The Whimsical Mama

<3 Such is the life of a stay at home mommy and Army wife (:

End of the Year Survey 2014 January 3, 2015

Filed under: Books,End of Year Survey — Maura @ 12:00 am
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2014 End Of Year Book Survey

Last year was my first full year (partially) of blogging. I hit my one year of blogging in July. I didn’t post as much in the summer because I was enjoying as much time with my kiddos as possible. When I was ready to jump back in, the KH incident happened and honestly, it scared me a bit. So, I continued my step back from blogging. The safety of my family comes first and it always will. I’m ready to start blogging again though. I’ve missed it more than I thought I would. It was great to look back on my 2013 End of the Year Survey and then reflect on 2014. Once again, all the graphics are from Jamie.

***Affiliate links used below***

reading-stats-2014

Number Of Books You Read: 210 total, 122 personal reads
Number of Re-Reads: 20 (I really thought it was more!)
Genre You Read The Most From: Fantasy (duh)

 best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

Contemporary:
Find Me


This book. Oh. Wow.

Dystopian:
Defiance (Defiance Trilogy)

I didn’t spend the time on this that it deserved, but it is a beautiful dystopian/fantasy that I can’t wait to re-read and finish the trilogy!

Historical Fiction:
The Ring and the Crown

I’m a glutton for historical fiction AND Melissa de la Cruz books. This book was superb. I absolutely adored the alternate historical timeline that Melissa created. I am DYING for book two. *crosses fingers and toes for an ARC*

Paranormal:
Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Daughter of Smoke and Bone)

Once again, I owe another great new book discovery to Mary. She’s been on my case to read these forever. I still have to finish book three, but these are such a great read!

Science Fiction:
Cress (The Lunar Chronicles)

Not my favourite of the series, but it was still great! I’m looking forward to Fairest: The Lunar Chronicles: Levana’s Story
and Winter this year.

Fantasy:
Illusions of Fate

I have a love-hate relationship with this one. Holy wow that Kiersten created this to be a standalone. Fantasy is not an easy thing to do that way. And GRRRR for this being a standalone! I would love to explore this world more! And look at that cover. BAM!

 

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

After the End


*RAGES FOR DAYS*

 3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014? 

17 First Kisses


If you know me at all, you know contemporary is NOT my thing. That’s why I was completely shocked by how much I adored this standalone debut!

 4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did) In 2014?

Oceanborn (The Aquarathi) (English Edition)


I LOVE Amalie and her books. I will push Waterfell (The Aquarathi) and Oceanborn forever! PLEASE HarlequinTeen, I NEED MORE!!!! I definitely pushed it the most, not sure how many people read what I suggest!

 5. Best series you started in 2014? Best Sequel of 2014? Best Series Ender of 2014?

These Broken Stars (Starbound)


Though this is technically a standalone, it’s also part of a trilogy and it’s INCREDIBLE. Oh wow. This audiobook. *swoons*

Frozen (Taken)


This definitely does NOT suffer a sophomore slump. So man feels. So much love. Book three noooooooow.

Evertrue: An Everneath Novel


*iz dead* So incredible. So happy I got to meet Brodi and gush over this beautiful series.

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Dirty Little Secret


Again, still not a contemporary fan, but (thanks to Mary, duh) I am a HUGE Jennifer Echols fan now!

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

Open Road Summer

I seem to owe, Mary a lot for book recommendations! She asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing this for Bloomsbury. I said yes! She’s usually good on recommending books I’ll love, so I try to give them a shot. Emery’s debut is spectacular!

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

The One (The Selection)

I don’t know what it was about this trilogy. I could NOT put it down! It was like crack!

 9. Book You Read In 2014 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

The Jewel

 This debut was fantabulous and I can’t wait for book two!

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

Her Dark Curiosity (Madman’s Daughter)

 

I can’t wait til A Cold Legacy is out and I can have the pretties on my shelf! These covers are gorgeous!

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Rose Under Fire

 Code Name Verity was rough, but oh, man, Rose Under Fire ripped my heart out and stomped all over it. Rose is just a powerful character!

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Kiss of Broken Glass

Being written in verse was a huge switch up for the year and I loved how this flowed. It spoke to me on a deep level and I finished it super quickly.

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2014?

The Impossible Knife of Memory

Army wife. PTSD. Who I am and what I fear most. Laurie Halse Anderson took a topic supremely close to my heart and showcased it beautifully. I bawled, I laughed, I loved it wholeheartedly. Read it.

