Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!


My Most Excellent Year

1. My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger

This. Book. Was. Awesome. Like, literal paperback perfection. Asdlfjkdfs.

2. Out of Sight, Out of Time by Ally Carter (actually the entire Gallagher Girls series, which is made of awesome)

SOMEBODY GET ME MY PAPER BAG. This book was possibly my favorite out of the series because of the intensity and suspense of it all, and the book just sucked me in and spat me back out at the end blubbering and leaking feelings all over the place.

The Mad Scientist's Daughter

3. The Mad Scientist’s Daughter by Cassandra Rose Clarke

This was just beautiful written and made me cry and uuuuugh.

Weather Witch

4.  Weather Witch by Shannon Delaney

I NEED THE SEQUEL LIKE YESTERDAY PLEASE

Jane Eyre

5. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë

This is now one of my all-time favorite classics. The love story and self-discovery are amazing.

Fuck It

6. F*ck It: The Ultimate Spiritual Way by John C. Parkin

This really made me think and question everything and I loved that the author wasn’t afraid to make the reader uncomfortable.

The Perks of Being A Wallflower

7. The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Beautiful, beautiful book that made me cry and laugh and go through every emotion under the sun.

Shattered Glass

8. Shattered Glass by Dani Alexander

Possibly one of my favorite LGBT romances. The main character is just so human and unique and complex, and the entire story is so fantastic asdfajksdlfj.

Queens Consort

9. Queens Consort: England’s Medieval Queens by Lisa Hilton

This book really got me into medieval history and introduced me to the realities of being a female monarch in medieval times.

Ash

10. Ash by Malinda Lo

Okay, so it wasn’t perfect, but Malinda is a FANTASTIC writer and it was just lovely to read. Also, Kaisa is a badass and I want to marry her. *fangirls*


Those were my picks for 2013. I can’t wait to find more fantastic reads in 2014! Here’s to a great new year filled with good books and friends and adventures and general awesomeness. Happy New Year!

ARC Review: Defy by Sara B. Larson

DefyHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Scholastic Press)

Publication Date: January 7, 2014

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Summary: A lush and gorgeously written debut, packed with action, intrigue, and a thrilling love triangle.

Alexa Hollen is a fighter. Forced to disguise herself as a boy and serve in the king’s army, Alex uses her quick wit and fierce sword-fighting skills to earn a spot on the elite prince’s guard. But when a powerful sorcerer sneaks into the palace in the dead of night, even Alex, who is virtually unbeatable, can’t prevent him from abducting her, her fellow guard and friend Rylan, and Prince Damian, taking them through the treacherous wilds of the jungle and deep into enemy territory.

The longer Alex is held captive with both Rylan and the prince, the more she realizes that she is not the only one who has been keeping dangerous secrets. And suddenly, after her own secret is revealed, Alex finds herself confronted with two men vying for her heart: the safe and steady Rylan, who has always cared for her, and the dark, intriguing Damian. With hidden foes lurking around every corner, is Alex strong enough to save herself and the kingdom she’s sworn to protect?

My Thoughts

I must say, I enjoyed this book. Alexa is a fantastic protagonist, and I love that she refuses to be a damsel in distress. She kicks everybody’s asses and saves everybody and she refuses to just lie back and do what the men tell her. I. Love. Her. She is my spirit animal and if I could call on a fictional character to have my back in a fight with the mafia, I would choose Alexa. Every time.

I will say it was a bit heavy on the romance, especially the love triangle situation, but that’s partly due to the fact that I would much rather see her fighting than making out with a guy, just because she’s so awesome at it. I would have found it more interesting if the animosity between her and Damian was real, or if Rylan was less of a Jacob Black clone. As it was, the love triangle annoyed me, especially because it seemed to transform Alexa into some starstruck idiot “discovering her newfound femininity.” And (slight spoiler), I was a bit bummed that there was no “OH MY GOD YOU’RE A GIRL WTF IS THIS” moment. Apparently Alexa is really shitty at pretending to be a boy. And apparently it’s not like anybody caught a glimpse of her lady bits; they just went “oh that’s a effeminate looking guy, must be a girl” and then went quietly about their business while allowing Alexa to keep believing she was the best fake boy to ever fake boy.

