Bookish Recap-2016

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Well! That was a thing. Overall, reading wise, 2016 was a good year. Personally there were ups and downs which prevented me from blogging the way I wanted to. I’m still figuring out the ins and outs of blogging and this year I hope that I can be more consistent.

Obviously we have to review my favorite books of the past year and what my reading goals are this year.

According to the Goodread’s challenge I read 34 books (the same amount as 2015). But I also re-read a lot of books, which Goodreads doesn’t take into consideration. And so according to my calculations (yay for doing bookish-recaps every month), I read 37 books. I didn’t review all of them for the blog, but that’s ok. Again, that’s something I want to work on.

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My average rating according to Goodreads was a 3.7 which is pretty high, and also cements the fact it was a good reading year. You would think that I would have had a hard time picking my top five, but it was quite easy.

My top 5 books for 2016 (in no particular order; click the title for a link to my reviews):

The Martian (Andy Weir)

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Do I really need to say anything more about this book? It ended up on three of my bookish lists this year, and I also re-read it in December. Reading a book twice in one year is a new record for me. If you’re not quite sure why I’m in love with this story of resilience and team work, check out my review.

The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater)

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This book ended up on two of my bookish lists, and I’ve recommended this book to numerous people off line. If you love fantasy I think this is a must read. While Stiefvater’s writing style isn’t for everyone, I adore it and the characters just sealed the deal for me. I found myself able to relate to each one and learning more about myself through reading the book. It’s rare that a book does that for me, and I’m so grateful that I finally caved in and gave this book and series a chance. I’m currently finishing up this series. If I die, put The Raven Cycle as the cause of death.

Nevernight (Jay Kristoff)

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MIA!! This is how you do assassins! I loved the mix of Italian Renaissance and Roman Empire. The world building was fantastic, and nothing ever felt out of place. Mia was by no means a good person, although she had good in her. The book is filled with questionable content and in a way, it’s an uncomfortable book. The bad is portrayed as bad, but the big question is, “is it truly bad if it’s done for good reasons?” and that’s something the reader has to decide for themselves. Mia, despite her flaws and questionable choices was a character I could get behind. Needless to say, I’m excited for the next books in the series.

I Am Malala (Malala Yousafzai)

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Speaking of hard books…I am Malala was a hard book to read in parts. It was eye opening read. I think that this is the most important book I’ve read this year. This book gives great insight to what is going on in the world and why we must help young women world wide get a good education. I was surprised to find that this book is as much about Malala as it is her father. While disturbing in parts, this book is also one of hope and resilience. If you want to learn more about current events and hear Malala’s story from the start and source,  I strongly recommend you read this.

And finally, Fascinate by Sally Hogshead.

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Although I didn’t review this book on the blog, I did review it on Goodreads. I really loved the psychology in this book. For those of you that have no interest in branding or starting your own business I think this book is a great read, just because it makes one more aware of how the media uses different methods to influence our behavior. It’s an eye opening book, and it’s a lot of fun. For those of you that are interested in the business side of thing, this is a great book. I recently added it to my personal library and am looking forward to reading it again.

 

As for my reading goals this year, I set my Goodreads challenge to 13 books. Last year I set it at 16 so that I wouldn’t feel too pressured, but I’d be encouraged to read. It worked wonderfully! I’m setting it lower than the past year because I’m doing a personal challenge to read mostly big books (400+ pages). Some of the books I’ll be tackling are filled with heavy world building and are over 700 pages. With school, writing, and work it’ll take me time to get though those monsters! I’ll also be focusing on more diverse reads too. Hopefully with these goals I’ll wind up getting through a lot of books on my TBR pile.

I’m keeping my goals simple, but I’ll have fun achieving them. What books are you looking forward to reading this year? Got any bookish goals for the upcoming year?