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

Throne of Glass

I know, I know! Honestly, if I hadn’t had the chance to meet Sarah J Maas at YALLFest, I probably would still be waiting to read it! The wait between Harry Potter books was excruciating. Committing to another long series was just a tough decision. I definitely will love rereading them though!

 15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2014?

“You get your energy from being by yourself,” I guessed. This was Harper’s description of the strange phenomenon I did not understand. “Having to talk to a bunch of people at once, especially people you don’t know, makes you feel drained.” Biggest Flirts
Biggest Flirts (The Superlatives)

1. Um. Hello description of me! I swear, Jenn followed me in HS to create her characters in The Superlatives! I see so much of HS me in all of them! ❤

“We don’t choose who we love, her mother had once said. Love sweeps you off your feet like a riptide, and leaves you blind by the time you find your footing on the shore.” Stolen
Stolen: A Novella (Taken)

2. This is so me falling in love with the hubby! I wasn’t expecting it, and I was swept up quickly. So beautiful.

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Little Knife: A Tor.Com Original (THE GRISHA)

Shortest! Oh, this trilogy and its novellas.

What to Expect the First Year

Actual longest, but I didn’t read all of it (again) in 2014.

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments)

Actual longest completed. Bittersweet feeling.

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Frozen: Heart of Dread, Book One

I so did NOT think it was possible for MDLC to write something I disliked so much. Guess there always has to be something, right? I was just SO let down with this. UGH!

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

Night of Cake & Puppets (Kindle Single) (Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy)

Zuzana and Mik FOREVS! ❤

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Blue Bloods 3-Book Boxed Set

So, they’re from a re-read like last year’s favourite pair, but OH MAN do I love Oliver & Schuyler’s relationship!

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2014 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Orphan Queen

Hands down my favourite from a previously read author. HOLY WOW. I’m dying for the Black Knife novellas!

21. Best Book You Read In 2014 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:

Shadow and Bone (The Grisha Trilogy)

Mary, stop glaring at me through the computer for taking so long to read this! I am so in love with this series! I plan to read it over and over through the years!

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

The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy)

Oh, Ronan. I loved you so much in The Winner’s Curse. Then reasons.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Rites of Passage

This. Book. Read it. Now. Do it. Love it. Tell Joy how much you love it. Kthnxbai

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

Snow Like Ashes

Holy wow. This world building. I was THERE. Sara is INCREDIBLE. I can haz book two?

25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read?

The Selection

Stupid grinned through this. The Selection = Twilight for me. I don’t know WHY I love them so much, but I just DO. #TeamMaxon

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2014?

The Book Thief

Bawled like a freaking baby through physical copy/audiobook and then bawled even harder watching the movie.

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

The Falconer: Book 1

So much love for this gem! I’m impatiently waiting to see if the UK will be out in print before ARCs are out here for book 2 to see how I get my hands on it! I need to know THINGS.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

If I Stay

My feels. Dead. Dead, dead, dead. Sobbed so hard.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Dark Metropolis

Definitely some unexpected twists in this gem that made it so much better! Definitely an underdog that needs more love!

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

Allegiant (Divergent Series)


REASONS. *RAGES FOR YEARS* This is a duology, man. Allegiant does not exist. >.< DEAD TO ME.

.

book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

I made friends with a lot of new bloggers on Twitter, but I dropped the ball on checking out their blogs. /: I plan to remedy that in 2015!

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

EESH! I can’t pick just one!

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

My Tot Time Thursday feature I started seemed to be getting a lot of hits! I’m excited to see if it will still do well when I start it up again! (:

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

See below! But also, the Brodi/Jodi signing at the beginning of 2014! I love their books so much and it was great to get to meet Brodi Ashton, CJ Redwine, and Myra McEntire in person. And of course, it’s always awesome to get to see Jodi!

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

YALLFEST. Hands down, going to YALLFest. Because THESE happened

IMG_4303

Me with Leigh Bardugo *fangirls for days*

IMG_4319

Brendan Reichs!

IMG_4320

SO FLIPPING AWESTRUCK. KATHY FREAKING REICHS.

IMG_4324

Scott Westerfeld!

IMG_4328

LOVED meeting this fantabulous husband-wife duo! ❤

IMG_4334

SUCH a trooper! Her line was ridiculous AND she was sick.

IMG_4340

So happy I got to meet half of the lovely TeaTime ladies! ❤ Aubry!

IMG_4349

*iz dead* So my book didn’t get personalised for timing reasons, BUT I still got to meet her and talk to her! She is SUCH a sweetheart! ❤

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

My Blogoversary post!

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

A lot of them, but I am so thankful for the views of people who have been checking in every day to see if I’ve come back to blogging yet. You guys are AWESOME and I AM BACK because of YOU! ❤

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

Bookoutlet and Book Depository!

