December 31, 2014

Your One Wild & Precious Life

The Life Intended by Kristin Harmel

Release Date: December 30, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster | Gallery Books
Pages: 368 pages
Source & Format: NetGalley; e-ARC
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Summary (from Goodreads)
In this richly told story where Sliding Doors meets P.S. I Love You, Kristin Harmel weaves a heart-wrenching tale that asks: what does it take to move forward in life without forgetting the past?

After her husband's sudden death over ten years ago, Kate Waithman never expected to be lucky enough to find another love of her life. But now she's planning her second walk down the aisle to a perfectly nice man. So why isn't she more excited?

At first, Kate blames her lack of sleep on stress. But when she starts seeing Patrick, her late husband, in her dreams, she begins to wonder if she's really ready to move on. Is Patrick trying to tell her something? Attempting to navigate between dreams and reality, Kate must uncover her husband's hidden message. Her quest leads her to a sign language class and into the New York City foster system, where she finds rewards greater than she could have imagined.

Thoughts on The Life Intended
I've never read anything by Kristin Harmel before, and The Life Intended wasn't on my radar. But when I got an email from a publicist about it, I was intrigued. The comparison to Sliding Doors and P.S. I Love You caught my attention, as did the blurb from Emily Giffin. I figured I might as well give it a shot.

Well, I'm so happy that I did! The Life Intended was such a pleasant surprise. Kate and Patrick were meant to be together, but that forever has been cut short. Patrick dies in a tragic accident, and Kate grieves that loss every day after. She doesn't expect to find love again. But, more than ten years later, she's finally ready to commit to Dan. Everyone thinks he's perfect for Kate, so why is she having doubts? And, more importantly, why is she suddenly seeing Patrick everywhere? She begins having vivid dreams showing her what her life would have looked like if Patrick hadn't died. And Kate begins to wonder if Patrick is trying to tell her something - and if she's living the life she was intended to have.

I may have started The Life Intended with doubts, but I ended up losing myself in this story of loss, grief and healing. It was a bit predictable, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment while reading it. I liked the idea of a parallel life and of Kate getting to see what her future would have held if Patrick hadn't died. It was bittersweet - a reminder of all the twists and turns life can take. And when Kate starts to take action because of the dreams, I was cheering her on. She enrolls in sign language courses, investigates the New York City foster care system... she begins to finally LIVE because of what she's seeing in the dreams.

Kate frustrated me at times, but only because I cared about her. She's so firmly entrenched in her grief, in all that's she lost, and there were moments I was desperate for her to move forward. When she finally begins to, it was bittersweet. It's obvious that Harmel did her research for this book. I loved what I learned about music therapy, sign language and foster care. This book could have easily felt like something that had "been done before," but those aspects of the story made this feel like a unique and refreshing read. I loved how the dreams intertwined with reality and how the life Kate was intended to have impacted the one she'd ended up living.

The Life Intended could easily have ended up being a sad, somber read. Instead, it was hopeful and emotional one! I read it quickly - captured by Kate's story and curious about how the different threads of this book would be resolved. I'm so glad I took a chance on this book, and I look forward to reading more by Harmel in the future. She's a great storyteller - taking something that could have easily felt cliché and making it a rich and heartwarming read. I think this is a book that would work for a variety of readers, so I can see myself recommending it a lot in the future!

So Quotable
"I knew before I met you... that I was meant to be yours."
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

December 30, 2014

Go For These Goals

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so it makes perfect sense that I'd love this feature!

Top Ten Resolutions for 2015

1. Read 150 books.
For my Goodreads Reading Challenge, I decided to go with 150 books this year. I read pretty far above that number last year, but I'd rather this number be something that I feel I can easily reach!

2. Read one non-fiction book - that I already own - per month.
I continue buying a lot of non-fiction, even though I don't read it nearly as often as I do fiction. This is almost the set goal I set last year, except this year I need to focus more on reading non-fiction that I already own.

3. Finish 12 series.
I set a goal to finish seven series in 2014, but I'd already met that goal by June. I'm increasing it this year so that I'm aiming to finish one series per month (just like Danielle's challenge). We'll see how I do! 

4. Request and/or accept no more than 36 review books all year.
I've been talking with Alexa about reading fewer review books in 2015, and we have something fun planned to keep each other on track. And I'm aiming for no more than three per month - 36 for the whole year.

5. Read at least five debut novels.
Once again, some of my favorite books in 2014 were debut novels. It's important to me to give new authors a shot! I almost set the goal higher, but I think re-reading and backlist will be more of a priority for me.

