Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 End of the Year Book Survey

As I was trying to decide how I wanted to handle my end of the year review/wrap up post, I came across this survey from Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner, and decided that it was exactly what I was looking for. I might add/adjust a couple of things, but other than that it looks wonderful! Want to fill it out as well? Feel free to join in! Jamie has a link up for those who participate so you can check out everyone else's survey, too.

Number of Books You Read: 129
Number of Re-Reads: 3
Genre You Read the Most From: YA Dystopian 

1. Best Book You Read in 2014? 
(If you have to cheat - you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist) 
Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell...Positive by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin...The Book Thief by Markus Zusak...and We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going to Love More But Didn't? 
The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski. I didn't love it!
3. Most Surprising (in a good or bad way) Book You Read in 2014? 
 Good Way - The Book Thief (I put this one off for awhile, and hate that I did, it was so amazing!)
Bad Way - The Secret Diamond Sisters (I didn't expect to hate it, I thought I would love it...nope)

4. Book You "Pushed" the Most People to Read (And They Did) in 2014?
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. Anytime I have students that aren't sure what to read, I pick these up for them in the library. I have definitely suggested them to family and friends as well. I'm not sure how many have actually read them, though.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?
Best Series Started - Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
Best Sequel - Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Best Ender - Creators by Tiffany Truitt

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I discovered a lot of new authors this year, but my favorite would definitely be E.V. Fairfall. Cannot wait for her book to release in 2015!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
The Twilight Saga graphic novels - they were my first graphic novels ever, and I really did enjoy them.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Dear Killer by Katherine Ewell. This book had a lot of action, and was certainly thrilling. I definitely could not put it down.

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Branded by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki - I will want to re-read it before the sequel comes out. I read this one as an e-book before it was decided to release a physical book, so it's been awhile! 
10. Favorite Cover of a Book You Read in 2014?
Endless by Amanda Gray 
11. Most Memorable Character of 2014?
Hazel Grace Lancaster - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

12. Most Beautifully Written Book Read in 2014?
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (because J.K. Rowling)

13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2014? 
Positive by Paige Rawl - EVERYONE needs to read this book!

14. Book You Can't Believe You Waited UNTIL 2014 to Finally Read?
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From a Book You Read in 2014?
This one is pretty difficult because I was not very good about marking quotes in books this year, I am going to try to be better about that in 2015! 

This is one I do remember loving from Dear Killer though, so I will use that one:

“Sometimes I imagine we're all like paper stars, folded up and gathered together, each of us convinced that we are glittering and celestial, each of us bent into a shape so we believe we're something we're not.” 
16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read in 2014?
Shortest - Jellybean Kisses: Book One by Amy Evans (42 Pages)
Longest -  Awakening Foster Kelly by Cara Rosalie Olsen (672 Pages)

17. Book That Shocked You the Most?
(because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
Allegiant by Veronica Roth - if you've read it, you know why. No spoilers.

18. OTP of the Year (you will go down with this ship!)?
Hazel and Gus from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship of the Year?
Katniss and Prim Everdeen from The Hunger Game Series. I just love their sister relationship, it's beautiful in the books and movies.
20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From an Author You've Read Previously?
Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler 
21. Best Book You Read in 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY on a Recommendation from Somebody Else/Peer Pressure? 
Cinder by Marissa Meyer

22. Newest Fictional Crush from a Book You Read in 2014?
Peeta! Probably not new to most people, but I read the whole series this year, and I just love Peeta.

23. Best 2014 Debut You Read?
Branded, definitely.

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting you Read this Year?
So, you can probably see this coming since I re-read one of the books...but Harry Potter is always going to win on these types of questions.

25. Book That Put a Smile on Your Face/Was the Most FUN to Read?
My True Love Gave to Me. I loved reading all the holiday stories, and the short romances were adorable!

26. Book that Made You Cry in 2014?
The Fault in Our Stars...cried like a baby, it happens.

27. Hidden Gem of the Year?
The Lost Souls series by Tiffany Truitt. I had not heard anything of it before the blog tour, and I devoured the whole series, it was wonderful.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
There were quite a few on this one, actually...Let's go with We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

29. Most Unique Book You Read in 2014?
Dear Killer by Katherine was unlike anything I have ever read!

30. Book That Made You the Most Mad (doesn't necessarily mean you didn't like it)?
Mockingjay...and I did not like it, not one bit.

1. New Favorite Book Blog you Discovered in 2014? 
I just started blogging this year, so all the blogs I discovered were this year. There are a ton I can mention, but I think that I will probably do a whole other post just to talk about some of the book blogs I love, so I am going to save it until then! 

2. Favorite Review that you Wrote in 2014?
I enjoyed writing a ton of my reviews, but I would say my favorite one would probably be the one I wrote about Dear Killer or The Book Thief.

3. Best Discussion/Non-Review Post You Had on Your Blog?
I really enjoyed the Top Ten Tuesdays that I completed, and I also really enjoyed hosting the Blogger Spotlights that I did.