Bookish Recap (November)

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November was wild. Not only was I doing NaNoWriMo but work became very hectic. On top of that, the school year is winding down which means a bit of a heavier work load. Needless to say I didn’t read much. Well, I did read, I just didn’t finish anything. Part of that is because I “lost” a book for a week, and found it in the backseat of my car…underneath a folder…that I use for writing. That’s the nice thing about e-books. Unless you lose your computer or your e-reader, you literally can’t lose a book. But I digress!

I did review two books in one post (No Plot, No Problem and On Writing), although I didn’t read them this month. Maybe I cheated a little there. But if you missed it, feel free to check it out! I encourage anyone who’s interested in writing to check out these books.

I “won” NaNoWriMo and really do think it was my best year yet. There’s a couple of things I’ll keep in mind for the future (such as doing all posts in advanced and queuing them for the month), but overall getting together with other writers and having that support really was fantastic. Usually I sit out the write-ins, but this year I went to quite a few and loved it.

As for December, I’m trying to finish out some of the books I started as well as participate in #readthemargin. Poetess Amanda Lovelace (author of the poetry collection “The Princess Saves Herself in This One”) has put this reading challenge together. The idea is that participants read books by marginalized authors (to quote Amanda: “marginalized people are those who have been pushed to the margins and forgotten because they do not meet the status quo. this includes groups like women, the queer community, people of color, disabled people, Muslim and Jewish people, etc.”).

I’ve been wanting to diversify my bookshelf for quite some time, and I think this is not only a fantastic way to end the year, but also start off the new one as well.

Either way, expect a lot of book reviews this month!

Bookish Recap (October)

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Oh man I feel like this month was a total bummer book/blogging wise. October is known for its surprises and I don’t suppose that should surprise me. Despite the twists this month had for me, I did manage to read two books. While I wasn’t completely blown out of the water by either, I enjoyed them. Both offer fresh takes on old tropes.

Cuckoo Song (Frances Hardinge; 4 stars)

KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale (NISIOSIN; 3 stars)

I certainly have a preference for Cuckoo Song. It’s dark, atmospheric, and the writing style is just my type. The story touches so many elements, mental and physical health, family issues, and different kinds of love. It’s one of those books that makes you view old things in a new light.

That’s not to say that KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale wasn’t a fascinating read in its own right! I haven’t encountered vampires in that light before, and learning about the Japanese culture was awesome. It was a fun, but unusual read.

I also wound up starting quite a few books. While I might not be able to review them all before the end of the year, I certainly plan to finish them before the year is out. Next month is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and I’ll be doing some writing focused posts. I always planned for this blog to be both a writing and a book blog, so I’m using the upcoming month as an excuse to start integrating writing, including my own, into the blog. Fret not, the book reviews aren’t going anywhere!

I’ll be aiming for two posts a week again during November. Ideally a post on writing and the second post will be a book review. I’ll be doing a lot of re-reads during November because re-reads are quicker to get through, but I haven’t reviewed any of the books on the blog (except for The Martian, hahah, I’m obsessed!). So expect new reviews on some of my favorites!

While not the grand reading month I had planned, at least I got some good reads in and was able to use them towards the Cornerfolds Horror Challenge.

Bookish Recap (September)

 

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This month was a great month reading wise! I got to team up with Xpresso Book Tours and help out with two book tours by reviewing the books and that was quite fun. I got my hands on Nevernight and devoured it and got my romance in Sun and Moon. I feel like this month made up for the past couple where I’ve been in reading slumps.

I’ve also made a couple of changes around the blog. From here on out in the Bookish Recap, books will be listed in alphabetical order by author (it used to be random). I’ve also gone through and updated my Past Reviews page and added the star rating for each book. I’m considering adding a new page for my 4 and 5 star reads so that those are easier to find and you don’t have to hunt for them.

Nine Candles of Deepest Black (Matthew S. Cox; 4 stars)

The Shattered Seam (Kathleen Groger; 3 stars)

Nevernight (Jay Kristoff; 4.5 stars)

Sun and Moon (Desiree Williams; 3 stars)

I think by far this month my favorite book was Nevernight. I had seen it around and in the bookstores. I was in love with the cover and the idea was certainly interesting. But I wasn’t sure if splurging on a book that I might not like would be worth it or not. It was worth every single penny and I am so proud of the life choices that brought me to that moment. Ok, ok, melodrama aside, it was a really awesome book that was 100% what I was looking for. It wasn’t what I thought it would be, but the whole book is about defying expectations in a way, so it fits that the book would defy expectations as well.