6. Re-read 36 books (three per month).
I'm hoping to re-read way more than one book per month, but this is my bare minimum goal. I used to re-read all the time, but I've slacked off since I started blogging. I'm declaring 2015 "The Year of Re-Reading."


7. Host one reading challenge, and participate in at least two!
I epically failed at this resolution last year. However, I'm hosting The Re-Read Challenge with Kelly so hopefully I'll be more successful at this challenge! I love re-reading and can't wait to focus on it more in 2015. And I already know what reading challenges I'll be joining: Dive Into Diversity and Flights of Fantasy.

8. Write one discussion post per month.
Discussion posts are my favorite to write! I still have a huge list of things I want to write about, so I don't think I'll have a problem maintaining this pace throughout the year. Plus, discussion posts are my favorite to read, too!

9. Leave five comments per week on other blogs.
I like a low-stress commenting goal. There were weeks last year where I didn't always leave five, but there were other weeks where I left 20+ comments. I think it balances out! I want to comment while still keeping it fun.

10. Start a new feature on my blog.
In addition to the challenge I'm co-hosting, I actually have two new features in the works, and I'm so excited about both. I'm also making a few changes to existing features - it was time for a little refresh!

December 29, 2014

2014 End of the Year Book Survey

Created & Hosted by Jamie from Perpetual Page-Turner
I can't believe it's already this time of year! Where did 2014 go?! I always look forward to these end of year recap posts for because I always discover new book recommendations. But more importantly, there's something I love about reflection. It's nice to stop, think back over what's happened this year and gather my thoughts before starting the new year. I know this post can be so long, but I love doing it anyway.
1. Number of Books You Read: 200 Books Read in 2014
2. Number of Re-Reads: 25 Re-Reads
3. Genre You Read the Most From: Contemporary (57 Books)
1. Best book you read in 2014?
I wish I could pick just one book, but that's not happening. I've narrowed it down a little bit, but you'll see some of these reappear throughout this survey. However, whenever possible, I tried to highlight a variety of books. I didn't want to feature the same books over and over! But keep in mind that many of these could have been the answer for every question on this survey...

YA Contemporary: The Sea of Tranquility* by Katja Millay and Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
YA Fantasy: Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
YA Mystery: Every Breath by Ellie Marney
YA Paranormal: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Adult Contemporary: After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid and One Plus One by Jojo Moyes
Adult Fantasy: Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Adult Historical: I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
Adult Science Fiction: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

*Technically published as Adult, but I consider it Young Adult.

2. Book you were excited about & thought you were going to love more but didn't?
Sadly, I was most disappointed by The One & Only by Emily Giffin. While I don't always love her characters or their choices, I generally enjoy reading her books. This one, however, just made me rage. I hated pretty much everything about it, and Giffin is no longer an auto-buy author for me.

3. Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2014?
I think that The Likeness by Tana French was my most surprising read. For some reason, I thought French's books would be very gruesome and dark. So, I only picked up The Likeness because Cass and I decided to read it for Favorite Factor. And I'm so glad we did! I fell in love with French's writing - it was nothing like I imagined.

4. Book you "pushed" the most people to read in 2014?
Just like last year, there are three books that I read and recommended most in 2014. They are: I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe, After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid and Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014? Best series overall in 2014?
I've said it before, but it's still true: I'm a series addict. I finished 15 series this year, and that doesn't include the series I'm now in the middle of reading. The best series I started was The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. My favorite sequel was, without question, Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. The series ending that stands out in my mind is Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. As far as my favorite series overall, I think that's a tie between The Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier and The Lynburn Legacy by Sarah Rees Brennan - two series that I read in their entirety this year and absolutely loved.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
I discovered a number of favorite new-to-me authors this year - see my 2014 author obsessions. But I think that Juliet Marillier is at the top of my list. I binge read her entire Sevenwaters series, and I've since bought seven other books from her backlist. Obsessed much?

7. Best book from a genre you don't typically read?
While I read quite a bit of non-fiction, I gravitate to specific kinds of non-fiction. There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene, a book that was part biography and part cultural/medical history, wasn't something I'd typically pick up. But as heartbreaking as it was to read, I loved it.

8. Most action-packed, thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014?
Once I started Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers, I knew I couldn't stop until I'd finished it. I don't know why I waited so long to read it! It was the definition of thrilling and unputdownable. And more recently, I stayed up way too late at night to finish Every Breath by Ellie Marney. It was just as good as everyone had said! Now, I'm just dying for the second book...

