Top Ten Tuesday: 12/16

TOP TENTop Ten Books We Read In 2014

9781402298684-3001. The Magician’s Lie by Greer Macallister – this one is still fresh in my mind, as I just finished it. It doesn’t come out until January 2015, but I’ll still count it. It was an absolutely captivating read. Check out the review and giveaway (live until Friday!).

2. The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski – I haven’t posted my review yet, but I just finished this over the weekend…totally loved it and can’t wait until book two is released!

3. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon – review here. These books have been around for a while but I finally decided to read them. I loved the first book, but couldn’t seem to get into the second.

4. His Fair Assassin series by Robin LaFevers – maybe it’s cheating to post an entire series, but I loved them all! Review for book one here and for books two and three here.

5. The Elemental Trilogy by Sherry Thomas – okay, cheating again. Review for book one here and book two here.

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6. Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin – I love the Heaven that Gabrielle writes about, and the whole cycle of life – you die, stay in Heaven as you age backwards from the age you were when you originally passed, and then you are sent back to Earth as a baby. Super intriguing. 5/5 on Goodreads. Elsewhere

7. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder – review here.

8. Pointe by Brandy Colbert – I wrote about Brandy Colbert a week or so ago, and she’s a pretty amazing author. This book is definitely not something I’ve ever read anything similar to in the past, and the that Brandy wrote it makes it so much better than I could have ever imagined. 5/5 on Goodreads.

9. All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner – review here.

10. Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder – review here.

Only a couple of these were actually published in 2014, but I read them all for the first time this year and they stand out in my mind. I’ve linked back to my reviews of the ones I’ve blogged about, the others I read earlier in the year.

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Top Ten Tuesday: 12/9

TOP TEN

Top Ten New-To-Us Authors We Read In 2014

1. Brandy Colbert – I read Pointe back in May and fell completely in love with Brandy’s writing style. Pointe itself is a really good, albeit creepy, story and she just made it that much more amazing and creepy. I really hope she writes more, I will read it all. heiresses

2. Maria V. Snyder – I’m currently on the last book of the Study Series and now I can’t imagine not loving everything Maria writes. It’s all SO good.

3. I had heard of Rainbow Rowell before, but I didn’t read any of her books until this year. I started with Fangirl and it was really cute!

4. For years, I’ve been hearing about Stephanie Perkins and her all-around amazingness but I finally read one of her books, Anna and the French Kiss, this year and I wondered why I had waited so long! It was lighthearted and funny, slightly predictable though. I can’t wait to read her other books!

5. I am a big Pretty Little Liars fan, and when I found out that they were based on books, I had to read them. I tried to start with the first, but I just couldn’t get through it and set it aside for a long while. This year though, Sara Shepard (the author of the Pretty Little Liars series) came out with a new book! The Heiresses was SO much better than the PLL book I never finished and I’m so glad I gave her another shot. Technically, she wasn’t new to me since I tried her previous series, but it still counts because I never actually finished a book of hers until this year.

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233828406. Shawntelle Madison – I had never heard of Madison until I stumbled across Under My Skin on Net Galley. I absolutely loved it! She has another series that I’m excited to try.

7. Sherry Thomas – I spotted The Burning Sky at Barnes and Noble and fell in love with the cover—I know you shouldn’t choose your books based on their covers, but the jacket description sounded good, too 🙂 So happy! I might even consider reading her historical romance novels, if the mood strikes.

8. Liane Moriarty – I really enjoyed Little Big Lies, and can’t wait to try out some of her other books.

9. Sarah J. Maas – I picked up the first Throne of Glass book in February and read the rest in the same week! Very, very excited for her 2015 releases.

10. Elizabeth Vaughan – I can’t remember which book made Warprize pop up as a recommendation on Goodreads, but I’m glad it did. I loved the Warprize series, but wasn’t as thrilled when I branched out to Vaughan’s other series.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Check out more Top Ten features on their site. 

Happy Thanksgiving: Books We Are Thankful For

Books we're

To many people, a book is just a book. To us, a book has the power to change a life, a perspective, a bad day into a good one, a regular moment into an extraordinary one. A book has the power to transport you to another place, another person’s life, another time. In the spirit of thankfulness, we would like to highlight the books that we are most thankful for.

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The Harry Potter series by JK Rowling

6I wouldn’t be doing my list justice if I didn’t mention Harry Potter. I first picked up Harry Potter from my local library in 1999. I was almost ten and actually believed that my American Hogwarts letter would come in the next year. After finishing the first book, I immediately ran out (just kidding—my mom drove me) to the library to pick up the Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. By the time I’d finished, my entire family was hooked on the book. My first midnight release party at Barnes and Noble was for the Chamber of Secrets—that’s right—my mom let me stay up past midnight.

