Friday, December 19, 2014

2014 End of Year Book Survey

 1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

  • 2014 Debut- Open Road Summer by Emery Lord
  • 2014 Young Adult Contemporary- Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan and To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • 2014 Young Adult Fantasy- Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi
  • 2014 Young Adult Historical Fiction - Forbidden by Kimberley G. Little and Brazen by Katherine Longshore
  • 2013 or older YA Fiction- Crown of Embers (Fire and Thorns #2) by Rae Carson, Blythewood by Carol Goodman and Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • 2013 or older Adult Fiction- Outlander by Diana Gabaldon and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

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

Fly Away by Kristin Hannah was so utterly depressing. Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot and Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper were both a bit disappointing for me.

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

 I was surprised by how much I enjoyed Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, The Heiresses by Sara Shepard and Undone by Cat Clarke. All three of these books were awesome in their own way and took me by surprise.

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

Oh, man. I pushed Outlander SO HARD and on so many people. I know my some family members read it and my best friend read it after my recommendation. I also pushed Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan - this book is brilliant and needs more attention!

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

  • Best Series I Started: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • Best Sequel of 2014: Nantucket Red (Nantucket #2) by Leila Howland
  • Best Series Ender of 2014: Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi

 6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

  • Favorite New-To-Me Author: Diana Gabaldon, Erin McCahan, Tahereh Mafi, and Rae Carson
  • Favorite Debut Author of 2014: Kimberley G. Little, Martina Boone, and Emery Lord

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

I love biographies and memoirs, but I don't read them often. The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt and David Batcher was so, so good. 

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

  • 2014 release: Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi
  • 2013 or older: Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

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

I don't often re-read book unless they are my absolute favorites (Harry Potter, To Kill a Mockingbird, etc) but I could totally see me re-reading Looking for Alaska by John Green.

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

Compulsion by Martina Boone, Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper, and Tempting Fate by Jane Green are my favorite covers of 2014.

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

Claire Randall by Outlander and Lara Jean from To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han are two of my most favorite characters. 

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

Hmmm. This is tough. I'm going to go with Looking for Alaska by John Green and To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. There is something special about both of these authors. I adore their writing styles and often find their writing to be extremely quotable. 

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

The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt and David Batcher - This was an eye-opening and inspirational read for me. 

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

I hate to say it again, but Outlander by Diana Gabladon is pretty high up on that list. There's also Looking for Alaska by John Green.  I definitely wish I read that one sooner! Lastly, I wish I read Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns trilogy a lot sooner. I love it! I still need to read the last book and am looking forward to it! 

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

"Margot doesn't see the point in wondering.  This is our life; there's no use in asking what if.  No one could ever give you the answers. I try, I really do, but it's hard for me to accept this way of thinking. I'm always wondering about the what-ifs, about the road not taken."  (To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han)
"Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful." (Looking for Alaska by John Green)
“I stood still, vision blurring, and in that moment, I heard my heart break. It was a small, clean sound, like the snapping of a flower's stem.” (Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon)

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

  • Longest: Voyager (Outlander #3) - 870 pages
  • Shortest: Something Like Normal by Trish Doller - 224 pages

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn - That book takes the cake. Seriously. 

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

Apparently OTP means One True Pairing, so I'm going to go with: Claire and Jamie from Outlander (duh, you saw that coming!) 

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year

Josie and her family in Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

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

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg, Looking for Alaska by John Green and To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

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

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord was recommended to me by Leanna from Daisy Chain Book Reviews…I knew I had to read it since we have the same taste and of course, I loved it!  

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

Well, of course, there's Jamie Fraser from Outlander, but I am also a big fan of Matt Finch from Open Road Summer by Emery Lord and Hector from Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns series.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

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

Rae Carson's Fire and Thorns series and The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

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

The Heiresses by Sara Shepard was a lot of fun…perfect for the beach! But with regards to putting a smile on my face, I'd have to go with Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan.