9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
Well, I've already read The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski and After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid twice this year! But the two books at the top of my to re-read list, excluding series I'll likely re-read in anticipation of new releases, are I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios and Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. However, since I'm co-hosting The 2015 Re-Read Challenge with Kelly, I'm hoping to re-read even more!

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
I adore the covers for Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen and Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson. I think Lost Lake is just lovely and memorable, and the cover of Since You've Been Gone fits the book perfectly.


11. Most memorable character in 2014?
I'm always drawn to well-developed characters - it's probably one of the most important elements of a book for me. So, it shouldn't be surprising that the most memorable characters for me were from my favorite books: Kami from Unspoken, Reagan from Open Road Summer, Sorcha from Daughter of the Forest and Rosetta from I Shall Be Near to You. These are four of my favorite characters ever - not just this year.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
The minute I finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, I knew I'd found the answer to this survey question! The writing is absolutely stunning. Mandel weaves several voices into a moving story that stayed with me for weeks after I finished it. I was so enchanted by Mandel's way with words!

13. Most thought-provoking book in 2014?
I was surprised when I realized that the most thought-provoking book I read was Ignite Me by Tahehreh Mafi. When I finished, I wrote my longest review ever. The book made me think a lot about unreliable narrators, perception and first impressions. Although it's received mixed reactions, I think it provokes so much discussion!

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
I was gifted a copy of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier several years ago, and I just never got around to it. Once I finally did, I couldn't believe I'd let it sit on my shelves for so long! It was absolutely amazing, and I quickly devoured the rest of the series. I'm in love with these characters, this world and Marillier's writing!

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?
"I owe Dee for so much, for pinkie links and kindnesses and phone calls and bail-outs. This is the currency of friendship, traded over years and miles, and I hope it's an even exchange someday. For now, I do what all best friends do when there's nothing left to say. We lie together in the darkness, shoulder to shoulder, and wait for the worst to be over." - Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

"... it's okay to show people all of you. Not only okay - but empowering. The root of where our story is. Our real story, anyway. The imperfect, the intense, what you think is ugly and lame is actually what will set you free. What makes you the hero people will root for." - Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer

16. Shortest & longest book you read in 2014?
I decided not to include novellas in this question, so my shortest read was Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt at 139 pages. The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons was my longest at 810 pages.

17. Book that shocked you the most?
There were a number of moments in Unspoken, Untold and Unmade that absolutely shocked me. Sarah Rees Brennan is a master of moments that take your breath away! From twists to cliffhanger endings, I was on the edge of my seat while reading this series.

18. OTP of the year?
My favorite romantic relationship? I can't narrow it down to just one! This year, I loved Mycroft and Watts (Every Breath), Arin and Kestrel (The Winner's Curse), Beast and Sybella (Dark Triumph), Rosetta and Jeremiah (I Shall Be Near to You), Red and Sorcha (Daughter of the Forest) and Bran and Liadan (Son of the Shadows).

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
I couldn't pick just one! So, I've broken down my favorite non-romantic relationships into a few categories...

Favorite Friends: Dee and Reagan in Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
Favorite Hero + Sidekick: Celaena and Rowan in Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Favorite Siblings: Fergie and Anna in Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer
Favorite Mother + Children: Jess, Nicky and Tanzie in One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

20. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you've read previously?
A lot of my favorites this year were from authors I've read previously, so I decided to pick one that I haven't featured yet in the survey: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins. This was such a great ending and included a delightful scene featuring all of the characters readers have grown to know and love.

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else?
I've got to hand this one to Every Breath by Ellie Marney! The cover and the summary didn't really appeal to me, but then I started hearing so much praise for it in the blogosphere. It was Lisa from Bookish Broads who convinced me I needed this book in my life - and then I won a copy in a giveaway she hosted. Hooray!

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Emery Lord knows how to write some swoonworthy fellas... I fell for both Matt (Open Road Summer) and Max (The Start of Me and You) this year! The other two standouts for me are Rowan (Heir of Fire) and Red (Daughter of the Forest). They all embody elements of my favorite types, too!

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
There's no question on this one! My favorite adult debut was I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe, and my favorite young adult debut was Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. I cannot wait for more books by both of these talented authors!

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2014?
Although I read the first book in the series two years ago, I fell in love with the world and imagery in Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. There's something so haunting about the creatures and places described in these books! And it's not a fictional world, but I loved traveling to Russia during WWII in The Bronze Horseman by Paullina Simons. She made this place and time period come alive!

