Discussion: Favorite Authors

Maybe I’m all alone in these feelings among the book blogging crowd, but I’m curious, does anyone else feel at least slightly panicky when someone asks who your favorite author is/authors are?

sheldon-paperbagI know what some of you are thinking: Oh yes, I do! I have too many to choose from! Well, good for you, but I feel I sort of have the opposite problem.

If you ask me who my favorite author is, I would probably say of all-time probably C.S. Lewis, but right now my biggest amount of love is for Marissa Meyer. I might also mention how much I love Leigh Bardugo, how much Jon Acuff’s last two books have meant to me, and how much I appreciate Jane Austen’s stories even if I don’t love her writing style. After that, I feel I kind of draw a blank, and here’s the other kicker… I still feel like I can’t completely claim these as favorites sometimes.

Leigh Bardugo, yes, as long as I continuing loving what she writes, makes complete sense. I own physical copies of all her books, they are all signed, I met her, and I rated of each books 4.5 stars. That’s pretty consistent with loving someone’s work, I think. Marissa Meyer, on the other hand, I rated her first two books 4 stars each, only own e-book copies of them, but I gave Cress 5 stars, own a physical copy of, and love so much I will push The Lunar Chronicles on anyone who will listen. I think with Marissa, I just love the world she created, I adore every.single.character. (well, all the good/main ones anyway, but there are quite a few so that is an achievement!) and I just think she’s getting better and better with her writing. So even if I don’t have all the swag to be her #1 fan I think it’s legit to say that I love her.

C.S. Lewis. Maybe I mention him to sound intellectual. I wasn’t wild about Till We Have Faces though everything I had heard about it before reading  was positive. I don’t even love all the Narnia books (but the ones I do love, I love a lot!). I have read a lot of excerpts from several of his non-fiction works though (I have yet to sit down and read one of them from cover to cover though) and he has made an impact on my spiritual life. So while I don’t consistently love all his fiction (not to mention I haven’t read it all yet), his non-fiction has impacted me, even though I haven’t even read all of those books either.

But all this babbling leads me to my next point, which is that while sometimes I really love something an author writes, it doesn’t mean I do love/will love everything they write. I adored Diana Peterfreund’s For Darkness Shows the Stars and Across a Star-Swept Sea but have hardly any interest in any of her other books because they don’t really sound like me. Now, maybe one day I’ll read them and realize I was wrong, that’s possible, but those two books are SO ME that I don’t feel like the others could measure up. I really liked Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina because of the characters, but that’s the only book I can go off of, and I have no way of knowing if I’ll love her next cast of characters just as much.

And all this talk stems from an email BookBub sent me letting me know I could receive author alerts about when my favorite authors’ e-books go on sale.

But my absolute faves I would rather go guy their physical books. What about authors I haven’t actually even read yet but I’m curious about? What if I want to know when their book is on sale so I can check it out? Why do you have to insist they’re my favorite, BookBub?!

Never mind that BookBub is a website, not a person, and they aren’t actually forming an opinion on me based on my “favorite authors.”

The only question in the bookish world that makes me even more panicky is, “What’s your favorite book?” Really?! Favorite book ever?! Now really, how am I supposed to choose?!

johnny-deppHow do you feel about picking a favorite author? Do you have a lot of favorites, or are you like me and feel like you can only truly claim a few?

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Book & Novella Mini Reviews

I usually list the titles of the books I am reviewing in the title of my post, but there were too many to list this time. Three out of five of these reviews are only a paragraph long, and the others aren’t too terribly long either, so don’t be too afraid to read on. 🙂

Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

gr-harrypotter3The hype got me a little bit on this one, because I had so many people tell me that it was their favorite and this was the book where things got really dark and good and I spent like the first 75% of the book waiting for the good, dark stuff to happen. That last bit was really quite good, I have to say, and really redeemed a lot of it for me, but I honestly hope this isn’t what I consider the best in the series. I’m definitely intrigued by the new things I learned though and I’m really looking forward to book #4.

Rating: 4.5 Stars (was more like 3.5 or 4 until that end)

The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith

gr-the-land-unchartedThis was an off-the-beaten-path read for me, an adult Christian fiction book from a very small publisher. I used to read a lot more adult Christian fiction and would actually like to read a little more again, but I get nervous about it being cliche or cheesy or over-the-top preachy. From those aspects, The Land Uncharted was really great. You simply see that faith is part of these people’s lives and it’s pretty subtle. I really liked the premise and feel: it’s set in the near future and there’s a world war, but the specific setting of this story is a remote land that is unknown to outside dangers and feels more historical in nature. I also liked the characters and connected with Lydia, the MC, quite well for the most part, however there was a little bit of disconnect from the characters in the way the story was written.