And when Damian is an ass (which, let’s be honest, is like once a page), Alexa takes none of it. She demands answers and is rightly furious at what he does, and although she does lose steam rather quickly, I still loved how feisty she is. By the end of that book, everybody and their mom knows not to mess with Alexa Hollen.

Also, SHE SAVES PEOPLE. There was no girl-plays-miniscule-role-in-actually-killing-bad-guy. Nope. This girl kicks the bad guy’s ass herself and becomes a national hero. It’s like Mulan except with a really not-cool king instead of an old emperor who is basically a Chinese Dumbledore.

Serious note: I was impressed with the inclusion of “breeding houses”. Rape is a really difficult and sensitive topic but I think the author approached it very well and it made me root for Alexa to succeed even more. Just the thought of what those girls were going through in that place is horrific, and it instantly made the plot so much more real and urgent for me. BUT, with that being said, I’ve heard other opinions and I know that not every reader will see it in that light. I can certainly see where it would come across as offensive, so just be aware of that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this. Alexa was an great protagonist and I’m very excited for the next book in the series!

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Absolutely!

Purchase Links:

Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository

The Sunday Post #6

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


Good morning! I hope you’ve all had a fantastic week wherever you are. My week was good, although yesterday ended with a family member in the hospital with something that looks pretty unpleasant showing up on his CAT scan. But it’s a new day, a new week, and hopefully everything will sort itself out soon. Now, let’s find out what’s been going on around TNN, shall we?

Last Week on TNN

MondayReview of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (4/5 hearts)

TuesdayTop Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Thursday: ARC Review of Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (5/5 hearts)

FridayLife of A Blogger — My Significant Other (meet my fabulous girlfriend, Julia!)

SaturdayStacking the Shelves #9

This Week on TNN

Monday: ARC Review of Defy by Sara B. Larson (4/5 hearts)

Tuesday: Top Ten Books I Read in 2013

Wednesday: My 2014 Resolutions

Thursday: Thoughtful Thursday — Writer Dreams

Friday: ARC Review of Being Sloane Jacobs by Lauren Morrill (still reading!)

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves #10

Bookish News

Gift Cards: I got Barnes & Noble gift cards for Christmas, which basically means I AM THE HAPPIEST PERSON TO EVER HAPPY IN THE HISTORY OF HAPPINESS. Ahem. I’m pretty chuffed.

Insurgent: Barnes & Noble is STILL out of Insurgent, and I’m about to throw things. Violently. However, I’m on the list to be called when they’re back in stock, so hopefully I can get my hands on a copy soon.

Non-Bookish News

2014 Jar of Memories: I’m so excited to do this for 2014 with Julia. We each have a jar (bought from Pier 1 Imports, and they have a super cool chalkboard painted on so you can label the jar) and we’ll write down memories of things we do together and good things that happen in our relationship, both everyday and on special occasions, and then at the end of the year, we’ll get together and open up our jars and read through them and remember. It’s really romantic and kind of sappy, but just such a stinkin’ cute idea. <3

Vicar of Dibley: Last night (or this morning, rather), I went back and rewatched a few episodes of my all-time favorite TV comedy, “Vicar of Dibley”. It’s on Netflix, and if you haven’t seen it, YOU MUST LEAVE THIS POST AND FIX THAT IMMEDIATELY. It’s a tragically short-lived British sitcom about a female vicar in a little village, and it’s so bloody hilarious, you don’t understand.

Sherlock: SHERLOCK COMES BACK THIS WEEK OH MY GOD ASDFGHJKLS. I’m going over to the wifey’s and we’re going to watch it and scream and cry and possibly (read: probably) roll around on the floor in hysterics. It’ll be awesome.


Until tomorrow! Happy New Year!

Love, Sam

Stacking the Shelves #9

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.


Hello! I hope you had a fabulous Christmas. Mine was lovely if you don’t count the lack of snow, and I’m so excited for the new year! I hope it will be one filled with good memories and friends and family for you and me both. But for now, let’s see what books I’ve added to my shelves this week, shall we?