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2014?
I had so much fun reading To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han and You Had Me at Hello by Mhairi McFarlane. Both of there were such pleasant surprises - funny, enjoyable and so memorable!

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?
I've talked before about how I rarely cry while reading, but something changed this year. I think I cried more than I ever have before! Here are the handful of books that made me cry quite a lot, though there are even more that made me tear up: I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe, After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid, Unmade by Sarah Rees Brennan, Before I Go by Colleen Oakley and The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay.

27. Hidden gem of the year?
Although it wasn't released this year, I think The Pursuit of Happiness by Tara Altebrando was such a hidden gem! Estelle from Rather Be Reading gifted me a copy, and I'm so thankful she did. I don't think I would have discovered this book otherwise! As far as new releases, I felt like A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller was definitely a hidden gem. I'm a big historical fiction fan, and this was just what I wanted!

28. Book that crushed your soul?
I Shall Be Near to You by Erin Lindsay McCabe and Before I Go by Colleen Oakley are the two books that just ripped my heart out this year. Just thinking about them makes me want to bawl all over again...


29. Most unique book you read in 2014?

I think Illusions of Fate by Kiersten White was one of the most unique books I read this year. I loved that it was reminiscent of Victorian England but with magic and completely different countries. It was unlike anything I've ever read before, and I absolutely loved it!

30. Book that made you the maddest?
Ugh. This is definitely The Summer Garden by Paullina Simons. I enjoyed the first two books in the series, but I have to pretend like the last one doesn't exist. It made me RAGE while I was reading... horrible characters, awful situations, and honestly one of the worst books I've ever read. I also raged a lot about We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, which I do not understand the hype for AT ALL.
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
I'm so happy I discovered Lindsey from Bring My Books, Laura from Scribbles and Wanderlust and Morgan from Gone with the Words this year! I've so enjoyed chatting with all three of these ladies on Twitter, too.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
I think my favorite review that I wrote was when I shared 11 Reasons to Read The Lynburn Legacy Series. After binge reading this series, I knew I had to do something different for these special books. And I have to say, I was quite pleased with the result... I hope it convinced more people to take a chance on these books!

3. Best discussion you had on your blog?
I think discussion posts have become my favorite part of blogging! I made an effort to write more discussion posts this year, and I think the results have been so worth the effort. I've loved writing them - and then it's been even more enjoyable to see the conversations they've sparked. I tried to pick just one, but it was impossible. My favorites: On Buying Books: Admiring & Acquiring, On Different Kids of ReadersOn Talking About Books I LoveOn Finding the Non-Fiction for You and On Learning to Trust Your Gut.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I absolutely adored collaborating with Alexa from Alexa Loves Books for Fall Into Fantasy. It was definitely my favorite online event that I participated in! And speaking of Alexa, I loved getting to spend a weekend with her at YALLFest. The event itself wasn't my favorite, but I was thrilled to meet Laini Taylor and spend more time with one of my favorite people I've met through blogging. Hanging out with Alexa made the whole thing worth it!


5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
I've got three this year... First, attending Book Expo America (BEA) was definitely an item off my bookish bucket list! Although I've since wondered whether or not the event is really worth it, I can't deny that this was one of my favorite adventures this year. I'm so thankful I got to see what all the BEA fuss was about and spend so much time with my blogging friends! I'll never forget this bookish experience.

Photo from Estelle
The second thing I loved? The relationships that have formed because of blogging. I never would have imagined that this blog would introduce me to so many new people, especially ones I would one day call some of my best friends. This post from Cassie sums it up (and totally made me cry, too). I'll always be thankful for everything that blogging has brought into my life. From daily texts to silly videos, my life wouldn't be the same without them. I don't have a picture with all of us together, but I have hope that one day it will happen!

Photo from Cass
And my third favorite moment of the year? Well, I had to include one involving an author! Getting to know Erin Lindsay McCabe, author of I Shall Be Near to You, has been one of my favorite things about this year. I may have fallen in love with her characters first, but I now adore the person who created them. She's kind and generous - even sending me a signed copy of this beloved book! From her guest post to the #IShall Twitter chat, it's been such a delight to get the word out about one of my favorite reads.


6. Most popular post this year on your blog?
When I was looking up my most popular posts this year, I actually had a moment of giddiness. Of the top ten most popular posts on my blog (since I started three years ago), seven posts were from this year. Y'all! For a while now, I've felt like this has been the year I hit my stride with reading and blogging. And this just confirms it for me! My three most popular posts this year were all about organization: Get Organized on GoodreadsMy Book Blogging To Do List Printable and The Wonders of Wunderlist.