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

I did, I did! I wanted to read 100 for me books and I surpassed it! I also set a Goodreads goal of 200 and I passed it as well. I was involved with a few challenges, but I stopped keeping track of them about halfway through the year. I think I completed most of them though!

 

looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion)

I am so excited to see where the action goes next!

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

The Cage

I have adored Megan’s Madman’s Daughter trilogy and I can’t wait to see where her new series goes!

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

Red Queen

This cover. I am so excited! I’ve been seeing some mixed things on it, so I hope I come out loving it!

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

A Cold Legacy (Madman’s Daughter)

I’m so not ready to say goodbye yet!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I hope to make sure I read to my children every single day. Doesn’t matter if it’s just a passage from what I’m reading and Punk asks or a children’s book. Just make time for them and read to them.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

Burning Kingdoms (The Internment Chronicles)

Pre-order this and read it and Perfect Ruin (The Internment Chronicles)
. Do it. Do it for the kitties. (;

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Please Be Kind, Rewind: 21 September – 11 October 2014 October 11, 2014

It’s been a while, and I apologise. Blogging lately has felt more like a job/duty than being fun. So. Instead of putting out crap, I continued to take a step back. It’s probably hurt me from getting ARCs, but I’ll deal. Relaxing/spending time focused on my family this summer apparently wasn’t enough of a break of sorts. I have been doing a lot of reading now that I’m over my slump and I have a lot more to read between now and YALLFest. Yup. That’s right. This girl is going to YALLFest for her birthday present! WOOT! I am SO flipping excited. I am hoping to get some books signed to giveaway here. I’ll keep you updated on that! Hubby is supposed to be going with me and I’m going to get him to stand in line with me with the extra books. (: I am very behind on all things blogging, but I feel like I’m ready to start facing the challenge. Hopefully things are back on course!

***I am giving being an affiliate with Amazon a try. I would appreciate it if you’d consider buying the books through my links if they’re available. (: Helping me helps YOU! October Featured Books ***

 

Completed:

Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz

The King’s Curse by Philippa Gregory

The Transfer by Veronica Roth

The Traitor by Veronica Roth

The Initiate by Veronica Roth

Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

The Van Alen Legacy by Melissa de la Cruz

 

Currently Reading:

Crown of Midnight by Sarah J Maas 

 

 

Read to the Kiddos:

Chicka Chicka ABC by Bill Martin Jr (still Bug’s current favourite!)

If You Give a Cat a Cupcake by Laura Joffe Numeroff

Little Pink Pup

Pouch!

Possum come a-knocking at the door

Ladybug Girl Who Can Play? by David Soman & Jacky Davis

 

 

 

New to my shelf:

Rites of Passage by Joy N Hensley (ARC, Tea Time giveaway)

The Invisible by Amalia Kahaney (ARC, Tea Time giveaway)

Burning Kingdoms by Lauren DeStefano (ARC, author giveaway)

All of Baby Nose to Toes (Bug’s Imagination Library book)



From the library:

as usual, more audiobooks! (:

 

Top Ten Tuesday #51 Hard to Read Books September 30, 2014

 

b301e-toptentuesday

Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Books That Were Hard to Read

affiliate links used – covers; titles lead to Goodreads

1. Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

2. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

3. Allegiant by Veronica Roth

4. Where She Went by Gayle Forman

5. The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

6. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling

7. A Song of Ice and Fire George RR Martin

8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

9. Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz & Michael Johnston

10. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling

 

*Review & Giveaway* The One by Kiera Cass July 7, 2014

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 6 May 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Format: hardcover via library
Status: Book three of The Selection trilogy

Summary:
The highly anticipated third book in Kiera Cass’s #1 New York Times bestselling Selection series, The One will captivate readers who love dystopian YA fiction and fairy tales. The One is perfect for the fans who have followed America’s whirlwind romance since it began—and a swoon-worthy read for teens who have devoured Veronica Roth’s Divergent, Ally Condie’s Matched, or Lauren Oliver’s Delirium.

The Selection changed America Singer’s life in ways she never could have imagined. Since she entered the competition to become the next princess of Illéa, America has struggled with her feelings for her first love, Aspen—and her growing attraction to Prince Maxon. Now she’s made her choice . . . and she’s prepared to fight for the future she wants.

Find out who America will choose in The One, the enchanting, beautifully romantic third book in the Selection series!

