Tuesday, 31 December 2013

End of 2013 Book Survey

This survey was created by Jamie from The Perpetual Page-Turner and I was inspired to do this by Holly at A DayDreamer's Thoughts and Jack at The Book Stop. The images used in this post were designed by me, because Jamie's images wouldn't work on my blog for some reason. Anyway, on with the survey!

1) Best books you read in 2013? (If you have to cheat, you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist.)

Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher, City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, Pivot Point by Kasie West and The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. I've probably forgotten a million books but these are the ones that first flew into my mind. Holy fudge these were awesome.

2) Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love but didn't?

I don't really see how this question can go in the 'Best in Books' section but whatever. A book I was extremely excited to read was Stella by Helen Eve, but if you read my review you'll know Stella was a huge disappointment. I gave it 1/5. SAD FACE x100.

3) Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the plot completely took me by surprise.

4) Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did, so after I'd finished it I recommended it like crazy! *cough* If you haven't read it, why not?.....

5) Best series you discovered in 2013?

Wow, I can see these books are going to pop up a lot in my answers...The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. Sorry...

6) Favourite new author you discovered in 2013?

There are a few: Megan Sparks, Cassandra Clare, Annabel Pitcher, Karen Saunders, David Levithan, Stephanie Perkins, and Lisa M. Forester.

7) Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

Dreams by Daniela Sacerdoti. I didn't give it 5/5 but it was about demons and things like that, which is part of a genre I read very rarely.

8) Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Pretty Girl Thirteen by Liz Coley. A paranormal thriller, it was definitely unputdownable!

9) Book you read in 2013 that you are most likely to re-read next year?

I don't have time to re-read books, but if I did, I would probably pick one of the Harry Potter books!

10) Favourite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11) Most memorable character in 2013?

Tiny Cooper from Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan. He's so loud and loveable. WE APPRECIATE YOU, TINY COOPER!

12) Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Charm and Strange by Stephanie Keuhn. 

13) Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryce and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I thought I would include two books for this answer seeing as they are both on the same subject. Another book that had a great impact on me in the way that it re-fueled my dream of travelling Europe was Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins.

14) Book you can't believe you waited until 2013 to finally read?

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare! I should've read it long ago!

15) Favourite passage/quote from a book you read in 2013?

"I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, and then all at once." 
"My thoughts are stars I cannot fathom into constellations."
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

16) Shortest and longest book you read in 2013?

The shortest book is actually a play, but it's in book form. That's not cheating right? The book/play I'm talking about is An Inspector Calls by J.B Priestly - it only has 81 pages! The longest book I read is City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare at 535 pages.

17) Book that had a scene in it that had you reeling and dying to talk to somebody about it? (A WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

I'm trying not to mention this book too much but I'm clearly failing. THAT moment in City of Bones. You know the one. I went straight to Twitter and fangirled/died/hoped it wasn't true. 

18) Favourite relationship from a book you read in 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc.)

I liked Lilly and Emma's friendship in Cyberstalker by Jens Hildebrand. Emma was very loyal to Lilly, even in the most challenging circumstances. I also loved Addie and Trevor's relationship in Pivot Point by Kasie West, and Annie and Jesse's relationship in the Roller Girls series by Megan Sparks! I SHIP SO MANY PEOPLE.

19) Favourite book you read in 2013 from an author you've read previously.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I had previously read Paper Towns when I first started this blog, but I was very young then so I didn't enjoy it as much as I would now. I now own a signed copy of The Fault in Our Stars - it's one of the best things I own!

20) Best book you read in 2013 that you read based solely on a recommendation from somebody else.

I don't really read books based on somebody else's recommendation, because we all have different opinions, so I might end up hating a book they thought was brilliant. I tend to read books based on my own judgement.

21) Genre you read the most from in 2013?

YA Contemporary.

22) Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Aaron from Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher and Will from Salvage by Keren David.

23) Best 2013 debut you read?

The Elites by Natasha Ngan.

24) Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Cross My Heart by Carmen Reid. The imagery was beautiful and I felt like I was really there...I'm glad that I wasn't, seeing as it was set in WW2!

25) Book that was the most fun to read in 2013?

Freaks by Lisa M. Forester. I just really enjoyed getting immersed in the story!

26) Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2013?

So many books. The Elites by Natasha Ngan, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, City of Lost Souls by Cassandra Clare, the final Roller Girls book by Megan Sparks and Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff. The last one made me nearly cry...from boredom.

27) Book you read in 2013 that you think got overlooked this year or when it came out?

The Year of the Great Seventh by Teresa Orts. Not many people seem to know about this book but I was pleasantly surprised by it and thought it was truly stunning! I decided to review this book in the Guardian newspaper because it's a book that deserves a ton of publicity!

1) New favourite book blog you discovered in 2013?

There are four that particularly stand out for me, and in no particular order they are...

Feed Me Books Now! Ruby has such a distinct writing style and her reviews always leave me desperate to read the book (unless it's a negative review, of course, but those are written brilliantly too!)

Another favourite book blog I discovered this year is The Book Stop. Jack isn't afraid to speak his mind, so you always know you're getting his 100% honest thoughts.

Booklol16 is also a great blog. I think it's great that Jaden is book blogging at such a young age!

And finally, A DayDreamer's Thoughts is a relatively new but extremely awesome book blog, and Holly has quickly become one of my best friends!

You're all kind of awesome. SLOTHY HUGS.

2) Favourite review that you wrote in 2013?

My favourite positive review that I wrote in 2013 has to be my review of City of Bones by Cassandra Clare (HOW many times have I mentioned that book? Sorry!) My favourite negative review that I wrote is Stella by Helen Eve.

3) Best discussion you had on your blog?

I loved the discussions I had on my blog this year, particularly 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Start a Book Blog.

4) Most thought-provoking review or discussion you read on somebody else's blog?

I remember this post on The Book Stop (link removed due to blog no longer existing) being very thought-provoking because I think it perfectly sums up how every book blogger feels at some point. I'm also including Holly's post on bullying (link removed due to blog no longer existing) because I think it took a lot of courage to write the post and she raised a lot of good points.

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

I haven't been to an author signing or festival since 2011, but I'm hoping next year will be full of them. I don't really participate in virtual events or memes, either... does my blogoversary festival count? Next year my answer to this question will be better because I'm planning to go to the Hay Festival in May, where authors such as Cassandra Clare and Jacqueline Wilson are doing signings. Hopefully going to see Zoe, Rita, Lucy, Sophie, Georgia and Hawwa there too!

6) Best moment of book blogging/your book life in 2013?

I got to interview David Levithan which was amazing but also extremely nervewracking and all kinds of scary as he's a very well-known author. I'm so glad to have been given such a great opportunity though; I'll remember it forever! I also got a job writing for an actual magazine which is my dream job, so to have been given my dream job before I'd even turned 15...well, I'm still speechless, even now.

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

The most popular post on my blog this year by views was my discussion on Grammarly which got over 4000 views, with my post on how to start a book blog coming a close second. My most popular post this year on my blog by comments was when I was Parajunkee's featured blogger, gaining me over 100 comments, with my blogoversary kick-off post coming a close second with over 50.

8) Post you wished got a little more love?

Any of my reviews that got no/not many comments!

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

Ashley's new book blogging directory which I guest blog for. I'm so glad someone decided to make a decent directory, to be honest. The others were pretty useless, but Ashley's is a quickly-growing community of book lovers!

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

I don't participate in reading challenges because quite frankly, I don't need that kind of pressure. I know something like that would turn reading into a chore for me.

1) One book you didn't get to in 2013 but will be your number one priority in 2014?

Divergent by Veronica Roth. Maybe. I don't know, people keep pushing me to read it and that just makes me want to read it less. *edit* I'm reading Divergent now! I'd love to read The Book Thief but I don't own it...*hint hint*

2) Book you are most anticipating for 2014 (non-debut)?