As a homeschooled kid who lived in the country, friends were sparse. Books, on the other hand, were numerous, and my only rule at the library was that if I couldn’t physically carry the stack, I had to put some back. I grew very strong for such a nerdy child. Harry Potter was the first real series that I became an obsessive fangirl with, and I continue to hold that status today.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler

94053This book gave me the travel bug, and a love of learning about other cultures. I read this during my sophomore year of college; I was in an Eastern Civilizations class, and this was an assigned reading. I read it in a week. It was truly the first nonfiction book I read that I really, really felt a connection to. It made me want to join the Peace Corps for several years before I decided against it. I haven’t re-read it since that class, but I think I ought to.

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
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I read Life As We Knew It for a Teen’s Choice Award committee I was involved in for the library (because I wasn’t nerdy enough in high school, being on yearbook, newspaper, and showing chickens in 4-H). It’s about a girl who is trying to survive with her family when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth, creating disaster and devastation all over the globe. It made me realize how unprepared we all would be in that situation, and that we need to stop taking our way of life for granted.

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60510The Study Series by Maria V. Snyder

I know I sound like a broken record here, but seriously. THESE BOOKS. I feel like before I (finally) read Poison Study, I was kind of at a stagnant place with reading. I would read all of these books and while I liked them, I wouldn’t get as sucked in as I remember getting when I was younger and I couldn’t figure out why. Reading this series has completely changed that and renewed my hope in books, renewed that hunger for reading that I’ve always had and that had somehow dwindled over the past years. So thankful Lauren recommended the series, and so thankful that I finally started reading it.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah1472878

I can’t NOT put this book on here. I read it and recognized the similarities between Kate & Tully’s lives and mine & my best friend’s and immediately made her read it. We’ve both read it numerous times since then and it’s just as good the 2nd and 3rd times as it is the 1st.

hpThe Harry Potter Series by JK Rowling

We moved around a lot when I was growing up, and I remember before I made any friends in my newest neighborhood, I would spend all of my free time reading these books. I even made my mom buy me all of them because the library closest to our house always had an insane wait list for them. HP and all of this friends (and foes) got me through starting new schools, making new friends, and dealing with the angsty teenage feels that we all go through. As I got older, the series became a way to bond with my younger brother and brought us closer than we ever would have been without them. Hogwarts and Harry, every character and every setting, JK Rowling herself… they’re all lifesavers and I will forever be grateful for it all.

Kiesha

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

magic studySo, I started and finished Magic Study in one night. That alone says SO much about how I feel about the book. There aren’t many books that I get so into that I finish them in one sitting, and I really wasn’t planning on doing it with this book but I fell so very much in love with the story, once again. Magic Study was an amazing follow up to Poison Study and yet again, I’m so thankful for Lauren telling me about this series.

In book two, Yelena has traveled to Sitia with Irys to meet the family she was kidnapped from so many years ago. I must say that her family and the Zaltana Clan… they’re all very eccentric. No other way to describe them. I love how much love they have for Yelena after all the years she was apart from them, and how welcoming her parents are.

After meeting the family she’s forgotten over the years, Yelena heads to the Academy so that Irys can teach her how to manage her magic. She of course encounters trouble along the way, and once she gets there it just keeps coming.

The only thing I didn’t like about it was that Valek wasn’t around for most of the book. It made me SO happy to finally see him when he did show up but it just wasn’t enough. I am a huge Valek fan and it was disappointing to not have him there for Yelena. The whole storyline started to get a little overdone with how much she was put through (beaten up, magicians trying to access her mind, etc.), but I really didn’t mind. Everything kept very true to the Study Series and to Yelena’s character – trouble seems to follow her everywhere but she does her best to help combat it.

I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads even though there were a couple of things I didn’t like, mostly because I love the world the series takes place in and the writing is brilliant. Maria V. Snyder is a genius in my book.

Kiesha

Top Ten Tuesday: 11/11

TOP TEN

Top Ten Characters We Wish Would Get Their OWN Book

1. Peeta Mellark – I feel like seeing what he was thinking and feeling during the entire series, would be such a different perspective than Katniss. She volunteered in place of her sister, he was chosen. He’d had a crush on her for awhile and just had a different perspective to offer.

2. Hermione Granger – so many girls identify with her, I think a series or even just one book from her point of view would be a huge hit.

3. Primrose Everdeen – what did she go through while Katniss was away? What feelings did she grapple with?

4. Perry – the Under the Never Sky series would have been SO interesting coming from Perry’s point of view, with his family history and everything that went on between his brother, father and himself leading up to the books… a book like this should definitely be on Veronica Rossi’s to-do list.

5. Draco Malfoy – getting the story from one of the “villains” is always interesting, and I think HP from Draco’s point of view would be even more so than your average villain. He had a lot of pressure on him from his family and didn’t have anywhere near the same life or experiences that Harry did.

