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Archive for December, 2013

Year End Survey!

Posted by Caitie F on December 31, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

best-books-2013-300x252

A year is coming to an end, which means it is time for the End of Year Book Survey, hosted by the lovely Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner. I am only including books that are already out, which cuts out most things that I have read in the past two months.

But first! Here are my stats for the year!

Books read: 153– hit my yearly goal!

Read for work: 91 –  I thought the number would go down this year, but my job changed early in the year and it went WAY up.
Read 1001 Books to Read Before You Die Books: 2
Read 1001 Children’s Books to Read Before You Grow Up Books: 0 (oops on both)
Read for pleasure: 62 – only a few less than last year, with a non-work reading slump of over 2 months!

YA/MG books read – 127 (guess which I read for work!)

1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

I will have to cheat just a little.

Best Fantasy – Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

Best Adult – Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Best Middle Grade – Pi in the Sky by Wendy Mass

Best YA/NA – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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

How to Love by Katie Cotougu. It got rave reviews from almost everyone and I found it so underwhelming that I didn’t even bother to review it.

 3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013? 

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. I was worried it would be too much like The Hunger Games, but I loved everything about it. I have read the second in the series and it blew me away.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. I recommended it the everyone! It is SO perfect for people in my generation.

 5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau. Absolutely loved it!

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Anne Ursu. I know she has been around for a while, but I read one of her books this year and I need to read all of them!

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I don’t read much non-fiction, but this was fantastic.

 8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight. i liked it more than Gone Girl!

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

I am not much of a re-reader, so none

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

eleanor

 

I was a little underwhelmed by the book, but this cover is perfect

11. Most memorable character in 2013? 

Kvothe, from The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Possibly because I was reading the book for two months!

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

I have to go with The Name of the Wind, since I went back and read sentences again because they writing was so great!

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013? 

Hands down, Fangirl. This book got me. It got my friends. It was one of the most wonderful books I have ever read.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read? 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Took me way too long to get to this one!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

I don’t really keep track of these, so I will just say none, because I would just pick a recent one!

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

For questions like this, I wish I still had a goodreads account.  Longest was by far Under the Dome by Stephen King

 17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Reconstructing Amelia made me gasp and i wanted to find someone else who read it right away as did Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo 

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Willem and his mother in Just One Year by Gayle Forman.  It just shows so much about him

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

Fangirl! That one was easy

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else:

The Eyre Affair by jasper Fforde. Jason has been trying to get me to read it for YEARS.

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013?

Age group: Young adult. Genre: Either realistic or fantasy, not sure which was more

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

I want to be friends with Cath from Fangirl. She is so awesome!

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Probably Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham. This was just wonderful

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. It is such a rich and vivid world!

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

Hmm the most fun.

Probably Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein. Every page was a delight

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

Fangirl made me sob so…that one! There was a lot of tearing up this year though. Honorable Mentions include Unbroken and Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

I want more people to read Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

 

Posted in Blogging | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

2013 Goals – How Did I Do?

Posted by Caitie F on December 30, 2013

I just went back to look at my goals I posted in January of 2013. Let’s see how I did!

Book related goals

Read 100 books – Did that one! As of now, I am at 152 and might get a couple more!
Read 10 nonfiction books – Fail! I only read 5. Probably due to all of the reading I did for work. But I really liked those five.

Blog more regularly. I have a lot of discussion posts ideas, but I feel like I don’t get enough traffic to do them. – I kind of did this one. I have a lot of review posts scheduled into next year (one for June already), but my posting for 2013 was down and I didn’t do any discussion posts. Still have the ideas, but feel discouraged.

Health goals

Get back to 150 pounds. – nope. Lost some weight, but not enough. Got an UP band for the holidays, so hopefully that will help

Now that I have more flexible insurance, get some new doctors. – I am giving this a yes. We got a new primary doctor who we LOVE. I still need a geneticist and a hip doctor, but got over the biggest hurdle. It makes such a difference when we like and trust who we have!

Become stronger. Losing weight is all well and good but I am sick of feeling weak. Since I am all about concrete goals
– be able to bench press more than the bar. This goal may change if I find out the barbell isn’t that hard, but I haven’t done and bench presses since high school. – not even close. I am still a weakling
– be able to do a pull up. I haven’t been able to since I was a kid. – Ha!