The last book in the Chocolate Box Girls series by Cathy Cassidy. Sad to see the series ending, but I can't wait to read it! I'm also SO excited for City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare! AHHH! ....If anyone dies I will not be happy. JACE CLARY SIMON YESSS.

3) 2014 debut you are most anticipating?

Banished by Liz de Jager, out in February! The cover is gorgeous!

4) Series ending you are most anticipating for 2014?

Um...refer to my answer for question 2.

5) One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging in 2014?

I just want to continue with it, really. I'd like to improve in my writing and perhaps hit 500 GFC followers. That'd be cool! It'd be good to get my quote in a couple more books too. You'll see more of my blogging goals in a blog post coming soon.

So...I finished it. Finally. Give me a medal. *gasps for water* *collapses* *dies from answering too many questions*

Feel free to link to your answers! I wish you all the best for 2014, I hope it's a good year for all of you. :)

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

My Bloggy Buddies

First of all, HAPPY CHRISTMAS! I know hardly anyone will see this post today, seeing as you're probably all being sociable and stuff. And eating lots. And possibly trying to wrestle a cat off a Christmas tree... okay, maybe the last one is just happening here. But I just wanted to do a special blog post for my friends, to let them know they're awesome and I love them and stuff *hugs* I was inspired to do this post after seeing Musings of 2013: Blogging Friends (or People I Just Love) over at Musings of a Blogder. This is in alphabetical order, sorry, Zoe C and Zoe B...

Amy - You live kind-of near me and you're funny! Your comments always make me smile and, even though I don't comment on your blog very often, I always read your posts. I'm glad we're friends!
Ashley - I swear you're an actual genius. Firstly, Nose Graze is so fun and different from everyone else's blogs. Secondly, you made the best book blogging directory there has ever been. And you're lovely! We may not talk a lot but I just wanted to say you're awesome. :D
Cat - I've known you for...8 years! We don't talk much anymore but I still read your blog all the time and I'm always here if you ever need a chat. :)
Charli - I can't believe I only 'met' you in June! Your blog is one of my favourites and you're my Twitter Niece. xD You're really fun to talk to! You're obsessed with sticky notes and I'm pretty sure you have them in every colour, shape and size... ;)
Debbie - You're so kind and generous, and you put up with my unicorn-ness/slothiness/craziness! You meet all the best people and you go to all the best events, it's really not fair. ;) YOU MET CASSANDRA CLARE. AND DAVID LEVITHAN. *screams* Also, you sent me more Christmas presents than one of my own relatives did. YAY DEBBIE 
Fiona - I love your videos so much! You sent me my first Rainbow Rowell book (thank you!), so now I'm desperate to read the rest.
Georgia - You're fun to talk to and, like Debbie, it's so unfair that you get to go to all the blogger events! TAKE ME WITH YOU. HIDE ME IN YOUR BAG OR SOMETHING. You're really pretty and I frequently find myself on your blog.
Hawwa - You're a fangirl, and I turned you into a unicorn. I also got you obsessed with Cimorelli, you send me books, and you hate the people I hate. Therefore, we are automatically friends ;) You really like Miley Cyrus which, y'know, is a bit weird but oh well. You're amazeballs. Oh and you're my Twitter sister, apparently ;P 
Holly - You are the kindest person I know. Seriously. We've been through some of the same things and you're so supportive and awesome and pretty and...uh...did I say awesome already?!
Jack - Fudge. We talk nearly all the time and you put up with my weirdness (like when I turned Wrecking Ball into a song about Christmas puddings). You're one of the nicest people I know, your blog is one of my favourites and you're really funny! Much asparagus.
Nova - We don't talk much but you're really nice and funny, and I love your blog! Plus you're a fan of Lorde. YES. 
Rachel - I've known you for a very very very very very long time. You're a Potterhead and your blog is booktastic! See what I did there? Aren't I hilarious...;P
Rita - YOU SANG ME HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN PORTUGUESE! You're usually on Twitter, so I fangirl with you a lot. I love your 'Discussion with an 8yr old' posts!
Ruby - Your blog is beautiful. The design, the writing...everything. I'm so glad I know you, and your blog is my #1 favourite to read. You're a genius when it comes to art!
Sophie - ROBERT SHEEHAN. We fangirl a LOT and we often end up just quoting The Fault in Our Stars, Harry Potter or City of Bones at each other. I like that whenever you send something to me, you sign it from 'Sophie and Simon' or 'Sophie and Jace'. ;)
Sunny - My sunny friend! You live in the future (uh...kind of...let's not go into technical details here...>.<) and you love Jamie Campbell Bower. WOOP! Your blog is so pretty and you're really nice. Thank you for being awesome. xD
Zoe B - You're insanely talented and you draw Pringles and sloths really well. I've known you for what seems like a reaaaally long time, because I remember reading your blog when you were on Cathy Cassidy's dream team! YOU AWESOME PERSON.
Zoe C - Zoe Zoe Zoeeee. You're my blogoversary twin! You're really nice and asdfghjkl I'm so glad to know you! If I had to use 4 words to describe you, they would be: Potterhead, Shadowhunter, and pure awesomeness. *throws books to you*