For Review

Where You'll Find Me 17250657

Where You’ll Find Me by Erin Fletcher (thanks @ Entangled Teen)

Salt by Danielle Ellison (thanks @ Entangled Teen)

From the Bookshop

Your First Novel 7514925 24213

Your First Novel: An Author Agent Team Share the Keys to Achieving Your Dream by Ann Rittenburg and Laura Whitcomb

Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Christmas Presents

18244920 11235712 16068905

Etiquette and Espionage by Gail Carriger

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell


So I’m a bit bummed—well, heartbroken is a better word for it—because Insurgent is out of stock at Barnes & Noble. HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO GO ON WITH MY LIFE UNTIL YOU HAVE RESTOCKED, YOU @#$%@#!!! But seriously, I don’t think I’ll be able to function properly until I’ve finished the Divergent series. It’s a problem.

Anyway, I’m SO excited about these new goodies. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday, and happy new year!

 

Life of A Blogger: My Significant Other

Life of A Blogger

Life of A Blogger is a meme-style feature from the lovely Jessi over at Novel Heartbeat where we can chat about non-bookish aspects of our lives and learn more about each other!

P. S. This is rather spectacularly late, but I really wanted to sing my beloved’s praises, so I went ahead and did it anyway!


1280

Her name is Julia, and she is possibly the weirdest person you will meet outside of a circus.

We’ve been best friends for two years, and romantic cohorts for a few months. (To be honest, neither of us is really sure what began when.) We’ve got the kind of relationship that, despite how young we are, is pretty much a once-in-a-lifetime sort of madness, and every second of it is awesome. <3

A few things about this gorgeous girl… She’s Polish, with a massive, complex, fantastic family, most of which live all over Europe (making for fun travel adventures). She hates pretty much any remotely nutritious food and lives off tea, pasta, and Tumblr. She’s the pet human of two horses, two dogs, and three cats, and I’m 99% sure her iPhone is actually surgically attached to her body.

288

Together, we are probably terrifying to most people. We eat out way too much, buy matching underwear, terrorize waiters, and plot various ways to murder our favorite TV show writers. We both want to move to England after college and hole ourselves up in a nice little flat with a cat and a dog and just write and read until the end of our days. We plan to adopt Polrean (Polish-Korean) twins, named Seattle and Boston (nicknamed Bosie after Oscar Wilde’s lover) and raise them speaking Polish, French, and English, and we love to talk politics, philosophy, and books long past our bedtimes.

083

I honestly don’t know what my life would be like without her. She’s funny and smart and passionate and fiercely devoted, and she’s quite possibly the only person who never annoys me. She encourages me to be my best and she completely understands me. If it weren’t for her, I don’t like to imagine where I would be right now. And I’m so glad that I found her.

001

Love, Sam

 

ARC Review: Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton

Witch FinderHow did I get it? Netgalley (thanks @ Hodder Children’s Books)

Genre: YA, Fantasy/Paranormal

Synopsis: London. 1880. In the slums of Spitalfields apprentice blacksmith Luke is facing initiation into the Malleus Maleficorum, the fearsome brotherhood dedicated to hunting and killing witches.

Luke’s final test is to pick a name at random from the Book of Witches, a name he must track down and kill within a month, or face death himself. Luke knows that tonight will change his life forever. But when he picks out sixteen-year-old Rosa Greenwood, Luke has no idea that his task will be harder than he could ever imagine.

My Thoughts

I fell in love with Witch Finder from the cover alone. I mean, it’s freaking GORGEOUS. And also I love reading witch stories, so I was really excited to get approved for this one.

It actually turned out even better than I thought it would. Ruth Warburton has a lovely way with words and Luke and Rosa just gave me a lot of feelings. I loved Luke’s conflict over what he’s sworn to do; it was written perfectly and he did some things that I was rather surprised by. He’s not immediately torn with grief over his task of killing this upper-class witch, nor is Rosa a glowing beacon of virtue winning him over with the sheer purity and goodness of her heart. They both have faults and weaknesses and they had splendid chemistry together. The romance between them felt so sweet and genuine and I had to allow myself a few fangirling moments while reading.

There are some heavier issues in this book that I did not expect, such as abuse and financial problems, which really enhanced the story to me. The “villain” role, while a bit shallow in this book, has clear potential as a deeper character who has a legitimate reason for what he’s doing, and I was especially pleased by this because I hate typecasted antagonists who are bad just for the sake of being bad. It’s such a cop-out and it drives me nuts when authors do that.