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

  • Looking For Alaska by John Green
  • Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
  • Undone by Cat Clarke - This book had me sobbing uncontrollably!!!

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan was such an awesome book. I think it deserves more attention for sure.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn made me hating life.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi is so unique as Mafi has a really interesting writing style. Regarding unique as in the story is original would have to go to Gone Girl. The whole unreliable narrator and plot twists…oh, man. I am STILL recovering.

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

There are two books which stand out for me. Undone by Cat Clarke---I LOVED this book, but I wanted things to work out differently for the characters and I felt strongly about that. This book made me cry so hard…very reminiscent of my reaction to If I Stay.
Also, there were some events in Outlander by Diana Gabaldon that were so brutal. I was fuming for days.

Well, there you have it! Another year of blogging has come to an end and I am so glad I read some new-to-me authors, debut authors, and finally checked out some oldie-but-goodies.   I'll be posting my "Looking Ahead" portion in January.

Let me know if you completed the End of Year Book Survey; I'll be sure to check yours out! This survey is hosted by Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner.  Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Book Review and Giveaway: Blythewood by Carol Goodman

Pages: 496
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pub. Date: October 8, 2013
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "At seventeen, Avaline Hall has already buried her mother, survived a horrific factory fire, and escaped from an insane asylum. Now she’s on her way to Blythewood Academy, the elite boarding school in New York’s mist-shrouded Hudson Valley that her mother attended—and was expelled from. Though she’s afraid her high society classmates won’t accept a factory girl in their midst, Ava is desperate to unravel her family’s murky past, discover the identity of the father she’s never known, and perhaps finally understand her mother’s abrupt suicide. She’s also on the hunt for the identity of the mysterious boy who rescued her from the fire. And she suspects the answers she seeks lie at Blythewood.    But nothing could have prepared her for the dark secret of what Blythewood is, and what its students are being trained to do. Haunted by dreams of a winged boy and pursued by visions of a sinister man who breathes smoke, Ava isn’t sure if she’s losing her mind or getting closer to the truth. And the more rigorously Ava digs into the past, the more dangerous her present becomes.     Vivid and atmospheric, full of mystery and magic, this romantic page-turner by bestselling author Carol Goodman tells the story of a world on the brink of change and the girl who is the catalyst for it all."
Avaline Hall is now an orphan. Her mother committed suicide and she never knew her father. Now she must find a way to support herself. The year is 1911, which means there really is only one respectable way to earn money, which is to work in a factory. Avaline takes a job at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory and she is there when the building catches fire and kills hundreds of workers. It doesn't help that she keeps spotting a strange man wearing a cape before the fire and she saw him before her mother's death as well. Just when she realizes that she may perish in this horrible fire a man with wings saves her life.  Is this man a figment of her imagination? Ava has always seen and heard things that aren't there, so no one believes her story about the winged man; in fact, she ends up at an insane asylum.  Ava is finally released from the mental institution thanks to her grandmother, a woman she didn't even know existed and she sends her to Blythewood, a private school that Ava's mother also attended.  At Blythewood Ava not only discovers more about herself and her mother, but also about magic and the evil creatures that exist in the world. If you enjoy fantasy, I highly recommend Carol Goodman's Blythewood

How could I not root for Ava from the get-go? She is an orphan living in New York City trying to make a living and find her way. She finds a group of girls she likes and is working with her best friend at the factory when her world crumbles around her again.  Once her grandmother finds her, I was immediately intrigued. I wanted to learn more about Ava's mother's alleged suicide and about the many secrets she kept. There is definitely more than meets the eye with Ava's mother and her time at Blythewood.

Once Ava attends Blythewood, I was even more engrossed in the story. I love boarding school stories and the fact that Blythewood is reminiscent of Harry Potter sort of gave me goosebumps. I absolutely loved the fact that Blythewood is a magical boarding school filled with interesting students, teachers, and resides near a captivating town. Some people may find this derivative of Hogwarts, but I thought Goodman did a great job making it her own in Blythewood.

