End-of-the-Year Survey – 2015

I enjoy filling out surveys, and I (obviously) love books, so this end-of-the-year survey hosted by Jamie (Perpetual Page Turner) is right up my alley! Read on for my answers :)

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Number Of Books You Read: 111 + about 10 manuscripts during my internship (Jan-April)
Number of Re-Reads: 18
Genre You Read The Most From: probably urban fantasy (YA is NOT a category!)

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1. Best Book You Read In 2015?
It’s a cross between Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Becky Albertali) and Every Word (Ellie Marney).

2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?
The Bane Chronicles. I mean, I wasn’t really surprised because I haven’t liked the last four Cassandra Clare books I’ve read, but Magnus was always my favourite character.

3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read?
When Everything Feels Like the Movies (Raziel Reid) – it got a lot of buzz when it was chosen as one of the finalists for Canada Reads, and that in itself was surprising (in a good way!).

4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)?
I’m going to say Every Breath a) because I recommend it on pretty much a monthly basis (technically I read it in 2014, but it was literally the last book I read – I finished it on December 31!) and b) my sister read it and become just as obsessed!

5. Best series you started in 2015? Best Sequel of 2015? Best Series Ender of 2015?
Best series started: Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
Best sequel: Every Word (Ellie Marney)
Best series ender: The Wondrous and the Wicked (Page Morgan)

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2015?
Susin Nielsen. I read literally all her books (including one that’s not even published yet!) this year.

7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Unbearable Lightness – Portia de Rossi

8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
Every Move (Ellie Marney). I could not move while reading it.

9. Book You Read In 2015 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?
Cinder (Marissa Meyer) because I haven’t picked up the rest of the series yet, and I’ll probably have to re-read it before I continue.

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2015?
The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath – Ishbelle Bee

11. Most memorable character of 2015?
Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2015?
The Book Thief (Markus Zusack) is gorgeous, but it was a re-read. “New” book that was beautifully written: Magonia (Maria Dahvana Headley)

13. Most Thought-Provoking/ Life-Changing Book of 2015?
The Universe Versus Alex Woods – Gavin Extence.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2015 to finally read?
Soulless – Gail Carriger. It has so many things I love in it!

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2015?

I have seen the aftermath of death, the incredible mechanism of the body laid bare, and I know now that each person is a kind of miracle. A spark nestles like a bird inside our chests, so deep that we can’t find where it lives, but it is everything. It’s what makes us dream and think and feel and laugh and sing. And it is a mystery, and it is mundane, and, above all, it is fragile. Any moment could be our last. – Rachel Watts, Every Word

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2015?
The shortest (not including picture books or comics) was The Little Prince with 98 pages and the longest was the Complete Blooming Goddess Trilogy (Tallulah Darling) with 1080 pages total (it was all one ebook, so if I was counting individual books, it would be Outlander with 850 pages).

17. Book That Shocked You The Most
The Hollow Boy – Jonathan Stroud. THAT ENDING. I NEED THE NEXT ONE LIKE NOW.

18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!)
Wattscroft forever!!! Ellie Marney is in charge of writing all the kissing scenes forever.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year
Flavia and Dogger from Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce series.

20. Favorite Book You Read in 2015 From An Author You’ve Read Previously
Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler (aka Lemony Snicket!)

21. Best Book You Read In 2015That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure:
My sister told me repeatedly to read a Gail Carriger novel and I’m SO GLAD I read Soulless (and the sequel, Changeless!).

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2015?
Technically he’s from the end of 2014, but who doesn’t love James Mycroft??

23. Best 2015 debut you read?
Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra

24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

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

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2015?
I flat out sobbed at the end of The Wondrous and the Wicked (Page Morgan).

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?
Not published in 2015, but I really enjoyed Knightly and Son – Rohan Gavin

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?
In terms of being sad, I’d say Why We Broke Up, but if you’re talking about one that beat me down until I finished it, I’d say Neil Gaiman’s American Gods.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2015?
Lair of Dreams – Libba Bray

30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
Anne & Henry – Dawn Ius. I had such high hopes for it because it had such a great concept, but the characters infuriated me.