I also really love the fact that Rosa does not just lie down and take everything that’s thrown at her—she’s a brilliant, strong character who, although having moments where she is powerless and defeated, really comes into her own by the end of the book. Luke, of course, made me want to throw myself off a cliff and paint rainbows everywhere simultaneously. He’s not fearless but he’s not a pushover either; I loved his protective side and the way he interacts with Rosa and the conflict he feels.

Overall, I loved this book. It was sweet, brilliantly written, and the ending came far too soon.

Rating:

Five Stars

Recommend it?

Absolutely.

Pre-order it:

Amazon | Book Depository

Other books by the author:

A Witch in Winter            A Witch in Love             A Witch Alone

Top Ten Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Top Ten TuesdayTop Ten Tuesdays is hosted over at The Broke and the Bookish, with a new Top Ten prompt every week. Check it out!

Pawn

1. Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1) by Aimee Carter

Splintered

2. Splintered (Splintered, #1) by A. G. Howard

The Nightmare Affair

3. The Nightmare Affair (The Arkwell Academy, #1) by Mindee Arnett

Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of A Creative Life

4. Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of A Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

Huntress

5. Huntress by Malinda Lo

The Miseducation of Cameron Post

6. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

7. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

The Archived

8. The Archived (The Archived, #1) by Victoria Schwab

Some Quiet Place

9. Some Quiet Place (Some Quiet Place #1) by Kelsey Sutton

These Broken Stars

10. These Broken Stars (Starbound #1) by Amie Kaufman

You have no idea how hard it was to narrow it down to ten. NO. IDEA. I was looking through my wishlist on Goodreads and I was just like, “Shit, how do people do this?” But I managed it, and I am absurdly proud of myself. Somebody give me a medal.

Meanwhile it’s Christmas Eve. AHHHHHHH!!! Happy holidays, my loves!

Love, Sam

Review: Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Dash and Lily's Book of DaresHow did I get it? Bought

Genre: YA, Romance, Contemporary, Christmas (it is totally a genre you guys, stop judging me)

Summary: “I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors of Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

My Thoughts

First things first: I’d never read anything by either Rachel Cohn or David Levithan when I got this book, but let me just say I have two new people on my To-Be-Hugged list.

But on to the book. I feel like I should have adored it; it really had the potential to be a new holiday favorite. But while I really did love it to pieces and I’ll probably reread it a few times during the next few years, it didn’t quite make it up to the level of book I typically build a shrine to. I’m not sure exactly why. It could’ve been because I wasn’t in the right mood, or I was tired, but oh well, I still really enjoyed it. It took me a few days to finish, but while reading I did have a lot of feels and I really fell in love with the story.

Lily was probably my favorite character just because she’s a little bit like me (although I’m actually the oldest child, not the youngest). She’s the sheltered, slightly naive baby of the family, and I loved her enthusiasm for all things Christmas. I loved to see her coming out of her shell and growing up a bit, while still managing to retain that sweet, childlike heart. I liked her instantly and I was rooting for her the entire way. I did like Dash a lot as well, and I really enjoyed his wit and the way he thinks, but there were a few times when he got on my nerves. I was shaking my book and yelling, “YOU IDIOT STOP BEING DIFFICULT!!!” in at least three different scenes.

But this book was, in general, charming. It was original, well-written, and completely hilarious. I mean, if you don’t laugh at the baby stealer part, then you need an intervention.

(Also, because of this book, I have a need to visit the Strand. A mighty need.)

Rating:

Four Stars

Recommend it?

Absolutely.

Purchase Links

Barnes & NobleAmazonBook Depository

Other Books by the Authors

Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List Every Day

The Sunday Post #5

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news, recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received, and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.


Good morning! I hope you’ve had a fabulous week filled with all the happy things. My own week has been spent shopping, crying over beautiful book bloggers (I’m think of having some sort of Book Blogger Crushes post just so I can get all this feels out in the open), and the burning of my new Peach Bellini candles from Bath & Body Works (anything with a wine glass on it has my automatic approval). Also the drinking of copious amounts of tea thanks to my spiffy new electric tea kettle. <3

Now, let’s see what’s been happening this past week, shall we?