The writing in this felt to me like something I could very easily accomplish, meaning that it did not seem to go through a rigorous editing process. I’m not speaking of grammatical errors, but everything just felt slightly underdeveloped. Like, how in the heck did 8 families manage to turn into a fairly large, genetically diverse population? But I felt most of the underdevelopment was with the characters. I completely understood each of them and their personalities and they were all different (well, except Mandy and Bethany, I confused them all the time), but I felt I never knew what they were feeling unless they said it. Or thought it with very on-the-nose thoughts, along the lines of, “Connor is a good man and I believe I could be in love with him because of X, Y, and Z, which is perfect compliment for my personality and the way I am.” I used to write this way myself, so it’s easy for me to recognize. But I try to avoid it now, and I hope as Keith grows as a writer she will grow out of this too.

Also, I felt Keith glossed over some really good stuff, like Lydia and Connor getting married! She jumps from the proposal (which quite frankly did not elicit much feelings even though I thought they were a great couple) to a few months later when they’re married, and it’s not even like a cute scene of them. It’s about Lydia Bradshaw being a doctor and saving the day. Seriously? Lame. Though the epilogue was a great set-up for what’s to come, unfortunately, it didn’t help with the lack of emotional development.

It also drove me crazy that Lydia thought she was to blame for everything and that she assumed everyone would think poorly of her if a man treated her a certain way. Um, no. I know she probably thought that way because of the way her society was, though I didn’t see much reinforcement of these sorts of thoughts from the people in her life. That sort of thing really gets to me.

But overall, I liked this story, and I’m looking forward to reading more by Keith and this world. I saw a lot of potential, and I hope to see her writing improve with each book.

Rating: 4 Stars

Partials by Dan Wells

the-partialsI made it all the way to December before I put a book down unfinished (well, not counting Les Miserables, because I do intend to pick it back up one day), and I feel so bad that this was the one too. First off, I got this for my birthday last year and I just now got around to reading it. I wanted this book because Dan Wells is on the Writing Excuses podcast that I love. And here’s the thing about Partials: it’s not poorly written. The world is interesting and in the 148 pages I read I mostly understood how it came to be (though there was a lack in logic and sense when it came to making the women be perpetually pregnant, but I digress), and the characters are fleshed-out and funny. And it wasn’t even a slow build-up.

So what was the problem? Complete and total apathy. Every day that I did pick up this book, other than the day I started it, I had no interest in reading it. I could say that maybe it wasn’t the right time for me, and that might be somewhat true. I think I would have finished this book if I read it two years ago when I was not burned out on dystopia and post-apocalyptic. Not to say that this book is like The Hunger Games or Divergent because it isn’t really, it’s different! But honestly, I don’t think I am going to find myself musing about what could have been and find a desire to get into it again. I just flat-out did not care about the characters or their situation. I have kept reading books like this earlier this year, but all those books were highly praised by fellow bloggers who insisted that it got really good. When I looked at the ratings my Goodreads friends gave the book, only two of them had actually read it and rated it: one was a 2-star rating and one was a 3-star rating. That didn’t help motivate me to continue.

I would not not recommend this book to those who are interested though. Perhaps you’ll find yourself more invested in the world and characters than I did, because it’s not poorly written. I just couldn’t bring myself to care.

Rating: DNF

Poison Dance by Livia Blackburne

gr-poisondanceI got this novella for free a little while ago, and it’s a prequel for the YA fantasy Midnight Thief. I thought this free novella would be a perfect way to help me decide if I wanted to invest in the series. And in the end… I was still undecided. It started off pretty promising for me, and I was intrigued, but after a while it became less interesting and the ending just fell flat for me. It’s one of those endings that would have really gotten to you if you were really emotionally involved with the characters, but I didn’t have the time to be, so it really didn’t mean much of anything for me. So, I don’t know. Jury’s still out on continuing the story. It doesn’t help that I’ve read mixed reviews on Midnight Thief.

Rating: 3 Stars

This Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

gr-thisnightsodarkFor a story about a hostage situation, this really was quite boring. I never connected to Tarver a whole lot in These Broken Stars, but I remembered him being slightly more interesting than he came off in this short story. It wasn’t awful, it just wasn’t particularly good. I will say that there are a couple of interesting tidbits that add to the bigger picture of the world, but it wasn’t enough to redeem the story. The best part of this was reading the sample of This Shattered World.

Rating: 2.5 stars

The Famous People Tag!