4. Best Event that you Participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
Once again, I will say that I really enjoyed participating in Top Ten Tuesday this year.

5. Best Moment of Bookish/Blogging Life in 2014?
I would say that this would definitely be starting my blog! It's obviously the best blogging moment for me, since it had to happen for me to be here.

6. Most Popular Post This Year on Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
It looks like my Stacking the Shelves posts definitely got the most views!

7. Post You Wished Got a Little More Love?
I do wish that my Cover Concepts posts would get a little bit more love.

8. Best Bookish Discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Book Outlet! I knew nothing about it before, and it is the greatest thing ever now. You can get so many great, newer releases at wonderful prices.

9. Did You Complete Any Reading Challenges or Goals that you had Set for Yourself at the Beginning of the Year?
I achieved my first Goodreads goal of reading 100 books by May, so then I upped it to 150, but I did not achieve that one.

1. One Book You Didn't Get to in 2014 But Will be Your #1 Priority in 2015?
The Young Elites by Marie Lu. I received this one for Christmas, so now I intend to read it ASAP.

2. Book You are Most Anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?
Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer. Cannot wait to finish The Lunar Chronicles!

3. 2015 Debut You are Most Anticipating? 
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

4. Series Ending/A Sequel you are Most Anticipating in 2015?
Same as the book I am most anticipating, Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer

5. One Thing You Hope to Accomplish or Do in Your Reading/Blogging Life in 2015?
To successfully accomplish all of the challenges I set for myself.

6. A 2015 Release You've Already Read & Recommend to Everyone?
Sleeping Tom by E.V. Fairfall! 

This was lots of fun! Thanks for helping make 2014 such a great year, I love all of my readers/followers, and I hope that you all have an amazing New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015 | Bookish, Blogging, or Otherwise

It's Top Ten Tuesday time! I'm linking up over at The Broke and The Bookish. It's hard to believe that this will be the last TTT of 2014, but I am excited to continue with this meme into the new year. I hope to stick to it weekly if possible, and hopefully I will be successful with that. This week's prompt makes sense, as a lot of us begin making goals and resolutions at the end of December for the new year. I have seen a lot of Booktube videos already about this same topic, and I have spent a lot of time thinking about and writing down my own goals/resolutions. I have decided to leave this list just to books and blogging, and might post more of a lifestyle list on my personal blog. Anyway, here are my Top Ten Goals/Resolutions for 2015. 

1. Read 100 Books - Like I talked about in my challenges video last week, I intend to set my Goodreads Reading Goal to 100 books this year, and will just leave it at that this time, even if I do read more than that towards the first half of the year. This means reading about 8-9 books per month, which is definitely something I should be able to do. Along with that, I would like to try to read at least 100 pages every day. I want to be reading daily, and 100 pages seems like a great amount.

2. Write/Post 2 Reviews Each Week - I was really good at posting reviews early in the year, but then I did start to get lazy about it, especially towards the end of the year when I hit a bit of a reading slump. I have started to schedule things for the blog next year though, and have set aside two days per week in order to post reviews. I intend to stick to it, too. Along with that, I want to review each and every book that I read in 2015. 

3. Buy Less Books - This is something that I also talked about earlier this week when I discussed how I am going to handle buying books in 2015. This is something that I really want to stick to as it will hopefully mean that I am reading more books than I am buying, so they are not just sitting on bookshelves. I know that I will buy books, but I just want to make sure that they are books that I really, really want to read.

4. Stick to My Reading Challenges - This was something that I was really bad about this year. It was just so easy to forget about the challenges since I did not start right at the beginning of the year, but I do not want the same thing to happen this year. That includes the Goodreads challenge, my own A-Z challenge, and a Buddy Reads type challenge that Sarah and I plan to do together this year (stay tuned for a post about that!). 

5. Only Participate in Blog Tours I am Really Excited About - I just do not enjoy doing blog tours as much as I did earlier this year. When I first started, I thought that it was something that I really had to do in order to have a successful blog. I know that there are a lot of bloggers that look right past those posts though, and would instead rather read something more personal/original that I post myself. I might occasionally do them, but it will not be very often. Instead, I will post cover reveals and author spotlights that I'm excited about. 

6. Pre-order New Releases - Like I talked about in my book buying post, I intend to pre-order a couple of new releases every month that I know I really want to read in order to save myself some money. Amazon has really good prices on pre-orders, and they will give you the lowest price if it happens to change once you've already ordered. It definitely beats a trip to B&N where I spontaneously pick up a new release for way more money because it's in front of me.

7 Create a Schedule for the Blog & Stick to it - I realized pretty quickly just how important it is to have a schedule for the blog and to try to stick to it. It's something that I appreciate as a fellow blogger as I am reading blogs, and it also helps me to plan out posts and get them done and schedules ahead of time. I have already been working on the schedule for the new year, and I am very excited about some new things that I plan to bring to the blog. 