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1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2015?
This year was the first year I really paid attention to book blogs and really worked on my own reviews. Some of my favourite blogs include: Pop! Goes the Reader, The Broke and the Bookish, A Reader of FictionsSnuggly Oranges, Cuddlebuggery, and, of course Perpetual Page Turner, plus a whole lot more! I also have to shout out to all the blogs I follow/who follow me here :)

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2015?
Probably my Simon vs review or my extensive review for Every Breath/Every Word.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
The post with the most comments was my Top Ten Books of 2015 from a few weeks ago.

4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.)?
I helped out at OLA which was a really interesting experience, but I also got to meet Alan Bradley at Random House which was really cool (he’s such an adorable old man!).

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2015?
Interning at Tundra was definitely a highlight and I got to work on their blog, which was lots of fun!

6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
Finding time to write the reviews in between writing for Mind the Gap/idobi!

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?
Every Word blog tour (most views on one particular day); overall, it was my Blurryface track-by-track review (in terms of views) and top 10 books of 2015 (in terms of comments).

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?
I’m quite proud of my UK in YA TTT!

9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)?
Apart from all the blogs I mentioned earlier, I’ve also really enjoyed Book Riot and the read-iculously cheap Book Outlet.

10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year?
I set 100 books as my Goodreads challenge and surpassed that goal!

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1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2015 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2016?
Good Omens (Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett) is going to be the first book I read in 2016.

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2016 (non-debut)?
I don’t even know if it will come out in 2016, but I’m salivating for the next Lockwood and Co (Jonathan Stroud) book.

3. 2016 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?
The Love That Split The World – Emily Henry. It’s been getting a lot of hype and it was the first book to come to mind.

4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2016?
I’m really hoping that Every Move will be published in North America next year so I can complete my collection!

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2016?
I’m setting a goal for 120 books, plus one of my resolutions is to read more classics. And my sister and I (and possibly our nine year old niece) are going to do a full Harry Potter re-read which is really exciting.

6. A 2016 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:
The two 2016 books I’ve read so far have been The Serpent King (Jeff Zentner) and Vikki VanSickle’s If I Had a Gryphon (illustrated by Cale Atkinson), both of which I recommend (and will have reviews up in the next couple of months!).

Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s prompt is Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters. I went with five because I honestly couldn’t think of ten! Obviously I need to expand my reading pool. Of course, there have also been books with diverse characters that I didn’t like, so I didn’t include those (I don’t care if Zoey’s part Cherokee or whatever, I think the House of Night books are awful and they do not deserve a place on this list).

1) Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali

One of my favourite books of 2015, Simon is not-yet-out-of-the-closet but someone may be trying to blackmail him. I adored Simon – add this to your list right now if you haven’t already!

2) Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

Not only is Nimona herself not your typical heroine, but the hint of a relationship between Blackheart and Goldenloin is precious.

3) When Everything Feels Like the Movies – Raziel Reid

While this book may not be to everyone’s taste, I think it’s an important read and I love that it was part of Canada Reads because it brought LGBTQ issues (and YA novels!) into mainstream media for at least a little while.

4) Every Breath – Ellie Marney

Am I just obsessed with Every Breath? Maybe. But the secondary characters are diverse and fleshed out, not just stereotypes thrown in to mix things up (Mai is Vietnamese, Gus is Sudanese).

5) The Rearranged Life – Annika Sharma

I wasn’t in the right mood for this book when I originally read it, but I like that the protagonist was from a traditional Indian family. A interesting look at a culture that’s so very different from your typical “North American” household.

Fiction Friday Round-Up – May 22nd, 2015

Here are some books I’ve been reading/finishing over the past week or so. Please click the links for full reviews!

  • The Blooming Goddess Trilogy – Tellulah Darling: “I really enjoyed this series: it was fluffy at times but still had a strong plot. The writing was funny and compelling, and if you like contemporary takes on Greek mythology, you’ll love Sophie’s world.”
  • Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali: “I loved this book. It’s a character-driven novel, so the plot is relatively simple, but in this case, it worked because I enjoyed getting to know Simon and the world around him.”
  • The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches – Alan Bradley: “Flavia’s personal journey is what makes this book my favourite, and I can’t wait to get started on her next adventure.”