7. Post you wished got a little more love?
There are always reviews that I would love to get a little more love, but I know I would have enjoyed more feedback on my post about bookish love and critcism.

8. Best bookish discovery?
Book Outlet! I don't know when I first heard about this website, but I do know I was skeptical. A place I could buy bargain books? I was intrigued, but I was convinced the selection would be terrible or the shipping unreasonable. Thankfully, I was totally wrong. This site is amazing!

9. Did you complete any reading challenge or goals that you set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I did! I completed the Goodreads Reading Challenge. In fact, I far exceeded my goal of reading 120 books by finishing 200 this year! I also completed almost all of the resolutions I made at the beginning of the year, as you can see in my 2014 resolution recap.
1. One book you didn't get to in 2014 but will be your number one priority in 2015?
I'm ashamed to admit that I still haven't read the book I featured in this answer last year: Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund. I don't know why I still haven't read it! The same can be said for Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. I even pre-ordered both of these books, so why am I dragging my feet?!

2. Non-debut book you are most anticipating for 2015?
A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas is definitely at the top of my wishlist! I've got several other 2015 releases I'm dying to read, as well as a bunch of anticipated sequels.

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?
I'm looking forward to reading Lost & Found by Brooke Davis and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Both sound so intriguing and seem like they've been receiving some praise in the blogosphere.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2015?
I feel like a lot of series ended this year, and I'm not sure there are as many ending next year. It's going to be a year of middle books for me! However, I cannot wait for The Ruby Circle by Richelle Mead. I have no doubt this conclusion will be epic! Although I'm a little scared for my heart...

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2015?
I desperately need to get control of my TBR, but that's not the thing I most hope to accomplish in 2015. Instead, I want it to be the year I return to my old love: re-reading. I spent so much time re-reading growing up, but I've fallen out of the habit since I started blogging. That's why I'm so excited about co-hosting The 2015 Re-Read Challenge! I think it will be good for me to spend time revisiting old favorites.

6. A 2015 release you've already read and recommend to everyone?
Oh! I've already fallen in love with several 2015 releases. I tried not to mention them too many times (if at all) in this survey since they aren't released yet, but I cannot say enough good things about these four books: I'll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, Girl Before a Mirror by Liza Palmer and Before I Go by Colleen Oakley.

December 26, 2014

2014 Resolution Recap


1. Read 125 books.
I dominated this resolution! I read 196 book this year, and I think I'll make it to 200 by the end of 2014. For some reason, I was on a reading binge all year! I kept waiting for a slump, but it never happened.

2. Read one non-fiction book per month.
I'm proud of myself because I read 26 non-fiction books this year. I'd actually met my original goal by the time I was halfway through the year, and I'm happy that I continued to make a dent in my non-fiction TBR!

3. Finish seven series.
I completed this resolution and actually finished 15 series this year. Seven were series that I started prior to 2014:
  • The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth 
  • The Shatter Me Series by Tahereh Mafi 
  • The Under the Never Sky Series by Veronica Rossi
  • The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Series by Laini Taylor
  • The Split Second Duology by Kasie West
  • The His Fair Assassin Series by Robin LaFevers
  • The Anna and the French Kiss Series by Stephanie Perkins
And eight were series that I read in their entirety this year:
  • The Bronze Horseman Series by Paullina Simons
  • The Deep Valley Series by Maud Hart Lovelace
  • The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo
  • The Katie Parker Production Series by Jenny B. Jones
  • The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series by Maggie Stiefvater
  • The Lynburn Legacy Series by Sarah Rees Brennan
  • The Sevenwaters Series by Juliet Marillier
  • The Boleyn Trilogy by Laura Andersen
I love series, so I'm not surprised that I finished a decent number of them this year. But I was a little shocked to realize that I binge read so many series from the very beginning!

4. Request no more than two review books per month.
I'm not sure how successful I was at this resolution. I only "requested" around 20 or so review books, so fell within the two per month limit. So, I was successful in that regard. But that's only if you look at what I requested.

Overall, I read more review books this year than I intended - 60 total. Accepting books from publishers and attending BEA are the two things that definitely tipped me over the edge! I have something planned that will hopefully help me get this under control. I'll count this as completed, but I need to make changes.

5. Read at least five debut novels.
As I said in my resolution check-in at the six-month mark, I should have aimed higher with this goal I completed this one by the end of January! I actually read twenty 2014 debuts, one 2015 debut, six 2013 debuts, and six US debuts for international authors. I didn't realize I'd read so many! 