Charlene @ Bookish Whimsy tagged me to do this Famous People Tag (like a million years ago, ha), created by  Naomi @ Wonderland Creek.

The Rules:

  • Put up the ‘famous people tag button’ and link back to the person who tagged you
  • Answer the questions
  • Tag the ten last people who commented on your blog (excluding anonymytes or the person who tagged you) (NOTE: I personally also excluded people who are not frequent readers of my blog or that don’t have their own blog. This was also the last 5 commenters who fit the above criteria as of 9 PM CST on Christmas night. Did I just say 5? Yes, because I’m lazy. But seriously, you can do this even if you aren’t “officially” tagged!)

famous-people-tag1. Who’s your favorite singer/group?

My all-time fave (meaning they’ve been my fave for YEARS) is Switchfoot. I’ve been listening to them since high school, and my husband and I go see them every chance we get (which is usually about once every other year). Their music really just speaks to me in a way I can’t fully express.

switchfootI also have a couple of newer favorites that I’m really into these days, particularly Needtobreathe and Phillip Phillips. The latter’s second album, which released back in May, gets so much play time in my car because I just love every single song so much. His songs make me want to go on road trips and write great books.

phillip-phillips22. If your favorite male actor was in the same room as you right now, what would your reaction be?

First, I’m trying to decide who my favorite male actor is… probably Christian Bale. So, it would probably take me several minutes to psych myself up to talk to him, freaking out silently to myself, “Ohmygosh, ohmygosh, it’s Christian Bale, I have to speak to him, breathebreathebreathe.” Then I would hopefully have succeeded in psyching myself up enough to approach him, casually introduce myself (though I would probably be really shaky with nerves!), let him know how much I love him in Nolan’s films and Little Women (ha ha), and ask for a picture. And then I would probably die after it was all over.

Christian-Bale3. Is there a famous person you used to love but (due to something they have done in their life) you’ve suddenly changed your mind?

I do sometimes like celebrities a little less when I learn things about them, but I learned well over a decade ago to not put any human being on a pedestal, because they will disappoint you. So yes, there was a time when that happened, but not recently, and not with anyone super famous.

4. Name a famous person you like who’s name starts with a V.

Vin Diesel? First person to come to mind… don’t love him but I like him well enough.

vin-diesel-6a

He is Groot. (couldn’t resist)

5. What’s one of your favorite red-carpet dresses?

Like Charlene I had to do a search, and I rediscovered this classic beauty of a dress that Emma Watson wore that I remember seeing before. The back of the dress is my favorite part.

emmawatsondress6. Who’s your favorite Royal person?

Could it be anyone other than Kate? Maybe little George; he’s cute. But I love Kate. She’s like the epitome of every girl’s dream.

royal-fam7. Who’s your favorite child actor/actress?

This is a hard question because you think someone is a child, you blink, and suddenly they’re not a child anymore! As far as someone who was a child actress, I thought Dakota Fanning was always amazing as she was growing up on screen. For someone who is a child now, well, I don’t actually know, but I’ll go with Mackenzie Foy who played 10 year old Murph in Interstellar because she was great. Oh, or the little girl who played Cossette in Les Mis. Adorbs.

8. Are there any actors/actresses whose private lives you like?

I don’t think I know of any of their lives well enough to have much thoughts about them, though it looks like RDJ has fun with Tony Stark-esque cars.

rdj-car9. Do you think that the actors/actresses have improved these last 100 years?

I’m just going to quote Charlene’s answer because I think she said it well: “Like Maggie talked about in her post, I think our perception of the quality of acting has changed over the years as our perception of quality writing and production values have changed.  What was amazing back then, wouldn’t cut it now, but it was still quality at the time.  And actors are still wielding the same kind of skills, but it might come across differently now.  There is subtlety and nuance in performances regardless of time.”

10. What’s the weirdest famous-people name?

A lot of famous people give their kids weird names, but one of the weirdest names of a celebrity him/herself that stands out to be is Topher Grace. I mean, his name sounds like Gopher. Apparently his name is actually Christopher but he didn’t want to go by that or Chris so… there you go. Actually, now that I think about it, the weirdest is Ochocinco. Really, dude?

ocho-cinco11. Do you think you look like a famous person? Which one(s)?

Not really.

12. Share your favorite famous-person quote.

Does C.S. Lewis count? He said so many of my favorite things. I don’t think I can choose just one.

