Sunday, January 31, 2016

Missing Winter Reading List

Sure, we had a blizzard last week, but today it hit 60 degrees and, as a winter lover, I can't deal with that. When I was watching The Revenant (go Leo!) in the theatre I started to feel cold just from watching Leo's character deal with the cold on screen. So I started thinking, what better way to pretend like it's proper winter again than to read some books that will give me the same chilly feeling. So grab your scarves, and let's dig in!

OF SCARS AND STARDUST by Andrea Hannah. This was a sensational book about Claire, who heads home when her younger sister goes missing and she battles demons, both real and fake, to try to figure out what happened to her. The book takes place in the cold of Ohio and a lot of the plot occurs in the snowy fields in the town. 

SNOW LIKE ASHES by Sara Raasch. As a true winter lover, this book was filled with perfect imagery and lines about snow and the cold. Great adventure and love triangle, too. Bonus!

LIFE AS WE KNEW IT by Susan Beth Pfeffer. To be honest, this one might be a bit too cold, but I enjoyed the story so much that I just advise you to make some tea, grab a blanket scarf, and read read read! In this one, an asteroid knocks the moon closer to earth, which messes up everything and ends up (among many other things) causing a very long and intense winter.

SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. Soo much of the plot in this book relies on the temperature and, since it takes place in the very cold midwest, there are a lot of cold days. I love how Stiefvater included the temperatures at the beginning of each chapter. 

GAME OF THRONES by George R. R. Martin. Winter is coming! 

All right, get reading and let's bring winter back!


Monday, January 25, 2016

Book Boos: Best of 2015

Technically I'm 25 dates late on this post, but really, I think I'm good until 2017. So, without further adieu, my favorite books I read in 2015! Please look through all of the 101 books I read last year if you'd like.

Before I dive into last year's books, I have to mention two that I read at the very end of 2014 that had publication dates in 2015. They are incredible and I never want to waste a chance to talk about them.


Both of these books are completely special in very different ways. ADSOM is an adult fantasy book about a traveler, a thief, and four Londons. It is not to be missed and was one of the most original and non-cliched books I've ever read. ATBP is a YA fiction about two very different people who end up in a beautiful, but troubling relationship. I cried so many times reading this book and it is so so special.

Now, on to the 'real' contenders for 2015!

I had originally planned to rank these, as I do each month, but do you know how difficult it is to rank your top book from each month!? It's honestly near impossible. I think I have a favorite, but after that, it's basically a tie for the second spot. Man, I read some great books last year!

A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES by Sarah J. Maas. This is the book memes are made of. You know the ones,
“That moment when you finish a book, look around, and realize that everyone is just carrying on with their lives as though you didn't just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback.” That is exactly how I felt when I finished this incredible book. I never thought I'd like a book about fairies, but Maas' world building and character development had me completely obsessed while plowing through the pages and now I am such a fan. I loved this book because I cheered for so many characters, not just the main one (who is awesome, by the way) and because so many of them were important to me, it made the entire reading experience that much more enjoyable. I can't properly express how much I loved this book, but in my literary world, it was life-changing.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by Sabaa Tahir. I first wanted to read this book because of its incredible title and I was so lucky to get an ARC that I devoured while on vacation in California. I read a lot of YA books so when one feels fresh and new and truly excites me, I'm a happy camper. I was a big fan of the plot of this book as well as the characters and can't wait to see where the sequels take them. One thing (out of many) that I liked about this book is that the stakes felt so high and real.

GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins. Another book I was lucky enough to get an ARC of, which was great for this one because I read it before any of the hype had started. I do think I'd have loved it regardless, but it's fun to read these unreliable narrator books before you've heard anything about them. I am becoming a bit of an anglophile so the setting was perfect and it was such a cool lot. I can't wait for the movie!

HAUSFRAU by Jill Alexander Essbaum. This book was devastating. And beautiful. Written by a poet, the story of Anna starts off very salaciously, but it quickly turns into a story of such despair that I wished I could just reach into my book and give her a hug. Some of the lines, especially the last one, are haunting.(One note: I also reread SHATTER ME by Taherah Mafi this month and, while SHATTER ME is one of my favorite YA books, I just had to include HAUSFRAU. So, I made up my own rule and didn't include rereads.)

IN A DARK, DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware. Hmm, another unreliable narrator, eh? I do love those. Ah, and another I read before it was published. (Very few bookseller perks, but ARCs are a great one!) Like GIRL ON THE TRAIN, this book takes place in the UK partly after the main character has awoken in the hospital, and mostly in flashback to being at her old friend's mess of a hen party. The big reveal wasn't as huge as in some other similar books, but the rest of it was so enjoyable that I felt like that wasn't the point.
THE MARTIAN by Andy Weir. I picked this up (well, I had the eARC) because I saw the trailer for the movie and it gave me such anxiety that I knew I had to read it first. (I'm not always a fan of that, I think it's often a great idea to see the movie first, then read the book!). But space is scary and I wanted to know what to expect. I AM SO GLAD I READ THE BOOK FIRST! The genius of this book is that the first part is so science/math heavy that I was having flashbacks of organic chemistry and starting to think I might have to give up...but that's when Weir changes things up and he had me 100% again. I was so invested with the Mark Watney character that I cried while reading the book and then cried for the entirety of the movie because I had such anticipation for the emotions I knew I would feel. Incredible. INCREDIBLE! 

