Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Best of 2013

I look forward to today's Top Ten Tuesday question all year. Come play along at The Broke and The Bookish!

The ten best books I read in 2013:

1. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. It wins all the things

Super Sequels:

2. Everbound by Brodi Ashton
3. Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi
4. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

 These Books Will Break Your Heart
(but read them anyway)

5. Winger by Andrew Smith
6. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

This is how you start/continue/end a series
(and The Crown of Embers and especially The Bitter Kingdom)

So Awesome Stand Alones

8. Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
9. Thin Space by Jody Casella
10. Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson

Have you read any of these? What were some of your favorites this year?

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 End of Year Book Survey

I absolutely love this survey put together by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. Here are my answers!

Best YA book 2013

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)

I'll be doing a list of these for Top Ten Tuesday tomorrow, but my overall favorite read was Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I loved it so much I asked for it for Christmas. And yes, my sweet wonderful husband got it for me!

And I've already reread it...


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

Sadly, Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. Everyone loved this, but I couldn't get behind anyone or anything in the entire book.

Also, Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare. The whole thing was just a gigantic mess for me.


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

Thin Space by Jody Casella, which I'd never even heard of but absolutely loved. And The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, because I don't do traditional fantasy yet I couldn't get enough of that series.


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


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Everyone should read that one.


 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

I just finished Legend by Marie Lu and it was great! I'm hoping the rest of the books are as fun. Also, The Girl of Fire and Thorns series. That's the best-ended series I've ever read.


6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Rainbow Rowell or Julianne Donaldson. I read two books by each of them this year and they were great.


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

I read some non-fiction this year! Because I Said So by Ken Jennings was really educational while still being funny. And I've started (but yet to finish) Stiff by Mary Roach. It's all about the different uses of cadavers and it's fascinating. As long as you can get past the initial squick.


 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Everbound by Brodi Ashton was intense, start to finish. And the ending!!!


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

Yeah, that'd be Fangirl again. Because I've already reread it. And now I own it. And I love it. Seriously everyone, just go read it.


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


11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Elisa from The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Cath from Fangirl, Ryan Dean from Winger by Andrew Smith. In a three-way fight, Cath would walk away, Ryan Dean would do something immature, and Elisa would torch them all.


 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

The Book Thief.


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

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen. I loved it so much I didn't even know how to review it. I could relate to Auden a lot and reading her story made me want to go out and try doing every single thing I've ever wanted to.


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

The Book Thief. What would I do without Suey and Kami, who finally got me to read that?


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

 From Fangirl:

 16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Longest: The Diviners by Libba Bray (578 pages, and it feels like, too)
Shortest: not counting children's books - The Prince by Kiera Cass (64 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!

That one part in The Book Thief where you realize exactly what's going to happen in the book, or that part in Winger. You know which part if you've read it.


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

Romance – Elisa and Hector from The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Friendship – Ronan and Gansey from The Dream Thieves
Familial — Cath and Wren and their dad from Fangirl


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

Mind Games by Kiersten White. It's so different from Paranormalcy but it was gritty and crazy hard to put down.


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

The Girl of Fire and Thorns.


21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

contemporary YA!


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

So many! Gansey from The Dream Thieves, Hector from The Girl of Fire and Thorns, Levi from Fangirl, Henry from Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson


23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Transparent by Natalie Whipple was so fun!


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

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


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

Fangirl, Transparent, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, and The Day the Crayons Quit.


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

The Book Thief. I was a huge, snotting mess at the end of that one.


27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Thin Space by Jody Casella. I honestly haven't seen anyone review or even mention this one.


1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2013? 

Smiling LDS Girl. I discovered Rachel and her blog during The Book Thief readalong I co-hosted with Suey and Kami.


2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2013? 

t's not a review, but this playlist I made for The Dream Thieves.


3. Best discussion you had on your blog?

On spoilers!


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

Suey's post after we got back from a writing critique group. Someday I'll write up how that all went down. There were swords. And people living in their parents' basements. And trendy girls with trendy hair. It was something.


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

The Book Thief readalong and Utah Book Month. Good times all around.


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

Doing NaNoWriMo. I can't believe I wrote 50,000 words in one month. I can't believe I'm thinking of trying to do something with those 50,000 words.


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

This last discussion post we did for The Book Thief. (It's actually my second most popular post of all time) I really enjoyed that readalong. Maybe I'll do another one again sometime.


8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I don't really have a specific post. Probably just my reviews in general, especially for lesser known books.


