2015 in Review: To All the Books I Might’ve Read

2016 (2)

An annual tradition started by The Perpetual Page-Turner.

2015 reading stats (4)

Number Of Books You Read: Eighteen-ish, not counting unfinished.
Number of Re-Reads: 3
Genre You Read The Most From: YA (Contemporary, Fantasy, and Sci-Fi)

Best in Books

1. Best Book You Read In 2015?

Re-read: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

New to me: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle

Released in 2015: The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff.

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

Every Day by David Levithan. I liked it, but it wasn’t the revelation I expected from the way others talk about it. It was my least favorite work by David Levithan. I really enjoy that he is is very experimental and high-concept with a lot of his writing, though.Screenshot_2014-04-23-13-54-05-1

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. I don’t usually read romance, and I was expecting a featherweight YA, but this had a lot of heart and genuine family relationships. Very sweet, but not dopey or ridiculous. I’ll be reading the sequel.

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?

Tie between Unwind by Neil Shusterman, and Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. I gave both to students, and the student who read Unwind went on to read Unwholly.

 5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015?

Best Series Started: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenni Han

Best Sequel: The Anatomy of Curiosity by Maggie Stiefvater, Tessa Gratton, and Brenna Yovanoff

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?

Jenni Han, Leigh Bardugo

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, translated by Cathy Hirano

 8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?

The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly Black

 9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Last Unicorn or The Scorpio Races

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?51H8x07Fd7L._SX351_BO1,204,203,200_

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s just a lovely object that gives a feeling of tidiness and serenity. It’s small and square, with charcoal gray end-papers and an abstract, green watercolor cover. The title is all in lower-case, orange-red, in a traditional serif typeface. Just lovely, and reinforces the drive for both simplicity and beauty in the book.

11. Most memorable character of 2015?

Tik Tok, the gender-fluid medicine man. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?

Tie: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?

Unwind by Neal Shusterman. The ideas were absolutely killer, even if the writing itself is not mind-blowing. He really thought about his premise from all angles.

 14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read? 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I loved it so much, and the sample had just been sitting neglected in my Nook for two years!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?b629d9bad0f4440d14262b871bbf6240

“…but to the unicorn’s eyes Molly was becoming a softer country, full of pools and caves, where old flowers came burning out of the ground. Under the dirt and indifference, she appeared only thirty-seven or thirty-eight years old – no older than Schmendrick, surely, despite the magician’s birthdayless face. Her rough hair bloomed, her skin quickened, and her voice was nearly as gentle to all things as it was when she spoke to the unicorn. The eyes would never be joyous, any more than they could ever turn green or blue, but they too had wakened in the earth. She walked eagerly into King Haggard’s realm on bare, blistered feet, and she sang often.
And far away on the other side of the unicorn, Schmendrick the Magician stalked in silence. His black cloak was sprouting holes, coming undone, and so was he. The rain that renewed Molly did not fall on him, and he seemed ever more parched and deserted, like the land itself. The unicorn could not heal him. A touch of her horn could have brought him back from death, but over despair she had no power, nor over magic that had come and gone.”
Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?

Shortest: Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

Longest: Under the Dome by Stephen King

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most7514925

(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson. Toward the end, the hits start coming and she doesn’t let up until the reader is gutted.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)

(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)

Puck Connolly and Sean Kendrick forever, duh. Peter Pan didn’t deserve Tiger Lily.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Petra and Geraldine, Ladylike by Maggie Stiefvater, Anatomy of Curiosity

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously26308619

Anatomy of Curiosity

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Every Day by David Levithan

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?

Pine Sap, Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

23. Best 2015 debut you read?

N/A

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?2015-06-08-1433728699-2614985-rudecakes_600-thumb

Rude Cakes by Rowboat Watkins

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Variations on Drowning by Brenna Yovanoff, Anatomy of Curiosity

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Tiger Lily, in several ways.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?

The Anatomy of Curiosity

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?

Looking for Alaska by John Green

Looking Ahead

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?

I was a very bad book blogger this year, what with getting my teaching credential and all. I don’t think I read any new book blogs. D:

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?

Easy, I only wrote one: Random Review – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

Again, there was only one: Character Study – Dumbledore’s Cruel Intentions

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?

Nada. So sad.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?

Completing this survey, and keeping Ink alive.

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?