THE QUEEN OF THE TEARLING by Erika Johansen. I'm still trying to figure this book out, to be honest, and as I make my way through the very different sequel, I'm having even more questions about the world Johansen has created. What brought this book to the top of my reading list in 2015 was the main character, Kelsea. I liked reading about her becoming queen and the choices she made and then how she deals with the consequences. (Side note: Isn't Emma Watson tied to the upcoming movie? That's going to be awesome!)

THE ROYAL WE by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan. This book was one of the most enjoyable reads of the entire year. It was very "ripped from the headlines", but it was also so well researched and the differences in the story from Wills and Kate kept it incredibly fresh. The story also had a lot of emotional depth, which also elevated it to the top of my list. (Now, I beg of you to buy this book because I really really really need a sequel!)

THRONES OF GLASS by Sarah J. Maas. Wow, two Maas books, but she writes such wonderful characters and stories that I had so far loved everything she has written. This is a great start to a series and Celaena is a spitfire of a main character.

VICIOUS by V.E. Schwab. I really liked how this book was written, with the present interwoven with the past from different times. The story felt so original to me and it was cool to read a story where I truly didn't know for whom to cheer. 

THE WITCH OF DUVA by Leigh Bardugo. This was just a short story, but I really really enjoyed it and its folk tale feel. It reminded me of The Tale of the Three Brothers in Harry Potter, not because its a similar story, but because it had that same magical feeling to it.

WOLF BY WOLF by Ryan Graudin. When your favorite authors all get excited for a book, just immediately put it on your to be read list. I read the ARC of this and almost couldn't believe it had been published only because it was like nothing I had ever read in the YA genre. An alternate history book where a teenage girl impersonates another girl in a motorcycle race to try to kill Hitler? Not a common type of plot, but I am so so so glad this book exists. It is beyond cool. 

So, there you have it! My top 12 books from 2015! Oh, and you might be wondering what my favorite book of the year was? Why, it was A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES! <3 p="">


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Golden Globes 2016

As a lover of art, entertainment, and fashion, awards season is pretty exciting for me. While I don't watch every TV nominated (who has the time!?), I do try to see as many of the Oscar-nominated movies as I can. With the Golden Globes essentially kicking off the season, I haven't seen everything just yet, but I'm still going to make my predictions. And by my predictions, I mean, what I want to win. I've never been good at cheering for the favorite if its not also my favorite.

Best Picture Drama:
  • Carol
  • Mad Max
  • The Revenant
  • Room
  • Spotlight
I've only seen two of these so far (Mad Max and The Revenant-yay, Tom Hardy!) and I hear that Spotlight is awesome, but I have to cheer for The Revenant on this one. I thought it was beautiful and I loved the whole natural light thing. I get that it's more of a cinematography thing, but it, combined with the great acting, made for a stellar film.

Best Actress in a Drama:
  • Cate Blanchett- Carol
  • Brie Larson- Room
  • Rooney Mara- Carol
  • Saoirse Ronan- Brooklyn
  • Alicia Wikander- The Danish Girl
Yikes, haven't seen any of these. Word on the street (not that I'm on it) is that Brie Larson will win, and I like her, but I would love to see Saoirse Ronan win this. Or Rooney Mara because she is amazing. Oh wait, Alicia Wikander is cool, too. Sorry, Cate, but you won recently so step aside, but not before I can see what beautiful dress you are wearing.

Best Actor in a Drama:
  • Bryan Cranston- Trumbo
  • Leonardo DiCaprio- The Revenant
  • Michael Fassbender- Steve Jobs
  • Eddie Redmayne- The Danish Girl
  • Will Smith- Concussion
If Leonardo DiCaprio doesn't win this, I'll scream.

Best Picture Musical/Comedy:
  • The Big Short
  • Joy
  • The Martian
  • Spy
  • Trainwreck
I think The Big Short is amazing for making something so boring (mortgages, not people losing their money) an exciting story, but The Martian was an experience for me. It's so good.

 Best Actress Musical/Comedy:
  • Jennifer Lawrence- Joy
  • Melissa McCarthy- Spy
  • Amy Schumer- Trainwreck
  • Maggie Smith- The Lady in the Van
  • Lily Tomlin- Grandma
I always want Jennifer Lawrence to win. 

Best Actor Musical/Comedy:
  • Christian Bale- The Big Short
  • Steve Carel- The Big Short
  • Matt Damon- The Martian
  • Al Pacino- Danny Collins
  • Mark Ruffalo- Infinitely Polar Bear
All about the astronaut here. 