9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

 I'm drawing a blank here.


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

I finished my Goodreads goal! And NaNo.



1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2013 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2014?

Oh man, so many. As always. I've been meaning to read Defy by Sara Larsen (a local author!) for weeks.


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

I did a Top Ten Tuesday on this very thing.


3. 2014 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

I can't think of one right now.


 4. Series Ending You Are Most Anticipating in 2014?

Into The Still Blue by Veronica Rossi and Evertrue by Brodi Ashton.


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


I'd really like to promote local authors more on the blog. Utah has such a big writing community so I'd like to feature that more, and not just during Utah Book Month.


Happy New Year to everyone! What do you hope to do in 2014? 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Mini Reviews: Boy Books Edition

I've done a terrible job of staying away from contemporary books this month, but I have read some really interesting stories! I recently finished two contemporaries written by men with male main characters, so at least that's a little different. Right?


Anyway, here are my thoughts:

Where Things Come Back 
by John Corey Whaley

Cullen lives in the middle of nowhere, but his town becomes a big deal when an "extinct" woodpecker is spotted in the woods. And then his little brother goes missing. And Cullen goes through a couple love interests. And then there are chapters from all sorts of random people's point of views. But it all comes together in a very unique, un-put-downable read.

It was just a really quirky book (with an equally quirky cover) but I enjoyed it. At first it seemed like the different story lines were never going to connect. And other times I couldn't tell if what was going on was actually happening or not. (There were some zombie-riffic imaginings that were obviously fake, and then some other things that were more ambiguous.) But it was quite the ride to read. I liked Cullen, despite his doing multiple bone-headed things, and not handling his brother's disappearance in a way that made sense to me. I adored his little brother, Gabriel, though. It was easy to become invested in all the characters. Once I saw how everything came together I was pretty impressed. I don't think I've read anything quite like this one.

by Andrew Smith 

Ryan Dean West (AKA Winger) is a 14 year old junior at his posh boarding school. All he wants to do is not be seen as a little kid by his classmates, especially Annie, who he's liked forever. He ends up in the dorm for troublemakers and finds quite a bit of trouble for himself. Also rugby, violence, and lots of little illustrations.

I stayed up until nearly 3 finishing this because I cared so much about the characters. But when I got to the end I kind of wished I hadn't read it. Content wise, the book gets fairly violent (the boys are on a rugby team, which is a rough sport on its own. But they physically fight each other outside of sports pretty regularly, too). The profanity is frequent, including the f-word. And there are some very intense things that happen.

But on the good side, I loved the characters so much. Ryan Dean is very flawed, and he makes some of the dumbest choices, but overall he was so easy to root for. He was funny and authentic, which also meant he tended toward more pervy than I cared for. But I was
still invested in his story, and his friends. The characters and the voice are top notch. The occasional illustrations were fun, too.

For me, this book was a lot like Code Name Verity. I was invested, but it was intense and darker and not exactly what I thought it was. I couldn't put it down, but I don't know that I enjoyed reading it. It was absolutely well written and interesting, but it hurt to get through.

Have you read either of these? Anybody else a fan of books with a male main character?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Book Thief Movie

I saw The Book Thief over Thanksgiving weekend, and I must say, I was impressed! It's so hard to turn an amazing book into a movie and do it justice. And I think I'm more critical if I've recently read the book. And you guys know I'm a recent convert to The Book Thief book. Which I really loved. And cried lots of big, ugly tears at the end.

But I really enjoyed the movie! The only things I was worried about were if the actors could really embody the characters, and if they'd do something wonky to the story.

But the actors were great! At first I thought the kid playing Rudy would look too young, but he was perfect. And the bad guy from Pirates as Hans was amazing! Also, the guy playing Max. Really. They were all spot on.

And for the most part the movie is very faithful to the book. There were little changes here and there (and one in particular that I could have done without near the end), but so many of my favorite scenes made it into the movie. The snowball fight, Rosa coming to Liesel's school, Liesel beating up that one kid. Even Death plays his part (and totally info dumps, just like he does in the book!)

Overall I don't think it was as emotional as the book. And I was totally ok with that because I hate to cry in public more than many other things. But I didn't cry at all in the movie! So, win all around.

Have you seen it? What'd you think?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: 2014 Releases

Today's Top 10 Tuesday post is all about 2014 book releases! Play along at The Broke and The Bookish!

