Wednesday, December 31, 2014

End of Year Book Survey 2014!

All kudos, well wishes and offers of chocolate for the End of Year Book Survey go to the marvelous Jamie of The Perpetual Page Turner. She's a really awesome person and her blog rocks my socks. That is all.

Well, we're about to turn the last page of that complex book that has been 2014.

I'd like to say that I want to slam this particular edition, shove it into my closet and pretend it was a thing that didn't happen, but my friend Allie noted that "despite bad reviews, she still thought this book had its redeeming qualities," so we'll not write it off entirely.

This is my very first time filling out the End of Year Book Survey, so apologies in advance for any rambling, shorter than normal paragraphs and unnecessarily repeated answers.

2014 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: According to my old frenemy, GoodReads, my reading challenge sits at a rather paltry 42 logged titles. 

(GoodReads might have also done a little digital shimmy and flaunted past-Kaye in my face and her impressive 250 books one year in particular. 250. Don’t ask me how. I truly don’t know how.)

I feel like I might have read more than that, but seeing as I’ve been locked in a rather horrific reading slump since the end of 2013 (I feel like I should make some sign against evil when even discussing 2013, period), I’ll acquiesced to the scored tally and just resolve to do better in 2015.

We shall meet again, GoodReads. And I shall be the victor.

Number of re-reads: Very likely, another forty. I’m still figuring out just how to add in my re-reads without having to explain to well-meaning friends that yes, I have read this before, or adding a duplicate title.

Best in Books

Emily Lloyd-Jones has them all beat on ARC presentation. She won 2014, guys. She won.

Best book you read in 2014?

On the recently published, young adult front, I’d have to say The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutoski. I loved the strategy, the writing, the characters – it was one of those rare moments where the hype did not fail me and I actually closed my Kindle feeling quite satisfied and kind towards all YA readers, this truly is the magic of Christmas, et cetera, et cetera.

(Full disclosure: I read this in the late spring, with the flu. And I am definitely not Ebenezer Scrooge discovering the joys of Christmas, particularly in the late spring. I’m sorry if anyone is disappointed.)

Another book I just adored that’s actually dropping in 2015 is the lovely Nova Ren Suma’s newest, The Walls Around Us. I haven’t reviewed it yet because it’s been a few months and I still cannot summon up prose that will do justice to Nova’s lovely descriptions and words and…everything.

On the middle grade front, my favorite actually hasn’t been released yet, and that would be Beastkeeper by Cat Hellisen. (Yes, I linked my review for once because I’m pretty proud of it and the teeming emotion of the moment.) It honestly, genuinely took me back to the books I read when I was actually in middle school and I will probably re-read it again in the near future.

Book you were excited about and thought you were going to enjoy, but didn't?

Eesh. I always hate questions like these. I feel like I’m singling out some poor author and drop-kicking them and their beloved work out of my zip code.

(I want to love every book. I want to – and usually do – love most authors I encounter. But alas, I am only human and have many flaws, like not keeping this blog active enough and sometimes eating leftover noodles cold rather than warming them up like my mother suggests.)

I’d have to say, at this point, We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. No one hurt me, please. I know a lot of friends adored this one, and I know odds are high, considering it’s me we’re talking about, that I will go back later in 2015 and actually read the entirety and go, “Hey, this was good!”…but right now, I couldn’t get more than a chapter in.

I haven’t crossed it off my like list entirely. But right now, I just can’t get into it.

Most surprising book read in 2014?

I’d have to say…Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell – in a very, very good way. This was one of those books I placed a hold on when I saw its title announced, forgot what it was even supposed to be about, and then opened and found that it was a gift to Kaye from the bookish powers that be because it contained so much of what Kaye actually likes.

The sea! Mysterious magic at work! A likeable, understandable heroine!

Yes, yes, yes.

Book You Pushed The Most People to Read (And They Did) in 2014?

This would very likely be The Fire Wish by my friend Amber Lough. I actually lent out my own ARC quite a few times here and there over the summer, talked about her constantly to whoever would listen and pretty much made a total bother of myself until people told me yes, they did read it.

Mission accomplished? At least I didn’t lose other friends in the process.

A runner-up would be my most beloved Howl’s Moving Castle, which you would think (or perhaps, I would think) every fantasy lover in the world would already have read and adored. But apparently, there are still people who need to be gently nudged toward what is good for them.