6. Participate in one reading challenge.
FAIL. I signed up for the 2014 Prequel & Sequel Challenge, but I never participated. I read a lot of books in a series (as you can see above), so I technically met many of the reading goals I set for the challenge. BUT STILL.

7. Write one discussion post per month.
This is probably my favorite resolution to make - and to accomplish! This will continue to be a priority for me next year, too, because they're my favorite to write and often get the most traffic. In 2014, I wrote:
Honestly, I didn't realize I'd written 21 discussion posts this year! I'm proud of myself because these also represent some of my favorite things I've written for this blog. 

8. Leave 5 comments per week on other blogs.
Overall, I think I did okay with this resolution. I had weeks where I didn't leave any comments, but there were others when I left a lot more than five. It averaged out in some ways, but I think the real success with this resolution was that I stopped stressing about commenting. The purpose of this resolution was to free myself from comment guilt, and I definitely feel like I accomplished that this year.

9. Respond to comments that ask a question or provoke a discussion within one week.
Hmm... I will often respond to questions on Twitter or via email, so it's not like I ignored those comments completely. But I didn't kind of stop responding to comments (for the most part) this year. Honestly, I'm okay with it. I love reading and leaving comments, and responding to them just isn't my priority.

10. Start a new feature on my blog.
Done! I started my Series Speed Date feature this year, which I've loved writing. Since I binge read a lot of series, it's a nice way to highlight them without writing individual reviews. 

This year, I also co-hosted my first event with another blogger - Fall Into Fantasy with Alexa from Alexa Loves Books! Next year, I'm co-hosting The 2015 Re-Read Challenge with Kelly from Belle of the Literati. I can't wait! And in 2015, I'll also be starting a new feature with Estelle from Rather Be Reading called You Make Me Feel So Young where we'll revisit some of our favorite childhood reads.

8 Out of 10 Resolutions Completed

December 25, 2014

Merry Merry

Source

Merry Christmas, y'all!
I hope your day is filled with love, laughter,
and lots of books under your tree.

xo,
Hannah

December 24, 2014

The Captain & The Rebel With a Cause

This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Release Date: December 23, 2014
Publisher: Hachette | Disney Hyperion
Pages: 390 pages
Source & Format: Borrowed from Alexa; ARC
Series: Starbound #2
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Summary (from Goodreads)
Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met. 

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion. 

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.

Thoughts on This Shattered World
Last December, I pre-ordered These Broken Stars (the first book in the Starbound Trilogy) without knowing very much about it. I heard bloggers I trusted raving about it, and I decided to give science fiction a shot. When I finally read it earlier this year, I fell in love! There was something Lilac and Tarver - their survival story and their relationship - that just worked for me.

So, I picked up This Shattered World excited to dive back into this universe... but also a little sad that it wasn't focused on the characters I'd come to know and love. I typically adore companion series, but I'll admit that there was a part of me that wanted this book to pick up where the last one left off. Either way, I went into this book with high expectations.

This Shattered World introduces two new characters: Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac. Lee is a captain sent to Avon to subdue rebellious colonists, and all Flynn knows is rebellion. He's grown up on Avon and knows firsthand that things aren't right on this terraformed planet. His people were promised a better life, but Avon hasn't progressed as planned. He doesn't know what's happening - just that something isn't right. Taking Lee as his prisoner should give him the upper hand, but is he prepared for what this spark will ignite?

I couldn't wait to read This Shattered World, especially since I loved These Broken Stars so much, but I ended up finding it hard to connect to these characters. One thing that I loved about Lilac and Tarver was the progression of their relationship. It felt real, and it felt earned. I believed that they'd fallen in love, and I was rooting for them every step of the way. With Jubilee and Flynn, I wasn't buying it.

The whole relationship felt too rushed to me, and it became one of my biggest frustrations with the book. There's this huge war going on, and Jubilee and Flynn are on opposite sides. With all that stands in their way, I felt like there should have been more to their story... or maybe even less. There were so many things going on in the world - huge, threatening, life or death things - and the romance seemed like a distraction. Characters from the previous book make a reappearance in this one, and it didn't help that it just reminded me of all the reasons I'd loved that relationship.

Unfortunately, the world and pacing didn't help either. There are lots of elements of the world that are either introduced or revisited: a dangerous Fury, mysterious green whispers, a greedy terraforming corporation, deception and power, a deadly war, etc. Sadly, everything just felt so complicated and confusing to me!