13. Who’s your favorite dancer?

I’m afraid I don’t have a favorite famous dancer…

14. Why is your favorite actress your favorite one? When did you decide that she was your favorite?

Looks like I’m deciding right now, because I’m not sure who to pick, HA. *Thinks* *Puts this post in drafts* *Opens post and thinks more* I stil l don’t know, honestly. It used to be Keira Knightley, largely because of Pride and Prejudice. I still like her pretty well, I just feel I don’t watch many of her newer movies these days. Lately I have been liking Hayley Atwell, or basically just Peggy Carter. 🙂

Hayley-Atwell15. Have you ever met/seen/been close to a famous person?

Did you see my Leigh Bardugo post?! That was exciting! I’ve been to some Star Trek conventions so I’ve met/seen/been close to some Star Trek actors, the most well-known being William Shatner (though I did not meet him). And I met a well-known Christian artist, Michael W. Smith, at a wedding once! That was a neat experience because it was so unexpected.

smitty&meThe last 5 people who have commented on my blog and met the above criteria, and thus are tagged, are Kayla @ The Thousand Lives, Kelley @ Oh the Books, Alise @ Picture Us Reading & Those Who Geek, and Val @ Innocent Smiley. And anyone who is interested! If you feel so inclined, fill this out and share it on your blog!

My Top 10 Movie Anticipations for 2015

Hopefully early next month I’ll be ready to reveal the rankings of the movies I saw this year (it looks like so far I’ve seen 10 2014 releases, but I want to squeeze in a few more before I make that post), but for now I want to continue my tradition of sharing my most anticipated films for the upcoming year (see my most anticipated films of 2013 and 2014). It’s interesting to go back and look at the lists; my most anticipated films do tend to be ones I see and enjoy, but sometimes I end up not seeing something, being disappointed, or end up enjoying a movie I was unaware of when I made the list. But based on what I know now, here’s what I look forward to seeing in 2015…

10. Tomorrowland, Coming May 2015

This one looks interesting and it’s directed by Brad Bird, and I love not only his work with Pixar but also Mission: Impossible 4, so I’m hoping it’ll be good!

9. Kingsman: The Secret Service, Coming February 2015

This movie just looks like fun to me, and feels like it could be the premise of a YA novel.

8. The Jungle Book, Coming October 2015

junglebook

Clearly not from the upcoming adaptation, but I couldn’t resist…

So I was gonna be all like… “OMG, this movie’s going to be awesome because Benedict Cumberbatch is voicing Shere Khan!” and then I checked the IMDB page and found out it’s actually Idris Elba. Don’t get me wrong, I like Idris Elba and I think he’ll do a great job, but where did that come from? Was the Benny (I have no idea why I just typed that as his name) thing a rumor? Did he drop out? Did I just make that up in my head? Well, whatever, I’m still looking forward to seeing more about this one. Jon Favreau is directing (he did the first two Iron Man films) so that’ll be interesting.

*EDIT* I have been informed there is a 2017 Jungle Book with Benedict Cumberbatch and Christian Bale and Andy Serkis and Cate Blanchett so now that is really the one I am looking forward to! But hopefully this one will still be good. Though why two Jungle Book movies in two years?

7. Ant-Man, Coming July 2015

Ant-Man-Comic-Con_612x380About all I know is that Paul Rudd is playing a character named Ant-Man and this is a Marvel movie so yeah… I’m hoping it will be great, but I would like more details! (Oh, and Peggy Carter’s in it! That’s always a win!)

6. Mission: Impossible 5, Coming December 2015

There is no revealed plot for this movie yet, but I really, really liked M:I 4, way more than the first three M:I movies (though I do like them fine, some more than others), and I’m hoping this one will be just as strong. At least Jeremy Renner’s character is back (and Luther and Benji!), yay!

5. Peanuts, Coming June 2015

As long as I can remember I have had a deep love for the Peanuts so yes, I will be watching this, and I will probably (hopefully) love it.

4. Inside Out, Coming June 2015

First off, thanks to Maggie @ Macaroons & Paperbacks to tipping me off on this film before I started seeing stuff about it on Facebook, but FINALLY we’re getting a Pixar film that isn’t a freaking sequel! I just hope it turns out better than Brave… not my favorite.

3. Mockingjay: Part Two, Coming November 2015

I will probably cry all the tears, but I need to see Peeta be OK and Katniss finally love him.

2. Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, Coming December 2015

Um, because it’s Star Wars. I think this will be good. Allow me to be nerdy here for a moment… I’m just a tiny bit mad at JJ for what he did with the Star Trek timeline, though it IS an alternate universe and the films have a very wide appeal, both which I am grateful for, but also I do think it was rude of him to kill the Star Wars extended universe because of this film. But really, do you think this will be worse than Jar Jar? No, it won’t. I think it looks interesting (hello fun droids and strange lightsabers and helmetless Stormtroopers!) I’m looking forward to it!

