Monday, December 30, 2013

Seriously Series Reading Challenge 2014

The Seriously Series Reading Challenge is hosted by Kelly at Reading the Paranormal and you can sign up at this link. I am going to try for Semi-Serious in all categories.

series started before 2014 series started in 2014 series rereads
Semi-Serious 1-6 series 1-6 1-6
Seriously Serious 7-12 7-12 7-12
Super Seriously Serious 13-18 13-18 13-18
Seriously Spectacular Series Star 18+ 18+ 18+
FYI, reading novellas and short stories from a series does count here -- if you want it to!
I hope to reread the The Kane Chronicles by Riordan and the Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events. I am going to reread the Alchemyst series by Michael Scott, but I already reread the first book this year, so I don't know if I can count that series for this challenge. For the series started before 2014, I would like to finish the Iron Fey series by Kagawa, the Infernal Devices series by Cassandra Clare, the Heroes of Olympus series by Riordan, and the Legend trilogy by Lu. I am not for sure what series I  will start in 2014 and I will probably add more choices to the other two categories.
I will keep track of my progress here.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Best Books of 2013

I had several favorites this year and several more books I wish I could have read this year! I still hope to finish a book or two before Wednesday, but I don't think they will beat my current picks.

My favorite book of 2013 was Prodigy by Marie Lu!

Favorite Stand-alones
1. Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White
The Chaos of Stars

I loved her Paranormalcy series and her Mind Games series is great too! In Chaos of Stars I loved her take on Egyptian mythology and what life would be like for a mortal child with immortal parents. I loved the character of Isadora and her angry vulnerability. Obviously with the number of quotes in my review, you can tell I loved this book!

2. Towering by Alex Flinn

I love Flinn's retellings and this one based on Rapunzel was beautiful! I love how she twisted the use of rampion in the story and how she played with the idea of villains. I used this as part of Classic Double Challenge and my review is here.

3. Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Monstrous Beauty
Farrar, Staus, Giroux

A dark twist on mermaid lore, this was a read I really didn't think I would like. It was a Random Read choice and despite its darkness, I loved it. The twists with ghosts, history, and love were breathtaking at times. My review is here.

Favorite Junior Fiction: I limited this to one book and I realize I need to read more junior fiction or middle grades fiction as most people call it.

1. Jinx by Sage Blackwood

This was my January Random Read choice and one of the first books I read in 2013. I loved the dry humor and the way good and evil was presented. Blackwood's writing style sucks you in and I hope to read the second book in the series early in January! My review is here.

Favorite Adult Fiction read:

1. Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike, #1)
Mulholland Books

I picked this up because it is JK Rowling, but even if it wasn't written by her, it would still be my favorite adult read. Strike and Robin are interesting and likeable characters and they mystery reminded me of Agatha Christie with a bit more language. Reviewed here.

Favorite YA reads:

1. Earthbound by Aprilynne Pike
Earthbound (Earthbound, #1)

The characters were great and I liked that you don't know who can be trusted, even at the end of the book. I like how she played with mythology and the idea of a fallen goddess. I enjoyed her Wings series, but I think this series will be even better. Reviewed here.

2. Hero by Althea Kontis
Hero (Woodcutter Sisters #2)

This had one of my favorite characters, Sunday! She is brave, not very girly, and extremely stubborn. I love that this was a damsel saves boy story and I can't wait until the next in the series! I reviewed it here.

3. Looking for Alaska by John Green
Looking for Alaska

Wow, his books are deep and unfortunately leave me with severe book hangover. He is a great author with complex and flawed characters. I love the quirky male characters and wish the girls had a bit more depth to them. However what they lack in depth, they make up for with their flaws. I am definitely going to read Fault in Our Stars next year, because I want to meet Hazel. Reviewed here.

Favorite Series books:

1. Prodigy by Marie Lu
Prodigy (Legend, #2)

I literally gasped at the end of this book. The end quotes are beautiful and June and Day could not be better characters. I will be tackling Champion in January for sure and can't believe I haven't got to it yet! Review here.