Overall, the books I read this month all surprised me. They took old tropes and made them new, or had fresh writing styles, or were beautifully heartfelt stories. I might not have given every book 5 stars, but these books were all well worth the reads and I’m glad I had the chance to read so much this month.

Bookish Recap (August)

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School started back for me which means that with class and work I have less time to blog. While I don’t feel like my reading time was infringed upon terribly (I tend to read more often during the school year), I still had a horrible reading month. I only managed to read two books. I tend to read multiple books at a time, so I was expecting to finish the ones I was reading as well as the ones I started. Haha, not so.

Bad writing in one book has made it a drag to read, but I’m determined to finish it due to its popularity and how it changed the genre. In the other book, a generic plot twist has made a unique story incredibly droll from the twist onwards. I still plan on reviewing those books at some point.

In the mean time, you can check out what I did manage to read this month:

The Maze Runner (James Dashner; 3 stars)

Fascinate (Sally Hogshead; 4 stars; Review on Goodreads only)

The fastest way for me to get into a reading slump is to read bad/mediocre books, especially in a row. I had already read The Maze Runner which was a bummer for me (although it did have some very strong elements). Add on my two other current reads and…well you got a pretty bummed out reader! Right when I was fearing I was headed into exile in the land of reading slumps, I came across Fascinate by Sally Hogshead. It’s a really fascinating interesting book, and even if you aren’t into business or marketing, I think most anyone can get something out of it thanks to the psychological roots. Not to mention that marketing is something that impacts us all.

By no means was this a good reading month for me but regardless, I managed to read and finish two books and I have some fantastic ARCs to look forward to next month. Hopefully I’ll be able to power through my current reads as well and September will blow me away reading wise.

Bookish Recap (July)

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Soo…we’re now over half way through the year. Dang (and ew; seriously time slowing down would not actually kill us and would be super useful). Earlier this month I did a top 5 faves so far post. Obviously The Martian is on there, but you can find out the rest for yourself. Not sure what my list will look like at the end of the year, but I’m really excited because what’s on the list now might change and that would be cool. But that’s thinking ahead.

As for reading this month I didn’t manage to read a terribly large amount of books, but I read some and that’s good enough for me. Honestly I’m kind of amazed I read as much as I did considering the roller-coaster this month was. On the upside, I wound up greatly enjoying what I read for the most part.

This month is also the last month of twice a week updates. I start school again on August 18th, so for the sake of my sanity I’ll be going back to once a week updates after August 19th. Posts will be up on Friday. Obviously there’s some book tours and special posts I’ll be participating in which will be posted either on Tuesday or Friday. I also have some special posts queued for October and November, so those months will be the exceptions to the rule. (No, seriously y’all I’ve been queuing stuff for those months for the past two months. 😄 I’m so hyped!)

Anyway, on to the book list!

Twilight (Stephanie Meyer; 5/3 stars)

The Princess Saves Herself in This One (Amanda Lovelace; 5 stars-I swear I’d review it but I have no words for it, just go read it ok?)

Painted Spider (Kathryn A. Williamson; 2.5 stars)

#GIRLBOSS (Sophia Amoruso; 4.5 stars, review live August 2nd)

I think the books that surprised me the most were The Princess Saves Herself in This One and #GIRLBOSS.

Although I really enjoy poetry and sometimes piddle around in it myself, I never buy myself poetry books.  But Amanda offered her book for free for a short time and I snagged it. It was blowing up like wildfire on both Amazon and Tumblr. I knew to expect emotional intensity from the reviews, but I wasn’t expecting the complete encouragement and motivation that I found in this collection. A good part of the time I spent reading this book was just me sitting in awed silence, deeply touched and encouraged by the poem I just read. If you’re into poetry The Princess Saves Herself in This One is a must read. If you’re looking for an excuse to get into poetry, again, a must read.

