Thursday, January 7, 2016

2015 End of Year Survey

Hosted by Jamie

Once again I'm getting to this later than I meant to, and my family plans at the end of the year mean no internet access for a week, so it leaves little room for getting this out before the new year if I don't get a head start on it!  ...and I'm definitely a procrastinator so here we are.  With no further ado, the very comprehensive end of year book survey!


Number Of Books You Read: 320
Number of Re-Reads: 25
Genre You Read The Most From: Discounting picture books since I honestly don't know what genres most of them were and they made up about half of the books I read this year, it's a pretty good guess that it's fantasy, although within that it actually might be paranormal fantasy for the first time EVER. (I don't feel like counting but it seems like a real possibility)


1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

For once, there is no question at all which book gets this title: Unwind by Neil Shusterman. I may have some close calls on the list, but Unwind remains one of the most thought provoking, disturbing, heart racing, horrifying books I've ever read. And I do mean all of those as compliments I swear!

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

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - from what little I knew of it I had been expecting something completely different, and while I don't have a problem with this exactly, I also did a supremely idiotic thing and decided to read it directly after reading the first Game of Thrones book. Which was like...ok I know I like big, long fantasy books, but that was just too much.

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

More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. I don't really want to hint why since I don't want to spoil anything, but needless to say it was nothing like what I thought it was going to be (despite appearances for the first 2/3 of the book)

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

HAHAHA like you don't know the answer to this

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?

1.  The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson  (Hey, I can't put Unwind down for EVERYTHING. Besides, I'm discounting it because it was technically originally written as a standalone.) - This series has everything I've been asking for from fantasy:  New fantasy landscapes (aka non-Western), diverse characters and cultures (aka non-Western based), a fat heroine (although she does lose some weight but I'm pretty sure she's still heavy at the end), and love stuff I can't say because of spoilers.  But this literally has everything I've been complaining about not seeing in fantasy in every blog post I've written about it.  So I guess it probably shouldn't have been a surprise since Shannon said in pretty much every post "Hey...remember that book I keep telling you about? You should probably read it. Like now."  She was right.

2.  Locke & Keye: Keys to the Kingdom - This is the fourth volume in the series.  I had enjoyed the first three, but the huge turning point for me was this volume.  Shit gets real, and I loved how they played with the artwork here!

3. Wow, I really didn't finish many series this year. Hmm..I should probably fix that....
Champion by Marie Lu - I LOVED the way this ended.  Spoilers: I loved that they didn't only sleep with each other (I am not a huge fan of "true love" and "first love" being one and the same) and that the ending was bittersweet   (End spoilers)

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

In the interest of not having Neil Shusterman and Unwind as my answer to all the things, I'd have to say Terry Pratchett for sure.  The ridiculous humour of Douglas Adams paired with the subject matter and world building of Diana Wynne Jones (and some of her humour as well) is really just the perfect mix for me!

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

Good Enough

Good Enough by Paula Yoo - Honestly I think I read maybe five contemporary reads this year. They're not really my scene. And while More Happy Than Not totally wrecked me (you should go read it), I haven't had a contemporary book resonate with me probably ever the way Good Enough did with me. It's rare to find books written about life as a musician that is in any way accurate or plausible, but it's clear that Paula Yoo was involved in the classical music scene because she was spot on. I wish more people knew about this one because while it's a quiet one - it's not going to destroy you from the inside (which is usually how I convince people to read books. We clearly have issues.) but it feels true, and I absolutely wish I'd had it when I was auditioning for college. (So if you know someone who likes contemporary and is a junior or senior in high school, do them a favor and get this for them)

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

Unwind by Neil Shusterman (although Michael Grant's Gone series was also particularly action packed)

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series. I may have disagreed violently with the way the last book ended, but it also means I'm constantly thinking about it. I'm definitely going to be interested to see if I feel differently on a reread as I pick more stuff up!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?

Beauty QueensThe Bone PeopleThe Magicians (The Magicians, #1)

1. Beauty Queens - Because this cover is just PERFECT for the book
2. The Bone People - It's hard to see the details on this one when it's small, but the art on this is really intricate and looks like Maori art looks (at least to my untrained eye).  I should probably add that it's set in New Zealand, so the Maori art part is relevant.
3. The Magicians - I don't know why I love this cover, I just do.  The way it's mirrored? The shape of the tree? The simpleness of it all?  Who knows, but it's a very attractive cover.


11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Beka Cooper from Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper series. Honestly Beka Cooper may be my new favourite Tamora Pierce heroine (but that's how I feel about all of her heroines every time I read one). She's got the wild magic of Daine (although certainly on a lesser scale), she's got Kel's steadiness, she's got such passion for her job, and she's cripplingly shy, which isn't something I've read often (and it was done really well). I don't know how Tamora does it, but she's just so her own person - none of her characters feel like they're the same. They're so distinct. And even though I read these novels towards the beginning of the year, I'm still thinking of them. They deal with poverty and crime in a much more direct manner than her other novels have so far (since almost all of them have featured nobles, this makes sense), and...I will reread that third book. It might kill me, but I'll definitely be rereading this series because I'm still thinking about it all the time.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, hands down. Her writing is just heart breakingly beautiful.  I actually think this is probably novel from her so far, and can I recommend the audiobook for this? Because it was PERFECT.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Do I even need to say it?