8. Read More Graphic Novels - I didn't expect to get this specific with my goals, but I really do want to read some more graphic novels. I only read a couple this year, but I really did enjoy them very much. I have heard of so many other great ones now that I hope to pick up throughout the year. Along with that, I do intend to read some more New Adult, and perhaps even some Adult books this year.

9. Try to Continue Booktube - I began a booktube towards the end of the year, but I have yet to do a whole lot with it since the camera on my computer is not the best, nor is the editing software that came on my computer to edit videos. I do know that my husband has a nice camera though, and I think I might be able to start filming with it, and I will work on the editing. I really do enjoy watching the videos of others, and would enjoy creating more of my own.

10. Post on the Blog EVERYDAY - I know that this might be wishful thinking, but I have had several months this year where I had a post on the blog every single day. It is something that I would really like to continue again, and I hope that I can do so. I intend to do a lot of pre-scheduled blog tours and use Google calendar again to help me succeed with this one.

What are your goals/resolutions for 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Cover Concepts | December 28 - 31

Happy Monday! Welcome to the feature Cover Concepts on my blog. Every Monday I am going to create a post with all of the young adult book covers that are releasing within the week. I will then tell you all what I think about the covers; If I love them, or if I think that they could be better. At the end of the post, I will give you all a chance to vote on your favorite cover of the week. As I pick a lot of my reads based on their covers, this seemed like the perfect feature for me to begin on the blog. Feel free to leave comments with your opinions of the covers as well, and we can discuss them! :]

This Week: It is the last Cover Concepts of 2014! While I am going to continue the idea in 2015, you are going to see some changes to the posts as well. I will wait to share those during the first CC post of 2015, though! As this week only covers four days, there will not be too much to talk about, just like last week, but I did still want to share. 

1. After Us by Amber Hart - December 30
Before & After #2
 Thoughts: Well, it certainly goes with the cover of the first book in the series, so that is a good start. It is not nearly as creepy as the cover of book one, either (go look at it, their faces look pretty creepy, and I don't really understand why). I don't love cover models, as you know, but at least they're pretty dark and not quite kissing. It could be worse. I do like the font and color of the title.

2. Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass - December 31
Thoughts: I think that this is actually pretty nice for being so simple. Sometimes simple can be better, in my opinion. I think that the colors are great and go well together, and the different fonts look cute together. I think that the heart with all of the pins is an interesting idea too, and gives us some insight about what sorts of things the book might contain (pain, anyone?).

3. Hidden by Donna Jo Napoli - December 30
Thoughts: This definitely looks like a historical fiction, which I guess is probably a good thing since that is exactly what it is. The colors work really well together, and make the book look very pretty and classic. Everything works together, and the only thing I really don't like about it is the symbol behind the title. I am not sure why everyone thinks they need to do that.

Which of the three covers is your favorite this week?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Book Buying in 2015

Before I talk about my bookish and blogging resolutions later this week, I thought I would discuss how I intend to handle book buying in 2015. As you are fellow book bloggers/readers, I am sure you understand the problem of buying too many books because they're inexpensive or because you have heard such good things about them. As I started my book blog just this year, and began reading many more books in a year then I used to, I did purchase A LOT of books this year. Probably way more than I needed to, but sometimes it's so hard to say "no". However, that is something that I am going to focus on this year, and because of that I am going to set a few rules for myself for my book buying in 2015. I do fully intend to stick to these rules, and I hope that I am successful with it!

Rule 1: I am going to set aside part of my spending budget each month to pre-order the new books I know that I am going to want that month. I am going to order them at the end of the previous month from Amazon to ensure that I can get them, but that I also don't fork over the extra money at Barnes and Noble because I happen to be in the store and see it there. Amazon prices are much better, and they will be shipped to me on the release day, so I know that I will not have to wait too long for them. I plan to pre-order no more than 4 for any given month (I just pre-ordered three for January, and I am very happy with my selections).

Rule 2: Aside from my pre-order books, I will only allow myself to buy a new book after reading five or more books that I already have on my shelves. That means for every five books I read that I already have, I will allow myself to pick up one book from a store such as Target or Half Price Books. This will cut down on a lot of the impulse buying that I tend to do when I see a new-ish book on sale at Target, and then come home and put it on the shelf and don't actually read it.

Rule 3: I am only going to buy a book if I really, really want to read it, and not just because it's on sale or has a pretty cover. I want to make sure if I am buying books this year that I am actually going to read them, and they won't just sit on the shelves collecting dust.

Rule 4: I am going to try not to buy anymore first books in a series until I finish some of the other series that I already own. This means I will allow myself to buy books to continue a series, but not any that start a brand new one unless I really, really want to read it.

Rule 5: I am going to start checking the reviews and ratings on Goodreads before I make a book purchase. Sure, it might not end up being the same for me since I have liked books that a lot of people hated, and hated books that a lot of people love. Still, I do think that it's a good starting point, so I am going to at least check it out before buying a book.