2. House of Hades by Rick Riordan
The House of Hades (The Heroes of Olympus, #4)
Hyperion Books

I think as long as he writes a book a year, he will always be on my list. This one seemed to have a bit more controversy than the others at least for some of the library patrons. I love the way he uses mythology and the characters he creates. I am glad he showed the flaws his heroes have in this book and I was glad to see Piper and Frank embracing their strengths. Reviewed here.

3. Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross
The Girl with the Iron Touch (The Steampunk Chronicles, #3)
Harlequin Teen

I look forward to each Steampunk Chronicles book and am really attached to the characters. I love that there are some really strong female characters in this series! Reviewed here.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking for Alaska
This book has been on my shelf for at least 5 years, possibly more. I was lucky enough to meet John at the McConnell Conference and have this book signed, but still I let it sit for another 3 years. I finally read it and of course loved it and have waited almost a month to sit down and write the review. I am not for sure what is wrong with me, but finally I am going to review it. I usually have to sit awhile and think after reading one of Green's books, because they are very deep and there is so much to deliberate about.

Miles is tired of his mundane high school experience and is excited to try life at a boarding school, a school his father attended and remembers with fondness. Miles loves last lines, words that people speak with their dying breaths and loves reading biographies. He is particularly attracted to the idea of a "Great Perhaps," that we should find the path that leads to our destiny and not regret a thing. For Miles, one great perhaps is Alaska. Alaska, along with Takumi, the Colonel, and Lara, are friends Miles makes at boarding school, but more importantly they are the ones who help him truly live. When the unthinkable happens, Miles and his friends must learn to live with their mistakes, but also learn that life goes on even in the face of loss.

Wow is about all I can say about this book. It was heartbreaking and wonderful and breaks you and rebuilds you within its 200 or so pages. I read this almost entirely in one sitting and felt a little lost when I finished it. I love that he divided the book into a before and after and that although the characters are shattered, there is still hope. I am trying to write this review without spoilers and it is very difficult, but that is about all I can say without getting into spoilers.

Favorite Character: Probably Takumi, he is a caring character and even though he also messes up in the story, he seems to be the one who genuinely cares about the rest of them. I love all of the flawed characters in the book and you can't help but love them, even when it is hard to like them.

Favorite Quotes: Wow, this is an extremely hard one. I could just put almost the entire book in quotes and be done with it, but I will try to pick.
"If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can't know better until knowing better is useless."
"But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail."

This book makes you think about so many things, life, death, growth, mistakes, and forgiveness. It speaks to both teens and adults, because it is fairly true to life and loss. 5 cups of cocoa!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

 Along for the Ride
I read this to discuss with my high school book group and only two of us finished it. :( The girls did tell me they prefer fantasy/sci-fi, so I have ordered The Adoration of Jenna Fox for the next meeting. I am just excited that they want to meet at the library and discuss books, since I have a difficult time getting teens to come to programs for them. They are great volunteer helpers though. I really enjoyed my first Sarah Dessen book and I am glad I finally picked one up to read.

Auden has spent her whole life preparing academically for the future. Her parents are divorced and her brother tends to flit through life with no plan in mind, something his parents admire about him. From Auden they expect perfection and for her to be a mature adult who will do whatever they want her to do. When her brother sends her a graduation gift of a picture frame with a picture of himself inside and the words Best of Times across the top, Auden realizes she hasn't had any best of times. She decides to go visit her father, step-mother Heidi, and newborn half-sister Thisbe at their beach house in the hopes of having a fun summer. She comes into the situation feeling like she is superior to everyone, but as days go on, she realizes she has never truly lived. She meets Eli who is trying to cope with the death of his best friend and he teaches her how to be a child and how to create the best of times that she has missed. Along the way, she realizes life is not always serious and you have to risk failing to truly live.

