Saturday, January 3, 2015

End of 2014 Book Survey

Once again, I am participating in a fabulous bookish survey held by none other than Jamie at The Perpetual Page-Turner. I always think her end-of-year surveys are a blast, so I'm quite happy that the tradition has been continued for 2014! Unfortunately I tend to not read as much as most book bloggers so there are quite a few repeats as some books fit into several categories. Enjoy!

2014 Reading Stats:
Number Of Books You Read: 26 (I seem to read slower than most)
Number of Re-Reads: 1 (pathetic, I know)
Genre You Read The Most From: Classics and science fiction

Best in Books:
1. Best book you read in 2014?
My complete list of the best books I read this year is right here.

2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more but didn’t?
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Please don't yell at me. I was SO EXCITED to finally read it... But I just found it incredibly dispassionate. I like to feel all the feelings when I read, but that just didn't happen with this classic. I couldn't believe Elizabeth feelings for Mr. Darcy in the end. I suppose when it comes to 'soap opera' classics I'll have to stick to the Bronte sisters.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read in 2014?
I was really surprised by how much I loved Marissa Meyer's Cinder. I didn't think I'd enjoy it nearly as much as I did - in fact, I adored it. But The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin also surprised me - I wasn't too sure what to expect before opening it, and it ended up being way more unique than I anticipated.

4. Book you “pushed” the most people to read (and they did) in 2014?
I'm not much of a book pusher... Primarily because I don't know many people who read as much as I do. But I did buy my bestie Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork for Christmas; hopefully he likes it.

5. Best series you started in 2014? Best sequel of 2014? Best series ender of 2014?
Best series started: The Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, The Changeling trilogy by Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer

Best sequel: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, Cress by Marissa Meyer

Best series ender: Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?
Anne Bronte, David Mitchell, Marissa Meyer, and the team of Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
-I usually don't read fairytale retellings, but I finally bought Cinder by Marissa Meyer - and I absolutely love her Lunar Chronicles series. These are fairytale retellings done right!

-In fact, I typically don't do retellings period, but I tried Black Spring by Alison Croggon (which is a Wuthering Heights retelling). It wasn't fantastic by any means but it wasn't bad.

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
I was gulping Marissa Meyer's Scarlet and Cress whole.

9. Book you read in 2014 that you are most likely to re-read next year?
If the next Changeling book comes out this year, I'll likely reread Crossing the Threshold to refresh my memory.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2014?
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. It's incredibly beautiful. Black Spring by Alison Croggon takes second place; it's so creepy and awesome!

11. Most memorable character of 2014?
Oh goodness, there were so many fantastic characters... Basically everyone from the Lunar Chronicles series by Marissa Meyer, Lucy Snow and Paul Emmanuel from Villette by Charlotte Bronte, Somni-451 from Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, and Marcelo from Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Night by Elie Wiesel, and Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2014?
George Orwell's 1984 was definitely the most thought-provoking. And scary. Of course, Elie Wiesel's Night always provokes some thought and it definitely changed me the first time I read it.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2014 to finally read?
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. That needed to happen YEARS ago.

15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2014?

"They seemed to be staring at the dark, but their eyes were watching God."
-Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

"To the person in the bell jar, blank and stopped as a dead baby, the world itself is the bad dream."
-Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

16. Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?
Shortest: The shortest novel I read was Night by Elie Wiesel at 120 pages, but if plays and short stories are included, I read Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest at about 70 pages.

Longest: Villette by Charlotte Bronte at 559 pages. (It's actually a bit longer if you include the pages of French translations.)

17. Book that shocked you the most?
(Because of a plot twist, character death, left you hanging with your mouth wide open, etc.)
-The ending of Villette by Charlotte Bronte... Did she really just end this book like this? Yep, she did. Unconventional and genial storyteller that she is.

-Weirdly enough, finding out who exactly Wolf is in Scarlet also surprised me because it had been a while since I read Cinder and the obvious answer wasn't catching my attention. I know, I don't understand how I didn't see it coming either; it was pretty obvious.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
(OTP = one true pairing if you aren’t familiar)
-Wolf and Scarlet from Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

-Cress and Thorne from Cress by Marissa Meyer (so cute!)

-Gilbert Markham and Helen Huntington from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

-Annah and Catcher from The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan

19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
Cinder and Thorne! (From Scarlet by Marissa Meyer.) Their contrasts are so fantastic! But I also love Cinder and Iko; they're best friends for life.