There we have it, the book buying rules I am going to try to stick to next year. Of course, I am sure I will have some months that are less successful than others (like when Book Outlet has huge sales and sends me coupons), but overall I am going to try to stick to this as much as possible. Is anyone else limiting their book buying in 2015? What are some rules you plan to stick to?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [32]

I am joining in on Stacking The Shelves, a weekly meme hosted over at Tynga's Reviews. It is an easy way to share what books you picked up that week, and to see what other people have picked up to read themselves.

How to Participate?
  • Create your own Stacking The Shelves post. You can use my official graphic or your own, but please link back to Tynga’s Reviews so more people can join the fun!
  • You can set your post any way you want, simple book list, covers, pictures, vlog, sky is the limit!
  • I am posting Stacking The Shelves on Saturdays, but feel free to post yours any day that fits you.
  • Visit Tynga’s Reviews on Saturday and add your link so others can visit you!


As you can probably guess, this week I will be discussing the books that I received for Christmas. Everyone obviously knows me too well, and had no problem using the lists I gave them in order to purchase some awesome books for me. I have added so many great books to my shelves this week, and I cannot wait to get into them once 2015 rolls around!

From My Husband, Michael:

 The Young Elites by Marie Lu

Adelina Amouteru is a survivor of the blood fever. A decade ago, the deadly illness swept through her nation. Most of the infected perished, while many of the children who survived were left with strange markings. Adelina’s black hair turned silver, her lashes went pale, and now she has only a jagged scar where her left eye once was. Her cruel father believes she is a malfetto, an abomination, ruining their family’s good name and standing in the way of their fortune. But some of the fever’s survivors are rumored to possess more than just scars—they are believed to have mysterious and powerful gifts, and though their identities remain secret, they have come to be called the Young Elites.

Teren Santoro works for the king. As Leader of the Inquisition Axis, it is his job to seek out the Young Elites, to destroy them before they destroy the nation. He believes the Young Elites to be dangerous and vengeful, but it’s Teren who may possess the darkest secret of all.

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they’ve never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn’t belong in this world. A vengeful blackness in her heart. And a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

 Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern

Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized.

When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

 The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker.

Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

From My Parents:

 Legend, Prodigy, and Champion by Marie Lu 

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic's wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic's highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country's most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths - until the day June's brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family's survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias's death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Unravel Me by Tahereh Mafi

it's almost
time for war.

Juliette has escaped to Omega Point. It is a place for people like her—people with gifts—and it is also the headquarters of the rebel resistance.

She's finally free from The Reestablishment, free from their plan to use her as a weapon, and free to love Adam. But Juliette will never be free from her lethal touch.

Or from Warner, who wants Juliette more than she ever thought possible.

 Starry Night by Isabel Gillies

Sometimes one night can change everything. On this particular night, Wren and her three best friends are attending a black-tie party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to celebrate the opening of a major exhibit curated by her father. An enormous wind blasts through the city, making everyone feel that something unexpected and perhaps wonderful will happen. And for Wren, that something wonderful is Nolan. With his root-beer-brown Michelangelo eyes, Nolan changes the way Wren’s heart beats. In Isabel Gillies's Starry Night, suddenly everything is different. Nothing makes sense except for this boy. What happens to your life when everything changes, even your heart? How much do you give up? How much do you keep?

 The Jewel by Amy Ewing

The Jewel means wealth. The Jewel means beauty. The Jewel means royalty. But for girls like Violet, the Jewel means servitude. Not just any kind of servitude. Violet, born and raised in the Marsh, has been trained as a surrogate for the royalty—because in the Jewel the only thing more important than opulence is offspring.

Purchased at the surrogacy auction by the Duchess of the Lake and greeted with a slap to the face, Violet (now known only as #197) quickly learns of the brutal truths that lie beneath the Jewel’s glittering facade: the cruelty, backstabbing, and hidden violence that have become the royal way of life.

Violet must accept the ugly realities of her existence... and try to stay alive. But then a forbidden romance erupts between Violet and a handsome gentleman hired as a companion to the Duchess’s petulant niece. Though his presence makes life in the Jewel a bit brighter, the consequences of their illicit relationship will cost them both more than they bargained for.

 Midnight Thief by Livia Blackburne 

Growing up on Forge’s streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that’s not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs.

But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she’s not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he’s persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can’t quite resist his pull.

Tristam of Brancel is a young Palace knight on a mission. After his best friend is brutally murdered by Demon Riders, a clan of vicious warriors who ride bloodthirsty wildcats, Tristam vows to take them down. But as his investigation deepens, he finds his efforts thwarted by a talented thief, one who sneaks past Palace defenses with uncanny ease.

When a fateful raid throws Kyra and Tristam together, the two enemies realize that their best chance at survival—and vengeance—might be to join forces. And as their loyalties are tested to the breaking point, they learn a startling secret about Kyra’s past that threatens to reshape both their lives.