This week, I attended the book launch for Sarah Henstra’s fabulous debut, Mad Miss Mimic. Read my recap here!

Because it was #IreadYA week, you can see some of the YA books that I’m excited about here!

What have you read recently?

Until next week, happy reading!

#IreadYA 2015

It’s that glorious time of year again – it’s #IReadYA week! A campaign brought to us by Scholastic’s This is Teen, #IReadYA week is all about celebrating those of us who read – and love – young adult books.
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Last year, I broke down some of my favourite authors/series, this year I decided I would talk about some of the more recent YA adventures I’ve been on. There are actually different discussion topics for each day posted on the Scholastic website, but I was not paying attention, so I’m doing things my own way!

MY TWO NEW FAVOURITE TRILOGIES

I talk about these books so much on my blog, you probably already know what I’m going to say:

Every series – Ellie Marney

One word: Mycroft. For him alone, you should read these books. Also Watts, who is an incredibly strong female protagonist (she grew up on a farm, solves crimes, and plays roller derby!). Their chemistry is redonk, and the mysteries are so well written. Wattscroft forever!

The Dispossessed series – Page Morgan

Sexy, brooding gargoyles and late 1800’s Paris. What more could you ask for? Notable for being one of the only series where I was actually perplexed re: the outcome of the love triangle (I’m so happy with the way it turned out, but I was legitimately torn for a while there i.e. during the entire second book).

OUTSTANDING DEBUT

Mad Miss Mimic – Sarah Henstra

I love me a good strong Victorian heroine. This was well written, well researched, and, well, I loved it. I also attended the launch yesterday, which was super cute and so my style (tea sandwiches! Lots of sweet treats! Fun cocktails!).

DISCUSSION STARTER

When Everything Feels Like the Movies – Raziel Reid

This has been making waves in the Canadian literary scene because stuffy adults don’t think this much attention should be paid to something so “graphic”, but the message at the end is so important, and if it gets the LGBTQ conversation going, then it should win EVERY AWARD.

GORGEOUS COVER, GORGEOUS PROSE

Magonia – Maria Dahvana Headley

I didn’t review this one even though I read an ARC months ago (it was before I was actively reviewing ARCs), but the Neil Gaiman-esque prose is lovely, the cover is magnificent, and the story was unique and compelling.

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Nimona – Noelle Stevenson

Granted, I’m pretty obsessed with Nimona right now, but talk about strong female protagonists! From her bold hairstyles to her butt-kicking fighting technique (“I’M A SHARK”), Nimona is a pretty great role model – even if she is technically a villain.

UNRELIABLE HEROINES

We Were Liars – E. Lockhart

I wasn’t as impressed with this book as everyone else seemed to be (it got so many glowing reviews), but Cady’s narrative keeps you guessing, even when you think you’ve figured it out (or, like me, you accidentally spoiled the ending for yourself).

YA FROM A MOSTLY MG AUTHOR

Why We Broke Up – Daniel Handler

While it did tend to ramble on for a while, Min’s account of her intense and turbulent relationship with Ed can be a bit of a tearjerker. It’s also a beautifully designed book, so for that alone, I’d recommend it.

ON MY TBR

Here are 2 books on my “TO BE READ” list that I’m really excited for:

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda – Becky Albertali

I read the first page and was hooked in an instant, so you know it’s going to be a great read. Plus it’s been getting excellent buzz from bloggers that I tend to agree with, so I’m fairly certain I’ll enjoy it.

Also a good contender for a “discussion starter”, from what I’ve heard.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone – Laini Taylor

I’ve wanted to read this for a while (I even own a copy), but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. Pretty covers, angels, demons – sounds amazing.

What are some of your favourite YA books (in general, or that you’ve read recently)?

Fiction Friday Round-Up – April 24th, 2015

This week, I finished the third book in a series, a whimsical fairy-tale ARC, and a controversial award-winner. Click the titles for a full review!

What have you read recently? Let me know in the comments!