I know they’re all pretty prominent characters in the books themselves, but books from their point of views would be so AMAZING.

6. Hermione Granger – Okay, okay, I know Kiesha already said her, but I really identified with Hermione throughout the Harry Potter series. She is bookish, smart, and very frustrated with the boys in her life 90% of the time. I would have loved to understand her emotions and thought process throughout their various adventures.
7. Valek – Smart, cunning, and hilarious, there were definitely times during the Study series that I wished Valek was the MC rather than Yelena. Plus he’s so mysterious—I wanted to know what he was up to!

8. Anyone but Piper Kerman – Orange is the New Black was a great read (and an even better TV show), but honestly, it wasn’t that interesting to read about some sad, privileged white girl who ended up in prison for a year due to a mistake. I found most of her fellow inmates ten times more interesting, and was glad she at least covered some of their stories. That being said, I would have like more. Much, much more.

9. Jamie Fraser – Claire Randall is cool and all, but I think things would be been very interesting from Jamie’s point of view. Think about it: some crazy lady shows up, eventually tells him she has time traveled, talks about the future, etc. In the book, he’s like “okay, that’s cool” and moves on. I’m pretty sure most rational people would lose it…even just a little bit.

10. Ky  – Matched would have been about 10,000x more interesting if Ky had been the MC rather than Cassia. She’s kind of your typical useless, I’ve-been-privileged-my-whole-life-and-haven’t-questioned-the-system kind of MC, which can get really annoying after reading too many dystopian novels. Ky has an interesting, mysterious background and common sense. Whenever he was not around Cassia in the book, I was very annoyed that I had to deal with her alone. 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Check out more Top Ten features on their site. 

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

60510I finished this book last weekend and I’ve really been thinking about what exactly I’m going to say about it… my mind is still full of awe and just a complete mess so I’m just going to go for it.

Poison Study is without a doubt the BEST book that I’ve read this year. It is so incredibly stuck in my mind; it’s all I’ve been thinking about since I finished it. If I’m being completely honest, I’ve even dreamt about it. It’s THAT stuck in my head and it’s so refreshing to feel this way about a book when the last couple I’ve read (or tried to) have been complete let downs. I only wish I had read it sooner, but alas, it’s exactly what I needed right now.

Yelena is on the verge of being executed for murder when she is given the opportunity to become the food taster for the Commander of Ixia in lieu of execution. She goes for it, and realizes that staying alive isn’t necessarily going to be easy when the Rebels are plotting to seize Ixia and she herself is developing magical powers that she’s unable to control.

Yelena herself is such a badass. She’s strong, stubborn, level headed, and doesn’t take anyone’s crap including the Valek, the Chief of Security. While her life is continuously threatened by the father of the man she murdered (among others), she doesn’t give in to her immediate reaction which is to run away as fast as possible. She has a hard time trusting anyone, and when you learn her entire story, it’s completely understandable. There are twists and surprises, and some things I definitely saw coming but in a way that I was anxious to see the events play out, not in a way that was old and tired. I rated it 5/5 on Goodreads and cannot wait to get the next book in my hands!

Kiesha

Top Ten Tuesday: 11/4

Top Ten Books We Want To Reread *

* or would reread if we actually liked rereading

8579201. My co-worker’s daughter is currently reading the Silverwing series by Kenneth Oppel, which really makes me want to reread it. It’s basically about a bunch of bats. Basically Shade, a bat, gets separated from his flock during winter migration and has a huge adventure. I was very into animal point-of-view books as a kid!

2. Good in Bed by Jennifer Wiener. I absolutely loved Good in Bed when I first read it—in fact, it was through Good in Bed that I discovered that I liked women’s fiction.

3. Which also makes me want to reread Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin.

4. I think it would be interesting to read The Golden Compass (His Dark Materials series) by Philip Pullman at this age versus the age I was when I initially read it. Knowing the parallels behind the story now would make me read it in a different light.

5. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine was one of my all-time favorites as a young girl, so it would be fun to reread it again. I haven’t read it since the movie came out, but I remember being furious that nothing matched the book.

605106. Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder. I just finished it (a review will be up soon!!) and am SO in love. If I didn’t have a million other books I wanted to read, I would probably read it over and over until it was memorized.

7. The Harry Potter series. I keep trying to reread them starting from the beginning, but I get distracted by shiny, new books and stop.

8. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert. This book gave me all the feels when I read it in high school.

9. The Hunger Games series. I’ve forgotten so many of the details from these and they’re among my (very long list of) favorites.

10. Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. Out of this list, I think this is the one I will actually reread. I loved it and wanted to continue the series, but it’s been so long since I first read it that I’d have to reread it in order to understand the next books.

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by the Broke & the Bookish. Check out more Top Ten features on their site.