Now imagine a book blogger Christmas dinner. Holy fudge, that would be crazy. For the first three years of book blogging I didn't really interact with other bloggers, but this year has definitely been my best year of blogging and it's mainly down to you guys. Thank you :)

I probably missed a ton of people out, but I hope you have a really good day and a happy new year! See you on the last day of 2013 for my end-of-year book survey!

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Salvage by Keren David

Title: Salvage
Author: Keren David
Published by: Atom
Publication date: 16th January 2014
Pages: 309
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Aidan Jones was my brother. But I couldn't really remember his face. I couldn't remember talking to him or playing with him. He was just a gap, an absence, a missing person.

Before she was adopted by a loving family and raised in a leafy Home Counties town, Cass Montgomery was Cass Jones. Her memories of her birth family disappeared with her name. But when her adopted family starts to break down, a way out comes in the form of a message from her lost brother, Aidan. Having Aidan back in her life is both everything she needs and nothing she expected. Who is this boy who calls himself her brother? And why is he so haunted?

I glance at the paper. There's a big picture on the front page. A girl with dark red hair. A girl with eyes that might have been green or they might have been grey. I sit down and stare at Cass, and it is her, it is. My stolen sister.

Aidan's a survivor. He's survived an abusive step-father and an uncaring mother. He's survived crowded foster homes and empty bedsits. His survived to find Cass. If only he can make her understand what it means to be part of his family. . .

Cass Montgomery has the perfect life: a big house, perfect grades, lots of money and great friends. She has a politician-father and a stay-at-home mother who can usually be found in the salon or doing pilat├ęs, and life is good. However, Cass's life isn't so perfect under the surface. Cracks are beginning to show, and her house is constantly full of tension...but then she meets her biological brother Aidan, and slowly their story unfolds.

I finished this book about an hour ago*, and I haven't spoken since then because I'm literally speechless. Keren David has always been a favourite author of mine, ever since I read When I Was Joe and Almost True. Salvage is stunning, realistic, and everything I'd hoped for; it flows so brilliantly, and it wasn't over-the-top. It was normal. Relatable.

Salvage is written from both Cass and Aiden's points of view, giving us an insight into the life of a seemingly perfect girl, and in contrast, a boy who has had a terrible past. Aiden was brought up in various children's homes and lived with different foster parents for weeks or months at a time, moving from one to the other like a bee going from plant to plant. He spent his childhood getting abused, neglected and rejected, and I felt a ton of sympathy for him. Of course, I related to Cass more because even though I haven't had the perfect upbringing that she had, I haven't spent my time in children's homes like Aiden. It was good to read from Cass's point of view because she's like me; neither of us truly know what it's like to have Aiden's upbringing.