I absolutely love this topic because you guys post so many books that I've forgotten about. But here are my top 10:

Series Enders:

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
I know it keeps getting pushed back, but I have faith 2014 will be Isla & Josh's year.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin
After that huge cliffhanger in Evolution, I've got to know how it all wraps up.

Evertrue by Brodi Ashton
I love everything about this series. I'm sad it's ending, but not so sad that I'll put off reading this!

Into the Still Blue by Veronica Rossi
I have high hopes of a happy ending for Perry and Aria. And Roar.

The One by Kiera Cass
Such pretty covers. You know she'll end up with Maxon. I just want to read it and all the wonderful drama.
I love this dress

Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor
So, Days of Blood and Starlight was a bit gory for my taste, but I still have to know how this one is going to end.


Split Second by Kassi West
I adored Pivot Point so I need more of those characters.

Cress by Marissa Meyer
I'm jealous of everyone reading ARCs of this right now.

Perfect Lies by Kiersten White
I loved how trippy Mind Games was, so yay sequel!

Raven Boys #3 by Maggie Stiefvater
I expect this to have a horrible cliffhanger involving Gansey and death. 

I don't even have room for any new series/stand alones! What are you dying to read in 2014?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Recap

Holy cow, only one month left in 2013! November flew by for me, but it was notable for a few reasons:

  • I finished NaNoWriMo! That's 50,000 words in one month. (In case you were curious, the Hunger Games books are about 101,000 words. I'm not saying my story was half as good as Hunger Games, just half as long)

  • We hosted Thanksgiving in our new house! And it went great.

Those things combined for not much reading this month. But I got to a couple things:

Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young. Fun, choose your own adventure-style book. A lot like Pivot Point.

The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman. Cute middle grad story about a boy who feels?/is? invisible and his adventurous friends.

Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I didn't read all of it, but I'm calling it done. It was an interesting end to the series, but there were some things I felt were left unsettled.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins and The Treasure Map of Boys (Ruby Oliver #3) by e. lockhart. Basically, two of my favorite contemporary romances.

For December:

I'm hoping to read things that are the opposite of contemporary romance for the month! Maybe some fantasy or paranormal for awhile. I just got Defy by Sara Larsen off of NetGalley, so we'll see how that goes.

What are your plans for December?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Giving Thanks

Today's Top Ten Tuesday post is all about what we're thankful for! Join at The Broke and The Bookish!

1. My husband
We're celebrating our 7th anniversary in a few weeks.

2. Our kiddos

3. Our house
We just bought it this year.

4. Books! And book blogging & blogging friends.
Reading is one of my most favorite hobbies. And I've been so lucky to make such great friends!
from the first blogger social I went to

5. Libraries
Because I could never afford all the books I want to read.

6. Music
It can put me in a good mood faster than anything else

7. Allergen-free foods
We have some food issues in my family. It's nice to have gluten-free bread at our regular store.

8. Drinkable tap water
I lived in a country where you couldn't drink the water. I had to brush my teeth with bottled water. (even to get the toothbrush wet. It was an adjustment)
Bolivian flag

9. Teaching the 3 year olds at church
they are hilarious. And wild. But mostly hilarious

10. NaNoWriMo
for giving me the chance to do something with an idea I've had for a while.

What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 22, 2013

What I've Been Up To

You guys, I feel this overwhelming need to make a blog post, even though I don't really have anything bookish to talk about. So, here's a nice smorgasbord of all things Kathy for your Friday.

  • I'll actually have a couple book reviews coming up next week. Or the week after. We'll see. But I read The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman and Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young. Spoiler alert: they were both good.

  • Nano Nano Nano. It's the thing I do most lately. It's fun. It's tiring. I love it. But it's been bad for my house. I found some stinky pinto beans in my fridge yesterday that I swear I just put in there the other day. Back around Halloween.

  • I've gotten to research the most random things, like the DeKalb High School Spanish club Facebook page, whether St. Mary's offers Christmas Eve Spanish mass (nope), and whether guys normally wear shirts underneath a button-down (it depends). And so many pranks. So. many. pranks. Now is probably not the time to mess with me. I have learned a lot.

  • I hear the Catching Fire movie is good! I'm getting more optimistic about it.
  • I'm hosting Thanksgiving this year! We'll have 11 adults, 1 teenage boy, and 11 kids 12 and under. One of which has allergies. (At least that one's mine) I haven't even had time to freak out about it yet. Maybe when Nano is over... :)

What's new with all you guys? I feel so out of the loop these days.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Book Redesigns

The Broke and The Bookish hosts Top Ten Tuesday. Play along! Today's topic is all about cover redesigns.

