Wednesday, December 31, 2014

15 Books We Can't Wait For In 2015

I cannot believe 2015 is here ! 2014 was not the year of books for me, but with my new found interest in the romance genre and a new audiobook project I'm working on  I hope this will be the year of the book. Here are some books that are on Kat and I's  TBR list this year !

1. Boy In The Black Suit by Jason Reynolds  (January 6, 2015)

Reynolds sophomore YA novel is the story of a boy who works at a a funeral parlor and meets a girl who has learned to deal with too much. I'm really curious to read about  the funeral industry aspect. - Jess







2. Fairest and Winter by Marissa Meyer (January 2015 and November 2015)


The Lunar Chronicles is my favorite Sci-Fi/Dystopian  YA series and this year we get double the Lunar Chronicles; one novella plus the final book in the series ! - Jess







3. When by Victoria Laurie (January 15, 2015)

This is the YA debut from cozy paranormal mystery writer Victoria Laurie. It follows a girl who can see death dates on people's foreheads. She uses her ability to make money, but what happens when a client go missing ? I can't wait to get caught up in this mystery. - Jess



4. Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius (November 2015)
A contemporary YA interpretation of the relationship between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII ? So. . . is he going to cut off her head ? - Jess







5. The Winner's Crime (March 3, 2015)


So, even though the Winner's Curse wasn't a winner for me, I want to give this book a second chance. This time I'm thinking audio. - Jess






6. New Adult

I've been really getting into romance and now I want to connect the YA and romance bridge and try some New Adult. This year I'm hoping to read some of the favorites like J. Lynn, M. Leighton and Colleen Hoover. - Jess





7. Because You'll Never Meet Me (June 2, 2015)


I'm going to say it, there's a lot of sicklit going on this year, but this story has an interesting angle; a  boy with an electric pace maker is best friends with a boy  who is allergic to electricity. - Kat







8. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen wrote a new novel. That is all. (although this book sounds a lot like The Truth About Forever) - Kat





9. When I Wake by Elizabeth Norris

This book exists in an alternate universe where prohibition was never repealed. I get  White Cat vibes with its focus on a girl tangled up in organized crime.







10. Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn



I discovered Kheun in 2014 and her twisty, psychological books put my head through a blender. I'm so excited for her new book. It follows three teens who are uncovering dark secrets. In interviews Kuehn has described this books as more like thriller.



11. The Raven Boys #4

Why must it end ????







12. Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry
I binged five season of Sons of Anarchy last year, but had to stop because of the And I Must Scream and  I've been hankering for more motorcycle club romances to fill the void. I really hope there is less misogyny since this is YA

13. Hello, I Love You (June 2015)

I've been following Katie Stout's book blog since I started blogging and am excited to see her first book coming out. It's about an American girl who attends boarding school in Korea where sparks fly with her roomate's brother--a Korean popstar.







14.  None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio (April 2015)


A high school homecoming queen discovers she's intersex, meaning despite appearing female on the outside she is genetically male. This is something I've never seen addressed in a YA book and I'll be interested in learning more about what intersexuality means. Plus, I.W. Gregorio is kind of awesome; she's the VP of Development for We Need Diverse Books and a surgeon ! - Kat  

15. Under The Lights by Shannon Stacey (May 2015)

This isn't YA, but a romance that kind of centers around high school. This  new series about the golden boys of a championship football team returning to their town 14 years later.  The first one is about a former player coming back to help his old coach only to start falling for the coach's daughter. - Kat







Sunday, December 28, 2014

Jess Joins 2015 Diversity on the Shelf Reading Challenge.

My Little Pocketbooks

BookBox: embed book widget, share book list
It has been a while since I've done any reading challenges, but this year I want to dedicate a large portion  my reading and reviewing to diverse books. To help me keep track I'm going to sign up for the 2015 Diversity On The Shelf Challenge hosted by Alysia at My Little Pocket Books !

