.  But like most things, freedom comes with a price.  To escape a doomed future and prove her innocence, she must embrace the criminal within.

                I admit I was pulled into the concept and wanted to see what method is taken to make the world “perfect” because there are so many views on this and reading a different one is always makes me wonder if it could work.  In Rite of Rejection there is a machine that was created that filtered all those with criminal tendencies.  A punishment before you commit the crime kind of thing, it gave me a feeling of Minority Report in that respect.  Already you wonder if you could ever agree with this.  What happened to innocent until proven guilty?  So you’re of age, all of 16 and you get all dolled up to go to your Acceptance, where are either accepted and continue on into a ball and try to find possible suitors or you are rejected and sent to live in a hell hole full of criminals.

                There are a few things you see that you expect, the corrupt person in power.  Let’s face it, it never gets old because I don’t think one person should have so much power, ever, it corrupts them.  Like Frodo and the ring.  There is also a romance.  Even in hell you can still have feelings even if it seems foolish.  I liked that our main character Rebecca admits how silly her little romantic problems seem in the grand scheme of things.  Yes, I mentioned romantic drama.  At first I was a bit leery of it.  But I gave it a chance and I really liked how it played out.  I don’t want to say much more and risk giving it away. 

                Some things I think could have been a bit more flushed out.  The machine itself was briefly discussed enough to get a sense for the overall story but I found myself wondering how it took effect, how they made the decisions to change the world into this brand of perfect.  Not needed again but I would have liked a bit more to satisfy my curiosity. That’s it.

                Now the next part is going to go into depth on a few things that might be slightly spoiler-ish so be warned.  Really be warned. 

                So this “perfect” world is not one I could ever see myself in.  Women are pretty much reverted back to the days of being good for little more than taking care of home, husband, and kids.  My hackles rose when I read that.  I am clearly a modern woman and not into that concept.  Women are taught to read because they need to read recipes and notes from their husbands…clearly not my idea of perfection.  Moving on though I love that not only are the characters struggling to come to terms with their rejection and the life they now have to look forward to but how do they react when faced with criminals.  Sometimes you have to let your inner criminal out in order to survive, but does that make the machine right?  Or are you just adapting to your environment. 

                Back to the two love interests, with a bit more slightly spoiler-ish content.  The first guy seems perfect but our MC decides she kinda likes the “taken” one as well.  As she grows to realize she doesn’t love the one she has but the one she can’t have, things seem a bit complicated.  I was a bit skeptical about this plot line as I started to see it coming to light.  Something added for no reason but to add drama.  My first thought but then as it played out I realized how happy I was that I gave it a chance.  Rebecca could have loved the one she has, back before her life changed, but in this new world she is a new person.  She clung to him, the familiar in a scary and new world, what she had been dreaming of.  Then as she starts to adapt to her new world she starts to change as a character, thus changing what she is looking for.  The drama played to be a larger aspect of showing just how much our MC changed from the start and what she is willing to do to survive.

                That's all the spoilers I have.  I give Rite of Rejection a solid 4 stars.  It kept me interested and made me want to know what would happen next.  I was concerned for the outcome of the characters.  This book came out on December 4th so check it out.   Also tell me what you thought below.  What do you think would have to change for the world to function "perfectly" ?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Obsidian and Lux series review by Jennifer L. Armentrout

                Hello!  I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Also I have to say it because I’m proud of myself; I am a 2014 NaNoWriMo winner!  Yep I did my 50K words in less than 30 days.  My first draft of my book is not finished but a major bit of it is and I’m one step closer to finishing it.  More on that soon though, promise.  Now on to the review!

                As with my Delirium review I’m going to split my reviews into two sections.  The first part I’ll be discussing the first book in the series in detail spoiler free, then I’ll add a warning before diving into the rest of the series so those not caught up can still enjoy part of the review and have something to come back to.  I read the Lux series prior to YALLfest so that I would be able to discuss the book with the author if I got the chance and I am glad that I did. 
                First, let me explain that I LOVE this series.  I give it 5 Stars right off the back.  The series contains 6 books*, 5 in the original and then a prequel novel.  Also in case you haven’t heard of these books yet, don’t let any cover confusion fool you, they were put out recently as bind-ups with the first 2 books, Obsidian and Onyx in Lux:  Beginnings and books 3 Opal and book 4 Origin in another bind up Lux:  Consequences.  That was done, in my opinion, to match the final book in the series Opposition, which has the prequel Shadows as the last quarter of the book.  I ordered them with the new covers, for obvious reasons.  If it isn’t obvious please check out my Bookish Pet Peeves post to understand. 
Matching series covers!  And they are sparkly!
                Obsidian starts us out on this journey following Katy.  I have to say I adore this character; she might be one of my all-time favorite characters.  She is a total book nerd, she has a blog and her passion is reviewing books.  I was in love with her within a page.  She was so normal and real to me.  She’s starting over in a new town, her mother deciding they needed to move to West Virginia before her senior year to get a fresh start in a new place.  She’d resigned herself to be bored, focused mainly on getting online and I can relate.  Then she saw the hot neighbor, Daemon, and things started to look promising…until he spoke.  Yep for every ounce of sexiness he had, and there was a lot, there were equal parts arrogant and stab-worthy.  A rocky stay to say the least, but as she becomes friends with his sister, who is thankfully much friendlier than her twin, things continue to get weirder.