 

My thoughts:

I haven’t devoured a series (and enjoyed it) this quickly in a while. I’m blown away by how quickly I knocked it out! The writing and plot are beautiful in their simplicity. Kiera didn’t need to get all flowery and show and she didn’t. I’m extremely satisfied with where this trilogy ended. I’m not happy with every outcome, but let’s face it, no one is ever 100% thrilled by all the outcome in a series!

The action from The Elite continued to rise in The One until everything explodes at the end. I found the action scenese were well done and I was often squirming in my seat from nerves!

America really came into her own as she realised her full potential. I won’t give major details away. It was nice to see her realise everything isn’t as it seems and sort out her feelings for the boys. I won’t give anything away there either. I do believe she ended up with the guy she is meant to be with, though.

I believe Maxon really flourishes as well. He makes decisions that aren’t easy in anyway imagineable. I believe he will become the ruler Illea needs. There were still moments when I would’ve loved to wreing his neck, but again — he’s human and prone to mistakes. Knowing what happened to him through his life, I was happy to see him stand up to his father.

As much as Aspen’s ego bothered me through the series, I was thrilled to see him make huge strides. I grew to respect his loyalty and devotion to America as things evolved.

I have to say the character who surprised me the most was a toss up between Celeste and Kriss. I had a feeling about Celeste so it wasn’t a huge shock, but Kriss was. Again, no details because I don’t want to spoil anyone’s experience.

I loved getting to see the girls’ relationships grow with Queen Amberly even more than they did in The Elite. She’s easily one of my favourite characters and I could relate to her through our mutual loss due to miscarriage. I still struggle with not knowing if my daughter would’ve been a twin or not. I think in a way, that’s worse than knowing for certain.

Getting to see more of America’s family was great. I love May. She’s so feisty! I would love to know what Gerad chooses to do as his profession.

OverallI’m thrilled with the arc this story took. The prose was lovely and it was an enjoyable read. I’m definitely planning on eventually ordering the series. It will look nice on my dystopian shelf! I still recommend this series to all readers. I think it’s a good series to at least give a shot. I’ll be sure to check out any of Kiera Cass’s future works. I am hoping I can go to YALLFest in November. If I do get to go, I’ll keep you updated. If I go, that means…. GIVEAWAY! Kiera will be there and I will totally be getting books signed. (:

About the author:

100 Things I Love:

Being married. Cake. The smell of Autumn. Motherhood. Books. Elephants. Back rubs. On demand movies. Actually going out to movies. Faith. Cinnamon rolls. My family. Butterflies. When my kitchen is clean. Crayons. Pink. Tote bags. Dancing. Organizing via color coordination. That my wedding dress was tea length, not floor. Baking. My house. Writing utensils. Paper. India. The sound of water. Making videos. Buttons. The word Episcopalian. Making people laugh. Layering clothes. British accents. Pinterest. Animation. Fireworks. The smell of the Ocean. My wedding rings. Aprons. Reasons to get dressed up. Sex. Pop music. Stars. Taking walks. Daydreaming. Stickers. School Spirit. My friends. Living in a small town. Japan. Singing. Painting my toenails. Pranks/ practical jokes. Painting. Stretch canvas. Costumes. Dipping my fingers in melted wax. Style. Soda. Spending an hour typing at a coffee shop. Musicals. Back to school season. Mopeds. Good hair days. Naps. Not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase. Driving alone. My ankles. Playlists. Spending entire days in pajamas. Holidays. Telling stories. Spontaneity. Theme parks. Bookshelves. The word copacetic. Boxes. Empty journals. Surprises. Doing things in groups. Doing things alone. Getting real mail. Decorating. Small forks. A good hug. Gift cards. New Years Goals. Going out to dinner. When someone else remembers some great story about me/us that I’ve forgotten. Toy stores. Fireplaces. Breakfast foods. Journaling. Crying for a good reason. Doorbells. Pointless adventures. Voting. My birthday. Reasons to make wishes. Recycling

http://www.kieracass.com/

Giveaway!

This giveaway is open to US only ( Entrants must be 13 years old to enter. Those entrants under 18 MUST have parental consent. Giveaway is open July 6th 2014 (12am EST) through July 20th 2014 (12am EST). I reserve the right to disqualify entries in violation of my giveaway policies. All entries WILL be verified. Good luck. May the odds be ever in your favor! (: For every 100 entries, I will add another winner!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

*Review* The Selection by Kiera Cass June 29, 2014

***As always mild spoilers may follow***

Rating: 4 stars
Pub date: 24 April 2012 
Publisher: HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Romance
Format: hardcover via library
Status: Book one of The Selection trilogy

Summary:
For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn’t want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she’s made for herself—and realizes that the life she’s always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined.