1. Avengers: Age of Ultron, Coming May 2015

I have no words for this. I need to see this movie now.

Honorable Mentions: Insurgent (does the trailer make anyone else question if this is actually based off the book or not?) and Cinderella. I’m also mildly curious about Minions, Jupiter AscendingPan, and Jurassic World. I know everyone’s freaking out about seeing Chris Pratt with dinosaurs but I’m not particularly in love with either. Besides, I’ve only seen about 85% of one of the Jurassic Park movies and I don’t even know which one it was.

What 2015 movies are you eagerly anticipating? 

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten Books I Read In 2014, and this list is counting up to my favorite read of the year.

10. Code Name Verity

code-name-verityMy Review

9. The Screwtape Letters

screwtape-letters8. The 5th Wave

GR-the5thwaveMy Mini Review

7. The Leviathan Trilogy

leviathanLeviathan Review/Behemoth and Goliath Mini Reviews

6. The Winner’s Curse

GR-thewinnerscurse

My Comparative Review (The Winner’s Curse vs. Of Metal and Wishes)

5. Harry Potter (Books 1-3)

gr-harrypotter3Review for The Sorcerer’s Stone/Review for The Chamber of Secrets

4. Seraphina

GR-seraphinaMy Review

3. The Grisha Trilogy

grisha-trilogy-coversMini Review for Shadow and Bone/Double Review for Siege and Storm & Ruin and Rising

2. Across a Star-Swept Sea

acrossastarsweptMy Review

1. Cress

cressMy Review

What were your favorite books of the year?

2014 End of Year Book Survey

This fun reading survey and its graphics come from Jamie @ The Perpetual Page-Turner!

2014-end-of-year-book-surveyJust a note: Some links are of my reviews and some are the Goodreads links, so you might want to hover over to see which it is.

reading-stats-2014Number Of Books You Read: (As of 12/13/14, including novellas) 45

Number of Re-Reads: 1 (a Four short story/novella)

Genre You Read The Most From: YA sci-fi/fantasy

best-YA-books-20141. Best Book You Read In 2014? Cress by Marissa Meyer, hands down.

cress2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. It just wasn’t for me, unfortunately. 😦

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? This question is too hard for me to answer! I really don’t know!

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014? I’m still pushing The Lunar Chronicles as much as possible.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014? Shadow and Bone/Siege and Storm/Ruin and Rising. Actually, Ruin and Rising ties with Goliath for best series-ender that I read this year.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014? Leigh Bardugo!

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? The Distant Hours (adult fiction, also a historical-contemporary crossover)

distant-hours8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? Cress

9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year? I would like to reread Seraphina before Shadow Scale, if I can make the time.

GR-seraphina10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014? Siege and Storm

GR-siegeandstorm11. Most memorable character of 2014? Tie between Sturmhond and Thorne. Gotta love the man sass.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014? That is a hard decision, but I’m going to say Across a Star-Swept Sea. It wasn’t really purple prosey, but some of the descriptions of the land were just beautiful.

acrossastarswept13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014? The Screwtape Letters was probably the most important fictional book I read this year. Thought-Provoking Honorable Mentions are: Never Let Me Go, Code Name Verity, The 5th Wave, and The Infinite Sea

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read? Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014? I have two…

“They had an ordinary life, full of ordinary things — if love can ever be called that.” – Leigh Bardugo, Ruin and Rising

“Sometimes I think that maybe we are just stories.” – Jodi Lynn Anderson, Tiger Lily 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013? How I did this: Went to my read books on Goodreads and sorted by page number and just looked for what I knew I read this year that was the shortest and longest.

Shortest: The First Star to Fall by Diana Peterfreund (Across a Star-Swept Sea prequel novella)

Longest: The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

17. Book That Shocked You The Most (Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.) Code Name Verity, but honorable mentions are: We Were Liars, The Secret Hours, The Winner’s Curse, Cress, and The Inifnite Sea… I guess I read some shocking books!

code-name-verity18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!) (OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar) Cress and Thorne. Seraphina and Kiggs. Don’t ask me to choose between these two ships because I won’t!

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year I still really love Cinder and Thorne. My favorite though might be the Harry-Ron-Hermione friend trio from Harry Potter (I know the dynamics will change some, but as far as books 1-3 go.)