Another aspect of Blythewood that I loved was the time period. The year is 1911 and things are very different for women during this time.  I think Goodman portrayed the struggles females had to endure very well and even included some historical details (Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, woman's rights, Bellevue Hospital, etc) that really added to the story. I love when authors incorporate real-life events and sort of give them a life of their own.

The magic in Blythewood is really well done. The idea of magical creatures, faeries, and Darklings kept me captivated. Plus, the mysterious caped man that breathes smoke out of his mouth kept me flipping the pages. I had to know what he was up to! Speaking of magical creatures, Ava does find out about the winged man who saved her and learns more about him in Blythewood as well.

Needless to say, Blythewood has everything I could want in a fantasy novel. A fantastic setting, its atmospheric, has a lot of magic, friendships, romance and a heroine I enjoy. It is most definitely one of my favorite books that I read this year. I can't wait to read book two, Ravencliffe, which just came out this month.

Thanks to Penguin, I am hosting a giveaway for Blythewood and one lucky US reader will win. Please refer to my giveaway rules and the deadline is December 30th.  Good luck!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Saint Anything

This is a weekly meme hosted by Jill from Breaking the Spine.  "Waiting on Wednesday" spotlights upcoming releases that I'm eagerly anticipating.

Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen
Pub. Date: May 5, 2015

Goodreads says, "Peyton, Sydney's charismatic older brother, has always been the star of the family, receiving the lion's share of their parents' attention and—lately—concern. When Peyton's increasingly reckless behavior culminates in an accident, a drunk driving conviction, and a jail sentence, Sydney is cast adrift, searching for her place in the family and the world. When everyone else is so worried about Peyton, is she the only one concerned about the victim of the accident? Enter the Chathams, a warm, chaotic family who run a pizza parlor, play bluegrass on weekends, and pitch in to care for their mother, who has multiple sclerosis. Here Sydney experiences unquestioning acceptance. And here she meets Mac, gentle, watchful, and protective, who makes Sydney feel seen, really seen, for the first time. The uber-popular Sarah Dessen explores her signature themes of family, self-discovery, and change in her twelfth novel, sure to delight her legions of fans."
My summer just doesn't feel right unless I read a Sarah Dessen novel, so I am thrilled she has a new one coming out this May. I can't wait to get it in my beach bag. This cover is very different than some of her others, but I really like the change.  What do you guys think? 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Books I Read in 2014 and Blogoversary Giveaway Part III

Guys, it is so, so, so hard for me to pick my favorite books I read in 2014.  I narrowed it down and I also included some books that I read this year that are older and don't have the 2014 publication date, but they are just.that.good.  I also shared my favorite quote from each book, because some of these books have such awesome lines. 

Also, to celebrate my 5th Blogoversary, my final giveaway will be for one of these awesome books of your choice, including my runner-up list. This is an international giveaway, just be sure Book Depository ships to your location and please follow my giveaway rules. The deadline is January 3rd. Good luck!

Let me know what you think of my favorite books of 2014:

1.  Looking for Alaska by John Green -
“Thomas Edison's last words were 'It's very beautiful over there'. I don't know where there is, but I believe it's somewhere, and I hope it's beautiful.” 

2.  Outlander by Diana Gabaldon - 
Ye werena the first lass I kissed," he said softly. "But I swear you'll be the last.”

3.  Better off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg -
“Silence fell between us. This was a common occurrence whenever we’re alone. When you’re comfortable with someone, you don’t need to always fill the void with noise. I liked it when we would just be.” 

4.  Open Road Summer by Emory Lord - 
“His eyes are somewhere between gray and blue, and his hair is somewhere between brown and blond, and I am somewhere between hostile and attracted.” 