 

My thoughts:

Okay. Let me start this off by saying I went into The Selection with virtually no expectations and an open mind. I know The Selection is a very polarising book. It’s very divided on if you like it or not. It’s very divided between the two boys vying for America’s affection. That’s virtually all I knew going in. The Selection was recommended to me by Mary. (As usual, right? haha) I decided to wait until The One came out so I could binge the whole series. As I do. We didn’t really discuss it more than that. We have a good spoiler free relationship. She tells me I should read and eventually I do. Usually much later than I should haha. I didn’t read any reviews beforehand. I didn’t want to be swayed in anyway. Okay. Now I have that off my chest. (:

I really enjoyed The Selection. My first impression was similarity to The Hunger Games due to the eligible girls putting their names in to be drawn mixed with The Bachelor. (I’ve never actually seen an episode, but I get the gist.) The Selection came out first, but I also felt a pull to Pawn by Aimee Carter with the caste system.

I foundhow Kiera revealed info slowly was well done. In first person through America, we learn things as she does and through her musings. The dystopian world could’ve allowed for a massive info dump, but Kiera does a great job revealing as you go. I still have unanswered questions, but there are two more books and two novellas, so I’m not concerned by that yet. I much rather have things revealed slowly than info dumps.

I was surprised by how quick of a read The Selection was. I picked it up Saturday morning and was done by Sunday afternoon. Part of that was a few glorious hours of uninterrupted reading time on Mother’s Day. My hubby is the best for that! ❤

I very quickly related to America which is always a biggie for me. If I don’t like a character, it’s hard to get into the story. I could see a lot of myself in America so that made reading all the more enjoyable. She’s stubborn, independent, and musical. She starts off strong and continues to grow. She realises assumptions based on rank don’t always hold true. She’s also realising friendship can develop into romantic feelings, which to me, is the best kind of love. Her determination to help her family is inspiring.

As far as the other Selected girls go, I only really liked Marlee. She seems like such a kind and loyal friend. I absolutely hated Celeste. That list on reasons why could go on forever.

On the boy front, I can say I’m still Team Undecided. Both boys have impressed me and made me want to smack him upside the head. I do think I am leaning a smidge toward Maxon over Aspen though. That freaking ego issue. UGH. No. JUST NO.

I have to say my favourite parts of The Selection were the scenes with Maxon and America. I think they make the best of friends and I can see that blossoming into romance. I still feel on the fence about Maxon though. He did win major points with that first kiss scene though. ADORABLE.

I’m very excited to continue with my binge of this series. I recommend this to dystopian lovers. It’s not as dark on any level (so far) as The Hunger Games, Divergent or Chemical Garden, but it’s a great read. Even if you don’t love it, I believe it’s still an entertaining read.

About the author:

100 Things I Love:

Being married. Cake. The smell of Autumn. Motherhood. Books. Elephants. Back rubs. On demand movies. Actually going out to movies. Faith. Cinnamon rolls. My family. Butterflies. When my kitchen is clean. Crayons. Pink. Tote bags. Dancing. Organizing via color coordination. That my wedding dress was tea length, not floor. Baking. My house. Writing utensils. Paper. India. The sound of water. Making videos. Buttons. The word Episcopalian. Making people laugh. Layering clothes. British accents. Pinterest. Animation. Fireworks. The smell of the Ocean. My wedding rings. Aprons. Reasons to get dressed up. Sex. Pop music. Stars. Taking walks. Daydreaming. Stickers. School Spirit. My friends. Living in a small town. Japan. Singing. Painting my toenails. Pranks/ practical jokes. Painting. Stretch canvas. Costumes. Dipping my fingers in melted wax. Style. Soda. Spending an hour typing at a coffee shop. Musicals. Back to school season. Mopeds. Good hair days. Naps. Not walking up but looking at a beautiful staircase. Driving alone. My ankles. Playlists. Spending entire days in pajamas. Holidays. Telling stories. Spontaneity. Theme parks. Bookshelves. The word copacetic. Boxes. Empty journals. Surprises. Doing things in groups. Doing things alone. Getting real mail. Decorating. Small forks. A good hug. Gift cards. New Years Goals. Going out to dinner. When someone else remembers some great story about me/us that I’ve forgotten. Toy stores. Fireplaces. Breakfast foods. Journaling. Crying for a good reason. Doorbells. Pointless adventures. Voting. My birthday. Reasons to make wishes. Recycling

http://www.kieracass.com/

 

Top Ten Tuesday #38: Books I Almost Put Down May 13, 2014

b301e-toptentuesday

Each week, the girls over at The Broke and the Bookish think up a fun theme for the week and participating bloggers around the net join in. The theme for this week is:

Top Ten Books I Almost Put Down

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by JK Rowling. Let’s face it. When I got this book, I wasn’t big into reading for me and I wanted to give up after the first chapter. Thankfully, my Gran wouldn’t let me! 