A total lack of time. Finishing my credential and starting my first year of classroom teaching left me exhausted, with almost no time to indulge in reading for pleasure. I didn’t quite make my New Year’s Resolution of reading 25 books this year. Weak.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

The eternal champ: Character Study – Ginny Weasley vs. Cho Chang

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

Character Study: Dumbledore’s Cruel Intentions

9. Best bookish discovery (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?

I gave Audible a try, and was pleasantly surprised. Easy to use, and more enjoyable than I anticipated.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?

Nah. I missed my reading goal by seven books. :/

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?

Joyland by Stephen King

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?PNOK Final Cover 101515.indd

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Enter Title Here by Rahul Kanakia

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?

Write in my blog more than twice? Read at least five classics and twenty-five books total. I have Plato’s Republic and Don Quixote on deck.

 

Character Study: Dumbledore’s Cruel Intentions

Dumbledore-Portrait-albus-dumbledore-2477491-593-582People have turned on Dumbledore, you guys. Since books six and seven of the Harry Potter series were released, articles and comments have gone from describing him as a lovable kook with serious skills, to an evil mastermind raising Harry for the slaughter like veal. I was recently reading the comments section on an article in which people were tearing apart every move he made, from sending Harry to the Dursleys to taking him horcrux hunting. These same commenters described Dumbledore as an irredeemable plotter even while calling him an author’s pet.

This got me thinking, what would Harry’s life have been like if Dumbledore had never become involved? I’m going to do a little inferring, and it’s bound to be riddled with spoilers. You have been warned.

Continue reading

Random Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

That’s right friends and readers, I’ve got my teaching credential on lock which means I’M BACK. Reading books for fun and reviewing them for your pleasure.

One of the sweetest, most naturally developing love stories I have seen in YA Fiction.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han51GdayQh-uL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Lara Jean Song is the dreamy, sartorially adventurous middle sister in a tight-knit trio. The Song girls lost their mother unexpectedly years before, and have worked together to make life easier on their dad ever since. When uber-organized older sister Margot sets off for college in Scotland, it’s Lara Jean’s turn to take the lead running the household. At the same time, five of Lara Jean’s love letters are accidentally mailed to each of the five boys she once loved…including the popular boyfriend of an ex-friend and her older sister’s long-term love.

This is a book I normally would have avoided, the jacket is all mauve and it seemed terribly predictable. I bought it because I picked up a copy of Scott Westerfeld’s Afterworlds and Amazon told me the same readers enjoyed both. That definitely piqued my curiosity.

There are a lot of YA Romance standards in this book: the boy-next-door, the popular guy, the mean girl, a bargain to save face and incite jealousy; but none of the plot points are handled in a campy or obvious way. The story unfolds very naturally from the inciting event, and the heroine takes just as many steps back as she does steps forward (like we all do when we are learning and growing). It is a very realistic love story. One of its strongest points is the relationship between the three Song sisters and their father, and those relationships are given just as much screen-time as the romantic stuff. Each of the girls has a strong, distinct personality and an investment in their family as a unit.

This book really handles all of its characters fairly, the “mean girl” can be pretty darn mean, but she does have her reasons. Lara Jean is not by any means flawless or a Mary Sue, nor did she become catnip to boys overnight. Every part of this story, every lesson learned, feels real and earned. There are romantic gestures, but they are on a scale that feels possible with high school boys and organic to the characters as written.

If you enjoy novels with a strong family dynamic, sweet romance, characters coming of age, and a steady dose of humor…this one could be for you.

Chair Rating:

Sweet, upbeat, a family affair.

Sweet, upbeat, a family affair.

Don’t Touch It!

I think every book-lover, or movie-lover, or any-type-of-creative-property-lover has an ideal. That one something that is so close to the core of who you are that you turn into a feral dog at the thought of anyone toying with it in even the most minor of ways. It might be a classic car, one version of a song, a specific work of fiction…

TFioS Quote 2

Mine is Peter Pan. Many people know some version of the story: maybe the Disney animated film, maybe the Mary Martin play. I’ve met few who have actually read the novel, and only one who has admitted to a deep and abiding love for it.

I did not read J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan until I was an adult. About two years ago, in fact. Which is weird, because I checked the video of the play out of the library and watched the Disney VHS so much it drove my mother crazy. Peter Pan’s Flight is my favorite ride at Disneyland. I read all the time. Why did I never get around to the classic novel?