I'm starting out modestly at the 1st Shelf Level, but hope to move up

1st Shelf: Read 1-6 books

For more information and if you would like to sign up click here and head over to My Little Pocket Book

Friday, December 26, 2014

Kat's End of Year Book Survey

It's that time of the year again ! This survey is created by Jamie and The Perpetual Page-Turner. You can take it here.
reading-stats-2014Number Of Books You Read: About 44 (I get confused about what I read between December 2013 and January 2014)Number of Re-Reads: None, but I re-listened to the first half hour of Shatter Me on audio.Genre You Read The Most From: Contemporary YA  best-YA-books-2014

1. Best Book You Read In 2014?

2014 Debut: Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Backlist YA:  Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Romance: Something About You by Julie James
Adult: Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand

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

Love is The Drug by Alaya Dawn Johnson. I liked this book, but it didn't capture me the same way her first book, The Summer Prince did.


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

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I always thought this book was sort of "high concept nonfiction" for the Brooklyn, literary, writerly types, but I found it super relatable. It wasn't all about how smart Strayed is or how good of a writer she is, her  honesty and storytelling had me anticipating each question and ho she would answer it. 


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

I am not a very vocal book pusher, but I pushed Jess to finally read The Fault in Our Stars and Fangirl.

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

Best Series:  The Last Policeman Series by Ben H. WintersBest Sequel:  Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, I liked this better than the first and how she expanded the world. Taylor's worldbuilding is amazing !

  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2014?

Varian Johnson. While he's not a debut author, he was the only author I read this year who I had never heard of.  I read his middle grade novel The Great Greene Heist and it was sweet.

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

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. It's a nonfiction that doesn't follow one narrative story so I didn't think I could get into it, but I did. I think the audio helped.

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

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Once I got into I couldn't stop reading it !

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

Fangirl, Anna and The French Kiss or The Fault in Our Stars. I think they'd be fun to re-do on audio.

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

It's rare for me to like a book with a person on the cover, but I think this one does it well which is why I'm picking it as a favorite. But really all the books I read this year had great covers.

11. Most memorable character of 2014?

This is kind of random but the parents from If I Stay. They were kind of awesome.

 12. Most beautifully written book read in 2014?

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. Her writing in this book is perfection.

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

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I really liked the chapter on 'How To Get Unstuck'

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

The Fault in Our Stars, which is horrible because I pre-ordered this thing in Spring 2011.

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

I like this quote from The Lover's Dictionary. After the male character attends a big funeral for his  girlfriend's grandmother she breaks down and they ride home early. On the ride  she tells him all these stories of her and her grandmother and at the end is this quote:"“From behind the wheel, I learn the difference between a eulogy and an elegy, and discover which is more vital, in life and in death.”

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

Shortest: The Lover's Dictionary, 211 pagesLongest: Days of Blood and Starlight, 513 pages (12 hour audiobook)

 17. Book That Shocked You The Most

Complicit by Stephanie Kheun. The ending... it's not what you think !

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

A lot of the YAs I've read haven't had strong or really happy romances. I didn't really get to review this book yet, but I liked Scarlet and Bridger in Sarina Bowen's The Year We Hid Away. I loved their relationship and how they had to work to even make causal dating work.

19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year


Thorne and Cinder in Scarlet by Marissa Meyer. Also, Cinder and Iko.

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

 The Golem and The Jinni by Helene Wecker

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

I read a lot of YA, so this doesn't really happen. But, I mean I guess Wes from The Truth About Forever. I didn't finish this book yet, but I love all of Dessen's guys.

23. Best 2014 debut you read?

Noggin by John Corey Whaley. This book is amazing, I think it needed more buzz.

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

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson. She does some amazing world building of a post-apocalyptic South America thousands of years in the future.

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

Noggin by John Corey Whaley had me cackling, I have no idea why

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

 There was a point where everytime I opened up This Star Won't Go Out, I felt like it was ripping out a peice of my soul with it.This book made me cry a thousand times more than TFiOS

27. Hidden Gem Of The Year?

I read a lot of mainstream books this year, so I'm not sure I discovered anything hidden.

28. Book That Crushed Your Soul?

This Star Won't Go Out  by Esther Earl. That is a TOUGH book to get though, but so worth it.

29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2014?

Noggin by John Corey Whaley, it's plot is around a science fiction-y surgery where a boy's head is transferred on a new body, but the story is more coming-of-age.

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

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness. I didn't hate this book, but so much of it didn't make sense to a point that it was making me mad..book-blogging

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2014? 

I knew about Smart Bitches, Trashy Book for a while but I just started reading it this year, Dear Author too.

2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2014? 

I like my This Is How The World Ends where I reviewed the final books in three series and A Matter of Fate where I reviewed If I Stay and Never Let Me Go on how they deal with fate. I like it when I can squeeze multiple books into one review.