And until next week – happy reading!

When Everything Feels Like the Movies – Raziel Reid

When Everything Feels Like the Movies – Raziel Reid

23129964School is just like a film set: there’s The Crew, who make things happen, The Extras who fill the empty desks, and The Movie Stars, whom everyone wants tagged in their Facebook photos. But Jude doesn’t fit in. He’s not part of The Crew because he isn’t about to do anything unless it’s court-appointed; he’s not an Extra because nothing about him is anonymous; and he’s not a Movie Star because even though everyone know his name like an A-lister, he isn’t invited to the cool parties. As the director calls action, Jude is the flamer that lights the set on fire.

Before everything turns to ashes from the resulting inferno, Jude drags his best friend Angela off the casting couch and into enough melodrama to incite the paparazzi, all while trying to fend off the haters and win the heart of his favourite co-star Luke Morris. It’s a total train wreck!

But train wrecks always make the front page.

I honestly don’t know if this book is making as big a buzz in the rest of the world as it is here in Canada, but it’s been one of THOSE books – the ones that make people stop and notice YA without being dismissive. A book that talks about a difficult situation that not everyone has dealt with. A book that brings LGBTQ issues to the forefront and doesn’t shy away from making you THINK.

After winning the Governor General’s Literary Award, plus being a Canada Reads choice, When Everything Feels Like the Movies has been criticized and defended in pretty much equal measure. I’ll be honest: I really wanted to read it because of all the attention it’s been getting. I thought, “FINALLY, people are taking a YA book SERIOUSLY” so I was determined to find out what it was about this book that was so controversial (shout out to Ro who bought it for me for Easter!).

You wanna know why it’s controversial? The amount of sexual content. Sex (or “relations”) is mentioned in 90% of YA books, but keep in mind that Jude and his sleeps-with-literally-every-guy-in-town best friend Angela are not even in high school yet. Is it awkward? Yeah, a bit. Is it realistic? Well, considering how many times you hear about pregnant 12 year olds, there’s probably some truth to their behaviour, right?

So that, I think, is what makes it so hard for “adults” (i.e. people who’ve never read a YA book before) to accept. Underage drinking and smoking (not just smoking, but pretty much all the drugs), plus sexual relationships in a YA novel?! AND SWEARING?! THE HORROR.

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This is how I imagine “grown-ups” when they’re reading this book.

That being said…it is quite graphic. More so than your average YA, so, even though Jude is in grade eight, I wouldn’t necessarily suggest handing this to a middle grade reader. Unless they’re really mature, of course.

Actually, who knows – maybe it would be helpful for a middle grade reader – someone Jude’s age who is struggling with his/her identity in much the same way, to have a character that they can relate to.

My favourite part was the last couple of chapters. I had started to guess where Jude’s story would lead him, and, while I had predicted it, it was still a poignant, thought-provoking moment. It hits you hard and fast and what’s even more shocking is that it was inspired by a true story.

I don’t think I would have guessed the ending if I hadn’t read this article about Raziel Reid a month or so ago. So maybe don’t read that article if you’re planning on reading WEFLTM?

Another thing I liked: the writing. For the most part, I thought Jude sounded like your standard teen (or pre-teen or whatever he technically is), but there were some lovely turns of phrase. Reid and I are the same age, but his prose has a certain flow to it that I’m still learning, and for his writing alone, he deserved to be the youngest person to win a GG.

I have to confess that I couldn’t relate to any of the characters and there were some who I didn’t like at all (I’m looking at you, unfaithful Angela). But, while that might normally be a problem for me, I felt like the book was compelling enough that I could almost ignore the annoyances and just focus on the story, even if it felt like it took a while to start.

I think this is an important book. I think there are a lot of people who struggle with the same things as Jude and not enough people are paying attention to them in a positive, constructive way, verses the amount of people who pay negative, harmful attention. I think it’s amazing that this book is making people talk – even if they choose to focus on the “offensive” parts and not on the actual message – and, as a champion of YA books in general, I am, of course, thrilled that people are finally starting to see that young adult books are, in fact, just as important as “adult” books.

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