2016 Reads

My yearly book report, here is what I read this year…it was a very good year:

  1. Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy
  2. Seraphina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
  4. Proposal by Meg Cabot
  5. We Should Hang Out Sometime by Josh Sundquist
  6. Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz
  7. The Pirate Code by Heidi Shultz
  8. Their Fractured Light by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  9. This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee
  10. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  11. Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
  12. The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  13. Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  14. Borrowed Light by Carla Kelly
  15. Enduring Light by Carla Kelly
  16. After You by Jojo Moyes
  17. The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
  18. Calamity by Brandon Sanderson
  19. Cinder by Marissa Meyer
  20. Scarlet by Marissa Meyer
  21. Cress by Marissa Meyer
  22. Winter by Marissa Meyer
  23. Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull
  24. The Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull
  25. Remembrance by Meg Cabot
  26. The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
  27. Stars Above by Marissa Meyer
  28. Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull
  29. Death Weavers by Brandon Mull
  30. My Seventh-Grade Life in Tights by Brooks Benjamin
  31. Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
  32. Summerlost by Ally Condie
  33. The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
  34. The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
  35. Ruby on the Outside by Nola Raleigh Baskin
  36. Pretending to Be Erica by Michelle Painchaud
  37. The Last Star by Rick Yancey
  38. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling
  39. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson
  40. The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson
  41. The Bitter Kingdom by Rae Carson
  42. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  43. Wool by Hugh Howey
  44. Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
  45. The Hammer of Thor by Rick Riordan
  46. The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
  47. Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
  48. Ravenous by MarcyKate Connolly
  49. The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
  50. The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart
  51. Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide by J.K. Rowling
  52. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies by J.K. Rowling
  53. Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists by J.K. Rowling

I set a goal to read 40 books and managed 53! Here are some of the stand outs, both good and bad.

The good: Ready Player One was hands down my favorite book of the year. As a child raised in the 80’s it appealed to all things nerdy from that era…video games, movies, etc. all set in a futuristic “game”. This one I highly recommend to all my fellow nerds out there. I loved Illuminae because of the sci-fi aspects and epistolary style used. Finally, I also loved the Lunar Chronicles (Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, and Winter), I just couldn’t put them down. They had a great blend of sci-fi, fairy tale retellings, and romance. It was a really fun series to read.

The bad: I wasn’t fond of The 5th Wave trilogy. I read it all, mostly because I was hoping it would get better, and it kept my attention just enough to get through them all, but overall I wasn’t satisfied with it. I also really didn’t like Thief of Lies, but for various reasons I don’t want to go in the details of why…I just didn’t like it and have no intention of reading anymore of the series, I’ll leave it at that.

I have my goal set for 40 books again this year, happy reading everyone!


2015 Reads

Time for my yearly book report! Funny…I hated book reports in school, but now I love recording and discussing a bit of what I read over the past year, maybe that’s because no one is telling me I have to do this for a grade?

Anyway, I read 43 books in 2015, which makes it a pretty good year. My goal was 40, so I accomplished that. Here is the list:

  1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  2. Into the Fire by Ashelyn Drake
  3. The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio
  4. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
  5. The Martian by Andy Weir
  6. Operation Tree Roper: An Eye Above by Robert A. Polk
  7. Firefight by Brandon Sanderson
  8. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline
  9. The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
  10. The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia M. McKielip
  11. Unwind by Neal Shusterman
  12. The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall
  13. The Last Wild by Piers Today
  14. Monstrous by MarcyKate Connelly
  15. The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne
  16. Jinx’s Fire by Sage Blackwood
  17. Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
  18. The Spirit by D. Nichole King
  19. The Forgotten Sisters by Shannon Hale
  20. Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein
  21. Bone Gap by Laura Rudy
  22. The Night So Dark by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner
  23. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
  24. Firegirl by Tony Abbott
  25. Liar and Spy and Rebecca Stead
  26. First Light by Rebecca Stead
  27. Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
  28. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  29. The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
  30. Magnus Chase and Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan
  31. George by Alex Gino
  32. Forge by Laurie Halse Anderson
  33. Skylark by Patrica MacLachlan
  34. The Body Electric by Beth Revis
  35. Caleb’s Story by Patricia MacLachlan
  36. More Perfect Than the Moon by Patricia MacLachlan
  37. Gossamer by Lois Lowry
  38. Grandfather’s Dance by Patricia MacLachlan
  39. Switch by Ingrid Law
  40. Library of Souls by Ransom Riggs
  41. The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
  42. Fuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar
  43. This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner

Again, there is a lot of Middle Grade on my list, but I love reading it so I have no regrets. I also finally took the time to finish reading a series I started years ago when I read the first book Sarah, Plain and Tall. I meant to read the rest since then, but never got around to it until now. None of them were as good as the first, but they were still enjoyable. The good news is none of these books were downright stinkers, but the bad news is very few of them really stood out either. I’m hoping for more stand-out books in 2016.