3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?

We don't have a lot of discussions, but I like our post on our favorite diverse books. At the time we posted it I don't think we knew what a great movement #weneeddiversebooks would become.

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

NoVa Teen Book Festival was such a blast ! It was a small event, but I was enjoying it so much I skipped out on lunch. 

5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2014?

 All of the stuff concerning diversity. This is something I've felt and dealt with a long time and I am proud to be apart of it anyway I can be, be through posting, donating and becoming more aware of diversity in my own blog.

7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)?

Taking away memes and giveaways it looks like our Bookshelf Redesign post. We need to update this soon...

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love?

I don't really have any.

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

I love podcasts and I've discovered so many bookish and bookish adjacent podcasts. My favorites are: Dear Bitches, Smart Authors , this romance podcast and is my favorite Literary Disco- Slightly snobby, but so hilarious Books on The Nightstand - Anne and Micheal are greatAlso the Scribd subscription service has really been feeding my reading habit. It's 8.99 a month and there are so many Harper Collins / Harlequin titles.

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

I wanted to read more widely and I read atleast one middle grade, nonfiction and romance this year.looking-ahead-books-2015

1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2014 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2015?

Afterworlds by Scott Westerfeld

2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2015 (non-debut)?

I think this means non-debut author, in that case Delicate Monsters by Stephanie Kuehn. Her books are so twisty.

3. 2015 Debut You Are Most Anticipating?

None of The Above by I.W. Gregorio. It involves intersexuality and I want to learn more about that.

 4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2015?

The Raven Boys Series by Maggie Stiefvater....have I really been reading this series for 3 years ???

5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2015?

I'm starting a romance blog !  It's still in a beta stages now, but stay tuned.

6. A 2015 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone:

I'm currently reading Shana Galen's Earls Just Want to Have Fun and it is pretty good so far.


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed




  • Release Date: July 10th 2012
  • Genre:  Essay Collection / Self Help
  • Hours: 9 hours and 41 minutes
  • Publisher: Random House Vintage
  • Triggers: Child abuse



Cheryl Strayed is probably best known for Wild, the story of her journey hiking the Pacific Crest  Trail, which kicked off Oprah's Book Club 2.0 and was recently released as a film with Reese Witherspoon. I feel like a couple years ago I heard her name sprinkled through every literary website and podcast I subscribed to, so when I saw this audio on Overdrive I checked it out.

The set up for this book takes some explaining. It's a collection of advice columns from when Strayed wrote an advice column on the culture website, The Rumpus under the pseudonym Dear Sugar. For each question he usually picks a story from her past to illuminate her advice. Strayed has had such an interesting and full life and her stories are captivating. She's brutally honest about herself  and doesn't hold anything back, she shows quite a bit of vulnerability with her readers and I think that's why the columns were so popular.

I'd heard so much praise for this collection, but I wasn't sure it would be for me. I didn't really know what I was getting into when I started, but I really enjoyed this audiobook overall. Strayed's mix of memoir through advice is fun. Strayed does the audio and I think hearing her voice gets across some of her intention in her responses to advice seekers. Like she calls her readers sweet pea and when you read it it can sound condescending, but the way she reads it it sounds more affectionate.

This is definitely a coffee table book to be picked up and read in pieces. You can skip around the essays because they weren't written in any specific order. I think this book showed up on a lot of lists every grad/women/person should read and I kind of agree. While I couldn't relate to everything there were always something I could grasp on to.

This book is great for a YA audience because while they may not be able to relate to her stories they can use her advise for later. It's perfect for maybe high school or college grads.

I have noticed that the original columns are still available on TheRumpus.net archives. If you want to get a flavor of the book a few I'd recommend are

How To Get Unstuck
- The Future Has An Ancient Heart
- The Baby Bird
- Beauty and The Beast


Dear Sugar is coming back as a podcast with Cheryl Strayed andwriter Steve Almond who was Dear Sugar before Strayed on 12/15 !





Sunday, November 30, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater (The Raven Cycle #3)


  • Release Date: November 21st 2014
  • Pages: 400
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Publisher: Scholastic Press
The dreaded third book in a series review. It can be hard to review books mid-series, so this one is going to be brief and spoiler free for the entire series.