 The Real Girl's Kitchen by Haylie Duff

Though she is best known as an actress, Haylie Duff feels quite at home in her kitchen. When she started serving up easy and elegant recipes, kitchen tips, and entertaining advice on her blog, Real Girl's Kitchen, the site quickly grew into a destination for fans and foodies alike.

Now everyone's favorite recipes—along with dozens of new dishes—are available in a gorgeous, hand-held volume. The Real Girl's Kitchen covers it all: breakfasts, salads, soups, appetizers, snacks . . . even recipes for your "cheat days"!

Haylie tackles everything from healthful green smoothies, to drinks for an impromptu gathering, to whipping up an impressive meal for a date. Each recipe is accompanied by full-color photos, along with a personal story from Haylie's life.

The Real Girl's Kitchen shows readers not only how to eat to live, but how to love to eat along the way.

 Around the Table by Martina McBride

Now, in her first ever book, Martina shares the inventive party ideas for all seasons that have made her a beloved entertainer at home. Each celebration is accompanied by Martina’s mouthwatering recipes, tips and tricks, practical menu planning advice, décor inspiration, and fun ideas for keeping guests entertained. A busy mom of three, Martina understands that hosting needs to be easy to be enjoyable, and all of her recipes come with cooking gameplans.

Dozens of stunning color photos invite readers into Martina’s home and around her table all through the year. With this delightful entertaining cookbook, fans everywhere can join in the fun, whether it’s a Red, White, and Blue Backyard Cookout, a Retro Valentine’s Day Supper Club or a night of Mistletoe and Martinis. Chock full of personal anecdotes and memories, this delightful keepsake is infused with Martina’s girl-next-door spirit and irresistible charm.

From My Mother-In-Law:

Once a century, one person is chosen for greatness.
Elisa is the chosen one.

But she is also the younger of two princesses, the one who has never done anything remarkable. She can't see how she ever will.

Now, on her sixteenth birthday, she has become the secret wife of a handsome and worldly king—a king whose country is in turmoil. A king who needs the chosen one, not a failure of a princess.

And he's not the only one who seeks her. Savage enemies seething with dark magic are hunting her. A daring, determined revolutionary thinks she could be his people's savior. And he looks at her in a way that no man has ever looked at her before. Soon it is not just her life, but her very heart that is at stake.

Elisa could be everything to those who need her most. If the prophecy is fulfilled. If she finds the power deep within herself. If she doesn’t die young.

Most of the chosen do.

 Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

In 1930s Munich, danger lurks behind dark corners, and secrets are buried deep within the city. But Gretchen Müller, who grew up in the National Socialist Party under the wing of her "uncle" Dolf, has been shielded from that side of society ever since her father traded his life for Dolf's, and Gretchen is his favorite, his pet.

Uncle Dolf is none other than Adolf Hitler. And Gretchen follows his every command.

Until she meets a fearless and handsome young Jewish reporter named Daniel Cohen. Gretchen should despise Daniel, yet she can't stop herself from listening to his story: that her father, the adored Nazi martyr, was actually murdered by an unknown comrade. She also can't help the fierce attraction brewing between them, despite everything she's been taught to believe about Jews.

As Gretchen investigates the very people she's always considered friends, she must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she choose the safety of her former life as a Nazi darling, or will she dare to dig up the truth—even if it could get her and Daniel killed?

From My Friend, Brenda:

 My awesome friend Brenda got me this gorgeous Ravenclaw infinity scarf that has all of the different spells printed on it. She also got me a copy of Jane Eyre that you fold as you read, and eventually the folded pages will form the word "Read." I cannot wait to read and fold it so that I can have it on my bookshelf!

What books did you get for Christmas/add to your shelves this week?

Friday, December 26, 2014

2015 Reading Challenges

As the year comes to an end, I am sure I am not the only one who has been thinking and considering which reading challenges to take part in for 2015. This year I started the blog in February, so that means I did come in late to all of the reading challenges. Because of this, it was not something that I spent a lot of time thinking or worrying about, and I certainly was not successful. Therefore, since I will get to start right away with the new year this time, I have been spending a lot of time deciding on which challenges I would be the most interested in; some are ones that I have found through other blogs, and some might be ones I just want to challenge myself to. Whatever the situation, I am going to share with you today the reading challenges I intend to take part in during 2015.

1. Goodreads Reading Challenge - Goal: 100 Books

I am sure that this is one that the majority of us will take part in. I like to push myself by using this challenge, but it's also handy to have a nice little list that keeps track of just what you have read during that current year. Like I talked about in my post here, I was successful with my first goal this year, but then after I made it higher it just didn't go as well for me. Because of this, I think that I am going to go back to setting my goal at 100 books for 2015, and then leave it there even once I surpass it. That way I have met my goal, and can just focus on how many more I can read from that point (trying to put a positive spin on things, since I'm not happy about the fact that I will be unsuccessful this year :/).