I loved the family dynamics in the book and the various friendships in the book. The girls who work for Heidi are great and are very accepting of Auden. I love how the book revolves around the shops, particularly the Gas/Gro, and how the group makes their snack purchasing decisions. This would be the perfect summer read and it was still good as a winter read.

Favorite Character: I loved Maggie, who becomes Auden's best friend by the end of the book. Maggie is fearless, but loving. She is smart, but also able to talk endlessly about fashion. Like Auden, you judge her one way at the beginning of the story, but like Auden, you realize who she really is by the end of the book.

Favorite Quotes: "You're supposed to fail sometimes. It's a required part of the human existence."
"Failing sucks. But it's better than the alternative. Which is? Not even trying."

I really enjoyed this story! It was cute, but in certain ways also deep. 4.5 cups of cocoa!

Monday, December 23, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Wrapup

I finished 3 books, Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Along for the Ride, and The Alchemyst and completed 5 mini-challenges. My total pages read was 1132 pages which is great for me! Overall not a bad read-a-thon. I still have several books I need to read before the end of the year, but this was a good start. Thanks to Dana and Jen for hosting!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Mrs. Miracle and Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

I read both of these for the Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. I have seen both of the movies and loved them, so I wanted to give the books a try. These are also the first Debbie Macomber books I have read, so I used Mrs. Miracle as a New Author read.

In Mrs. Miracle, we are introduced to Seth, a single dad who is raising twin boys. Seth is a widower who has closed his heart to love and rarely talks to his boys about their mother. The other main character is Reba, who was betrayed by her sister and refuses to forgive her. In order to remind these two about the beauty of Christmas, Mrs. Emily Merkle appears as a nanny for the twins. Mrs. Miracle as the boys call her works to try to bring Seth and Reba together and to remind them of the power of family and love. Mrs. Miracle also works to bring together Seth's in-laws whose marriage has crumbled since the death of their daughter. Can Mrs. Miracle work her magic and bring the couples together?

In Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Jake is the heir of Finley's department store and currently running the toy department. He wants to make his father proud and makes a risky purchase for the store. He is going to need a miracle to sell 500 robots before Christmas and of course his miracle is Mrs. Miracle. Jake and his father also need help remembering the joy of Christmas, since they have avoided it after the death of Jake's mother and sister. Holly is trying to raise her nephew, Gabe, while his father is fighting in Afghanistan and works under a demanding boss who desperately wants to be loved herself. Gabe's one desire for Christmas is one of the expensive robots that Jake has in his department store. Can Mrs. Miracle bring Jake and Holly together and give Gabe the greatest present of all?

Favorite Quote: "To forgive is to set the prisoner free and then to discover the prisoner was you. Mrs. Miracle"

Both stories are heartwarming and simple stories of Christmas joy. Mrs. Miracle shows the value of forgiveness and how hate can ruin our lives. Call Me Mrs. Miracle shows how a little faith and love can make all the difference. They are the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit and great, quick and easy reads. I think Mrs. Miracle was my favorite of the two, because you could not help rooting for Seth and Reba to open their hearts again. Mrs. Emily Merkle (Miracle) is a great character and I hope Debbie Macomber writes more of her stories! 4 cups of cocoa for both!

Friday, December 20, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update: Day 12-14

Day 12:
Currently reading:  Call Me Mrs. Miracle, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, Scarlet
Pages read: Call Me Mrs. Miracle- 85 pages and finished!, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover- 35 pages, Scarlet- 4 pages
Books finished: 3

Day 13:
Currently reading: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover, Queste, Scarlet
Pages read: Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover- 18 pages, Queste- 55 pages, Scarlet- 6 pages

Day 14:
Currently reading: Queste, Forest of Hands and Teeth, Splintered
Pages read: Queste- 12 pages, Forest of Hands and Teeth- 36 pages, Splintered- 22 pages