Blue Lily, Lily Blue in a lot of ways is a test to see how closely you've been reading the other books. It pulls a lot from a deeply established mythology to keep the plot going which was hard for me because I hadn't re-read the previous books. I kind of had to catch myself up on what was going on.

My favorite parts of this series, that I noticed more so in the book,  is the dialogue between characters. They just have this great back and forth that is super entertaining. The characters in this series are some of the most solid and well developed characters I've read in YA. They all have so much agency that it's almost like you're getting four story arcs with each book.

I have started to notice how flowery the writing can be at times, particularly when a scene is from Gansey's perspective. When Stiefvater is writing from Adam's POV it tends to be more straightforward and I wish she would stick with it more. Sometimes that kind of writing would take me out of the book.

The magical elements in this book have been ramped Up To Eleven. With each new installment Stiefvater has been slowly luring the reader out of reality and into the occult and this book really explores those elements. I was always hesitant with calling this series fantasy, but this book has put it over the line for me.

I read this book for the 24in48 Readathon and it was the perfect choice, every chapter had me flipping to see what was going to happen next.  I'll be honest, I was a little confused about what was going on half the time, but I was along for the ride.

The most amazing part of this for me is that I'm not feeling any series fatigue setting in. Stiefvater is still keeping it imaginative, complex and fun. I can't wait to see how it all ends.

*Requested and received for review from Scholastic 




Thursday, November 27, 2014

Feature & Follow Friday


Kat and I are excited to be featured bloggers for Feature & Follow Friday !  This hop is hosted by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The objective ? To discover and follow new blogs. To participate create your own post with this week's question, sign up in the linky and then visit and follow all the awesome blogs also linked ! Don't forget to follow the host.

Hop over to Parajunkee to check out our interview.

This week's question :

Describe your favorite book character death scene. Why is it your favorite? Was it a villain or a hero? What made it so good? (Another prompt from book club ;) )  - Suggested by Eternity Through Pages

 Spoilers Ahoy ! For Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor

 Daughter of Smoke and Bone series and when it comes to character deaths nothing compares to the death of Akiva’s brother, Hazael, in Days of Blood and Starlight. It was an emotional roller coaster because in the previous chapter his half sister Liraz has this in depth monologue about how she only knows where she belongs when she is between her two brothers.
We both enjoy Laini Taylor’s

So when Hazael dies in the next scene protecting her, she feels off balance and it affects her deeply. Taylor then dials the emotion to 11 because Akiva and Liraz carry their brother’s body (to the point of exhaustion) to another world so they can to try and get him resurrected but they can’t save him. AND THEN AND THEN they realize they can’t carry him back, but instead of leaving him they place his ashes in a water jug so he can be with them when they return to their world.  THE FEELS !



Thanks Alison and Rachel for letting us join the fun ! Don't forget to visit other blogs below and find someone new to follow !

If These Books Were Judged By Their Cover . . . Redesigns



I love a good book cover design, so when a book gets a brand new cover I suddenly turn into a reality show judge. Check out the three YA cover redesigns I recently spotted.


The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

Hardcover
Paperback
I'm just not a fan of the hardcover. The silhouettes remind me of  90's clip-art  and the stars look like someone overdid a Photoshop brush. The  paperback cover has the same theme and feel of the original cover and I can see the new cover looking great in print.  The paperback also matches better with Smith's other photographic covers.



Landry Park by Bethany Hagen

Hardcover
Paperback


At first glance the hardcover fits the synopsis of the book; a dystopian with tones of English gentry. The Girl in A Pretty Dress cover has an interesting new dynamic when put into the strong dystopian font. The paperback cover looks like your average circa-2011 Girl in A Pretty Dress and could really get lost in the YA shuffle.  I do like the font contrast and the addition of a tagline.


My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga


Original Reveal
New Cover Reveal



The cover for debut author Jasmine Warga's My Heart And Other Black Holes, was switched up before the novel even debuted. I like both covers, but I'm glad they changed this one. The original looked like it was on the TFIOS  look alike bandwagon. I like that this new one had more texture to it and the title font placement is more dynamic. Also no more dreaded "&" sign to screw up search engines.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand





  • Release Date: November 16th, 2010
  • Genre: Nonfiction
  • Pages: 473
  • Publisher: Random House



Recently at work, I had to work on a project that involved repetitive data entry. There were times where that, mixed with the usual quiet of Friday was killing me and I needed something to listen to. I went into my library's Overdrive and downloaded the first nonfiction audiobook under most popular. The book was  Unbroken by Lauren Hillenbrand, which tells the story of Louis Zamperini. I'd heard the name Louis Zamperini mentioned on a podcast I like, so I figured it must be good. What I thought would be just something to listen to for a couple hours turned into one of those audiobooks I cleaned my apartment just to finish.