The best thing I seriously heard in 2014 was a friend telling me that another, mutual friend had listened to me yammer about Howl’s Moving Castle SO. MUCH. that she decided she had to read it and figure out what I was going on about, and loved it.

That was literally the best.

Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014?

Like I said, I was supremely bad at reading this entire year. In particular, I feel like I needed a major breather from YA, though I still love it, and a chance to branch out to other genres.

All of that said and done, I think the only series I really started in 2014 was The Winner’s Curse, and I like it so far but I don’t usually have the best of luck with sequels so we shall see.

Oh, wait, wait! I just remembered Dark Metropolis by the lovely Jackie Dolamore. Now there was a good start to a series. I’ve made a deal with myself to read everything Jackie ever writes.

Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

This is a coin toss between Cat Hellisen, who is a lovely person all around and with such a gift for prose, and Katherine Brundell of the delightful, magical MG standalone Rooftoppers. I admire lovely people who have a knack for stringing together lovely words. They make the world a better place.

Also, love to my friends Corinne Duyvuis and Emily Lloyd-Jones, for the awesome Otherbound and Illusive respectively. Those were pretty great debuts.

Best book from a genre you don't typically read or was out of your comfort zone?

Nova Ren Suma always speaks highly of Laura Kasischke, so I checked out her YA debut, Feathered. Its premise, which feels as though it’s based off Natalee Holloway’s now infamous disappearance while on vacation in Aruba, was definitely a little out of my comfort zone at the time I was reading it. I was actually more in the state of mind that requires something cheerful rather than angst and heart-wrenching situations.

In any case, though, I do not regret the read, as the words were lush and heady and the story ended – to me, at least – with hope for the future.

Most action-packed/thrilling book of the year?

Will anyone be tempted to throttle me if I say that my most action-packed book of this year wasn’t a YA, and wasn’t actually published this year?

*backs away just in case*

Okay, so. I started reading Discworld by Terry Pratchett, that great, wonderful, ever-expanding fantasy series, last year. I’ve pretty much been on and off, particularly lingering in the YA Tiffany Aching books more than anywhere else (review on those hopefully to come soon, though I’m likely preaching to the choir now).

Anyway, I finally got around to consulting the brilliant “Which Order You  Might Want to Read Discworld In” chart (as opposed to just puddle jumping here and there as you will, which also seems like a good plan to me), and Guards! Guards! stuck out to me as a particularly viable choice for my next Discworld adventure.

I mean, wizards and dragons. And a background found family that features a boy raised by dwarves.
If you’re looking for your in to explore Discworld, this is a solid choice – very funny and very exciting.

Book you read in 2014 that you're most likely to read again in 2015?

If we’re talking YA – actually, let’s just focus on YA so I’m not bouncing around here.

Traditionally, every year, I re-read Howl’s Moving Castle at least once. Sometimes, I mix things up and add Chrestomanci there, too.

This year, I might be adding the previously mentioned Beastkeeper to my reread pile, because gorgeous prose (I am so predictable) and it is just so perfect for those nights when I need to have the perfect dark, wild fairytale in my hands.

On the YA front, most likely The Walls Around Us, which also has previously been mentioned, for the sake of corralling my thoughts together into a readable review.

And – you know what? This is so not YA or even MG, but Cat Hellisen urged me to read Among Others by Jo Walton, and that was so good I might very well find myself cracking it open again next year to enjoy it all over again.

Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?

Is it in bad form to mention The Walls Around Us in every response?

Anyway, that cover is pretty brilliant, if you ask me.

Also, I haven’t read it in full yet, but my baji Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars has an absolutely gorgeous cover that makes me wonder why I haven’t gotten a chance to finish it yet.

Most memorable character of 2014?

I seriously did not read a lot of current titles this year, did I?

The character that instantly comes to mind – possibly because I’m still reading the series – is Will Stanton, from The Dark Is Rising. I rather have a soft spot for middle grade characters with great, world-changing missions and who also happen to be fond of animals, even if it’s not majorly part of the plot.

Most beautifully written book in 2014?

Well, Nova’s coming right up besides Cat for this position.