My favorites: A few did stand out. First, The Penderwicks in Spring. I love this series and this book in particular really spoke to my heart and made me sob out loud, which doesn’t happen often with books. It tore my heart into pieces and then put it back together. Not many books can do that. Next, The Martian. This was a super popular book this year, along with the movie (which I also saw). I love space stories so this for me was just a lot of fun to read. It was a bit technical, but it’s a great story. Then, Bone Gap. This was an unusual book for me, I’d call it magical realism, which I don’t normally read or enjoy. But this was different, special, and unexpected…and that’s didn’t even have to do with the magical realism aspects of the book. It’s hard to explain, I just really liked the journey this book took me on. Finally, The Crossover. I read this because it won the 2015 Newbery Medal. I was skeptical, it’s a book in verse and the verse is written in rap style, neither of which I normally like. But this book is so good and so moving, it’s no wonder it won the Newbery Medal. I highly recommend it!

A Few Disappointments:  While I didn’t outright hate anything I read, there were a few that let me down.  First, and I really hate saying this, the first installment in Rick Riordan’s latest series Magnus Chase just didn’t do it for me. I love Riordan’s book, I love his twist on mythology. But this new one, his take on Norse mythology, just wasn’t anything terribly new or different to make it stand out from his other book featuring Percy Jackson with Greek and Roman gods. The heroes have to save the world, the gods are mostly indifferent bystanders….blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t special and that was a disappointment for me. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Riordan’s books and have every intention of continuing to read the series, I just hoped for more. Next, Fuzzy Mud, by another author I love, Louis Sachar, to me just wasn’t up to his usual standards. Plus the book was just plain odd and slightly preachy at the end. Again, I wanted more and came away from it unsatisfied. I’m hoping his next will be better.

My goal for 2016 is to read at least 40 new books and I already have the first two on my to-read-queue so hopefully that means I’m off to a good start already. Happy reading!

Website Update

I’ve moved my book list to Goodreads, to make it easier to update and keep track of. The link to my “read shelf” is on the book list page. I also deleted my Quilting Bee pages since the club is pretty much defunct now…which is very sad…still, it was a lot of fun while it lasted! For now, this not-often-updated blog is mainly dedicated to my reading and writing.

A Book That Reminds Me Why I Love Books

Recently, I purchased the book S., created by J.J. Abrams and written by Doug Dorst.  The concept of the book fascinated me:  it’s about two college students who meet and get to know each other by writing in the margins of novel by a fictional author named V.M. Straka.  When you get the book S., it’s an actual copy of the novel, Ship of Theseus by Straka, complete with the notes written in the margins and other papers, postcards, newspaper clippings, etc, tucked into the pages.

It’s difficult to describe, one of those things you really have to see to understand, but it’s basically two stories intertwined.  One is the story by the fictional author, the other in the story of the college students told in the margins.  The notes, in pencil and various pen colors, are hard to follow because they aren’t in chronological order.  The two college students pass the book back and forth at the library in an attempt to figure out who the mysterious Straka really is, all while getting to know each other through the pages of the book.

I’m only about 100 pages into this book (of approximately 450).  It’s slow reading, but meant to be savored, I think…so that’s what I’m doing, just taking my time.  Here’s my opinion so far:  I’m much more interested in the story going on in the margins than the one on the printed page, which is (quite frankly, and in my non-expert opinion) not very well-written and actually a bit boring.  That said, the book itself is super interesting because, as I stated in the title of this blog post, it reminds me why I love books.

Now, when I say that, I mean why I love physical books, not necessarily in reference to the actual written word–even though I love that, too, and probably more.  S. is like a piece of art in my hands, an homage to books as books, with covers and paper pages.   The true brilliance of it isn’t in the story, but in the actual book, which is an amazing little feat in publishing.  Although S. is mass produced, what I’m holding feels like the only one like it in the world.

The cover is solid and the book has a nice weight to it when I pick it up.  The pages are made to look aged, so they are yellowed around the edges, but have an excellent texture to them when I turn the pages.  Even the binding makes a pleasing noise when I open it and the pages smell like a good book should.

Only someone who loves books the way I do will understand what I’m talking about…but no, I’m not crazy.