5.  To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han -
"Margot doesn't see the point in wondering.  This is our life; there's no use in asking what if.  No one could ever give you the answers. I try, I really do, but it's hard for me to accept this way of thinking. I'm always wondering about the what-ifs, about the road not taken." 

6.  Love and Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan - 
“Come dance with me," he says, taking my hand, and someday I'll explain to him that I already am.”

7.  Ignite Me (Shatter Me #3) by Tahereh Mafi - 
"Words, I think, are such unpredictable creatures. No gun, no sword, no army or king will ever be more powerful than a sentence. Swords may cut and kill, but words will stab and stay, burying themselves in our bones to become corpses we carry into the future, all the time digging and failing to rip their skeletons from our flesh.” 

8.  Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins - 
"There's no story,' I say. 'I saw you one day, and I just knew.” 

9.  The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt and David Batcher - 
"She would see her name become an indelible part of American history. In that stifling bedroom in North Boston, shy, pretty, sweet-natured Josie could not know it, but her daughter would see wonders." (about Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy).  

10.  Blythewood by Carol Goodman - 
"Farbrente maydlakh," she said, fingering a lock of my chestnut hair, a far less dramatic shade of red than Tillie's own.  "He meant both of us, bubbelah, because of our hair. It means 'fiery girls.'"

Runners-Up: Compulsion by Martina Boone, Crown of Embers by Rae Carson, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, Undone by Cat Clarke, and Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare.

What do you think of my list? What books were your favorites this year Let me know in the comments below.  This meme is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Book Review: The Kennedy Wives by Amber Hunt and David Batcher

Pages: 296
Genre: Adult Biography
Pub. Date: December 2, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "The Kennedy wives saw history up close—made history in some cases. They knew wealth and privilege but we are bonded to them by loss which are our losses too. The Kennedy women—fierce, intelligent, and very private—belong to us. Not because of their glamour, but because of their grief and misfortunes.  THE KENNEDY WIVES takes an unflinching look at the women who married into the Kennedy family and their distinct roles. Rose, the matriarch; Ethel, the athlete; Jackie, the icon; Joan, the fragile beauty; and Vicki, the redeemer. In reality, each woman was complex and multifaceted. As Kennedy wives, they were bonded through characteristics and experiences unique to the Camelot family. The Kennedy Wives is an exploration of these women that will offer what no other book or film created thus far has: a thoughtful analysis of what drew the Kennedy men to these iconic women, and what the women endured in exchange for their acceptance into the Camelot clan."
Is there a more intriguing American family than the Kennedy family? I don't think so; the Kennedys steal the show. The Kennedy Wives focuses on five Kennedy women and how their lives have been shaped by becoming apart of this famous clan. First, there's Rose Kennedy, the matriarch of the Kennedy family. Next is Ethel Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's wife. Of course, the authors focus on Jackie Kennedy, the famous wife of John F. Kennedy, and lastly, there's Joan Kennedy and Vicki Kennedy, both wives of Ted Kennedy. Authors Amber Hunt and David Batcher did a wonderful job bringing to life each woman's tale of the many ups and downs that come with the territory of being a Kennedy. Each woman's story was fascinating in its own right and I was thoroughly captivated by every heart-wrenching detail.

A few women stood out to me in this biography. First, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy was utterly captivating. I can't stress this enough. I had never read much about her and I am so glad Hunt and Batcher included her in The Kennedy Wives as her life was so, so fascinating.  I loved learning more about how she ran her household, how she dealt with her husband's affairs, and how she raised her children. Everything from her discussion topics at the dinner table, her round-robin style of letter writing to the children, her commitment to stay fit, her campaigning for her son's till old age, her commitment to Catholicism, and her strong, innate drive were all inspirational to me. Her family was received at the British royal court and learning more about that was also eye-opening. Rose Kennedy lived to be 104 years old and outlived four of her nine children. Her life was better than fiction in some spots and you couldn't pry my hands off this biography when I was reading her portion.