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Mini-challenges


Spine Poetry: Hosted by Lori @ Writing My Own FairyTale
You must use book spines to make a poem and you can only use books that you read in 2013.You can include as many extra words in your poem as books that you use.
Here is my poem:
Full Moon Kisses
Dirty Little Secrets
The Art of Wishing
Beauty Sleep

Seasonal Challenge: Hosted by Michelle @ Book Briefs
Recommend a book good for a snow day
I had to read this for one of my history classes about writing a narrative and how we use "evidence" and sources. I loved the storytelling in it along with the lessons I learned.
Recommend a book good for a rainy day
 The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1)
One of my all time favorites. It reminds me of a slightly stormy day.
Recommend a book good for a beach day
 Austenland (Austenland, #1)
It is just a nice and quick read, perfect for the beach!
Recommend a book good for a spooky night
I Hunt Killers (Jasper Dent, #1)
One of the most terrifying books I have ever read! I don't like horror or serial killer books and this one gave me lots of nightmares, but this one hooks you.

Song Challenge: Hosted by Tanya @ BookLovingHippo

I am going to pick Hero by Althea Kontis and the song Roar by Katy Perry. Sunday seems to think she is the only one not special in her family and that she has ruined everything at the beginning of the story, but she becomes the hero she is meant to be.

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update: Day 8-11

Day 8:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 84 pages

Day 9:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Queste
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 22 pages, Queste- 35 pages

Day 10:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Queste
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 42 pages, Queste- 30 pages

Day 11:
Currently reading: Along for the Ride, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover
Pages read: Along for the Ride- 35 pages and finished!, Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover- 18 pages
Books finished: 2

Monday, December 16, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update: Day 7 and Week one

Day 7: I did not read at all, but did finish a short review of Pride and Prejudice. December 15 is our anniversary, so I spent time with my husband. We went to a Christmas concert and went shopping, since Christmas is only 10 days away (now just 9)!

Week one: I am proud of my first week, even though I have only finished one book and it was a reread. I read 593 pages so far and finished two mini-challenges. I plan on making a mini-challenge post tomorrow and completing a few more challenges.

I have to read Along for the Ride by Friday, since that is the high school book club book. I really like it so far, so I don't think that will be a problem. I am over halfway through Call Me Mrs. Miracle, so I feel like I will finish that by the weekend too. I just can't seem to get fully involved in any book right now, so I am just hoping that one of the books on my TBR pile will steal my attention and keep it. Hope everyone else is having a great reading time!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- short review

I don't think there is much I can add about the storyline or even reviewing the book, since everyone in the world has read it. I can finally say I have read it too! I love the movies and the mini-series and I am surprised I waited this long to read it. It was absolutely wonderful! I love how well the BBC mini-series with Colin Firth matched this story and I love the 2005 version with Kiera Knightly too.

Jane Austen's satire on her time and the way men and women in a well-to-do country society behaves is a classic for good reason. You can't help falling in love with the characters and wanting them to triumph in love.

Favorite Character: Jane, she is so sweet and loving and never has a harsh word for anyone. However like most people I identify more with Elizabeth and her snarkiness and pride in herself. 
Favorite Quotes: "I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun." This is the perfect description of falling in love and staying there.
"Till this moment, I never knew myself." I just love this line and have felt this way on a number of occasions!

This is of course a 5 cups of cocoa book! This is definitely in the top 10 of my favorite reads ever and I can't believe it took me this long to pick it up and read!

Friday, December 13, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update post: Day 4-6

Day 4 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst, Along for the Ride
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 92 pages, Along for the Ride- 30 pages

Day 5 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 64 pages

Day 6 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst, Call Me Mrs. Miracle, The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Along for the Ride
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 25 pages and finished!, Call Me Mrs. Miracle- 160 pages, TFHT- 20 pages, Along for the Ride- 40 pages
Books finished: 1

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

End of the Year Read-a-thon Update post: Day 1-3

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon is hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and DanaSquare.