For example, each chapter opens with these ghost dream things... and I don't really know what they were because I started skipping those pages. They felt too deliberately vague and never seemed to add anything to story. Their purpose is revealed later in the book, but I was a little checked out by then. That's probably also the reason that the climactic scene didn't wow me. It reminded me in a way of the ending in These Broken Stars, but without the emotional investment.

The pacing was so slow, and it took forever for me to get hooked on the story. It seemed like nothing was happening or, at the very least, being explained. This world requires patience as you wait for all the puzzle pieces to fall into place, and I'm not sure I have enough of it. I wanted to love it, but I found myself just skimming certain passages when it got too boring.

When I finished This Shattered World, I felt mostly positive about the book. But after thinking on it for a bit, I have to admit that it just didn't work for me. I was disconnected from the world, the characters and the conflict. I'm still intrigued by a few things in this world, but I'm won't be rushing to see how it all plays out.
*I read a copy of this book meant for review consideration. This did not affect my opinion of the book or my review.

December 23, 2014

Stick These Books In My Stocking

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by The Broke and The Bookish. Every week they post a new topic/top ten list and invite everyone to share their own answers. I'm so obsessed with lists - so it makes perfect sense that I'd love this feature!

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing Me


Because I Keep Hearing So Much About...

1-3. The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson | Box Set
In the last few years, I've fallen for fantasy. Most of my reading choices have been Young Adult, which has been an amazing introduction to this genre. But after discovering the Sevenwaters series, I find myself dying to try more adult fantasy. I've heard SO MUCH about this trilogy, so I think it's time to try it!


And Because I Can Never Have Too Many Copies...

4-11. Anne of Green Gables Series by L.M. Montgomery | Tundra Hardcovers
If I get this set, it will be the THIRD one I've gotten this year alone. For years, you could only buy the mass market paperbacks. There were a number of gorgeous editions of Anne of Green Gables, but never the complete series. I don't know what changed this year, but I've been unable to resist bringing them all home with me.

December 22, 2014

May Your Days Be Merry & Bright

My True Love Gave to Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins

Release Date: October 12, 2014
Publisher: Macmillan | St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 321 pages
Source & Format: Bought; Hardcover
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Summary (from Goodreads)
If you love holiday stories, holiday movies, made-for-TV-holiday specials, holiday episodes of your favorite sitcoms and, especially, if you love holiday anthologies, you’re going to fall in love with MY TRUE LOVE GAVE TO ME: TWELVE HOLIDAY STORIES by twelve bestselling young adult writers, edited by international bestselling author Stephanie Perkins.

Thoughts on My True Love Gave to Me
I don't read a lot of holiday-themed books or any short story anthologies, but I knew I HAD to read My True Love Gave to Me the minute I first heard about it. I mean, do you see how many of my favorite authors contributed to it? This is like the YA author jackpot right here! There were a few new-to-me authors on the list, but I was sold just by the fact that Stephanie Perkins edited all of the stories in the collection. And it didn't hurt that the cover is absolutely adorable! This is a book you want on your shelves. I debated whether or not I wanted to just highlight my favorites, but I decided to share a few thoughts on every story included. Since the stories are short, I've tried to keep my thoughts concise and mostly just share how I felt about each one.

Midnights by Rainbow Rowell | So Loved It
As expected, I loved Rainbow Rowell's story. This story centered around New Year's Eve, and it was an amazing way to open this anthology. Rowell plays with time and structures her story a little differently, and I absolutely loved that aspect. One of my favorite parts of this story was the way Rowell captured what it's like being around high school friends after you've all gone away to college.

So Quotable
"Everything was the same, and everything was different. Same people. Same music. Same couches. But they'd all grown apart for four months, and in wildly different directions."

The Lady and the Fox by Kelly Link | So Over It
It would be hard for any story to follow Rowell's, but I was particularly let down by this one. It started out so promising, too! There is a fairy tale quality to this story that sweeps you away at first... but the story just fell flat in the end. I felt like I was missing information! The magical tone was lovely, but I needed more from the plot.

So Quotable
"I just don't think it's very smart, standing out here because you're in a mood. But maybe you aren't very smart. My mother says good-looking people often don't bother."

Angels in the Snow by Matt de la Peña | So Enjoyed It
I'd been meaning to read one of de la Peña's stories ever since I read an article he wrote about how reading changed his life. I was so moved by what he wrote! Well, Angels in the Snow made me that much more determined to grab one of his books. I loved that this one was from a male perspective, and the narration just captured me. The writing, the characters, the story... I was hooked!