                 It’s a battle with him she didn’t even realize she had started by simply moving next door.  As if she had any say in that.  They don’t get along at all.  But when she’s attacked by a stranger Daemon saves her life by literally freezing time.  Yep.  All those paranormal books she loves to read and review are spilling into her life because the hot arrogant guy next door and his sister are, aliens or Luxen.  If that wasn’t strange enough for her to process, saving her life left a mark; a mark that attracts another form of alien, Arum, who want to find them and steal their powers.  So now she’s stuck with Daemon until the mark fades and she and by extension Daemon and Dee are safe.  Then again can they be near each other for long without killing each other?
Original covers and random note I learned at YALLfest, the cover models for these used to date in real life.
                 This was my first ‘alien’ book.  At least the only one I know I’ve read.  And it was a slam dunk.  If I wasn’t hooked on the main character being a book blogger who references books I have or plan to read in the near future then there was Daemon.  He is the quintessential bay boy we love.  He seems all distant and rude but he has his moments that mess with a girls head and heart where he has a soft side.  He has his reasons and even knowing that Katy calls him on his crap.  Another reason to love her, she is strong and determined, not easily pushed around.  She takes in everything and then makes up her own decision.  Stubborn.  Katy and Daemon are both stubborn.  But man when they are together, even hurling insults, they sizzle.  You can’t wait for something more to happen, for a wall to come down, and you can’t put the book down until it happens, and then you can’t put it down because it happened. 

                Another great thing is that although Katy and Daemon do take up a large portion of the story other characters add to the story and develop the story and each of the characters.  I love Dee almost as much as I love Katy.  She is beyond spastic and adorable.  I could easily picture her in my head and I wanted to be her friend.  Oh and did I mention the action.  There is constantly something going on.  There is a lot of fighting and accidents and such that you find yourself constantly clutching the book waiting for another blow.  There are a lot of battles to fight in not only the first book but the series.

                *****Series notes so spoilers ahead*****

                First I have to say this.  Daemon and Katy are so sexy they literally blow things up with them connect.  Okay that’s out there.  Even though they have that connection, its undeniable, I liked her doubt.  She is a normal girl who he’s made fun of in the past, sure for his own reasons, but she isn’t able to just say ‘okay that’s great we’re perfect’, she has doubts and she questions his motives.  She made him work for it, which is a nice change of pace for him. 
                The love triangle-ish thing.  I almost got concerned for a moment worried they were going to mess up a perfectly good story for no reason but as it developed I found it feel into my loop holes.  Katy isn’t looking to lead people on but she is confused and looking at all of her options to figure out the truth in how she feels.  Plus when you have two guys pursuing you and you have questions about ones motives, why not test out your own feelings as well.

                But the thing I love most about this series is that is brings up the same truth.  It doesn’t matter what you are, there is good and evil it isn’t contained to a species.   You have both good and bad in everyone and no one is better or without fault.  That is flushed out.  Even more that you can do bad things but still change; there is always the choice, the option of doing good.  Dee had a long journey of her own and she developed substantially, at one point I was scared I would lose her as someone I rooted for.  She was dealing; they all were in their own way, with deaths.  Because let’s be honest there is a lot of death in this series and it is horrible and sad and it brought on a serious case of the feels.

                *****Spoilers Ended*****

                I highly suggest you pick up this series and give it a read.  *Also while working on this review I found out something interesting, apparently there is an adult spin-off stand alone in the Luxen world Obsessed.  I have no idea how I am just now hearing about this but I have bought it by phone and will be downloading it to my kindle as soon as I get home.  So I can’t speak on that one but I’m sure it’s just as amazing as the others.  Please share your thoughts on the series, the blog, reading, writing, whatever below.    Also in the spirit of the holidays share what you are most thankful for in our bookish world.