Day 1 update:
Currently reading: Champion, The Alchemyst
Pages read: Champion- 15 pages, The Alchemyst- 64 pages
Mini-challenge: TBR pile

Day 2 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 25 pages

Mini-challenge: Post two teaser sentences from a book you are reading:

We're inside a tree. Do you think it could still be alive?
The Alchemyst page 128

Day 3 update:
Currently reading: The Alchemyst
Pages read:  The Alchemyst- 58 pages

Monday, December 9, 2013

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon TBR and Goals

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon is hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and DanaSquare.

This is my TBR for the reading challenge:

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott (reread)
Call Me Mrs. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Splintered by A.G. Howard
Champion by Marie Lu
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare
Don't Judge a Girl by Her Cover by Ally Carter
Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong
Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Fault in Our Stars by John Green

I would like to finish 6 of these books, but I would be happy with at least 4. If I could finish them all, then I would complete all of my challenges for the year. Good luck to everyone and thanks to Jen and Dana for hosting!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

The I Haven't Reached my Reading Challenge Goals Yet! Wrapup


I was able to finish two books: Looking for Alaska and Pride and Prejudice, so I am happy with that! I read a total of 403 pages, since my copy of Pride and Prejudice was huge with small writing the page total seems low, but I will take it! I hope everyone met their goals and thanks to Debz for hosting!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon Signup

End of the Year Reading Cram Read-a-thon is hosted by Juliababyjen's Reading Room and DanaSquare and it is a fun way to try to conquer your TBR pile or mountain if you are like me. This will run from December 9 through 22nd. They will have challenges and loads of encouragement!

I will post my reading list soon and goals very soon!

Monday, December 2, 2013

The I Haven't Reached My Reading Challenge Goals Yet! Update post


Day 1:
Currently reading: Champion, Wanderlove, and Looking for Alaska
Pages read: Champion- 34 pages, Wanderlove- 10 pages, Looking for Alaska- 205 pages and finished!
Books finished: 1 Looking for Alaska

I had trouble finding a book that would total keep my attention, but finally Looking for Alaska got me hooked. The first half I had trouble getting into it, but the After half was really good and so I had to finish it last night.

Day 2:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 28 pages

Day 3:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 5 pages

Day 4:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 34 pages

Day 5:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 30 pages

Day 6:
Currently reading: Pride and Prejudice
Pages read: Pride and Prejudice- 37 pages and finished!

Day 7
Currently reading:The Alchemyst
Pages read: The Alchemyst- 20 pages

Sunday, December 1, 2013

The I Haven't Reached My Reading Challenge Goals Yet! Read-a-thon Starting Line


This read-a-thon is hosted by Debz at Debz Bookshelf. The goal is to read books for the book challenges of 2013. I don't even know where to start. I have two books still to read for the Paranormal Challenge, my demon and zombie books. I need to read three new authors to reach my goal of 15 authors for the New Author challenge. I only need one more book for the Dusty Bookshelf Challenge and like 14 more books for a coverall on the Book Bingo Challenge. So just a little reading left. ;)

My reading stack from which I will choose books this week:

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard- New Author and Book Bingo Challenge/ everyone else has read
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott- Book Bingo/ reread
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- Book Bingo/ everybody else
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen- New Author and Book Bingo/ everybody else
Splintered by A.G. Howard-New Author and Book Bingo/series
Champion by Marie Lu-Book Bingo/series
Looking for Alaska by John Green-Dusty Bookshelf and Book Bingo/everybody else
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan-New Author, Paranormal/Zombies and Book Bingo/ everybody else
Don't Judge a Girl by her Cover by Ally Carter- Book Bingo/ TBR
The Calling by Kelley Armstrong- Book Bingo/TBR
Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare- Paranormal/ Demons

Now all I have to do is choose a book to start reading. I hope to finish two books this week and I would love to complete one of these challenges. Have you read any of these or any that you recommend I start right away? Good luck to everyone!