Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Best of 2014: Young Adult Fiction

This year I read thirty-three books that fall into this category.

They are:

My True Love Gave to Me edited by Stephanie Perkins
Vivian Versus America (Vivian Apple, #2) by Katie Coyle
Everything Leads to You by Nina LaCour
Isla and the Happily Ever After (Anna and the French Kiss, #3) by Stephanie Perkins
Hex Hall (Hex Hall, #1) by Rachel Hawkins
Let it Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, & Lauren Myracle
Winterspell by Claire Legrand
The Summer I Became A Nerd by Leah Rae Miller
Tsarina by J. Nell Patrick (Jackson Pearce)
The Hate List by Jennifer Brown
I'm the King of the Castle by Susan Hill
Unbreakable (The Legion, #1) by Kami Garcia
Love in the Time of Global Warming (Love in the Time of Global Warming, #1) by Francesca Lia Block
Winger (Winger, #1) by Andrew Smith
Enchanter Heir (The Heir Chronicles, #4) by Cinda Williams Chima
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff
The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Where She Went (If I Stay, #2) by Gayle Forman
The Madness Underneath (Shades of London, #2) by Maureen Johnson
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill
Beautiful Darkness (Beautiful Creatures, #2) by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Marcel and the Real World by Francisco X. Stork
Monstrous Beauty by Elizabeth Fama
Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
The Diviners (The Diviners, #1) by Libba Bray
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Wicked Girls by Stephanie Hemphill
Falling Hard (Roller Girls, #1) by Megan Sparks
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, #1) by Ransom Riggs

First place goes to . . . 

Nina LaCour has stunned me with every one of her books, but this is by far the best she's done yet. Everything Leads to You is filled to the brim with romance, beautiful writing, and a story that will make you want to come back again and again. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.

Second place goes to . . .

After falling in love with the first book in this series, I was worried that the second and final book wouldn't live up to my high expectations. I was so wrong that it's laughable. Everything about the ending to Vivian's story is so much better than I could have hoped for and I cannot wait to read even more from this awesome author.
Side note: Both books are out in the UK at the moment, but the first book is going to be released for the US on January 6, 2015 under the title "Vivian Apple at the End of the World." You need this book, random reader. You need it. So please go preorder it immediately.

And third place goes to . . .

This is a must-read for pretty much every nerd that is out there. Rainbow Rowell goes above and beyond in this lovely work about Cath, a nerdy fan fiction writer who has just gone off to college. I adored every part of this book. And Rainbow Rowell has recently announced that her next book is going to be about the very characters Cath writes about in the book, which might just be the coolest thing I've seen an author do in a very long time.

Honorable mentions . . .

Monday, December 29, 2014

Best of 2014: Middle Grade (Kid Lit)

This year, I read twelve books that generally fall in the category of Middle Grade (which I also refer to as Kid Lit, but is usually geared for 9-13 year olds). The age distinction between this and YA tends to be a little vague.

These are the ones I read this year:

Gustav Gloom and the Four Terrors (Gustav Gloom, #3) by Adam Troy-Castro
The Last Olympian (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #5) by Rick Riordan
Out of the Woods by Lyn Gardner
Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1) by Diana Wynne Jones
The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani
The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge
City of Orphans by Avi
The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2) by Diana Wynne Jones
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken
The Lost Hero (Heroes of Olympus, #1) by Rick Riordan
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus, #2) by Rick Riordan
The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, #3) by Rick Riordan

And the winner is . . .

I have adored every book I've read by Rick Riordan, but I think this is his best I've read yet. It had me glued to the pages from beginning to end and begging for more after where he left us.

Honorable mentions:

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Best of 2014: Manga / Graphic Novels

Yesterday I told my top picks for books I've read in 2014 that fall into the categories of Non-Fiction, Adult Fiction, and Rereads. Today, I'll be covering the Manga / Graphic Novels I read.