#GIRLBOSS was my “read in a day” quick and easy read. That was mostly due to the writing style and formatting which was fantastic. But it packed a powerful punch and I’m so grateful that my dad got it for me. I knew what I wanted out of the book and I got it, and a fair bit more. What I loved most about this book was that it’s not just how to be a business woman, it’s a book about how to be a better person. Ultimately the book says you can take the strength of a boss and implement it into your own life which is a pretty cool concept I hadn’t heard of before. It was an empowering and motivational read for sure!

I think Twilight and Painted Spider are pretty self explanatory when it comes to their reviews. I can’t add much more onto what I already said there (ok so maybe I could write a college length essay on Twilight but I’ll spare y’all…for now). I gotta say though, re-reading Twilight was an absolute blast! Still scratching my head over Painted Spider though.

While that’s it for me, but I’d love to hear your book recs and how your month went reading wise!

Bookish Recap: Top 5 Faves…So Far

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So we’re about half way through the month that is the half way point through the year. My birthday is this week so to celebrate I’ve decided to share my top five favorites of the year so far. This actually wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve reviewed all of these books and included links to the reviews if you missed them and want to check out my more in depth thoughts.

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The Martian (Andy Weir): Does it surprise anyone that I listed this book first? It’s the one I talk the most about, I don’t even know why I’m pretending like this wouldn’t have been on the list. I just put it on another list too. You can tell I love this one! I loved the humor and the resilience that Mark had. The nerd in me rejoiced at the behind the scenes look at NASA and all the science not related to space. I am a die hard fan of survival stories and this one came with science. I was sobbing at the end and I think the only other book I cried so hard at was The Hobbit. You can read my review of it (The Martian, not The Hobbit) here. I promise I don’t talk about potatoes…much.

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The Raven Boys (Maggie Stiefvater): This book came as a surprise for me. I was expecting it to be kind of meh, over-hyped, and not my cup of tea despite the lovely writing style. I was so wrong. I am so, so glad that I was so, so wrong. I deeply connected to each of the main characters and was awed by the beautifully executed plot. The world building blew me away. I set aside reading the series so that I could buy all of it. Now I just need to prepare myself for major feels. The Raven Boys is one of my most recent reviews and you can check it out here.

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We Awaken (Calista Lynne): Asexual representation? Check. Cute girls loving girls? Check. Magic? Check. Lovely world building? Check! I was stoked when I was offered the opportunity to read and review this book, but I was also anxious. As someone who has asexual friends and who is on the asexual spectrum herself, I was pretty worried about how accurate the representation would be. I didn’t have a thing to worry about and really enjoyed the organic romance that developed between the characters. I also loved Lynne’s writing style. Overall, We Awaken struck me as an incredibly elegant book.

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I Funny (James Patterson): Speaking of diversity…I Funny was a wonderful and incredibly quick read. I really loved the humor in it, and adored how Jamie defined himself outside of his disability-something that is so hard for us to do. While I couldn’t relate to the situation Jamie was in, I could relate to the bullying, the struggles of middle school and the need to define yourself outside of your disability. This is the sort of book I wish I had when I was in elementary and middle school, and I’m so glad that the I Funny series is available for today’s generation. You can read my review here.

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I am Malala (Malala Yousafzai): This was a really hard book to read at times because of the struggles Malala, her family, and her friends went through. It’s hard to believe that this stuff actually happened because America is seemingly so far removed from these issues. That was one thing I loved about this book. Through honesty and passion Malala shows that education can be improved everywhere and that it’s everyone’s business that we educate everyone in the upcoming generations. No matter their gender. This was hard to review due to the fact that it was so powerful for me and I needed time to sit on it, but I managed it!

So, have you got any favorites of the year so far? Any way you could narrow your list down to just five? I’d love to hear what books you’d put on your list as I’m always (needlessly, my TBR pile is massive) on the look out for new books to read!