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz. I just wasn’t as into this book as I have been with her other books. /: My love of her kept me in til the end though!

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier Honestly, I wish I had given up on this book. It kept getting worse with each book. I kinda feel cheated cause I stayed in til the end. 

Allegiant by Veronica Roth. I wish I hadn’t even read this one, but I did. Ugh. 

Cruel Beauty by Rosamund Hodge I stuck it out even though I had to take a break. It wasn’t all that I was hoping it would be, but it was decent. 

The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown That moment when you realise your favourite series is nothing but a formulaic book. I’ll still read the Robert Langdon series though. It kinda sucks that it’s a bit predictable now. 

The Host by Stephenie Meyer I actually did put this one down. I bought it the day it released, read about 100 pages and put it down. I was still hoping for a bit of Twilight style and this was so much better that it threw me off and I couldn’t handle it. When I did come back to it a year later I couldn’t put it down!

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl Ugh…. this book made the South look sooooo bad. The movie made it worse. I was so disappointed.

After the End by Amy Plum This book. I just can’t even. I was expecting brilliance. I got disappointment and predictability. /:

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory Oh, this book. Definitely my least favourite of The Cousin’s War series. I stuck it out til the end though.

Crossed by Ally Condie This was another that I had to take a step away from and read something else and come back to it. I finished it though!

 

*Review* Allegiant by Veronica Roth April 14, 2014

Rating:3 stars
Pub date:22 October 2013
Publisher:HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen Books
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format:e-book, audiobook, borrowed via library
Status:Book three of the Divergent trilogy

Summary:

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Told from a riveting dual perspective, Allegiant, by #1 New York Times best-selling author Veronica Roth, brings the Divergent series to a powerful conclusion while revealing the secrets of the dystopian world that has captivated millions of readers in Divergent and Insurgent.

My thoughts:

This has been one of the hardest reviews to write and not for a good reason. Allegiant was very disappointing for me. If I hadn’t loved Divergent and Insurgent, I would’ve rated it lower. Not sure if I’ll re-read. I definitely won’t buy the whole series. I really thought about ordering 1&2, but what’s the point of owning them without 3? Ugh. After such great character development in Divergent and Insurgent, it really tanks in Allegiant. It seems like the new secondary characters weren’t developed fully and didn’t do much for me while good and old secondary characters were ignored and dropped. No one is safe either. Terrible things happen to everyone. Just when you think things are starting to look up, it all goes to hell again. That really felt like the main theme of the book. Not sure what the main theme was supposed to be, but to me that’s what it came across as. 

I feel like the genetics was dumbed down. I can’t explain how, exactly, I just was disappointed with it. It felt like she was trying to move Jew vs non-Jew to post-apocalyptic/war torn/futuristic/dystopian time frame. It felt so forced. Everything did, really. 

I like Four, I really do. I cannot stand reading from his POV and suddenly throwing it in felt forced and awkward. I did not like the transitioning between Four and Tris. Speaking of not liking things between Four and Tris; the fighting. Oh, the fighting. It was so freaking annoying. Really, really, REALLY annoying. There were times when I just wanted to stop reading because it was killing me.

It really felt like Allegiant was rushed and it wasn’t as well written or edited as Divergent or Insurgent. It’s like Veronica didn’t really know where she wanted to go with the story other than that killer twist at the ending. Overall it wasn’t what I was expecting. After the action building and building, I was expecting something spectacular to happen in Allegiant, and to me, the action just felt severely lacking. For such a long book, I feel like not much really happened.  I didn’t think Allegiant was great, but it also wasn’t completely terrible.

To be honest, I didn’t cry over the death. I was disappointed with it and thought it was rather useless. Especially after going through such lengths to show the struggle between the two characters and then suddenly sacrificing to save him/her? No. Just. No. From the death to the end I was so bored and wanted to stop reading. What was the point of bailing at that point though? So close to the end I might as well finish. I’m very curious about the fan fiction alternate endings now. I haven’t read fan fiction in years and I really want to just to see other endings. Have I mentioned that everything felt forced? Because it did. The entire story, the “sacrifice” death, the ending, etc. I honestly cannot recommend Allegiant. Not in any way. I would be completely okay with this trilogy being a duology. Yeah, it would’ve been a major cliffhanger full of what ifs, but I would’ve liked that better than how it really ended. Read Divergent and Insurgent, but skip Allegiant. Unless you like writing that tanks in the end. Then totally go for it.