Last Week on TNN

SundayThe Sunday Post #4

MondayARC review of A Dance of Cloaks by David Dalglish (4/5 hearts)

TuesdayMy Holiday To-Do List

Wednesday: Review of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (4/5 hearts)

Waiting on Wednesday (Stormbringer by Shannon Delaney)

ThursdayThoughtful Thursday — My Favorite Heroines

FridayBook Blitz of Ondine by Emma Raveling + A GIVEAWAY!

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves #8

This Week on TNN

Monday: Review of Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (4/5 hearts)

Tuesday: Top Ten Tuesday — Books I Wouldn’t Mind Santa Bringing Me

Wednesday: No post because CHRISTMAS!!!! Happy holidays!

Thursday: Review of Witch Finder by Ruth Warburton (5/5 hearts)

Friday: Life of A Blogger — My Significant Other (it’s a week late but shhh)

Saturday: Stacking the Shelves #9  (my Christmas book haul with bookish gifts included)

Bookish News

Gallagher Girls: I FINISHED THE GALLAGHER GIRLS SERIES AND I’M JUST REALLY EMOTIONAL OKAY

No seriously, I cried. Actual tearage you guys. I was so beyond thrilled to see how much Cammie grew from the first book to the sixth; she went from fretting about a boy to freaking SAVING THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT and it was just really well-done and the fifth book especially just blew my mind because I felt so close to her as a character. So anyway, yes, finished the series, cried, loved it, drank comfort tea and ate comfort ice cream and just generally leaked feels all over the place for at least 24 hours. It still makes me blubber just thinking about it.

Double-Stacking My Books: It’s officially come to the point where I cannot fit any more books on my bookcase without stacking them in front of another. Like the double-row thing (which I kind of loathe). So I will be utilizing the book-pile technique until some kind soul on the street hands me a hundred bucks to go buy a second 6-foot-tall bookcase.

Non-Bookish News

Game of Thrones: I found Game of Thrones on HBO On Demand so you guys probably won’t see me for a few weeks. (Just kidding, I’ll be back, blogging is too much fun.)

Holidaysssss: I am so freaking excited for Christmas! I love giving gifts and obviously receiving them is great too, but this entire season is just so jolly and fun, and I love the cold so much more than the heat, so I’m just basking in it all.

The Hobbit: ASDFKJASDLFKJSKDF THIS MOVIE!!! Okay, so it was admittedly kind of not the greatest thing ever; there was some shitty acting and I could not stop laughing in the elf-king’s scenes and I was annoyed by Kili’s romance from pretty much the moment it started. But then there was SMAUG THE AWESOME and is it strange to be attracted to a dragon? Because I was. I blame it on Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice. I swear he could melt glaciers with his smolder. *swoons*


So anyway, that’s been my week. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday wherever you are, filled with family, good food, and snow!

Love, Sam

Stacking the Shelves #8

Stacking the Shelves

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews. It’s a chance to share any books you’ve bought, borrowed, or received in the past 7 days. All of the books on this list are linked to Goodreads.


I hope you’ve had a great week filled with books and holiday cheer! I sort of let go a bit seeing as nobody ever buys me books for Christmas (probably because they assume I have every book ever written) so I decided to find myself some bookish presents. I have no shame.
For Review

17910570

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee (thanks @ Random House Children’s)

Oh my God, you guys, look at me controlling myself on Netgalley. *throws confetti*

From the Bookshop

A Great and Terrible Beauty The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind 93101 1333503713580951 6567017 12000020

A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (I know, I’m like 10 years late but whatever)

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina

Tales from the Arabian Nights by Richard Francis Burton (not this edition, the Barnes & Noble hardcover one)

Divergent by Veronica Roth (yes, I know I’m late)

United We Spy by Ally Carter (I’m totally NOT going to cry at the ending, I am strong damn it)

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz


The last two books have been on my TBR list for FOREVER so when I found them at my local used bookstore—okay, say what you will about supporting the author, but a) I’m poor, and b) I think of it as a rescue mission to keep books off the shelves of used bookstores and in my loving, underpaid arms—I made an unladylike noise (although when are my noises ever NOT unladylike?) and nearly impaled myself on a display trying to grab them from their respective shelves. CHRISTMAS CAME EARLY YOU GUYS IT’S A THING.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve added to my library this week. I’d love to hear what books you’ve found recently, so link me up in the comments! Happy holidays!
Love, Sam