This book chronicles is the life of Louis Zamperini, a celebrated  Olympic athlete, who was drafted into the US Air Force as a bomber during World War II. During a routine flight to Australia,  he plane crashes and he and two of his crewmates are stranded  in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a 7 foot raft for 47 days, only to become POWs in a camp with some of Japan's most notorious war criminals.

No event in the 20th century has inspired American culture and media more than World War II. It’s a
constant source for stories of survival, brotherhood and victory. It’s remembered as time when America threw its weight into a war and won. WWII narratives have spawned novels, memoirs plays, movies, video games and not one but two HBO miniseries. None have ever peaked my interest as much as the story behind Unbroken.

Zamperini ran for USC in the 1930's

One of the interesting experiences I had with this book is that even though I knew Zamperini was still alive when this book came out, I was so nervous he wasn't going to make it through all of the trials. I found myself looking up dates so I would know when he would get out of certain situations. It also doesn't help that there isn't a lot about his crewmates, so I had to go Googling for their fates before I could finish reading.

Needless to say this has to be one of the most brutal reads I've ever read. And it's not all from horrible treatment of the Americans at the POW camps and descriptions of their days lost at sea. When Louis is stationed in Hawaii he witnesses a lot of his fellow Airmen go out on missions and just never come back. The Air Force was making these planes so fast and really had no idea what they were doing and they would crash all the time. And this is the Pacific Ocean, so there are a lot of sharks.

I learned a lot about World War II from Unbroken. I feel like in school we learn a lot about the European side of the war and less about what was going on in the Pacific. I would be interested in reading more. (I started Hiroshima by John Hersey) This is an American  book so it may have its own biases. Hillenbrand not only tells Zamperini's story, but gives the entire context of the war so you begin to understand things like why exactly they dropped the atomic bomb.

 Zamperini and Jolie who is directing the film version
The narrator, Edward Herrmann was great, he kind of sounded like someone on the History Channel which worked for this book. Also, in the POW camp there are prisoners from different countries and he does the accents really well. I think Unbroken works especially well on audio because then you can hear all the Japanese pronunciations.

This book really had everything; reality,  inspiration, romance and even humor which I always appreciate. Some of the shenanigans and pranks Zamperini and his crew members get into when they are stationed in Hawaii are hilarious. Hillenbrand weaves everything to create a fully formed and honest narrative, I can see why this book has  been a New York Times Bestseller for four years !

I think this book might get a little more of a media boost with Angelina Jolie directing the film which is set  coming out this holiday season. I feel like this movie is going to be so good (Oscar ??), so I'm totally going to see it in theaters.  I feel weird saying this about a true story, but this trailer gave me the feels. Watch it !






I see there is a YA version of this book...I'm curious how this differs from the original.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Attending VCU Cabell First Novelist Award Night

While I was on my cruise this summer, I saw quite a few people stretched out on the deck reading The Golem and The Jinni. And All I could think was "oh, pretty cover." So, on in the airport I grabbed The Golem and The Jinni from the Overdrive and was blown away within the first twenty pages. It's the story of the year in the life of two immigrant to America at the turn of the century, one is an ancient Jinni and the other is a woman made of clay abandoned after her creation.

So, when Shannon from River City Reading left a comment telling me Helene Wecker is the 13th winner of the VCU Cabell First Novel Award, I had to attend. It was a packed house with students, professors, residents and even a book club.  The award is presented in  conjunction with The VCU English Department, James Branch Cabell Associates Board and The College of Humanities and Sciences (Alum shout out !)

Wecker was a down to earth and wonderful speaker. She started workshopping The Golem and The Jinni while she was in Columbia's MFA program, so it seemed more than fitting that she was being presented with an award that is chosen in part by MFA students

I'll admit I don't delve into the writing or academic side of writing and publishing very often, but hearing Wecker talk  about the process and craft of writing was a great listen.

If you haven't checked out this debut novel it is a must. 



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