The characters are wonderful, and I really liked the addition of Will Hughes - bright, bouncy and full of life. There never seemed to be a dull moment with him around, and I feel that if he hadn't been in the book, Salvage might have been a bit depressing. He really livened it up and gave that extra sparkle to the already gleaming book.

Salvage is completely brilliant as expected! You'll laugh, you'll cry, but most of all you'll enjoy it. I highly recommend it!
*This review was written on December 1st.

Monday, 16 December 2013

Stella by Helen Eve

Title: Stella
Author: Helen Eve
Published by: Macmillan
Publication date: 2nd January 2014
Pages: 361
Genres: Young Adult
Format: Paperback
Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Seventeen-year-old Stella Hamilton is the star blazing at the heart of Temperley High. Leader of the maliciously exclusive elite, she is surrounded by adulation, envied and lusted after in equal measure. And she is in the final stage of a five-year campaign to achieve her destiny: love with her equally popular male equivalent, and triumph as Head Girl on election night.

By contrast, new girl Caitlin Clarke has until now lived a quietly conformist life in New York. With the collapse of her parents' marriage she has been sent across the Atlantic for an English boarding-school education, only to discover that at Temperley the only important rules are the unwritten ones. It's a world of the beautiful and the dangerous, and acceptance means staying on the right side of Stella Hamilton, the most beautiful and dangerous of them all.

Not everyone is happy to be under the Hamilton rule. But fighting the system means treading the same dark path as Stella - and if Caitlin puts a foot wrong, it's a long way to fall...

Hmm...where to begin. The summary is long and detailed enough that I'm just going to jump straight in with what I thought about Stella, and wow, do I have a lot of thoughts on the matter.

Stella started off promisingly with a fresh voice that took me pleasantly by surprise and my first thought was 'This is good!' Sadly, it all went downhill from there and the prologue was honestly the only bit of the book I found myself enjoying.

The language in this book is more Middle-Grade than YA - it was boring and flat, and more often than not I found myself drifting back onto Twitter which doesn't happen when you're reading a good book! Good books keep you engrossed in the story and sadly, this book just didn't deliver. I didn't care about any of the characters; I'd liked Caitlin at first but to see her change into such an annoying and transparent character was almost unbearable. All of the little love triangles were confusing, too. Luke, Edward; a countless amount of boys whom Stella was either dating or secretly liked. She had a secret agenda with each of them - some of them she used to get more popular, some of them she used to help her in the school election - and I'm still not overly sure whether she actually liked any of them.

When writing a book, there's generally a rule: 'Don't give characters similar names." This book was plagued with similar names and I now understand why that rule is in place - it's so confusing! All of the names in Stella's family begin with S. There's her mother, Seraphina, and her sisters Siena and Syrena. For half of the book I thought Siena was Stella's younger sister, but she's actually older, so there's a hint for you if you're going to read it. Another confusing thing about this book is that towards the end, Caitlin, Stella, Siena and Syrena kind of merged together in the way they looked, which made it very difficult to tell them apart. There's a particular scene where no names are mentioned and we can only tell who is who by the way they are described. Well, guess what? They all look the same and it's not like either of them had their own voice.

Quite frankly, this book is boring. If you've been reading this blog from the start, you'll know how much I hate writing negative reviews. I always try to point out positives so the review ends up balanced, but I just can't with this book. I really don't recommend it at all and I feel like reading it was a complete waste of time. If you like plot driven books then Stella isn't for you, but then again there isn't much description either. It's really quite bland, like cornflakes. This book did have some funny, snappy one-liners but that hardly makes up for the lack of enjoyment I had whilst reading this. At the time of writing this review (December 11th) the book has an average rating of 1/5 on Goodreads and I can't say I'm at all surprised.