So Quotable
"We both stood there awkwardly for a few seconds. It was like we'd ripped open our chests and revealed our beating hearts. And how do you transition back to small talk after that?"

Polaris is Where You'll Find Me by Jenny Han | So Okay With It
Jenny Han's story was sweet, but not that satisfying - like those mini-size packs of candy. This was set in the North Pole, which made it kind of fun. The concept was cute, but it just wasn't as fleshed out as I would have liked. And for some reason, the narrator annoyed me too much for the story to hit home.

So Quotable
"Living where I live, it can sometimes be hard to tell the difference between magic and make believe."

It's a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown by Stephanie Perkins | So Obsessed With It
AHHHH! Stephanie Perkins' story is tied with Laini Taylor's as my favorite in the collection. Seriously, it was so adorable. AND THE SWOON. It was the perfect short story... and yet, oh how I wish I could read more about these two characters in a full-length novel. I've only been to Asheville once, but I loved how Perkins captured the setting, too. I see myself re-reading this story quite frequently. PERFECTION.

So Quotable
"North could have kissed her. He could have done it, he could have swooped in, but he was being respectful. It made her want to devour him whole. Or be devoured whole."

Your Temporary Santa by David Levithan | So Over It
To be honest, I was confused by Levithan's story. It read like an excerpt to me. It didn't seem to really go anywhere, and the characters' motivations didn't make sense to me. I wasn't a fan of this story because it just felt so incomplete. I haven't read anything by Levithan before, and this didn't make me want to pick up more.

So Quotable
"He says presents aren't important, but I think they are - not because of how much they cost, but for the opportunity they provide to say I understand you."

Krampuslauf by Holly Black | So Liked It
I've only read one book by Holly Black, but this story was something I would have expected from her: imaginative and kind of crazy. I liked that this story was so different from all the others in the collection. Plus, I'd never heard of Krampus before reading this short story. But it was just a little too weird for me and wasn't something I'd care to read again. It's memorable, but mostly because it's so odd.

So Quotable
"It was too bad. My fake boyfriend was the best boyfriend I'd never had."

What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth? by Gayle Forman | So Loved It
I loved Gayle Forman's story, which was no surprise. I adored that it was a college setting, and the way Forman portrayed how you can form an impression of someone that isn't accurate. I also thought that Sophie's realization about what she's been blind to (and how some things take time before you feel like you belong) were so relatable. That was my favorite part of this story!

So Quotable
"There really was no such thing as a minor miracle."

Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus by Myra McEntire | So Enjoyed It
I haven't read anything by Myra McEntire before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But I really enjoyed this story! I liked that it was a male narrator, loved the humor and was so intrigued by the premise. This was one of the funnier stories in the collection, and that was such a nice change of pace. I took note of a few quotes, too!

So Quotable
"Shame leads to secrets, and secrets lead to lies, and lies ruin everything. Especially friendships."

Welcome to Christmas, CA by Kiersten White | So Loved It
I fell in love with Kiersten White's writing when I read Illusions of Fate a few weeks ago, and this just sealed the deal. I loved this so much! I was grinning like a fool, and then I felt teary a few times while I was reading. Who knew a short story could make me so emotional?! It reminded me a bit of Sarah Addison Allen - it's not magical realism, but it sure gives me those same feelings.

So Quotable
"The idea that something - food, traditions, an arbitrary date on the calendar - can be special because we decide it should be. Because we make it special. Not just for ourselves, but for others. I've had people around my whole life to make things special for me, even when I didn't notice it."

Star of Bethlehem by Ally Carter | So Okay With It
I liked the writing in Ally Carter's story, but I found the story itself just a bit too implausible. It had an interesting premise, but I felt like there needed to be more to the story (especially for it to end the way it did). It was cute, but I had a hard time suspending my disbelief so I never connected to it while I was reading. Maybe if there had been a little more background?

So Quotable
"So it turns out that if you swap tickets with a girl who doesn't want to go see her boyfriend, then there's a good chance said boyfriend will meet you at the airport."

The Girl Who Woke the Dreamer by Laini Taylor | So Obsessed With It
Holy cow! Laini Taylor's story was STUNNING. It was a perfect way to close out this collection! This was probably my favorite story overall. There's something about her gorgeous writing and the way she infuses her story with magic and wonder. This imaginative story was romantic, gorgeous and utterly captivating. I will absolutely read this story again and again!

So Quotable
"But what if... what if... there was some other future lying up ahead for her - one without any misery in it at all - and even now it was trailing its way backward in time to meet her, and take her hand, and show her how to find it?"
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