Harry-Ron-and-Hermione20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously Cress

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure Code Name Verity and The 5th Wave

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014? If I have to choose… Kiggs (from Seraphina)

23. Best 2014 debut you read? The Land Uncharted by Keely Brooke Keith… since I only read two debuts this year…

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? I was going to say the Grisha trilogy, which is super awesome, but it’s actually probably Harry Potter… the world is just so fun! I don’t think Leigh Bardugo would mind me saying that. 🙂

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

hugs26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014? Code Name Verity

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? It was a 2013 release but Across a Star-Swept Sea. That book does not get enough love.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? I’m going to go with Code Name Verity… even though it took me a while to connect with it, that ending… wow.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014? I read a few unique books, but maybe Never Let Me Go. Or We Were Liars.

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? Parallel. I don’t hate the book, but I sure do hate Michael.

gr-parallel

book-blogging-20141. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? Like I can even remember which blogs I just discovered this year… (Seriously, I don’t.)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? Parallel. So full of snark and Star Trek GIFs, but still pretty positive overall.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog? I really enjoyed my Bookish Wedding Inspiration posts.

TL-inspiration4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)? SCBWI Midsouth writing conference and Leigh Bardugo solo tour in Nashville

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014? Leigh Bardugo loving my bookish wedding inspiration posts! Oh, and I was nominated for a YA Highway Web Award! Totally unexpected and exciting, even if I didn’t win.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? By comments it’s My Top 5 Favorite TV Shows and Top 5 Favorite Movies (which isn’t a book post, though it is a Top 10 Tuesday post)

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? Anything about Star Trek. Because STAR TREK. This has nothing to do with books… oh well. 🙂 And any my reviews. There is one mini-review post that has ZERO comments on it, which makes me a little sad. (I get that one of the books was a book about writing, but the other book is Split Second!) Feel free to comment on it now, if you so desire. 🙂

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? Nashville indie bookstore Parnassus! I got to go twice this year after having never been before. I probably won’t get to frequent it, but thanks to their newsletter I’ll always know what’s going on! Also, Sundog Books in Seaside, FL! I obviously won’t get to frequent there but it was so cute!

10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? I had a few reading goals and I accomplished all of them except reading Les Mis… I said it was OK if I didn’t finish by the end of the year if I was still actively reading it, but I haven’t picked the book up in months… so…

looking-ahead-books-20151. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015? Not #1 priority but I really want to read Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard fairly early on in 2015, since I meant to read it this year.

gr-strange&deadly2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)? WINTER

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? It’s really hard for me to anticipate debuts since I don’t really know about the author’s writing style yet… Any time I get excited about a book by a new author I usually read reviews that make the book sound meh and never read it. Court of Fives sounds like it could be pretty cool (I mean, fantasy with some Little Women thrown in? Hello!), though it is just the author’s YA debut, not her writing debut.

gr-courtoffives4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015? WINTER (Do you see a pattern?)

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015? Reading: I want to read another Austen book (probably Mansfield Park), as well as pepper in a few more books that are non-traditional reads for me. Blogging wise, I am considering switching to a more author-focused site sometime in the next year, so my blogging will probably change due to that, but we’ll see.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone I don’t get any ARC’s so no 2015 reads for me yet!

Let me know if you filled out the survey on your site! What are some of your favorites? Also, feel free to see all the titles I read this year on my Pinterest board Books I Read in 2014

Mini Movie Reviews: Maleficent and Mockingjay Part 1

Maleficent

MaleficentI didn’t have a lot of interest in Maleficent, initially. It looked like one of those movies that could be good, but could also be pretty bad. After hearing a couple of co-workers praise it, I decided to check it, and to my relief it was pretty good. It has nice visuals, the acting is good (Angelina Jolie of course steal the shows in the title role, but Elle Fanning was also good), and the plot and writing aren’t lacking the way Snow White and The Huntsman was (though there is a pretty major plot hole that my husband and I basically facepalmed over). I think my favorite part was watching the various transformations of Maleficent. Also, you think there’s going to be insta-love in the movie, and then it actually ends up sort of poking fun at it and proving to be just insta-attraction, which is totally viable. The movie is definitely worth at least one watch.

3stars2Mockingjay Part 1

mockingjay-movie

I have to say that I have been really surprised to see a lot of mixed feelings about Mockingjay Part One among book bloggers. Before I dig into my thoughts on how the movie turned out, let me lay out my expectations…

– Mockingjay is my least favorite book of the trilogy because I think the pacing is weird and it’s just a lot of bad stuff happening. Plus Peeta is missing for a good chunk of it and if you read my blog regularly you know he’s my favorite.

– I have immense respect for how Francis Lawrence picked up where Gary Ross left off and was able to maintain the look and feel of the first movie while improving it as well as staying more true to the book than the predecessor. I thought Catching Fire the movie was so good that I might even like it more than the book, though it’s hard to say for sure without rereading it.