 

Sorry to those who saw the incomplete review of this. I had it all typed up but apparently WordPress decided my full review didn’t need to be saved/posted.

 

 


About the author

Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

 

*Review* Insurgent by Veronica Roth April 13, 2014

Rating:5 stars
Pub date:1 May 2012
Publisher:HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen Books
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format:e-book, audiobook, borrowed via library
Status:Book two of the Divergent trilogy

Summary:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.


Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

My thoughts:

By waiting so long to read Divergent, it meant waiting even longer to read Insurgent and that was a grievous mistake. The action that was building gets ramped up even higher in Insurgent. Terrible things happened at the end of Divergent and sacrifices were made that tore Tris’s world to shreds. In Insurgent, she’s left to deal with the fallout and try to figure out how to move forward.

One of my favourite things about Insurgent is that we get a better look at/interaction with other factions. It helps with the world building and bring further understanding to why things are happening the way they are.

Along with a better look at the factions, there are massive layers of guilt, grief, reflection, and betrayal woven into each intricate part. The betrayals come from all over and you won’t be prepared for them. Due to events, there is a lot of reflection. Tris questions if she’s made the right choices along the way. It helps further her character development because it helps her mature, but it also leaves her rife with guilt. The guilt also tore her apart and I think it made her grieve more than she had to grieve. My heart ached so bad for her grief and the grief of other characters.

There to help hold her together and stand by her is Four. Four is also dealing with a lot of issues after the events of Divergent. We also get to learn more about his seemingly good guy dad who was abusive to Four and Four’s mother. A shocking discovery is that not only is his mother alive, but a leader of the Factionless. It was nice to see the Factionless, but the conditions of their station is appalling. It’s not at all surprising that the Factionless want to better themselves.

The action builds until it explodes at the end with an expected (for me, it was one of two theories I had right off the bat in Divergent) revelation. I was happy to see that I was right about one of two theories I’ve had. We’ll have to wait until Allegiant to see if I’m right about the second. I’m glad I was a bit late to the party on reading, because that cliffhanger was a doozie! I enjoyed Insurgent more than I enjoyed Divergent and I’m looking forward to continuing my binge with Allegiant. Veronica did a great job of continuing the world building she started in Divergent. She also did a great job of continuing character development of the characters we met in Divergent and introducing us to more characters in Insurgent. This is still a world I wouldn’t want to live in, but she makes believable characters that are easy to relate to. I still highly recommend this series and hope that I’m one of the people who actually likes Allegiant and don’t end up disappointed!

 

 

About the author

Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

 

*Review* Divergent by Veronica Roth April 7, 2014

Rating:4 stars
Pub date:25 April 2011
Publisher:HarperCollins, Katherine Tegen Books
Genre:Young Adult Fiction, Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic
Format:paperback, movie-tie in edition, borrowed via library
Status:Book one of the Divergent trilogy

Summary:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.


During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, Tris also learns that her secret might help her save the ones she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

My thoughts:

Why did I not listen to Mary (Mary Had a Little Book Blog) and read Divergent sooner?! Why did I wait until it was next to impossible to avoid previews and potential spoilers?! Miraculously, I have avoided Allegiant spoilers of any kind. I also have avoided all Divergent talk of any kind. I’m very happy it lived up to the hype that’s been buzzing like crazy. Maybe that’s why I’ve been putting it off in case I was one of *those* people who didn’t like it. Whatever the reason, I’ve finally read it.

 

From theget go of Veronica’s debut I’ve been intrigued by the world our leading lady, Beatrice lives in. It’s obviously vastly different from ours. Her world is divided into five factions: Dauntless (brave), Erudite (intellectual), Amity (kind), Candor (honest), and Abnegation (selfless service). Beatrice was born and raised in Abnegation but doesn’t feel like she fits in. At the age of 16, everyone goes through an aptitude test. Something happens with Beatrice’s results and it leaves her with a lot to contemplate. Choosing Day arrives and she decides to leave Abnegation for Dauntless. Her brother Caleb also chooses to leave Abnegation. He chooses Erudite. This one choice will now make or break Beatrice.

Divergent could have gone in so many directions. Veronica did a great job of leaving you thinking what if? while blowing your mind with Beatrice’s (Tris) path of choice.

 

I definitely don’t think I could make it through the Dauntless initiation. Tris definitely has me there. The Dauntless are not to be taken lightly. I think they’re all slightly crazy. I would like to explore their compound though! I’m very glad I didn’t have to choose the single path that would define the rest of my life at 16. I’ve learned so much since then. If I had to stick to what I wanted at 16, I would be in law school right now. I also would most definitely not be living where I am now. I would be in Europe for sure. I wouldn’t be married and I certainly wouldn’t have kids. Everything I wanted changed so much my first year and a half in college!