2. Finish that Series Challenge by Beth @ bethjune327 
Goal: Gold Badge (7-11 Series)

I have been a fan of Beth's booktube channel for awhile now. Since I started watching videos and found her channel, I pretty much watch everything she posts. (not pretty much, I do. I am loving the whole Vlogmas thing since it means she posts a daily video...I'm not a stalker, I swear). She did a video (watch it here) announcing the Finish that Series Challenge for 2015. It's pretty self-explanatory, and it's something that I really need to focus on. And if it's not a series I need to finish, then it's one I certainly need to start. I will share a list in my pages above soon, so keep an eye out for a "2015 Challenges" page to be added by the end of the week.

3. The Debut Author Challenge @ That Artsy Reader Girl
Goal : 12 Books

I always think that a Debut Author challenge is a great thing to try to complete for a year. I found this year during my start of blogging that it was wonderful to read books by so many authors I had not before, or perhaps did not even know of before. I am sure that there are a lot of challenges out there like this one, but this is the one that I came across and liked the organization of, so I am going to go for it.

4. 2015 Monthly Key Word Challenge @ Bookmark to Blog
Goal: 12 Books

I saw this challenge around last year, but once again as I was late to the game I decided that I would just hold off until the following year. Since it's one book a month and there are six different key words to choose from for each month, I think that I should find this one to be pretty easy. It seems like it will be a lot of fun too, so that definitely makes me look forward to it even more.

5. 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge @ Bookish
Goal: Sweet Summer Fling (31-40 books)

This is another one that I attempted this year, but did not focus on it nearly as much as I should have. I currently have 251 books on my shelves (physical books only) and quite a few of them still need to be read. This is the year that I really plan on buying less and reading more, and hopefully I can stick to that.

6. A-Z Challenge @ Beneath the Jacket Reviews (Me :) 
Goal: 26 Books

This is one that I have just decided to do on my own, for fun, and to help get through that TBR Pile even more. I'm not going to do a link up or have any sort of rules, I'm just going to create a list of books, their titles A-Z, and attempt to read all 26 of those books throughout the year. Want to join in? Awesome, just comment telling me that you plan to so that we can motivate one another! Once again, the list of books I intend to read will show up on my "2015 Challenges" page.

There you have it, the challenges I intend to take part in during 2015. Six might seem like a lot, but a lot of them will go together and share the same books. I am really excited about participating and sticking to them. Let me know if you're doing any of the same ones!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Releases I Still Want to Purchase - Part 4

Back again to finish sharing some of the 2014 releases that I still need to add to my shelves. I feel that this list might help when it comes time to make a list of books I would like to receive as Christmas gifts from friends and family (lets be real, I will probably have quite a few books on my Christmas list). Here are the releases I still hope to purchase from September (Part 2), October, November, and December.

September Releases (Part 2):

Falls the Shadow by Stefanie Gaither

When Cate Benson was a kid, her sister, Violet, died. Two hours after the funeral, Cate’s family picked up Violet’s replacement. Like nothing had happened. Because Cate’s parents are among those who decided to give their children a sort of immortality—by cloning them at birth—which means this new Violet has the same smile. The same perfect face. Thanks to advancements in mind-uploading technology, she even has all of the same memories as the girl she replaced.

She also might have murdered the most popular girl in school.

At least, that’s what the paparazzi and the anti-cloning protestors want everyone to think: that clones are violent, unpredictable monsters. Cate is used to hearing all that. She’s used to defending her sister, too. But Violet has vanished, and when Cate sets out to find her, she ends up in the line of fire instead. Because Cate is getting dangerously close to secrets that will rock the foundation of everything she thought was true.
 Winterkill by Kate A. Boorman

Emmeline knows she’s not supposed to explore the woods outside her settlement. The enemy that wiped out half her people lurks there, attacking at night and keeping them isolated in an unfamiliar land with merciless winters. Living with the shame of her grandmother’s insubordination, Emmeline has learned to keep her head down and her quick tongue silent.

When the settlement leader asks for her hand in marriage, it’s an opportunity for Emmeline to wash the family slate clean—even if she has eyes for another. But before she’s forced into an impossible decision, her dreams urge her into the woods, where she uncovers a path she can’t help but follow. The trail leads to a secret that someone in the village will kill to protect. Her grandmother followed the same path and paid the price. If Emmeline isn’t careful, she will be next.

 Schizo by Nic Sheff

Miles is the ultimate unreliable narrator—a teen recovering from a schizophrenic breakdown who believes he is getting better . . . when in reality he is growing worse.

Driven to the point of obsession to find his missing younger brother, Teddy, and wrapped up in a romance that may or may not be the real thing, Miles is forever chasing shadows. As Miles feels his world closing around him, he struggles to keep it open, but what you think you know about his world is actually a blur of gray, and the sharp focus of reality proves startling.

 Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer 

If life were fair, Jam Gallahue would still be  at home in New Jersey with her sweet British  boyfriend, Reeve Maxfield. She’d be watching  old comedy sketches with him. She’d be kissing  him in the library stacks.

She certainly wouldn’t be at The Wooden Barn, a therapeutic boarding school in rural Vermont, living with a weird roommate, and signed up for an exclusive, mysterious class called Special Topics in English.

But life isn’t fair, and Reeve Maxfield is dead.

Until a journal-writing assignment leads Jam to Belzhar, where the untainted past is restored, and Jam can feel Reeve’s arms around her once again. But there are hidden truths on Jam’s path to reclaim her loss.

 Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley

In 1959 Virginia, the lives of two girls on opposite sides of the battle for civil rights will be changed forever.

Sarah Dunbar is one of the first black students to attend the previously all-white Jefferson High School. An honors student at her old school, she is put into remedial classes, spit on and tormented daily.

Linda Hairston is the daughter of one of the town's most vocal opponents of school integration. She has been taught all her life that the races should be kept "separate but equal."

Forced to work together on a school project, Sarah and Linda must confront harsh truths about race, power and how they really feel about one another.

October Releases: 

Girl on a Wire by Gwenda Bond

A ballerina, twirling on a wire high above the crowd. Horses, prancing like salsa dancers. Trapeze artists, flying like somersaulting falcons. And magic crackling through the air. Welcome to the Cirque American!

Sixteen-year-old Jules Maroni’s dream is to follow in her father’s footsteps as a high-wire walker. When her family is offered a prestigious role in the new Cirque American, it seems that Jules and the Amazing Maronis will finally get the spotlight they deserve. But the presence of the Flying Garcias may derail her plans. For decades, the two rival families have avoided each other as sworn enemies.

Jules ignores the drama and focuses on the wire, skyrocketing to fame as the girl in a red tutu who dances across the wire at death-defying heights. But when she discovers a peacock feather—an infamous object of bad luck—planted on her costume, Jules nearly loses her footing. She has no choice but to seek help from the unlikeliest of people: Remy Garcia, son of the Garcia clan matriarch and the best trapeze artist in the Cirque.

As more mysterious talismans believed to possess unlucky magic appear, Jules and Remy unite to find the culprit. And if they don’t figure out what’s going on soon, Jules may be the first Maroni to do the unthinkable: fall.

 Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Lee Alexander

Charlie Hanson has a clear vision of his future. A senior at Brighton School of Mathematics and Science, he knows he’ll graduate, go to MIT, and inevitably discover solutions to the universe’s greatest unanswered questions. He’s that smart. But Charlie’s future blurs the moment he reaches out to touch the tattoo on a beautiful girl’s neck.

The future has never seemed very kind to Charlotte Finch, so she’s counting on the present. She’s not impressed by the strange boy at the donut shop—until she learns he’s a student at Brighton where her sister has just taken a job as the English teacher. With her encouragement, Charlie orchestrates the most effective prank campaign in Brighton history. But, in doing so, he puts his own future in jeopardy.

By the time he learns she's ill—and that the pranks were a way to distract Ms. Finch from Charlotte’s illness—Charlotte’s gravitational pull is too great to overcome. Soon he must choose between the familiar formulas he’s always relied on or the girl he’s falling for (at far more than 32 feet per second squared).

 Stray by Elissa Sossman 

Princess Aislynn has long dreamed about attending her Introduction Ball, about dancing with the handsome suitors her adviser has chosen for her, about meeting her true love and starting her happily ever after.

When the night of the ball finally arrives and Nerine Academy is awash with roses and royalty, Aislynn wants nothing more than to dance the night away, dutifully following the Path that has been laid out for her. She does not intend to stray.

But try as she might, Aislynn has never quite managed to control the magic that burns within her-magic brought on by wicked, terrible desires that threaten the Path she has vowed to take.

After all, it is wrong to want what you do not need. Isn’t it?

 Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

Valentina Cruz no longer exists.

One moment, she was wrapped in Emilio’s arms, melting into his kiss. The next, she was witnessing the unthinkable: a murder in cold blood, ordered by her father and carried out by her boyfriend. When Emilio pulled the trigger, Valentina disappeared. She made a split-second decision to shed her identity and flee her life of privilege, leaving the glittering parties and sultry nightlife of Miami far behind.

She doesn’t know how to explain to herself what she saw. All she knows now is that nothing she believed about her family, her heart, or Emilio’s love, was real.

She can change her name and deny her past, but Valentina can’t run from the truth. The lines between right and wrong, and trust and betrayal, will be blurred beyond recognition as she untangles the deceptions of the two men she once loved and races to find her own truth

 They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire

Every year, the lives of ten girls at Vienna High are transformed.

All because of the list.

Kenzie Summerall can't imagine how she's been voted onto a list of the hottest girls in school, but when she lands at number five, her average life becomes dazzling. Doors open to the best parties, new friends surround her, the cutest jock in school is after her.

This is the power of the list. If you're on it, your life changes.