So in conclusion, while part of me wondered how Mockingjay could possible be made into two decent movies, I actually had a lot of faith in Francis Lawrence.

And personally, I think he nailed it.

I’m not going to get into a deep analysis of the movie, but what I will say is that the parts of the movie that were added and not from the book, everything with Effie, the portrayal of Katniss dealing with PTSD, all the propo stuff, and then that RESCUE OPERATION SCENE, were pretty close to perfect to me. Seriously. Given the source material, I don’t know if Francis Lawrence could have done much better. It is a slow-paced movie, and it’s not filled with the same sort of action, excitement, and romance as the first two, BUT IT’S NOT SUPPOSED TO BE. The third book is very different from the first two. It’s all about Katniss’s struggle and I think I felt closer to it in the movie than I did in the book. The only complaint I have is the omission of this conversation-

Haymitch takes the seat across from me. “We’re going to have to work together again. So, go ahead. Just say it.”

… All I can say is “I can’t believe you didn’t rescue Peeta.”

“I know,” he replies.

There’s a sense of incompleteness. And not because he hasn’t apologized. But because we were a team. We had a deal to keep Peeta safe. A drunken, unrealistic deal made in the dark of night, but a deal just the same. And in my heart of hearts, I know we both failed.

“Now you say it,” I tell him.

“I can’t believe you let him out of your sight that night,” says Haymitch.

I nod. That’s it.

It’s not necessarily an enjoyable watch, per se, because it is two hours of Katniss with PTSD, but there are some lighter moments and overall, I found it extremely worthwhile and a very worthy adaptation.

4-5stars-editWhat are your thoughts on these movies?

The Top 10 New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014

Top Ten Tuesday topic is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Today’s topic is Top Ten New-To-Me Authors I Read In 2014, and this list is in order from least likely to seek out a new book by this author to most likely, based mostly on their writing style and the subjects/stories they choose and not taking into account sequels I am anticipating.

Noteworthy runner-up for this list: Elizabeth Wein, Code Name Verity

10. Kate Morton, The Distant Hours

kate-mortonKate Morton’s The Distant Hours was different from my typical YA fare, but that’s one of the reasons why I think I might seek out more of her works in the future. Sometimes, you just need something different.

9. Jennifer Lynn Barnes, The Naturals

jennifer-lynn-barnesI like that Jennifer actually knows about psychology and uses that in her writing, but when I was reading the blurbs for her other books I felt sort of meh about them. Plus, I’d be worried about more love interests that I could care less about. But there’s still a pretty decent chance I’d pick up a another (non-The Naturals) book by her one day.

8. Marie Rutkoski, The Winner’s Curse

marie-winners-curseI really enjoyed the mind games of The Winner’s Curse, so if Marie offered more of that in another book, I’d definitely be game for it.

7. Scott Westerfeld, The Leviathan trilogy

scott-westerfeld-leviathanI have to say, I want to read more Scott Westerfeld, but at the same time, I’m not really interested in his other already published works. I thought I might want to read Uglies and/or Afterworlds, but there are things I have heard about both that make me less sure. Maybe I will, but I would really like to see him do more alternate history/steampunk!

6. Lauren Miller, Parallel and Free to Fall

lauren-millerEven though her characters always drive me crazy, the intriguing plots keep me coming, so I’m going to keep trying Miller’s writing out.

5. Keely Brooke Keith, The Land Uncharted 

keely-keithI just finished Keith’s debut and I think it’s safe to say I will want to read more by her. She definitely has room to grow as a writer, but the sweet romance and interesting world in The Land Uncharted is leaving me wanting more.

4. J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter (1-3)

jkrowling-hpThis surprises no one who has read J.K. Rowling.

3. Brandon Sanderson, Steelheart

sanderson-steelheartEven though Steelheart was just a four star read for me, I think I’ll like some of Sanderson’s other books more, plus, there was definitely plenty I did like in Steelheart. I also want to continue to support the writer whose podcast (Writing Excuses) has encouraged me in my writing!

2. Rachel Hartman, Seraphina

rachel-hartmanOK, I sort of lied. Rachel Hartman is this high on the list because I need Shadow Scale yesterday. But considering she created characters I loved so freaking much, I’ll be happy to read anything she puts out.

1. Leigh Bardugo, The Grisha Trilogy

IMG_2136

I’m reposting this because it makes me happy!

One of the rare few to make my elusive auto-buy author list.

Which new-to-you authors have you discovered this year?