Do more active things, especially in spring and fall. It can be going on hikes, playing basketball together, just be outside more. – Another kind of. We did do some more active things, just not as much as I would like

Other goals

Get our finances in better shape. – It is better, but not where we need to be. 

Go on vacation. – Did this one! We went on a cruise to the Bahamas and it was wonderful!

Cook more new things! – Completed! We cooked at least 30 new things this year!

So overall, I think I did pretty okay this year. Could have done better, but we all can. How did you do on your goals for the year?

Posted in Misc | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight

Posted by Caitie F on December 29, 2013

Title: Reconstructing Amelia18090062
Author: Kimberly McCreight
Paperback: 380 pages
Pub Date:April 2, 2013
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Rating: +++++

Summary from Publisher:

Kate’s in the middle of the biggest meeting of her career when she gets the telephone call from Grace Hall, her daughter’s exclusive private school in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Amelia has been suspended, effective immediately, and Kate must come get her daughter—now. But Kate’s stress over leaving work quickly turns to panic when she arrives at the school and finds it surrounded by police officers, fire trucks, and an ambulance. By then it’s already too late for Amelia. And for Kate.

An academic overachiever despondent over getting caught cheating has jumped to her death. At least that’s the story Grace Hall tells Kate. And clouded as she is by her guilt and grief, it is the one she forces herself to believe. Until she gets an anonymous text: She didn’t jump.

Reconstructing Amelia is about secret first loves, old friendships, and an all-girls club steeped in tradition. But, most of all, it’s the story of how far a mother will go to vindicate the memory of a daughter whose life she couldn’t save.

Review:

When this came out earlier this year, it got rave reviews from a lot of bloggers I really like, so when I was making my Christmas list this year I knew this had to be on it! I read the entire book in one day and even stayed up late to finish it even though I was exhausted.

I could not put it down. I actually gasped towards the end, which doesn’t happen very often. There were so many twists and turns that it was impossible to suspect just one person of lying. It was so creatively written too. It was written in both the past with Amelia’s perspective and the present with Kate. Amelia’s story used Facebook posts, text messages, and emails to tell part of her story, which just added to the authenticity of the characters. This author gets teenagers.

The characters are fantastic. The reader can feel empathy for all of them while remaining critical of their choices. Kate is one of my favorite characters in a mystery ever. She balances her tough job and being a mother pretty well, but Amelia is a teenager and never feels like it is the right time. Amelia feels like a real teenager dealing with real problems. She is smart and kind, but also confused and lonely. She is so complex and any reader will want to befriend or protect her as you read what happened before she died.

Some of the villains are pretty villainous and some are just trying to get by or connect with other. I just wanted to yell at some of the characters for not talking to anyone about what was going on – both adults and teens. It was irritating, but it felt so realistic for people with their money and egos. There were a few characters that were worse than the others because they should have known better. The book made me happy for my public school upbringing.

This is the best thriller I read all year and one of the best books. I liked Gone Girl but this was way better. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. I wish we could do this for my book club because it would be perfect.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 6 Comments »

The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan

Posted by Caitie F on December 26, 2013

Title: The Longest Trip Home3564962
Author: John Grogan
Paperback: 331 pages
Pub Date: Oct 21, 2008
Publisher: William Morrow
Rating: ++++

Summary from publisher:

Before there was Marley, there was a gleefully mischievous boy growing up in a devout Catholic home outside Detroit in the 1960s and ’70s. Despite his loving parents’ best efforts, John’s attempts to meet their expectations failed spectacularly. Whether it was his disastrous first confession, the use of his hobby telescope to take in the bronzed Mrs. Selahowski sunbathing next door, the purloined swigs of sacramental wine, or, as he got older, the fumbled attempts to sneak contraband past his father and score with girls beneath his mother’s vigilant radar, John was figuring out that the faith and fervor that came so effortlessly to his parents somehow had eluded him.

And then one day, a strong-willed young woman named Jenny walked into his life. As their love grew, John began the painful, funny, and poignant journey into adulthood—away from his parents’ orbit and into a life of his own. It would take a fateful call and the onset of illness to lead him on the final leg of his journey—the trip home again.