Books I wish would be redesigned:

Who would not be embarrassed to read this in public?

You know those ink blots where you have to guess what the picture's supposed to be? I didn't even see the two awkward kissing people at the top for the longest time.

I actually really like the idea of these covers, but the breaking glass and her foot look like photoshop disasters. Also, how does she change clothes in the bubbles?

Books that got redesigned and I like the original better:

Originals on the left. Redesigns on the right.

The Diviners by Libba Bray  

Lola and the Boy Next Door


How about you? Do you like the new designs for those covers? Which books would you like to see redone?

Monday, November 11, 2013

How NaNo is Going

In my last post I mentioned that I'm giving NaNoWriMo a try this year. I've been inspired by Suey's posts on how her project is going, so here's an update on mine. Because I'm sure everyone is so curious. (Not really)

So, a few things:
  1. I'm writing a YA contemporary romance about a girl who's been living abroad with her parents and just moved back to the US for her senior year. There's embarrassment, some angst, a rivalry between foreign language clubs, and a little kissing. Assuming I can write it.
  2. I was really embarrassed by my writing the first couple days, (because it is not good) until I forced myself to read some of it to my husband. 
  3. But not the kissing scene. I tried to read that and we were both laughing so uncomfortably hard  I had to stop.
  4. But! Having someone else read it has helped a lot. Rusty has good suggestions. I was completely stuck at one point and he had some good ideas about what should happen next. 
  5. It might have been vomiting. Which is why I didn't come up with it on my own.
  6. I'm having so much more fun than I expected. I alternate between thinking "This is a great story and I should try to do something with it!" and "Wow, this is the worst crap ever written and even the self-publishers would reject it." Somehow it's all still very enjoyable.
  7. I think about my little Sara & Davis all. the. time. It's crazy. I was in the middle of teaching Sunbeams (the 3 and 4 year olds) at church yesterday when I had a thought about plot. And it was a good thought, too. (Possibly? See #6)
So that's what I've been up to for the last 18,000 words. I have the best intentions of still reading books and blogging about them this month, but we'll see how it goes. For now I'm just enjoying taking a crack at writing.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

October Recap

October was not the best reading month. Good thing I never recapped my September reading so it will look better than it actually was!

In October I had two DNF books, but I finished:

The Distance Between Us by Kassie West
Cute contemporary twist on poor girl meets rich boy.

Just Ella by Annette Larsen
Light, fun romance.

The Diviners by Libba Bray
Creepy 20's murder mystery that was good but so freaking long.

In September I read:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
My favorite read of 2013.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick
A tough, but riveting book about a boy who takes a gun to school with plans to shoot his former best friend and then himself.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
It's as good as everyone says it is.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
Middle grade about a sad gorilla. The story was just ok for me but the pictures were amazing.

Blackmoore by Julianne Donaldson
Even better than Edenbrooke!

Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
Start of a new time-traveling fantasy series that isn't quite as good as her others.

Favorites were:
Blackmoore, The Book Thief, and Fangirl. You can't go wrong with any of those!

For November I probably won't be around a ton. I'm giving NaNoWriMo a try. It's scary and exciting and makes me realize I overuse so many words! You can see what I'm working on here, if you're curious.

What are you doing this November?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Read This: Just Ella

Just Ella
by Annette Larsen

Just Ella is such a delightful story! For some reason I was expecting it to be a Cinderella retelling (from the title) but it's not. It's just a nice, quick read with a fun, clean romance. Ariella is royalty, but wants to be able to make her own choices. Gavin is a gardener who knows his place, but has trouble staying there. It's a familiar premise, but Larsen has a very cute take on it.

The characters are likeable, the bad guy is intriguingly bad, and the ending is very sweet. It felt a little repetitive in parts, and I started to get frustrated when it seemed like the characters were intentionally misunderstanding each other to draw out the conflict. So maybe some of the obstacles felt a little contrived. But overall I really enjoyed it. I was definitely routing for everything to work out for the characters, and the way the story wrapped up was very satisfying.

The Big Three:
Language: not an issue
Sex and Stuff: not an issue
Violence: not an issue

Just So You Know:
I received a review copy of Just Ella as part of the blog tour hosted by I Am A Reader Not A Writer in exchange for an honest review. Just Ella is available now!

Check out the book blast for Just Ella.