They are:

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Weibe & Roc Upchurch
Are You Alice? by Ai Ninomiya & Ikumi Katagiri
Flash: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues by Geoff Johns & Francis Manapull
The War at Ellsmere by Faith Erin Hicks
Spera, Volume 1 by Josh Tierney
Fruits Basket, Volumes 1-9 by Natsuki Takaya
Princessless, Volumes 1&2 by Jeremy Whitley
Red Sonja by Gail Simone & Walter Geovanni
American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl, & Cassandra Jean
Black Canary/Zatanna: Bloodspell by Paul Dini & John Quinones
Hell Yeah, Volume 1: Last Day on Earths by Joe Keatinge & Andre Szymanowicz
Gunslinger Girl, Omnibus 1 by Yu Aida
Saga, Volumes 1-3 by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples
Batman Beyond: Batgirl Beyond by Adam Beechen & Adam Archer
Shutter, Volume 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge & Leila del Duca
Who is AC? by Hope Larson
Joker: Death of the Family by Scott Snyder, Gail Simone, etc.
Teen Titans: It's Our Right to Fight by Scott Lobdell, Brett Booth, & Norm Rapmund

And the winner is . . .

If you haven't already read this awesome graphic novel about these four badass, mythical women, you have missed one of the best releases of 2014. This graphic novel has been flying off shelves since its debut and for very good reason. Every page of this story was filled with great art, big laughs, plenty of sex, and a lot of cursing. What more could you want?

Honorable mentions . . .

Christmas Book Haul!

We finally opened presents this morning, which means I finally have a Christmas book haul to show y'all! I got some really good ones this year. They all came straight from my wish list, but I asked for them a while back, so I had totally forgotten which ones I was getting, which made it a nice surprise.

Here's a list of what I got:

Volumes 35-37 of Batman (The New 52!). It's the Endgame Arc. I'm not caught up on Batman at the moment, mostly because my ability to keep up with comics is severely hindered by my inconsistent paychecks, so I've been sticking to the graphic novels. Still, if the covers are any indication, I will be enjoying these immensely.

Flytrap by Frances Hardinge. This one was a bit of a mistake. It looks good, but turns out to be the sequel to a book I haven't read. I asked for both in the same request and I guess my parents didn't see the note that it was the second book. They realized the error, though, and are sending the first one to my apartment, which is super sweet of them.

The Sisters: The Saga of the Mitford Family by Mary S. Lovell. I heard about this book on the same YouTube video where I heard of the Frances Hardinge books. (British YA Classics with Livs.) It sounds amazing and I am very eager to tear into it.

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir. I've recently read The Feminine Mystique and am therefore eager to read another of the most prominent texts in feminism. And that cover is gorgeous.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. When is Neil Gaiman not a good idea? And it's a signed copy that was on sale as a Black Friday deal. I've heard great things about this book and I'm sure it'll be totally up to the hype.

What Christmas books did you get? Any special favorites? Let me know in the comments below.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Best of 2014: Non-Fiction, Adult Fiction, & Rereads

My original plan for the end of the year was to post a Christmas book haul here and then have that jumpstart my end of the year categories, where I would post my favorites of what I read this year in different genres. However, my Christmas has been delayed and we are celebrating it tomorrow instead of two days ago. So I'm going to start my "Best of 2014" series now and just interrupt it with a book haul when I have opened presents. 

For each category I will give a list of the books I read which fall into that category, then follow it with my top picks from within. (The ones which I have reviewed on this blog will also have links to those reviews.) There will likely be a top pick and one or two honorable mentions. For today, we have three categories that were small enough the be put together. The others will be done as one category per blog post.


This year, I read eight books that fall within the Non-Fiction Category.
They were:

Bossypants by Tina Fey
The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
He's a Stud, She's a Slut, and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know by Jessica Valenti
The Crimes of Jack the Ripper by Paul Roland
Weird Things People Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
More Weird Things People Say in Bookstores by Jen Campbell
How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran
Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit

And the winner is . . .
Betty Friedan's famous examination of the nameless problem plaguing American women in the fifties and today is every bit as amazing as I had heard. It blew my mind and is as entirely relevant to today's culture as it was when it was written.