Another standout for me was Ethel Skakel Kennedy in The Kennedy Wives. I always knew her as the boyish, strong athlete of the family that didn't give a second thought to playing touch football with the guys and getting muddy, but there's so much more to her than that. She's gutsy, she's fun, and she had eleven children. Can you imagine? And one of her children was born after Robert Kennedy was assassinated! I loved reading about her eccentric childhood and learning more about her.

Of course, reading about Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, a favorite of mine, is always intriguing and inspirational. She dealt with so much and handled it with such grace. Between her fertility issues, her husband's affairs, and the pressures of being the youngest first lady of the United States, one can't deny the incredible story of Jackie Kennedy.

While I don't find Joan or Vicki's stories to be as captivating as Rose, Ethel or Jackie's, I still couldn't get over how much the members of the Kennedy family endured. The heartache, the trials and tribulations, and the extreme wealth all seemed fictional at times. Joan Bennett Kennedy dealt with alcoholism and the upsetting fact that two of their children had cancer. Ted's second wife, Vicki Reggie Kennedy is a lawyer and is highly educated. She did a lot to help Ted Kennedy and cared for him through his brain cancer.  All in all, Joan and Vicky definitely had their ups and downs as well in The Kennedy Wives.

One thing that really stood out to me was the fact that each woman dealt with death and hard times, but it never stopped them from picking themselves up, dusting themselves off, and moving on with courage.  I was completely dumfounded when I started thinking about how many Kennedy lives were taken whether it be from an airplane accident, illness, or violence. When you start adding it up, it was astounding. My heart broke with every family member lost and despite their successes and great wealth, it seemed like there was a dark cloud hanging over their heads.

Nonetheless, I absolutely loved The Kennedy Wives. Reading about their lives was a gentle reminder to live courageously and never give up.  If you are fascinated by these important people in history and want to learn more about the women behind the men, I highly recommend The Kennedy Wives. It would be the perfect holiday gift. 

Saturday, December 13, 2014

5th Blogoversary Giveaway: Part II

Guys, I am giving away some extra books I have on my shelves in honor of my 5th Blogoversary.  There are books here for everyone: adult historical fiction, middle grade, and of course, young adult fiction. This giveaway is open to US readers only and there will be three winners. First place will pick three books of his/her choice from the list and second place will pick two and third place will pick one.  The deadline is December 27th and please refer to my giveaway rules.

Here are the books up for grabs:
1.  ARC of Frozen (Heart of Dread #1) by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston  
2.  ARC of Stolen (Heart of Dread #2) by Melissa De La Cruz and Michael Johnston
3.  ARC of Since Last Summer (Rules of Summer #2) by Joanna Philbin
4.  Suspicion by Alexandra Monir (hardcover)
5.  The Fires of Calderon by Lindsay Cummings (hardcover)
6.  Long Live the King by Fay Weldon (paperback)
7.  Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick (hardcover)
8.  The Swap by Megan Shull (hardcover)

Don't forget to enter my international giveaway as well!  Good luck and Happy Holidays!

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Friday, December 12, 2014

5th Blogoversary International Giveaway

Guys, I am both simultaneously shocked and proud when I tell you I have been blogging here for five years. Five years! I can't believe I have stuck with it for so long, but when you are doing what you love, it doesn't seem like work at all, right?

I started this blog five years ago for professional development and I am so glad I stuck with it. I could go down the list of how many posts I have had and all my stats, but I think that is beside the point. What I really want to do is thank each and everyone of you for reading, commenting, and sharing in my love of books. It is you guys who make this all worthwhile and for that I thank you!

To share in my blogoversary excitement, I am hosting an international giveaway for one winner to spend up to $20 dollars on books of his/her choice from the Book Depository. Please make sure your Book Depository ships to your location.  The deadline is December 27th and please refer to my giveaway rules.

Keep your eye out for more blogovesary giveaways coming up this weekend!  Thanks again for following Confessions of a Book Addict and Happy Holidays!

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