Luna and Kakeru from Sailor Moon Short Stories 2 by Naoko Takeuchi... Okay, so it may have seemed romantic from Luna's point of view, but at the end of the day, it's utterly complicated and sweet. (For those who don't know Sailor Moon, Luna is a cat and Kakeru is a human.)

20. Favorite book you read in 2014 from an author you’ve read previously?
Villette by Charlotte Bronte - I adored Jane Eyre when I read it a couple years ago and determined that I will everything by Charlotte and her sisters, and one of the books by them I was most eager to read was Villette. It's such an unconventional story even by today's standards... It's genial, really.

I was also really impressed by A Million Suns and Shades of Earth by Beth Revis. Her Across the Universe trilogy is fabulous through and through, and I suppose if I had to choose between the two, I'd pick Shades of Earth because it's so different yet so full of intensity and mystery all the same. I was really impressed by how Revis handled it.

There is a story in Naoko Takeuchi's Sailor Moon Short Stories 2 called "The Lover of Princess Kaguya," and I absolutely loved it. I've always loved it since I was little and saw the Sailor Moon Hearts in Ice movie.

21. Best book you read in 2014 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation from somebody else/peer pressure?
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. I only read it because one of my teachers highly recommended it. I didn't know anything about it when I started reading it, and I was pleasantly surprised. It's very good.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2014?
Wolf from Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?
Crossing the Threshold by Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer. This is a short self-published book which is the first in a trilogy. I really enjoyed this one; I've never read a fantasy that felt so contemporary before, and I love that. (It sort of reminds me how Annette Curtis Klause writes her paranormal romance novels to flow like contemporaries, and I love me some Annette Curtis Klause.) The characters may seem typical at face value - the nerdy, unpopular girl and the jock with a more sensitive side - but they're actually much more interesting than that. I could relate to Shea in ways I can't relate to other characters.

24. Best worldbuilding/most vivid setting you read this year?
Shades of Earth by Beth Revis. I don't want to spoil anything for those who haven't read these, so I'll just have to keep my mouth shut on this one.

25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?
-Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, because of all of Thorne's dialogue. And Iko is always adorable.

-My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, because George is so adorable!

26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2014?
Night by Elie Wiesel. Again. It's a Holocaust autobiography, so it's only natural that the tears would come. And Wiesel's beautiful writing doesn't help matters much in the emotional department either.

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston... Because it's just not fair. Although I acknowledge that even though it's sad, (I'm trying really hard not to spoil) it's good that a certain character was able to find what they were looking for. But it's still not fair. I actually cried a lot at the end.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte had me tearing up a smidge at the end, but I know it's not supposed to be sad. The point is that the character can let go and be independent... But this really wasn't fair either - to the point I reread the last four pages like half a dozen times before I could really believe what just happened. Charlotte Bronte, why do you play with my soul so much?

27. Hidden gem of the year?
I read quite a few "hidden gems" this year. I don't understand why more people aren't reading these - they're all fantastic books!

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork - Marcelo is a contemporary about a boy with autism who hears music in his head as he finally dives into the "real world" and realizes that it isn't all that great. The blend of feelings is just right.

Crossing the Threshold by Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer - Crossing the Threshold is the first book in these 2014 debut authors' Changeling series about two teens with a larger purpose than they realize who are pushed together by some outside force. It's basically a contemporary/fantasy... Yes, I just said a contemporary/fantasy - that in itself should be an incentive to go buy a copy and start reading!

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte - Poor Anne just gets no attention in the grand scheme of Brontemania. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is such an important feminist novel, AND it's interesting and has some of those heavy Bronte-esque emotions.

Villette by Charlotte Bronte - Charlotte is really just popular for her classic novel Jane Eyre, but Villette is also a profound piece of literature. I realize that the first half is pretty slow and it isn't initially grabbing as Jane Eyre is, but Charlotte really accomplished something here; this book is WAY ahead of its time, and it's even beyond the time we're currently in.

28. Book that crushed your soul?
For the most part, my soul is unscathed by the books I read in 2014, except for Elie Wiesel's Night. My heart was mostly what took the impact.

29. Most unique book you read in 2014?
Villette by Charlotte Bronte - Like I said, this book is beyond our time. I've never read a book with such a plot... The way it ended, the emotional note it ended on... It's not what anyone would've expected. Ever.