I felt its truth in my heart and my solar plexus and the backs of my eyes. It poked me right in things I felt that I could never articulate, and the (positive) adjective most commonly used to describe me is articulate.

So when I saw this:

I felt like this:

giphy (1)

It is not a feeling based in rational thought but, Joe Wright? I will cut you. Trust.

Lest you think I am a hater NerdGirl who will bear no departure from canon, know that I will openly admit to loving Hook and the 2003 Peter Pan live-action film. Those movies get it.

Random Review: Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Things are getting out of hand.
bluelily

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater

When we last saw our intrepid heroes the ley line was stronger than ever thanks to Adam’s efforts, Gansey and Blue had acknowledged both their mutual interest and the impossibility of acting on it, Ronan had begun to accept his power and nature, and Noah was still dead. Maura went missing, the Gray Man sacked up, and Persephone was helping Adam manage communications with Cabeswater. If the first novel in The Raven Cycle revved the engine and The Dream Thieves hit the gas, Blue Lily, Lily Blue drifts into some mud and gets its wheels spinning. The quintet at the center of The Raven Cycle is closing in on Glendower, but every step forward comes with another warning of grave danger. These warnings come from Persephone and Calla, Cabeswater, a giant hillbilly, a frequent employer of hit-men. The danger is real, and near, and as reality warps ever further the Raven Boys and Blue are stretched to their limits.

The focus shifts from Ronan back to Blue in this novel, though it checks in with everyone, and suffers for it a bit. Blue is just not terribly interesting as a character. Of all the characters in The Raven Cycle I find myself least interested in what happens to her and Colin Greenmantle. Both somehow remain more ideas of people than actual characters. During Blue’s angstier moments I found myself counting adverbs rather than experiencing the story. She had a few intriguing scenes, but none of them seemed to amount to anything. No payoff, yet.

In general, Blue Lily, Lily Blue has some really strong scenes. Spooky, eerie scenes. Scenes with intense sexual tension. Scenes of wonderment and terror. The novel is at its best when the quest for Glendower is moving forward. In these moments it is at its scariest and most profound.  Pretty much everything that takes place in a cave or involves Persephone is good reading.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is not the strongest entry in The Raven Cycle thus far, but it has a strong finish and I’ll be back for what is sure to be a thrilling conclusion.

**Because I am the luckiest duck, I received an ARC of Blue Lily, Lily Blue directly from Maggie Stiefvater a full month before it came out. This in no way affected my review, other than allowing me to post it before the novel’s official release. I will be re-reading the copy I pre-ordered from Fountain Bookstore when it arrives for comparison. 

Chair Rating: 

I am sure it's here for a reason, but not totally I want to sit in it.

I am sure it’s here for a reason, but not at all sure I want to sit in it.

Random Review: The Dream Thieves

Maggie Stiefvater, an author you can trust.8472014340_f18884df4d_o

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

The second book in The Raven Cycle finds us back in Henrietta, Virginia with three Aglionby boys and one contrary girl. One of the boys has begun to flicker in and out of existence, another is sharing his existence with a supernatural forest. One of the boys is spending a lot of time pretending he doesn’t want the girl, while she pretends the same thing right back. The last boy sees all of this and then some. This motley crew continues the search for a dead Welsh king with the assistance of three psychics, a lot of money, brainpower, fast cars, charisma, the ability to manifest dreams, and the hindrance of a professional hitman on their tail.

This is Ronan’s story, and all the better for it. He is a fascinating character who seems to be composed of contradictions. He is religious and profane, violent and tender-hearted, distant but passionate. The Dream Thieves is the rare book that lives up to breathless blurbs touting a story that is “action-packed!” and “thrilling!” It really is those things. When I reviewed the first book in this quartet, I noted that it showed a lot of potential. The Raven Boys revved the engine of an exhilerating epic, roaring the promise of excitement and danger, and The Dream Thieves hit the gas. This book is explosive, emotionally complex, tactile, and sensitive. It is Maggie Stiefvater doing what she does best, unlike anyone else, on par with The Scorpio Races. All of the characters remain in play, weaving through each others’ stories as the plot winds tighter and tighter in anticipation of an explosive conclusion.

Just read it, you won’t be sorry.

Chair Rating: 

Strap in for the ride of your life.

Strap in for the ride of your life.