Best Supporting Actress:
  • Jane Fonda- Youth
  • Jennifer Jason Leigh- The Hateful Eight
  • Helen Mirren- Trumbo
  • Alicia Wikander- Ex Machina
  • Kate Winslet- Steve Jobs
I'd love to see Alicia Wikander win this because that role, and the way she played it, was so cool. 

Best Supporting Actor:
  • Paul Dano- Love & Mercy
  • Idris Elba- Beasts of No Nation
  • Mark Rylance- Bridge of Spies
  • Michael Shannon- 99 Homes
  • Sylvester Stallone- Creed
I haven't even heard of some of these movies so let's go with Sly Stallone because how cool would that be!?

 Best Director:
  • Todd Haynes- Carol
  • Alejandro Inarritu- The Revenant
  • Tom McCarthy- Spotlight
  • George Miller- Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Ridley Scott- The Martian
Oof, no idea. Wow! I might just go with Inarritu because I'm still on a Revenant high.

 Best TV Drama:
  • Empire
  • Game of Thrones
  • Mr. Robot
  • Marcos
  • Outlander
I love Game of Thrones, but Outlander deserves some love, y'all. 

Best Actress- Drama:
  • Caitriona Balfe- Outlander
  • Viola Davis- HTGAWM
  • Eva Green- Penny Dreadful
  • Taraji P. Henson- Empire
  • Robin Wright- House of Cards
DUH, Caitriona Balfe for Outlander! Times one million!!!!! 

Best Actor- Drama:
  • Jon Hamm- Mad Men
  • Rami Malek- Mr. Robot
  • Wagner Moura- Narcos
  • Bob Odenkirk- Better Call Saul
  • Liev Schreiber- Ray Donovan
I can't believe Sam Heughan for Outlander wasn't nominated. He is so good! I guess I'll go with Jon Hamm- I love me some Don Draper!

Okay, that's all I'm predicting because I watch very few comedies and then Fargo better win for the miniseries.


Saturday, January 02, 2016

Book Boos: December

It was crunch time in December to try to make my reading goal for the year. I did more short stories and novellas, figuring that my 'Did Not Finish' books made up the difference in page numbers.

15. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer (Audio). I just don't see the point of a Twilight book that doesn't include Edward Cullen. 

14. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (Audio). I had a hard time with this book because, while parts were so good and written so well, it was, ultimately, too dark for me. I kept having to turn it off and listen to Harry Potter for awhile to keep my spirits up. And I like darker things, but this story made it almost impossible to rot for anybody. 

13. Unite Me by Tahereh Mafi. I don't always love novellas, even if they're from my favorite series. I know the potential of these characters so when I don't get super awesome steamy makeout scenes, I'm going to be a little disappointed. 

12. Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan (Audio). I actually listened to half of this over the summer, but had to get back on the waiting list for my library's eAudio copy. I liked the premise for this story a lot, but something in the audio execution left me wanting something more. 

11. The Recovery by Suzanne Young. Despite not getting a good makeout scene (see #13), I liked this little addition to the series because it was a good bromance. Realm and James are great characters. 

10. The Assassin and the Healer by Sarah J. Maas. Celaena is such a great, badass heroine. I read Throne of Glass first and then started these stories, which has worked out quite well. 

9. Queen Song by Victoria Aveyard. I love this cover, first of all. The entire series has such beautiful covers. This is a good addition to the main story of Red Queen because it gives information from the past. 

8. Assassin and the Pirate Lord by Sarah J. Maas. Love this story because it really adds a great layer to Celaena's backstory. 

7. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (Audio). Obviously this book is amazing and it's my second time reading it, but I'm not ranking it higher just because a book about a Soviet prison isn't the best for the holiday season:) 

6. The Rook by Daniel O'Malley (Audio). I was torn on this book, actually. The beginning is amazing and the main character (and her dialogue and thoughts) is amazing, but something with the plot lost me. (Slight spoiler ahead) I don't understand why it was all about someone trying to kill her in the beginning and then that's not even a thought again until way later. 

5. Warm Up by V.E. Schwab. Super awesome story that comes from the Vicious world. Highly recommend. 

4. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab. I was so impressed with Schwab's first book. One of the things I like most about her writing (other than the amazing stories) is the lack of cliches and I was pleasantly surprised to find the same style in this story. (Surprised only because debuts sometimes have those common writing tricks we can all spot a mile away.) The story reminded me a lot of The Village film and I really liked the main characters. 

3. Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. This book is basically a love letter to winter and, as the number one fan of the cold, you better believe I loved it. I highlighted so many lines and I can't wait until our first snow so I can reread them. Swoon. Also has great characters and adventure:) 

2. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (Audio). The 3rd movie is what got me into this series and while it's not my favorite book, it's obviously so so good. I love me some Sirius Black. 

1. The Witch of Duva by Leigh Bardugo. I'm embarrassed to admit that I haven't read the Shadow and Bone series (yet!) and I really have no excuse, but I bought it recently and will get to it ASAP. Especially after reading this companion story because it was amazing. Also, I think Leigh Bardugo and I would get along quite well because of our shared love of Russia.