But, there is also the lovely Natalie C. Parker’s Beware the Wild, which I found very evocative and haunting and was exactly what I’d thought it’d be. And that makes me remember that, along with not reading a lot of current books, I did not review a lot of the titles I did read that debuted this year and actually loved.

Also, my friend and 2014 debut Annie Cardi’s The Chance You Won’t Return had lovely words. It’s been a while since I read it, near the beginning of the year, and I should probably re-read it for the sake of being able to say more lovely things about it. I do know I enjoyed it very much.

Bad, bad Kaye.

Most thought-provoking or life-changing read of 2014?

Hmm. As of right now, my mind is a blank.

I am sure that there has been at least one, or possibly two, titles I lingered over, paused, highlighted phrases and perhaps even teared up, but knowing my year, I doubt it was actually YA.

I think, right now, it’d likely be Among Others, mainly because it rekindled my strong belief that I am a writer, and Beastkeeper, because – as I noted in my review – I found myself back into my old magpie ways of feathering my own nest with lovely words that caught my eye.

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

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, for sure. I kept being told I would like it. I would see the cover, go, “Oh, that looks fascinating!” and then put it off or note it down on my library list and then go to the library and realize it wasn’t on the shelf.

God bless the librarians that staff and stock the online Kindle collection. God bless.

They have given me access to a lot of titles the brick-and-mortar library, or the system at large, might not have (and I just learned the other day that they’ve stopped priority ordering books past two years back).

Favorite passage or quote from a book read in 2014?

...The whole idea of a family tree is not a dead spine but a living, breathing thing, with roots under clean soil, and bright sparkling branches hungry for the sky. When someone dies in the outside world, the other names go on breathing, seeking, creating, so that…it all continues.

(The Enchanted, by Rene Denfeld – it’s not YA, and I’ve actually set this aside for the time being, but the language is positively glorious.)

 Shortest and longest books read in 2014?

Oh, come on now.  Okay, at least I know that Night Film by Marisha Pessl was a good 600 pages, so that was definitely the longest. 

Book that shocked you the most?

The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutoski. Wow. Just. Wow. It was in a very good way, but still. I liked that ending a lot.

A runner-up would be Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. It mainly surprised me because I thought I’d like it, and in some ways I did, but not as much as I thought I would? (On the bright side, it cultivated a wonderful, epistolary friendship, so I don’t regret it at all.)

OTP of the year

Howl Pendragon and Sophie Hatter have not been unseated for my ultimate OTP. We’ll see how they fare next year.  

Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year

By far and large, the bonds between the girls in The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. I just adore friendships and found families, and I received both in full measure, so I was very, very pleased. 

1Favorite Book in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
The Walls Around Us.
*runs for the hills*

Best Book You Read in 2014 Based Solely on Peer Pressure

Again, this would be The Winner's Curse. There was a ton of hype for that title. A lot.

And it paid off, for once - so hooray!

Newest Fictional Crush in 2014?

I'm taking a pass right here.

Best 2014 Debut You've Read?

It's tied between Annie Cardi and Natalie C. Parker. Duke it out, ladies!

(No, seriously. You both are amazing.)

Best World-Building in 2014

Again, I think The Winner's Curse takes the prize.

Book that put a smile on your face

I think Guards! Guards! or else its immediate sequel, Men at Arms, would take this prize gladly.
If not, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place – and how fortuitous, seriously, that I actually finished that yesterday so it could find its place of honor on this list.

Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?

Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Septys – which, now that I check, didn’t actually make it on my GoodReads counter. What is going on, GoodReads? Hast thou betrayed me at the very end of this ghastly year?

In any case, I didn’t ugly cry the way I did for The Book Thief (ah, memories) but it was pretty close.

Hidden gem of the year?

I definitely think Annie Cardi's writing is underrated.

So very underrated. She deserves much more.

Book that crushed your soul?
Did I mention that one of my rereads this year – actually, I picked up the audiobook on a recommendation from a friend – was Code Name Verity?


It was.

Most unique book you read in 2014?

Night Film by Marisha Pessl – which, of course, I must add the disclaimer that it’s not YA for the millionth time, but it took an approach involving e-mails, photocopies, clipped newspaper articles, blog entries…It was definitely cool to read, even on a Kindle. 

Book that made you the most mad?

This is not YA, but…

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. I adored it – the prose stirred my heart to think of new levels, the characters burrowed into my soul…and then.