Review:

I loved reading about Marley in his first book, and really enjoyed Grogan writing style, so I knew I wanted to read his memoir.

My favorite thing about this is that someone who isn’t a huge celebrity had a very interested life. I enjoyed reading about his life even though it isn’t full of scandals or dirt on others. It is the story of one guy and his family. It reminds the reader that everyone has a story.

As someone who was also raised Catholic, there were times I found myself nodding along to what I was reading. Luckily, my parents weren’t as religious as his. Even if you aren’t Catholic, this book is still really good. It is about growing up and not always seeing eye to eye with the rest of your family. It is about summers as a kid, roaming the neighborhood and getting into some trouble.

If you like Marley and Me and you like Grogan’s style you should pick this book up from the library.

Posted in Review | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

1225 Christmas Tree Lane by Debbie Macomber

Posted by Caitie F on December 23, 2013

Title: 1225 Christmas Tree Lane11277851
Author: Debbie Macomber
Hardcover: 283 pages
Pub Date: Sept 27, 2011
Publisher: Mira
Rating: +++

Summary from publisher:

The people of Cedar Cove know how to celebrate Christmas. Like Grace and Olivia and everyone else, Beth Morehouse expects this Christmas to be one of her best. Her small Christmas-tree farm is prospering, her daughters and her dogs are happy and well, and her new relationship with local vet Ted Reynolds is showing plenty of romantic promise.

But someone recently left a basket filled with puppies on her doorstep, puppies she’s determined to place in good homes. That’s complication number one. And number two is that her daughters Bailey and Sophie have invited their dad, Beth’s ex-husband, Kent, to Cedar Cove for Christmas. The girls have visions of a mom-and-dad reunion dancing in their heads.

As always in life, and in Cedar Cove, there are surprises, too. More than one family’s going to have a puppy under the tree. More than one scheme will go awry. And more than one romance will have a happy ending

Review:

I like to read a sweet, sappy Christmas story every year. It gets me into the spirit and you know there will be a happy ending.

I did not know that this was the last book in a pretty long series, but that didn’t take away from the story. There were some stories that were referenced and wrapped up and I didn’t really understand, but it was nice to see so many people have happy things happen. It all worked because it was connected to the puppies left at the doorstep and was not just random.

The main story in this was great. It was sweet, funny, and there were several misunderstandings that made things interesting.

It is a fun and very fast read, perfect for the holidays.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko

Posted by Caitie F on December 22, 2013

Title: The Walls of the Universe4367026
Author: Paul Melko
Paperback: 383 pages
Pub Date: Feb 3, 2009
Publisher:  Tor
Rating: ++

Summary from publisher:

John Rayburn thought all of his problems were the mundane ones of an Ohio farm boy in his last year in high school. Then his doppelgänger appeared, tempted him with a device that let him travel across worlds, and stole his life from him. John soon finds himself caroming through universes, unable to return home—the device is broken. John settles in a new universe to unravel its secrets and fix it.

Meanwhile, his doppelgänger tries to exploit the commercial technology he’s stolen from other Earths: the Rubik’s Cube! John’s attempts to lie low in his new universe backfire when he inadvertently introduces pinball. It becomes a huge success. Both actions draw the notice of other, more dangerous travelers, who are exploiting worlds for ominous purposes.

Review:

The premise of this book is awesome. Travel between universes, what could be cooler? But the execution was severely lacking.

The first quarter of the book is good and then it just went downhill from there.

The characters were pretty one dimensional. I got who John was, but never really learned much about John Prime. There was so much time spent on building the stupid pinball machine and no time spent on where Prime was from or anything.

SO much on the machine. It felt like a complete waste of time reading several chapters. I know they say show, don’t tell, but he could have just said ‘we built a dueling pinball machine over a couple weeks”. The ending was so rushed and that was so dragged out, it should have been the other way around.

There were also so many plot holes. Why did John obsess over a University of Toledo lower level professor? He could have gotten n a bus and gone to a place with a top engineering program and moved everything a whole lot faster. So much happened just to make the stories line up that it got irritating.

The villains were not very interesting either. How did they get stuck here? What is their original world like? Why can’t they build something ot get back? None of these questions are answered.