 

Veronica does a great job with character development. In first person, we get to see inside of Tris’s head as she grows. She’s a person you can easily relate to, though I don’t envy her life. We also meet Four who is an interesting character. I’m very happy there is chemistry rather quickly between them, but not of the insta-love variety.

 

Veronica also created strong secondary characters. Tris mostly interacts with the other transfer initiates to Dauntless, but we do get to see her interact with a wide variety of people from various backgrounds. I’m excited to see their roles grow in the series.

 

Veronica’s world building was great too. I’ve only seen Chicago from the air, so I can’t do a genuine comparison, but she creates a fantastic dystopian, run down Chicago. She gives incredibly detailed descriptions of the areas of Chicago Tris explores.

 

The length may seem daunting (haha, see what I did there?) for those who aren’t used to longer reads, but this doesn’t read like it’s as long as it is. It pulls you in and propels you all the way through. It covers all the emotional bases and covers them well. I laughed. I cried. I wanted to yell. I wanted to throttle a few necks. This was a fantastic read that leaves you wanting more, so it might be a smart move to have Insurgent on hand. If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, give Divergent a try! I’m not big on the if you liked X, try X deal, but I do think this will pull in The Hunger Games fans!

 

 

About the author

Veronica Roth is from a Chicago suburb. She studied creative writing at Northwestern University, and wrote DIVERGENT (Katherine Tegen Books, May 2011) and INSURGENT (May 2012). The third and final book in The Divergent Trilogy, ALLEGIANT, will come out on October 22, 2013. In the meantime she will spend endless hours browsing Wikipedia in her pajamas as she eats corn flakes. (Or some other kind of bland breakfast cereal.)

 

Hello April, Goodbye March! April 1, 2014

Another month already gone! This year is just flying by! March was a very productive month for me. I got a good amount of reading and blog work done. I have reviews written up and scheduled all the way through the middle of May! Things are moving along nicely. Hubby started a new job and the kids are growing like weeds. Life is really starting to look up with the start of spring. (: Keep an eye out for some more giveaways coming soon!

Books I read in March (in order of completion)

Cress by Marissa Meyer

Fifty First Times “Field Emotions” by Melissa West

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Free Four by Veronica Roth

Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

Frozen by Melissa de la Cruz

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Books with the kiddos: (I actually kept track!)

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Cats? by Jane Yolen

Spot Can Count by Eric Hill

The Story of Benjamin Franklin by Patricia A Pingry

You Are My I Love You by Maryann Cusimano Love (Bug’s Imagination Library Book) 

Down by the Station by Jess Stockham 

Cleo the Cat by Caroline Mockford 

Penguins Can’t Fly! by Richard Byrne 

Sesame Street: Elmo Look and Find by Publications International Ltd. 

The Story of Thomas Jefferson by Patricia A Pingry 

Thomas and the Treasure by Wilbert Awdry 

If You Give a Moose a Muffin by Laura Joffe Numeroff 

How Do Dinosaurs Love Their Dogs? by Jane Yolen 

Digger the Dinosaur Rebecca Kai Dotlich 

Coming up in April
We actually don’t have anything big coming up this month. Hopefully that means it’ll be a low key month. I’m super excited about Easter though! (:

Goals for April
Work on commenting and visiting other blogs

Read more with the kiddos

Stay ahead of schedule 

April releases I’m excited for:

The Ring and the Crown by Melissa de la Cruz

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

April TBR:
As You Turn Away by Molli Moran

After the End by Amy Plum

The Falconer by Elizabeth May

Biggest Flirts by Jennifer Echols

Challenge Update:

I’m involved with four challenges officially.

Edelweiss & Netgalley challenge: 5/25 (Prisoner of Night and Fog)

TBR Pile challenge: 17/11-20 {I can and most likely WILL be increasing my level on this. I’m also not including ARCs in this unless I complete them after the book is released} (Cress, Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant, The Book Thief,Code Name Verity, Rose Under Fire, Frozen, The Impossible Knife of Memory)

Series challenge: 7/4-6 {I can and most likely will increase my level on this as well} (Cress, Divergent, Code Name Verity)

Real” Book challenge: 12/21-30 {I have to sign up for this one once I get this post up!} (Cress, Divergent, The Book Thief, Code Name Verity, Frozen, The Impossible Knife of Memory)

How was your March? What’s up for April?

 

 
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