And then.

The ending.

What was that ending?

Why did that ending have to be?

Your Blogging/Bookish Life

For 2015, I'm definitely taking more book-related pictures.


New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015

My new friend (as of this year) Emma a.k.a. Miss Print at! Emma is really awesome, has epic reading tastes and I just enjoy her opinions on books.

Favorite review you wrote in 2014?

I am not the best at beating my own drum, but I really, really felt that my review for Beastkeeper really reflected what I felt at that moment and was actually coherent and enjoyable to write.

Best discussion or non-review in 2014?

I think that would be my Sailor Moon post, which I am ridiculously proud of and not just because I found a use for the most interesting Mamoru GIF to date.

Best event you participated in?

BEA, hands down. Best yet. (And it was only my second year.)

Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

Oh, I don’t know – the moment I was able to toss my arms around my friends at BEA, particularly my much adored Nicole Brinkley of YA Interrobang? Possibly snapping a picture with Veronica Roth and getting a hug from her?

Or maybe that moment when Scott Westerfeld knew who I was and signed my ARC of Afterworlds with a special note?

BEA, guys. It was grand. I only hope that 2015 will be even better. It has a lot to live up to.

(This question was apparently missing, so I filled in with my own.) 
Favorite book snagged at BEA?

Confession: I still haven’t made my way through my BEA ARCs. But,  if you’d ask me which were my most anticipated titles, I’d have to say The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill and Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld.

Most popular post on your blog?

It seems like it’s a tie between the Sailor Moon post and one I made announcing the initial days of the We Need Diverse Books campaign. Wow. Time flies.  

Post you wished got a little more love?

I can’t say for sure, because my traffic is never big as it is and I’m happy for whatever views I get. I’m glad that the Sailor Moon post got so much love in terms of views, but I would have liked to see a few more comments and discussion there, I guess.

Best bookish discovery?

This is not a discovery by any means, but I finally made it to Books of Wonder and lost myself among the shelves and fell in love with a million titles and was only able to leave with two. Oh, it was beautiful.

I’m hoping to explore two of the local indies in our area very, very soon.

Did you complete any reading challenges in 2014?

*Camera zooms in on Kaye The Office-style*

*Single tear rolls down Kaye’s cheek*

*Fade to black*

(No. No, I didn’t.)

Looking Ahead

One book that you didn't get to in 2014 but will be a priority in 2015?

There are a lot of books that didn’t get their due attention, but friends keep saying good things about Afterworlds and I have it signed to me somewhere around here, so I should really do something about that.

Book that you are most anticipating for 2015 - and not a debut?

I definitely want to get my hands on the sequel to The Winner’s Curse. Also, I really like the sound of The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer. Dark, foreboding plot lines are kind of my thing.

Oh, oh, oh! I have an e-ARC of this I’m planning to crack open tonight, but Razorhurst by the amazing and very dear to me Justine Larbalestier. It just looks so very good and I’m so looking forward to it.

And Bone Gap by Laura Ruby, which I also have an e-ARC for. Yay, yay, yay!
A 2015 debut you're highly anticipating?

Way to put me on the spot.

My gosh.

There are so many, and so many friends are debuting as well.

Okay, just plucking from my brain at random: Sona Chairaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton’s Tiny Pretty Things (which I have as an ARC, hooray, hooray!); Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky (historical fiction for the win); and my baji Aisha Saeed’s Written in the Stars, as well as my other baji Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes.

Oh, and Marcy Kate Connelly’s Monstrous!

So many good things coming out, though. The Fifteeners is such a talented class of authors!

Series ending or a sequel you're looking forward to in 2015?

As I already mentioned, The Winner’s Curse sequel. Also, I really need to do a Lunar Chronicles re-read in preparation for the final book dropping!

One thing you'd like to accomplish in your bookish life during 2015?

I definitely want to attend BEA again before it moves to Chicago.

Also, I want to read more than 100 books. Seriously. It’s going to happen.

Okay, that was two things.

A 2015 title you've already read and recommend:

Beastkeeper. You. Need. Beastkeeper.

Also, The Walls Around Us.

*smugly withdraws*

Happy New Year, one and all! May it be a kind and productive one for you, with plenty of reads! 

Get your happy Sailor Scout face on!


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