Even though these questions might be answered, I have no desire to read the next book in the series (I don’t even get WHY it is a series). What a disappointing read, especially since the concept was so great.

Posted in Review | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

Rebel Spring by Morgan Rhodes

Posted by Caitie F on December 22, 2013

Title: Rebel Spring16000044
Author: Morgan Rhodes
Hardcover: 416 pages
Pub Date: Dec 3, 2013
Publisher: Razorbill
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Auranos has fallen and the three kingdoms—Auranos, Limeros, and Paelsia—are now united as one country called Mytica. But still, magic beckons, and with it the chance to rule not just Mytica, but the world…

When the evil King Gaius announces that a road is to be built into the Forbidden Mountains, formally linking all of Mytica together, he sets off a chain of events that will forever change the face of this land, forcing Cleo the dethroned princess, Magnus the reluctant heir, Lucia the haunted sorceress, and Jonas the desperate rebel to take steps they never could have imagine

Review:

This series is completely Game of Thrones for teens and I really like it. Like the second book in that series, this does not just set up what will happen in the next book, there is a lot of plotting and action.

There is a character nicknamed the King of Blood. There is an underground rebel group of rag tag youths headed by the brave, suave, and sometimes stupid Jonas. There is a princess that wants nothing more than to get these murderers out of her castle and her kingdom. There is a prince who is starting to be disgusted by what his father is doing and is getting closer and closer to the brink.

What more do you need in an epic fantasy? Romance? There is some of that too. Death? Well…you can probably guess the answer to that one. There is a lot more magic in this book too, and I really need to know more about how it works and what the ultimate goal is for the real bad guy.

This isn’t the greatest work of fantasy ever, but if you are looking for any of the above, you will enjoy it.

I am ready for the next one!

 

Posted in Review | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Posted by Caitie F on December 21, 2013

 

Title: The Eyre Affair27003
Author: Jasper Fforde
Paperback: 374 pages
Pub Date: July 19, 2001
Publisher: Penguin Books
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide

Review:

My husband has been recommending this series to me since we met. Sometimes it takes me a while to read things. I am really glad I waited though, because if I read this before I read Jane Eyre I would have not liked or appreciated it as much. You don’t have to read it, but if you have you will understand it more.

This book is so clever. I love the idea of a world where literature is taken more seriously than everything else. There are monuments to manuscripts. People make trips around literary places, and not just us book nerds. Oh, and there is time travel too. It is super awesome.

This isn’t the greatest book ever, but it is a whole lot of fun to read! Fforde is very clever and has a wonderful imagination. It shows on every page.

I have added the rest of the books in this series to my to-read list. After liking this one so much, I won’t let it be another seven years until I read the next one!

 

Posted in Review | Tagged: | 2 Comments »

Tales of the Madman Underground by John Barnes

Posted by Caitie F on December 19, 2013

Title: Tales of the Madmen Underground067006081X.01._SX140_SY224_SCLZZZZZZZ_
Author: John Barnes
Hardcover: 544 pages
Pub Date: June 25, 2009
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: ++++

Summary from pub:

Wednesday, September 5, 1973: The first day of Karl Shoemaker’s senior year in stifling Lightsburg, Ohio. For years, Karl’s been part of what he calls “the Madman Underground” – a group of kids forced (for no apparent reason) to attend group therapy during school hours. Karl has decided that senior year is going to be different. He is going to get out of the Madman Underground for good. He is going to act – and be – Normal. But Normal, of course, is relative. Karl has five after-school jobs, one dead father, one seriously unhinged drunk mother . . . and a huge attitude. Welcome to a gritty, uncensored roller coaster ride, narrated by the singular Karl Shoemaker.

Review:

This book is on my list because it got a Printz Honor in 2010 and while they are not always my favorite books, the books that get this honor bring fresh voices and stories to the age group.

Well, this isn’t one of my favorite books ever, but it was very good and is a book that young adults really should read. I have read several books that have made me cry lately, and this is one of them. You sit there reading about how hard Karl works and how hard he tries to be normal and be the responsible one that everyone can come to, then you remember that this character is a teenager. And there are many teens that are in this situation today, who run their households, hold several jobs and go to school, and who have to deal with really shitty parents and other relatives. They have to look out for their younger siblings and try to hold it all together so their family doesn’t get torn apart. it sucks. It sucks so much and  these stories need to be told.

