Friday, January 2, 2015

2014 End of Year Survey

This survey was created by Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner.  This is my third time taking this survey! You'll have to forgive me for occasionally listing two or three answers when I can't choose. ;)

1. Best book you read in 2014? (You can break it down by genre)

Fantasy: Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Sci-fi: Cress by Marissa Meyer
Contemporary: Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
Historical: Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen
Dystopian: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
Paranormal: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn't?

Breaking the Rules by Katie McGarry.  I LOVED her previous books and was sure I'd love this, but it just didn't click with me.  Too much drama for me to get into it.

3. Most surprising (in a good way) book of 2014?

Probably We Were Liars by E. Lockhart!  I picked up the book randomly at my library after hearing tons of hype about it.  I went in with fairly low expectations and was blown away.

4. Book you read in 2014 that you recommended the most to people in 2014?

Remnants by Lisa T. Bergren.

5. Best series you discovered in 2014?

The Hex Hall series, such a fun read!

6. Favorite new authors you discovered in 2014?

Rachel Hawkins, Katie Finn, Leah Cypess.  I didn't read from many new authors this year lol.

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

Maybe A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness?  I wouldn't really classify it as horror (after all it is a middle grade book) but it wasn't the type of book I'd usually read.  So fantastic, though!

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2014?

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi.

9. Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to reread in 2014?

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han.  Such an amazing contemporary book that I can't wait to read again.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

11. Most memorable character in 2014?

Celaena from Heir of Fire, St. Clair from Sinner, Isla from Isla and the Happily Ever After.

12. Most beautifully written book in 2014?

It's a tie between Ignite Me and We Were Liars!

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2014?

Again, so hard to choose...I think This Song Will Save Your Life and To All the Boys I've Loved Before are the winners though.  Both were super realistic and thought-provoking contemporaries.

14. Book you can't believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to read?

Looking for Alaska.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?

"And we are quotation marks, inverted and upside down, clinging to one another at the end of this life sentence.  Trapped by lives we did not choose." - Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

"Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments.  I get the same thing spending an hour with you." - We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2014?

Shortest - A Monster Calls (205 pages).  Longest - City of Heavenly Fire (725 pages).

17. Book that had a scene that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it?

Don't Look Back by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

18. Favorite relationship from a book you read in 2014?

I had many OTPs, but probably Isla and Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After. #shippinit

19. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you've read previously?

Not necessarily my absolute favorite, but White Hot Kiss definitely deserves a shoutout.

20. Best book you read in 2014 based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else?

A Monster Calls.

21. Genre you read the most from in 2014?


22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?

Hmmm.  A lot of my fav crushes are from series I started before, I guess it would be Josh from Isla and the Happily Ever After.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Illusive by Emily Lloyd-Jones.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2014?

I'm in love with the descriptiveness of the 1920s and amazing historical detail in Anna Godbersen's Bright Young Things series.

25. Book that was the most fun to read in 2014?

The Art of Lainey and Biggest Flirts!

26. Book that made you cry in 2014?

Both City of Heavenly Fire and We Were Liars.

27. Book you read in 2014 that you think got overlooked when it came out?

On the Fence by Kasie West, it was such an adorable contemporary.

Looking ahead...

1. One book you didn't get to in 2014 but will be your number one priority in 2015?

Talon by Julie Kagawa - it's waiting for me on my Kindle. :)

2. Book you are most anticipating in 2015 (non-debut)?

Oh so many...The Trouble With Destiny, The Last Time We Say Good-Bye, Fairest, to name a few.

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?

A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas.  Sleeping Beauty retelling?  HECK YES GIVE IT TO ME.

4. Series ending you are most anticipating in 2015?

Definitely The Ruby Circle, the last book in the Bloodlines series.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish in your reading/blogging in 2015?

I slowed down my blogging a LOT this year after starting college.  So I hope to continue blogging at least a couple times a month.  I also want to be able to read books for pleasure without being overly critical - being in English major in college is kind of ruining that for me.  Lastly, I want to meet my reading challenge of 100 books.

Feel free to leave a comment if you did a reading survey!

~ Kaitlyn

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Book Review: For Real by Alison Cherry

Goodreads summary:

No parents. No limits. No clue what they're in for.

Shy, cautious Claire has always been in her confident older sister's shadow. While Miranda's life is jam-packed with exciting people and whirlwind adventures, Claire gets her thrills vicariously by watching people live large on reality TV.

When Miranda discovers her boyfriend, Samir, cheating on her just before her college graduation, it's Claire who comes up with the perfect plan. They'll outshine Miranda's fame-obsessed ex while having an amazing summer by competing on Around the World, a race around the globe for a million bucks. Revenge + sisterly bonding = awesome.