Anyway, the way the notes in the margins are printed make them look like real pencil and pen marks, even though they’re not.  I know this, yet I keep running my fingers over the pages expecting to feel in indentations from the pen or pencil.  Reading it feels like invading a personal conversation, but in a good way…like it feels when you read an excellent book and you become immersed in another person’s life.

In the end, I may not ending up loving the story in the pages of S., but I’m in love with S. itself, as a physical book.  I feel like I want to carry it around with me and endlessly study its pages.  Or better yet, get a beloved book of my own, write in its margins, and create a book like S. that really is all my own.

What I’m Tired of Reading…

It’s no secret I love to read!  I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few months and I’ve come to the conclusion that there are many things authors seem to enjoy using in their books that, quite frankly, I’m sick of reading.  Here is my list…authors take note (if you want, haha):

  • Zombies:  Yes, I know the zombie apocalypse thing is all the rage right now but I have yet to read a book featuring zombies where it actually sounds cool.  Mostly it’s just annoying versions of “Run for your life from the undead who want to eat us!!!”  Yawn.
  • The Love Triangle:  Enough already, love triangles are uncool and annoying.  I like a book with some romance in it…but please spare me the “which guy should I choose?” story line (and seriously, it’s always the girl who is forced to choose, why not make the guy choose?  That would at least be different).
  • The Weak Female Protagonist:  I don’t expect perfection, a female protagonist can still be strong while needing help from other characters, but I can’t stand it if they simply can’t function without some hot guy nearby who saves her/loves her/helps her…etc.  Speaking of hot guys…
  • The Hot Characters:  Why must all interesting characters (whether protagonist or antagonist) be hot?  Please do not insult my intelligence as a reader by using this very tired ploy to get me to like certain characters by describing them this way.  Just tell me what they look like and I can decide for myself if I think they are hot or not, thank you.  It’s fine, by the way, if one character thinks another character is hot, don’t force the reader to agree.  It also annoys me when the plain girl/boy wins over the hot and popular boy/girl.  It seems too shallow to be so focused on looks, I’d rather read about romance based on things that matter.
  • Fake Swear Words:  Is this some kind of new trend?  If so, please make it stop.  I understand maybe needing some strong language in order to get the point across, but there are creative ways around this if you’d rather not drop an f-bomb every sentence besides inventing a new swear word language.
  • Look How Edgy I Am, I Can Swear A Lot:  This is not a new pet-peeve of mine, but I really don’t like it when an author uses a ton of swear words in an attempt to look cool and/or edgy.  You can write a “mature” story without overdoing it in the swearing department.  You can be edgy without showing me that know a large variety of swear words.  I’m not a total prude, I don’t mind some swearing, but I’m more impressed by authors who show me a wide use of vocabulary without sinking into the creative swearing department.
  • Vampires:  Not all vampire books are bad, but if you can’t write something unique (ie. not Twilight–which wasn’t that great– knock-offs) then just don’t go there.  I’m tired of reading vampire books where I’m supposed to think the vampires are stupendously amazing, hot, and brilliant…while they are killing everyone.  Yeah, that’s not so attractive.  What would be cool is a book about a vampire that falls in love with a girl who turns around and stakes him in the heart.  That would be awesome!  So I’m not against all vampire books, just the old, worn out vampire plots.  Vampires as side characters aren’t so bad.
  • The Side-Story Romance That Ends Up Taking Over the Actual Plot:  If the story is an actual romance, then yes, I’d expect that part of the story to be the main focus.  But in most stories, romance is a side-plot, not the main plot.  Keep it there, on the side, don’t let it take over everything else.
  • This Plot Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere:  I recently finished a series where the author got bogged down with so many details and characters that the actual plot ended up stalling, in the end I stopped caring, nor did I completely understand what exactly happened in the end, it was all just way too much.  It’s nice if you know a lot of background about your story, but you don’t necessarily need to share every last detail of it with the reader.  Also, if you are using the stall technique as a way to write and sell more books, you can stop that too because we readers aren’t that stupid.  When I see that happening I’m a lot less likely to buy the books in question, but borrow them…that is, if I continue reading such a series at all.  I also don’t recommend them to my friends.
  • Long, Pointless Books:  This kind of goes with my above point, but longer books aren’t necessarily better, sometimes they are just long.  Too long.  Get to the point, keep the plot going, don’t bore me to death.  Reading should be fun, not a chore.  I’m a reader, not an author’s slave.

Time to stop before I get carried away, but you get my drift.  What trends in books bother you (if any)?