Unwind (Unwind, #1)

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke - It's been published over a decade at this point, and I even OWNED it for a good number of years. I've been meaning to read it for AGES, and I'm actually surprised no one's really pushed it on me before because other than Terry Pratchett's books, I can't think of anything more me. I mean a fantasy novel that read like Jane Austen? I'M SO THERE.

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?"

How about anything Maggie Stiefvater ever wrote? Seriously:

“As the sun shines low and red across the water, I wade into the ocean. The water is still high and brown and murky with the memory of the storm, so if there’s something below it, I won’t know it. But that’s part of this, the not knowing. The surrender to the possibilities beneath the surface. It wasn’t the ocean that killed my father, in the end. The water is so cold that my feet go numb almost at once. I stretch my arms out to either side of me and close my eyes. I listen to the sound of water hitting water. The raucous cries of the terns and the guillemots in the rocks of the shore, the piercing, hoarse questions of the gulls above me. I smell seaweed and fish and the dusky scent of the nesting birds onshore. Salt coats my lips, crusts my eyelashes. I feel the cold press against my body. The sand shifts and sucks out from under my feet in the tide. I’m perfectly still. The sun is red behind my eyelids. The ocean will not shift me and the cold will not take me.”

“Do you know how to wrap a leg?'
'I was born wrapping legs,' I say stiffly, because I'm insulted.
'Must've been a challenging delivery,' Sean notes.”

Both of those were from The Scorpio Races, by the way. Which, upon reading all the quotes on Goodreads, has made me want to read the book (I listened on audio and I would listen again the narrators were THAT GOOD. But I would like to read the book too) immediately.  It is decided: I MUST buy a hard copy of this!

But on the other hand, there's plenty of quotable things from Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, so I'll also leave you with this:

“It has been remarked (by a lady infinitely cleverer than the present author) how kindly disposed the world in general feels to young people who either die or marry. Imagine then the interest that surrounded Miss Wintertowne! No young lady ever had such advantages before: for she died upon the Tuesday, was raised to life in the early hours of Wednesday morning, and was married upon the Thursday; which some people thought too much excitement for one week.” 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Lumberjanes #1Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
                 24 pages                                      1006 pages

17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce. Yes, this shocked me even more than the ending of Gone Girl. And I won't say why. I'm still not ok.

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

I actually don't really have any big ones for this year - note that I still haven't read Queen of Shadows or A Court of Thorns and Roses (AND I DON'T KNOW WHY SO DON'T YELL AT ME), so if I had maybe I would have. So my favourite OTP for the year will go to Izzy Goodnight and Ransom from Romancing the Duke (aka one of my favourite romance novels of the year, and the one that really kicked off my romance novel crave where I pretty much only read romance novels for a month haha)

 19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Death Wish (Ceruleans, #1)

 Bekka Cooper and her partners HAHAHAHA I CAN'T EVEN SAY THIS WITHOUT CRYING JUST KIDDING I TAKE IT ALL BACK. So excluding them because THEY DON'T COUNT ANYMORE Scarlett and Cara from Megan Tayte's Death Wish. They're supportive and snarky and witty - but it doesn't come off as flippant or one-dimensional.  No cardboard cutouts here!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

This has been the year of new authors for me, so I am SO happy I finally have somewhere to talk about Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. This would be my favourite book of the year, if I hadn't read Unwind. And to have two consecutive years of favourite books written by Libba Bray is a wonderful, wonderful thing. This one wasn't soul shaking like last year's Going Bovine, but it was absolutely FANTASTIC. I don't even know where to begin describing it, but it's got a diverse cast of girls (both in race and personality), and if you never wanted a satire based in feminism and reality shows where beauty contestants have to survive a government conspiracy on a desert island than I don't even want to talk to you.

But seriously, if you consider yourself a feminist or enjoy satire (see? You don't even need to be a feminist AND like satire) you should 100% make this your next book.  (After you read Unwind, obviously.)

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Orleans by Sherri L. Smith - La La not only kept telling me it was like her favourite book and I should totally read it - she sent me a copy hahahaha!  So she wins.  And she's right - it's great!  It's an interesting combination of dystopia and sort of like a plague outbreakish setting, it's got a refreshing lack of romance, it's set in Louisiana post extreme hurricane so it's been abandoned by the continental U.S.  (so yay for a new sci-fi setting!), and it's fast paced and smart, and yeah you should go read that too. (P.s. - Tamora Pierce recommends it too, just sayin!)

Oh wait - actually Unwind was a friend rec, I totally forgot!  T.J., a friend from school, had been pushing this novel for like two years before I finally picked it up!  But still I've talked about it too much, so Orleans still wins.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Art by Lostie815  
(you should go check out ALL her fan art, it's amazing!)