Even if you can’t relate to their stories, and I hope most people cannot, it will still move you. The great thing is these kids who are going through this aren’t written as being saints or as being just screw ups. They are as complex and flawed as everyone else and they still talk and act like teenagers, even though they are forced to grow up more quickly. As I read I just wanted to yell “Karl! Talk to these people! They care about you and want to help you!”, but I saw exactly why he didn’t because the author did such a good job of completely developing the character.

The book isn’t all doom and gloom though. It is also very funny at times. I was laughing out loud in public at times. It also shows a goodness in so many of the characters that it is not a depressing read, it just has some depressing parts. So much of it is a book about friendship and being there for your friends no matter what, something we can all connect with.

Another things that makes this book stand out is the actual action takes place in just one week. This 544 page book is one week of this kid’s life, so you find out so much. There are some flashbacks to before, which are woven in seamlessly, but most everything is in that week. I would love to see more novels for any age so contained in time because it opens up the character.

It does require an excellent writer to write a book that takes place in that short amount of time. It never felt like there was no way all of this could happen in a week. I don’t think many authors could make it feel that way, but John Barnes did.

This is a wonderful book and I think everyone should read it and pass it on to a teen they know.

Posted in Review | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

The 2014 TBR Pile Challenge!

Posted by Caitie F on December 18, 2013

2014tbrbutton

So I have tried (and failed) at this challenge hosted by Roof Beam Reader for a couple years now. I think I might get 5 books from my list last year read. Maybe. We will see how I do in these last couple weeks of the year.

But why not try again? I love the idea of this challenge, I just need to remember to do it.

Here are the rules copied from the sign up page, which you should totally go to because it is a fun challenge!

The Goal: To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).
Specifics:
1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2013 or later (any book published in the year 2012 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates). Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.
2. To be eligible, you must sign-up with Mr. Linky below – link to your list (so create it ahead of time!) and add updated links to each book’s review. Books must be read and must be reviewed (doesn’t have to be too fancy) in order to count as completed.
3. The link you post in the Mr. Linky below must be to your “master list” (see mine below). This is where you will keep track of your books completed, crossing them out and/or dating them as you go along, and updating the list with the links to each review (so there’s one easy, convenient way to find your list and all your reviews for the challenge). See THIS LINK for an idea of what I mean. Your complete and final list must be posted by January 15th, 2014.
4. Leave comments on  as you go along, to update us on your status. Come back here if/when you complete this challenge and leave a comment indicating that youCONQUERED YOUR 2014 TBR LIST! Every person who successfully reads his/her 12 books and/or alternates (and who provides a working link to their list, which has links to the review locations) will be entered to win a $50 gift card from Amazon.com or The Book Depository!
5. Crossovers from other challenges are totally acceptable, as long as you have never read the book before and it was published before 2013!
*Note – You can read the books on your list in any order; they do not need to be read in the order you have them listed. As you complete a book – review it, and go back to your original list and turn that title into a link to the review – that will keep the comments section here from getting ridiculously cluttered.

So to keep up with tradition, I have a spreadsheet of books I want to read, and I will use random.org to pick my 14 books. I haven’t updated this list since last year, so all the pub dates should be good, but I will have to double check. There are 613 books on that list and it is sure to be an eclectic mix!

1. Guards! Guards! by Terry Pratchett
2. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides 
3.  Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor / Hiroshima / 9-11 / Iraq by John W Dower
4. Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips
5. 11/22/63 by Stephen King
6. Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link
7. The Litigators by John Grisham not reading anything else by him
8. Sweat, Tears, and Jazz Hands: The Official History of Show Choir from Vaudevillle to Glee by Mike Weaver and Colleen Hart
9. The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion Read first 30 pages, not a book or me
10. Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby Read a couple chapters, not crazy about it
11. The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder
12. Every You, Every Me by David Levithan

Alternates
1. Why Do Men Have Nipples? by Mark Leyner
2. The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley

Posted in Challenges | Tagged: | 8 Comments »