Crossing the Threshold by Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer - It's a fantasy that flows like a contemporary. There are a lot of Irish influences. AND I can relate to Shea in ways I haven't been able to relate to other characters. Needless to say, this book is one of a kind.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell - A series of stories intertwined because of reincarnation? Not that unique. All the stories are completely different genres and are written to suit each genre? Incredibly unique.

The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin - This story is about a mock-Egyptian society, and I've never read such a fantasy before. The concept of dreamblood and all of that other complicated stuff that I'm struggling to remember (it feels like forever since I've read it) made for a very interesting and unique story.

30. Book that made you the most mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Keep in mind that I liked these books:

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick - Samantha's mom. 'Nuff said.

Revealed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast - Zoey needs to get it together. But, considering the next (and final) book of this series is called Redeemed, I imagine she'll be, well, "redeemed."

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork - The way that certain characters treated Maracelo because of his autism is bound to anger anybody. The worst part is that there are people who are like this in the "real world" outside of this book.

Blogging/Bookish Life
1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014?
I discovered a couple of new book blogs, but now neither of them are active, but I did discover a couple of music blogs:

The Metal Pigeon (which, of course, is centered around metal music)

Hapfairy's World (centers around symphonic metal and female-fronted metal in general - we all know how much I love symphonic metal)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014?
I don't really have favorite reviews... But I suppose I'll say my review of Epica's latest album The Quantum Enigma is my favorite because of how happy I was as I was listening and writing.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
Probably my concerts post because it was the most fun to write. Going to concerts is one of my most favorite things I life; it's about time I shared some thoughts about my experiences.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I got to go to a local Q&A event in which Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer talked about their debut novel Crossing the Threshold.

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?
Discovering that two of my favorite former teachers (Dirlam and Overmyer, as mentioned above) wrote a book and being able to read and review the manuscript before it was released was awesome! I'm so proud of them! And I promise that the fact that I know the authors personally didn't sway my opinion on the book whatsoever. If I didn't like it, I wouldn't have praised it as highly in my review or in any of these categories.

6. Most popular post this year on your blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Here are the top 5 by views:
1 - Tuomas Holopainen of Nightwish Releases First Solo Video: "A Lifetime of Adventure"
2 - Aftermath by Amy Lee (Review)
3 - Hydra by Within Temptation (Review)
4 - I Love Gilmore Girls
5 - Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books I'm Not Sure I Want to Read

7. Post you wished got a little more love?
Some of my poor book reviews just have a lack of love, particularly Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork, The Dark and Hollow Places by Carrie Ryan, and My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick.

8. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
-HALF PRICE BOOKS. It's the most amazing store that could ever happen to the bookish world. Unfortunately all the Half Price Book stores are far away from me so I always have to make a bit of a road trip. But, when I went there, I got a paperback for $4 and a hardcover that's usually $40 for $6. While I was there, I sold some books and got $8 out of it... So I got a $35 purchase for $2. You just can't beat that.

-I went to a Barnes and Nobel for the first time in my life. (Calm down, I used to go to Borders all the time and I frequent Books-A-Million. Barnes and Nobel is located farther away than where I usually shop.)

9. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I just try to read 20 books a year or more (I know, it's low) and I did it.

Looking Ahead:

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2014 but will be your number 1 priority in 2015?
The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell. After reading my first book by him this year, I can't wait to see what Mitchell has in store! And I also really need to read Redeemed by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. And Thorne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas. And - okay, I'll stop now.

2. Book you are most anticipating for 2015 (non-debut)?
All of the next Lunar Chronicles books by Marissa Meyer (Fairest and Winter) and The Last American Vampire by Seth Graham-Smith, which is a sequel to Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.

3. 2015 debut you are most anticipating?
I never seem to know about debuts until they happen. (I don't get ARCs.)

4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2015?
I'm really anxious for the sequel to Crossing the Threshold in the Changeling series by Amanda Dirlam and Melanie Overmyer as well as Winter by Marissa Meyer.

5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2015?
Stay consistent with the post flow. I was SO GOOD at this year - SO GOOD, I TELL YOU, FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER. But then university happened and I only posted once in October. Fail. Furthermore, I need to find balance between reading for school and reading for fun, because it just didn't happen during my first semester at the university. Like, at all.

6. A 2015 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone:
Again, I don't get ARCs.
I hope everyone's having a great new year!

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