Captain Thorne. I didn't even have to hesitate to think of someone. Just because I didn't have a big OTP of the year, doesn't mean that I wouldn't snap up Captain Thorne in a second if he was real. I mean, he's basically a spaceship pirate. He's a witty, hot, rogue character. Umm, hello that's basically my kryptonite.

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

Err...did I read any? Let me look and see..Oh hey look, I read two! More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera and Death Wish by Megan Tayte. So let's say both! The former if you like being destroyed, and the latter if you like paranormal fantasy with awesome BFF's.

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

Hmm, this is a tough one.  There's The Girl of Fire and Thorns for it's non-Western based setting (it felt like the equivalent of where the Moors would have lived in Spain, but I could be wrong about that), or The Bone Season for it's detailed, layered world building (it was my favourite thing about the whole book actually), or Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell for it's completely unique setting.  But I guess really if I HAD to choose it would be The Scorpio Races.  It's set on the (fictional) island Thisbe, and between Maggie Stiefvater's just impossibly beautiful writing and the fact that the island the sea both are almost characters themselves with the impact they have on the people living in the story it's well...very vivid.   See, this is what happens when you read as much fantasy as I do, it's hard to choose damn it!

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

Soulless by Gail Carriger.  She's seriously the Queen of Steampunk and I don't know if gentleman werewolves and vampires are normal in steampunk as I'm new to the genre, but they're there and there's great clothes and fun mysteries and sexy romps and man Soulless was fun!

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

BAHAHHAA - so like every book? (...I maaaaaaay have a problem)

Unwind - Because of THAT. SCENE.
More Happy Than Not - Because holy shit did I just get hit in the heart by a giant brick of unexpected feels?

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Lost Girl 

I've already talked about Good Enough, so I'll mention The Lost Girl by Sangu Mandanna.  It's a similar premise to Never Let Me Go or The House of Scorpion (and to some extent Unwind), but it takes it a step further.  So it basically takes something I already clearly enjoy a lot, and then adds something new to it.  And did I mention that it's set in India? I mean how many science fiction books do YOU know set of in India? (Actually that isn't rhetorical. If you do know of some, send them my way!)

Hamster Princess: Harriet the InvincibleFor middle grade, my choice would definitely be Hamster Princess by Ursula Vernon, who I was lucky enough to meet at Chessiecon (and I got to hear her talk at length about all sorts of things. Particularly frogs haha!)  I'm so glad I went (for a lot of other reasons too) because I never would have picked this up otherwise and this is exactly what younger me would have wanted.  (..ok, current me wants this too).  I mean it already gets bonus points for being a fairy tale retelling, but make that a mix of fairy tales, particularly lesser known ones (The Princess on the Glass Hill!), mix in a reversal of tradition good/evil and gender roles and you have my dream book.  Plus there's cute hamsters.


28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Unwind by Neil Shusterman, followed by More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray and Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, the former for its premise and the latter for its setting.

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

Mastiff by Tamora Pierce.  If you've read it, you know why. Although The Magicians by Lev Grossman is a close second. It didn't get quite to 1Q84 levels of eye rolling and loathing, but it started getting pretty close.


Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

 Welp, as of this post I have officially written 4 review posts in 2015, and three of those were mini-reviews.  So here's to you, Series Review: Legend by Marie Lu.

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

 My Anime and Manga 101: Introduction was so much fun to put together, and I loved that I found out how many of my friends love them too!  Also I promise, REALLY, that I am going to have follow up posts. Soon.  Ish.

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

I've already recently talked about this at length, but discovering Chessiecon was by far one of the biggest highlights of my year.  It was full of great music, interesting panels, and OH YEAH I MET TAMORA PIERCE.  (P.s. you should go next year because A. Tamora Pierce will be there, and B. So will I)

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015? 



(And may have babbled because that's what happens when I'm nervous.  *sighs*)

Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? 

Definitely trying to balance all my jobs and trying to keep up a regular schedule.  Throw in auditions? It was impossible.  I posted half as many posts as I did last year, and it makes me kind of sad.  I'm just so freaking tired by the end of it all that I haven't been reading as much, let alone getting posts up.  To be honest, I don't see this changing in the future, but I think I might have to devote my Sundays at work to stockpiling posts for the coming week.  It means that my visiting other blogs is going to be greatly diminished though since that's usually what I did at work instead :-/.  We'll see, I'll work something out I'm sure!

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

 On Priviledge: The Baltimore Riots.  I got megahits on this one, and I'm not entirely sure why, but I was glad if it meant people (especially those not living in Baltimore) got a better look at what was really going on at the end of April and beginning of May.  (And what with the trials going on, it's particularly apt right now, so go check it out.)

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

I can't remember whose blog I found this on (so if it was yours, let me know and I'll link it!), but someone posted about Book Sale Finder and it is AMAZING.  I found out about a library closing for renovations sale, and it is the BEST deal I've ever gotten on books.

And there we are folks! Since everyone has already done their wrap up posts, if I haven't commented on yours yet, leave me a link below and I'll stop by!