But the show has a twist, and Claire is stunned to find herself in the middle of a reality-show romance that may or may not be just for the cameras. This summer could end up being the highlight of her life... or an epic fail forever captured on film. In a world where drama is currency and manipulation is standard, how can you tell what's for real?
My review:
What an awesome read!  I was pleasantly surprised by For Real.  It's so fun and relatable; definitely the perfect fast-paced Christmas break read.  It has a great balance of humor and realism, and there's a great variety of characters.
I love the main character Claire!  I really like her journey to overcome her fears.  I also love that she accepts herself for who she is.  Plus, she's a nerd, which is freakin' awesome - there are even a couple references to Doctor Who and Joss Whedon!  And her explanation for why people like reality TV is so cool; I had never thought about it that way before.
The relationships in this book just had so much win.  The relationship between Claire and her sister is perfectly imperfect.  Yes, they get on each other's nerves a LOT but in the end they stick up for each other.  I love how the author handled Claire's feelings of inadequacy when compared to her sister, and how eventually she learns to stand on her own.  Secondly, there's the relationship between Claire and the love interest, Will.  I don't want to say a lot about this because that would include lots of spoilers.  But suffice it to say, it is so realistic.  I felt Claire's emotions every step of the way and cheered at the ending.  
The plot is super exciting!  Thanks to the competition taking place, there is always something happening.  I laughed at all the awkward situations poor Claire has to go through, and I love how all the minor characters stood out.  There's also plenty of twists!  And a certain scene at the end had me grinning the whole time.
The best way to describe For Real is that it's (pardon the pun) very real.  With a storyline like this, it could easily be cheesy, but this book is refreshingly realistic and features well-written relationships and fantastic character development.  For Real is definitely worth your time.  I can't wait to check out the author's first book!
* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!
My rating:  4 out of 5 stars
~ Kaitlyn

Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review: Captive by Aimee Carter

Goodreads summary:

For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever.

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape.

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?

My review:

After being blown away by the awesomeness that was Pawn last year, I was a bit nervous about whether or not the sequel would really be as good as the first.  Luckily, Captive was just as epic!  I was honestly shocked by some of the amazing twists.  The only con is that I found myself a little more annoyed with Kitty than I did in the first book.

In Pawn, I was amused by Kitty and connected to her character a lot.  But in Captive, she just didn't click for me.  She is a good character in that she's independent and shows maturity.  Yet I was frustrated because at every turn, she does something that hurts else.  It felt like she was constantly trying to be proactive and help, but she just made things worse!  That bothered me somewhat.

But aside from that, this book was so much fun (and it gave me a lot of feels, just FYI!).  Admittedly, it does start out slightly slow, but about a third of the way there's a major scene that makes you go, "WHAT?!" and from then on, it's literally impossible to put down.  And there are many more twists to come throughout the book.  So many things about the rebellion, Lila, etc. are revealed.  I was really pleased because this sequel expanded thoroughly on things mentioned in the first book.  

Overall, Captive was amazing.  Yay for sequels that increase character growth, have complex storylines, and delve deeper into world-building!  I did get a little irritated with Kitty's character at times, but really, that is the only flaw.  I can't wait to see how it all goes down in the last book!

*I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  4 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, December 5, 2014

My Top 3 Books of November 2014

This semester has been flying by!  Finals are next week, and once that's over, I'm excited to post a couple more reviews for ARCs I read.  For now, here are the books I read in November:

- Guy in Real Life by Steve Brezenoff
- Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
- The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
- Mortal Heart by Robin LaFavers
- The Sisters Who Would be Queen by Leanda de Lisle
- For Real by Alison Cherry
- The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
- Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
- Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
- Captive by Aimee Carter

Here's my top 3 favorites:

1. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas.  Um, how is it that every book in this series keeps getting better and better?  Heir of Fire was emotional, gripping, and action-packed.  As always, Maas's writing style is brilliant and perfectly suited for fantasy books, an I was an awe over Celaena's character growth and the events of this book.  Amazing!

2. Mortal Heart by Robin LaFavers.  Like Heir of Fire, this fantasy book blew me away.  I have so enjoyed reading this series and Mortal Heart was no exception.  I was stunned by two amazing twists, and it was impossible not to root for the characters.  I was glued to this book and I'm so glad I read it!

3. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey.  It had been a year and a half since I read the first book in this series, so I didn't remember a lot.  I will say that I think I enjoyed the first book better, but this was still an impressive sequel.  It took me a while to get into it and remember all the characters, but once I did, I couldn't put it down.  There is some truly great writing, and I love how Yancey explores the gray areas of good and bad.  And UGH the cliffhanger.

Shoutout to Captive for being utterly awesome!  (And I'll have a review for it posted soon!)

What books have you enjoyed lately?

~ Kaitlyn

Friday, November 21, 2014

ARC Review: Suspicion by Alexandra Monir

Goodreads summary:

Mysterious. Magnificent. Creepy. Welcome to Rockford Manor.