If you're on it this year? Your life ends.

The girls on the list have started to die, one by one. Is it a coincidence? A curse? Or is the list in the hands of a killer?

Time is running out for Kenzie, but she’s determined to uncover the deadly secret of the list...before her number’s up

 Compulsion by Martina Boone

All her life, Barrie Watson has been a virtual prisoner in the house where she lives with her shut-in mother. When her mother dies, Barrie promises to put some mileage on her stiletto heels. But she finds a new kind of prison at her aunt’s South Carolina plantation instead--a prison guarded by an ancient spirit who long ago cursed one of the three founding families of Watson Island and gave the others magical gifts that became compulsions.

Stuck with the ghosts of a generations-old feud and hunted by forces she cannot see, Barrie must find a way to break free of the family legacy. With the help of sun-kissed Eight Beaufort, who knows what Barrie wants before she knows herself, the last Watson heir starts to unravel her family's twisted secrets. What she finds is dangerous: a love she never expected, a river that turns to fire at midnight, a gorgeous cousin who isn’t what she seems, and very real enemies who want both Eight and Barrie dead.

November Releases:

 Empire of Shadows by Miriam Forster 

Cast out of her family three years ago, Mara turned to the only place that would take her—a school where students train to protect others. But Mara is stunned when guarding a noble girl in the Empire’s capital turns out to be more dangerous than she could’ve imagined. More shocking still, she finds the boy she thought she had lost forever outside the gates of her new home.

Mara knew her life in the dizzying Imperial city would hold dangers. How could she have known that her heart, as well as her life, would be at stake?

 A Thousand Pieces of You by Claudia Gray

Marguerite Caine’s physicist parents are known for their radical scientific achievements. Their most astonishing invention: the Firebird, which allows users to jump into parallel universes, some vastly altered from our own. But when Marguerite’s father is murdered, the killer—her parent’s handsome and enigmatic assistant Paul—escapes into another dimension before the law can touch him.

Marguerite can’t let the man who destroyed her family go free, and she races after Paul through different universes, where their lives entangle in increasingly familiar ways. With each encounter she begins to question Paul’s guilt—and her own heart. Soon she discovers the truth behind her father’s death is more sinister than she ever could have imagined.

December Releases:

 No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown

Amber Vaughn is a good girl. She sings solos at church, babysits her nephew after school, and spends every Friday night hanging out at her best friend Devon’s house. It’s only when Amber goes exploring in the woods near her home, singing camp songs with the hikers she meets on the Appalachian Trail, that she feels free—and when the bigger world feels just a little bit more in reach.

When Amber learns about an audition at the North Carolina School of the Arts, she decides that her dream—to sing on bigger stages—could also be her ticket to a new life. Devon’s older (and unavailable) brother, Will, helps Amber prepare for her one chance to try out for the hypercompetitive arts school. But the more time Will and Amber spend together, the more complicated their relationship becomes . . . and Amber starts to wonder if she’s such a good girl, after all.

Then, in an afternoon, the bottom drops out of her family’s world—and Amber is faced with an impossible choice between her promise as an artist and the people she loves. Amber always thought she knew what a good girl would do. But between “right” and “wrong,” there’s a whole world of possibilities.

Top Five Things That Are Ruining Chloe’s Day

5) Working the 6:30 a.m. shift at GoodFoods Market

4) Crashing a cart into a customer’s car right in front of her snarky coworker Sammi

3) Trying to rock the “drowned rat” look after being caught in a snowstorm

2) Making zero progress with her crush, Tyson (see #3)

1) Being accused—along with her fellow teenage employees—of stealing upwards of $10,000

Chloe would rather be anywhere than locked in work jail (aka the break room) with five of her coworkers . . . even if one of them is Tyson. But if they can band together to clear their names, what looks like a total disaster might just make Chloe’s list of Top Ten Best Moments.

 Zodiac by Romina Russell 

Rhoma Grace is a 16-year-old student from House Cancer with an unusual way of reading the stars. While her classmates use measurements to make accurate astrological predictions, Rho can’t solve for ‘x’ to save her life—so instead, she looks up at the night sky and makes up stories.

When a violent blast strikes the moons of Cancer, sending its ocean planet off-kilter and killing thousands of citizens—including its beloved Guardian—Rho is more surprised than anyone when she is named the House’s new leader. But, a true Cancerian who loves her home fiercely and will protect her people no matter what, Rho accepts.

Then, when more Houses fall victim to freak weather catastrophes, Rho starts seeing a pattern in the stars. She suspects Ophiuchus—the exiled 13th Guardian of Zodiac legend—has returned to exact his revenge across the Galaxy. Now Rho—along with Hysan Dax, a young envoy from House Libra, and Mathias, her guide and a member of her Royal Guard—must travel through the Zodiac to warn the other Guardians.

But who will believe anything this young novice says? Whom can Rho trust in a universe defined by differences? And how can she convince twelve worlds to unite as one Zodiac?
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