Honorable mentions:

Adult Fiction:
I read eight books in the Adult Fiction category.
They were:

On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides
A Room of One's Own by Virginia Woolf
Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
Going Postal by Terry Pratchett
Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Misery by Stephen King
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

And the winner is . . . 
  This book by Kazuo Ishiguro was every bit as exceptional and interesting as I had heard it would be. I was captivated from beginning to end by Kathy's tale of her growing up at Hailsham. It really is a stunning read and one that leaves you reeling long after you've put it down.

Honorary mentions: 

I reread eleven books this year.
They were:

Speechless by Hannah Harrington
Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara
Crusade in Jeans by Thea Beckman
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky (2x)
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

And the winner is . . .
 This book about a 21st century Dutch boy falling into the Children's Crusade is a story I wish every person would read. I still cannot believe it is the only one of this author's books that has been published in English. Every part of this story is captivating and wonderful.

Honorable mentions: 

Coming tomorrow: Manga/ Graphic Novels!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christmas Reads

Pulled this off my Instagram. Feel welcome to follow me
there to see tons of book and cat pictures. :P
I'm going to my parents' house for Christmas in a few days and therefore have set aside the books I'm going to read over the six days I'll be there. I figured I would go ahead and share them here in the order that I intend to read them.

My True Love Gave to Me Edited by Stephanie Perkins
~This compilation of stories by twelve different prominent Young Adult authors just came out about a month ago and I have been dying to read it. I'm not much of a Christmas-y person. I don't like Christmas music and am partial to only a few Christmas movies, but I like Christmas stories and this should be good. And I would be remiss to ignore pointing out how stunning this version of it is. It's the UK cover and I am in love with it. It's definitely one of the most gorgeous books I own. (Rivaled only by my Drop Cap version of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.)

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone & Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

~I've been wanting to do another reread of the Harry Potter series for a few months now. What better time to kick that off than Christmas, the most nostalgic of holidays (in my humble opinion)? So I'm packing up the first two adventures that introduced us to the Wizarding World and diving back in to a story that is "always there to welcome you home".

Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones
~This is the third book in the Chrestomanci series by the incredibly talented author of Howl's Moving Castle. I've been meaning to get to this book for a while. It's filled with magic and stories that really wrap you up and pull you in, so I cannot wait to get lost in it. Again, this is another stunning UK cover (their covers beat ours almost every time). All of my Diana Wynne Jones books are in this cover and they look amazing on the shelf.

Those are the books I'm taking this year, though there is always the distinct chance I'll be throwing in a graphic novel or two for the plane ride. I tend to pack even more, but I'm trying to cut back. Plus, I asked for quite a few books for Christmas, so I'm sure I'll have plenty more to choose from after we open presents.

Do you have any Christmas reads you're planning this year? If so, leave a comment here to let me know what you're reading!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan

What an amazing read! 
Like most people, I had heard about The Feminine Mystique for ages before I got around to reading it, but I finally sat down with it over the course of Thanksgiving break and it simply blew me away. Anna Quindlen kind of hits the nail on the head in the introduction when she talks about having gone into it expecting to look at it like history, then realizing how much really does still apply to today. That definitely happened to me. 
Reading it was like seeing a mirror of so many women in my life (myself included at times) and having that sudden clarity like, "Holy shit, THAT'S why!" As women, we've come a long way since Betty Friedan wrote the book, but we still have a long way to go. 
My copy is now covered with sticky tabs that mark different spots that I found particularly interesting or of particular importance. There is so much that, as women, we ignore or take for granted because that's the way it's always been, but Friedan really goes the extra mile to re-analyze a lot of preconceived notions that no one seemed to question before.
Obviously there are a few things scattered throughout that I disagree with. This book was written in the fifties, so society has learned a great deal since then (ie. Her discussion of homosexuality is particularly cringe-inducing, because it was understood as an aberration or illness at the time). 
This is a must-read, especially for women. If you're even vaguely interested in Women's Studies, this books is for you. It will really make you think. It has changed the lives of millions of women and continues to do so today. After reading it, I can absolutely see why. 
Definitely check this book out ASAP!

Rating: ★★★★★