"There's something hidden in the Maze." Seventeen-year-old Imogen has never forgotten the last words her father said to her seven years ago, before the blazing fire that consumed him, her mother, and the gardens of her family's English country manor.

Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.

My review:

The main reason I was interested in this book (besides the gorgeously gothic cover) was that it's supposed to be perfect for Downton Abbey fans.  I wouldn't quite call that an accurate description.  Instead, I think it is more like The Princess Diaries, as author Amy Plum said in her blurb.  Unfortunately, this book was good but not great.  It felt like it was littered with cliches.

First off, the main character was very much a Mary-Sue.  Everything about Imogen seemed cliched, from her awkwardly cute personality to her naive and cheerful attitude.  As for the love interest, I found him to be incredibly bland.  He was a handsome, wealthy heir who acted distant and rude.  And Imogen still liked him.  So the romance made me feel very irritated.  Sure, they were good friends as children, but they had no connection as teenagers and so I didn't feel their chemistry.  Oh well, at least it wasn't insta-love.

The plot and the setting were the main reasons I liked this book.  The story did take a while to actually start because there were so many flashbacks to Imogen's childhood, but I didn't mind it.  The flashbacks held my attention and were crucial to the storyline.  The plot certainly had a good deal of suspense, always leaving you to wonder who Imogen can trust.  Although I didn't figure everything out, I did guess some of the reveals.  The big twist at the end was decent, but I have to say it was ultimately a little unbelievable.  But the setting was done pretty well.  There wasn't an overabundance of description, but it was just enough to make me feel like I was in England!

In the end, this book was a fast and decent read, but not particularly memorable.  I disliked the main character and the romance, but the plot was good enough to make me keep reading.  I wouldn't recommend buying Suspicion right away - maybe get a Kindle sample to see if you're really interested or wait till your library gets it.

* I received a free copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.  Thanks!

My rating:  3 out of 5 stars

~ Kaitlyn

Thursday, November 6, 2014

My Top 3 Books of October 2014

October was a crazy month for me.  But after this next week, things will be slowing down for me.  And I will definitely have a couple reviews up this month - I have a couple books from Netgalley that need to be reviewed. :) So here are the books I read in October:

- Panic by Lauren Oliver
- Of Neptune by Anna Banks
- Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson
- Sky on Fire by Emmy Laybourne
- We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
- The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
- Such Wicked Intent by Kenneth Oppel
- The Jewel by Amy Ewing
- Suspicion by Alexandra Monir
- The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

My top three favorites:

1. We Were Liars by E. Lockhart.  I only picked this book up because of the hype, but I am SO glad that I did.  It's easily one of my favorite books that I've read lately.  The prose was beautiful; I reread so many lines that were so perfect, I was at a loss for words.  And the suspense!  Wow.  When I read the twist at the end, I just sat there in shock and had to rethink the whole story.  This is one of those books that you'll immediately want to reread.

2. Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson.  I did not have high expectations for this book, since I didn't really care for the author's previous book Amy and Roger's Epic Detour.  But wow, did I love this one!  It's everything that a great contemporary novel should be.  I loved the main character's growth throughout the story, and the introspective writing style.  Such a lovely read.

3. The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan.  I feel like I've been waiting for this book forever, and I'm happy to say that it was amazing!  There's a proper ending for each of the characters we love so much, and thankfully not too much heartbreak.  The only thing I disliked was that I wanted the points of view for Percy or Annabeth, but oh well.  Still a fantastic conclusion!

What books have you enjoyed lately?

~ Kaitlyn

Monday, October 6, 2014

My Top 3 Books of September 2014

This post is a bit belated, thanks to a history exam and an essay I have due this week, but here goes!

These are the books I read in September:

- The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols
- Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins
- Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
- This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
- Sacrifice by Brigid Kemmerer
- Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins
- Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen
- The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
- Frozen by Erin Bowman
- Stay With Me by J. Lynn

My top three:

1. Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins.  I had major expectations for this book - it felt like I'd been waiting to read it for so long!  It was absolute perfection.  Isla is so adorkable and Josh is such a sweetheart and together they made a wonderful couple.  I also love that their relationship isn't perfect and it has its ups and downs - it's a realistic yet cute romance!

2. The One That I Want by Jennifer Echols.  This book was a total guilty pleasure read, but I just loved it.  It was the perfect escapist read, and there was not a moment that I was bored - funny lines were flying every which way and the main character had the funniest sense of humor.  Sometimes it's a nice break for the mind to read a predictable but entertaining story. :)

3. Stay With Me by J. Lynn.  Wow, so my top three books for the past month were all contemporary romances!  What can I say, they're so fun to read.  Stay With Me was so brilliant; it was the perfect combination of romance and suspense.  And the love interest Jax is totally swoon-worthy - he's the sweetest guy ever.  Loved this one!

What books have you enjoyed recently?

~ Kaitlyn