Mini Reviews: Behemoth, Goliath, The Naturals, & Echoes of Us

Behemoth and Goliath (Leviathan #2 and #3) by Scott Westerfeld

leviathanI enjoyed Leviathan and was excited to continue the series, hoping that eventually there might be less focus on all the battles and action and more focus on the human relationships. Well, there was still plenty of action, but with the next two books there were some more interpersonal interactions that I appreciated, especially in book 3. I felt that the series grew stronger with each book, which I feel is exactly the way a series should be. I enjoyed the new settings in Behemoth and I appreciated the character development I waited so long for to finally take place in Goliath. Goliath was a pretty strong ending too, and though for a moment I wondered if Alek was really making the right choices in the end from a practicality standpoint, I do think he was right about the fact that war changes so much. So ultimately, I decided it was a good way to go. And I’m ultimately glad that I randomly decided to read this series. I would also love to read a follow-up of the series that takes place after the war ends!

For Behemoth:

4stars2For Goliath:

4-5stars-edit

The Naturals (The Naturals #1) by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

gr-the-naturalsIt’s easiest for me to review this book in bullet-point format…

– I find Cassie relatable.

– I LOVE the psychology of it!

– Sloane is easily my favorite.

– I can’t stand Lia.

– What is up with this love triangle? When does Dean ever actually show interest in Cassie? They talked about it but I never saw it or believed it. And Michael’s just, eh… Just a guy who knows he’s hot. OK, he’s loyal, I give him props for that, but still, there are better fish in the sea than either of these guys, Cassie. Move on. (P.S. I know she won’t. I know this continues in book 2. I can only hope in book 3 she’ll change her mind but… unlikely.)

– I think all the relationships in this book were underdeveloped, which was a shame considering the epic psychology of it otherwise and with such a good mixture of personalities in the book. I don’t know if I can ever buy that Lia and Dean have a relationship like “brother and sister.” It doesn’t ring true at all in conjunction with how they act around one another, at least not for me.

– The witty dialogue and banter was definitely a plus.

– The twist! Wow!

– The usage of second person narration worked very well with the way profiling works. (BTW, in case you haven’t read it, the whole book is NOT second person, just little parts of it. I know that sounds weird but it’ll make sense when you read it, I promise.)

4stars2Echoes of Us (The Hybrid Chronicles #3) by Kat Zhang

gr-echoes-of-us*Vague spoiler ahead… like really vague, but once you’re reading you’ll be able to figure something out based on what I said here, so proceed with caution*

I enjoyed the first two books of The Hybrid Chronicles pretty well, and I liked this book decently as well. But I have to say, when I finished reading I was thinking of the best way to describe my thoughts towards the book, and the best word I could come up with is: safe. I really like Kat Zhang; I’ve met her in person and interacted with her on Twitter, and I think she is a talented writer. But with the conclusion of the series she took no risks. There was one point where I thought she had, but nope, it worked out. After that, I wasn’t really afraid for anything else that happened. I’m not saying that I think the ending should have been tragic, but Addie/Eva lost NOTHING, and I don’t know how good that is for a character’s growth.

Think of other stories… In Mockingjay (highlight for spoilers), Katniss loses a lot of people she cares about, BUT Paneem is free and she is also finally able to love Peeta. In Ruin and Rising (highlight for spoilers), Alina loses her power BUT she gains a nice life with the person she wanted to share it with. In Allegiant, which I know has a super-controversial ending (highlight for spoilers), Tris loses her life in order to save those she loves, including Tobias, who struggles with the loss at first UNTIL he realizes that he can and must move on. In all these endings, the main character loses something. Though I don’t think loss always has to be a part of the ending, especially when you’re looking at a standalone story. I think of my favorite movie, Inception, (highlight for spoilers) where Dom loses his wife and essentially his kids over inception, but in the end he is able to be with his kids again (Or does he?! That dang top!).

At the end of Echoes of Us, there are some people Addie/Eva isn’t quite sure what happened to, but let’s be honest, she hasn’t really lost anything. She’s risked a lot, but it all worked out. She’s a different person, I guess, but it felt sort of hollow. And I hate that we don’t get much insight about how it’s going to be for hybrids and society in general. (Another mild spoiler here, I suppose…) How is it going to work out with Eva and Ryan and Addie and Jackson if they’re all still in one body with someone else? That was one of the main questions I had and it’s not even hinted at having an answer.

So this book was fine. Kat Zhang can write, but the emotions and the character growth really felt lacking in this final installment.

3stars2Content Advisory: All these books are pretty clean, the worst offenders of them being violence. 

Let me know what you think of these books!