Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Top Ten Blogging Goals for 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a wicked sweet meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

     Because I'm a brand new blogger, I feel like this is the perfect time to take stock of the last few months and make goals for the following year. Wait - today is exactly three months from my first post! Happy 3-month blogiversary to me!! Anyway, here are the things I'm looking forward to working on for the next year:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Top Ten Books I Wouldn't Mind Santa Bringing This Year

Top Ten Tuesday is a wicked awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

     I think I am going to have a sort of strange list today. I really don't ask for books for Christmas, mostly because my mother refuses to go by wish lists, and she honestly can't be expected to keep track of books I already own. I can't even go book shopping for myself unless I have my phone & access to the Goodreads app. So the books on this TTT list are going to be a particular subset of my miles-long bookish wish list. These are the books that I would LOVE to own, but probably won't buy for myself, either because I just can't justify spending the money on myself (especially because I honestly do want ALL of the HP sets below...in addition to the full hardcover set I have at home), or I just don't know when I'll get around to them.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Top Ten Books I Read In 2014

Top Ten Tuesday is a really awesome meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

     I'm so glad that The Broke and the Bookish had this topic planned for today because I was already planning to do a post like this for either this week or next week, and now I get to link up my post with a bunch of wonderful bloggers to boot.
     Overall, 2014 was a big year for me in terms of reading and blogging. I have always, always been a big reader, but I've had limited time to read for pleasure over the last several years while I was getting my degree in English (I even took a class or two every summer, so I never had more than a couple weeks off). As an English major a lot of my time was spent on assigned reading, so when I graduated in May I went a bit hog wild with all of the books I couldn't justify reading during the semester. Don't get me wrong - I absolutely loved the English program I was in, but it is soooo nice to come home after a long day at work and NOT have to come home to do homework or head to school for night classes.
     My reading expanded and exploded this spring, and I made a conscious decision to start reading YA again. I mean, it's not all I read, but in general I am more excited by new YA than I am by most adult fiction (notable exceptions: I will always read anything and everything by Sarah Addison Allen, Lauren Willig, Beatriz Williams, Susanna Kearsley, Carol Goodman, and JK Rowling). The whole world of YA is so different from all of the (sometimes boring) critical theory I read for my degree, and I am still reveling in the juxtaposition.
     I discovered the world of book bloggers over the summer, and I knew almost immediately that I wanted to join this community. So I did! Sarah Can't Stop Reading went live at the end of September, and while I'm still figuring out a LOT about my blog and the world of blogging, I am so happy and excited to be even a little involved in the book blogging community.
     For my 'Best of 2014' list, I am definitely going over just 10 books. I think I'm over even if I group some books together by authors I discovered in 2014. But you know what, that's ok, 

     I somehow didn't know about Sarah J. Maas or any of these books until August!

     I loved both of these books, but I especially loved her short story in My True Love Gave to Me!

     All great books, plus Maggie Stiefvater seems like a super cool human being in general. I'm in.

     Great characters + great settings + great stories = one great series.

5. My True Love Gave to Me (Edited by Stephanie Perkins):

     While all of the stories are lovely and worth reading, my favorites were the stories by Rainbow Rowell (of course), Stephanie Perkins, and Gayle Forman.

     High school is hard, and while the plot of The DUFF might not have been realistic based on my personal high school experience, I think Kody Keplinger definitely has her finger on the pulse of how high school students think and feel. There might have been some ugly crying going on while I was reading this one.

6. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman:

     I absolutely love Rachel Hartman's dragons in this book, and I'm anxiously awaiting the sequel!

     Daughter of Smoke and Bone was one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time!

     "Passion, redemption, and a battered suitcase full of secrets" = you better just read this ASAP.

     Another absolutely stunning novel. I never wanted it to end!

     Like I said, I'll read anything by JK Rowling, and I can't recommend this series enough to anybody who enjoys reading crime fiction.

     This was the first thing I'd ever read by Jenny Han, so I didn't really have any expectations for this beyond thinking the synopsis sounded intriguing. Since I read it this summer, I have successfully made quite a few friends read it as well.

     I am a Marshmallow, so of course I was excited to hear that a book was being released this spring in addition to the movie. And there will be a sequel!

     I love Sarah Addison Allen, and Lost Lake was a wonderful addition to my library.

What were the best books you read in 2014?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Five Friday Favorites - Books You'd Gift

Five Friday Favorites is a meme hosted by Book Badger.

I am definitely a book pusher, and gifting books is something I love to do. Most of the people in my life are also big readers (my three sisters, my best friends, my parents, etc.), so I know that when I give a book as a gift it will be genuinely appreciated. This list includes a few books that I recently gifted for late-fall birthdays or will be gifting at Christmas. With that in mind, HOLLY IF YOU ARE READING THIS BEFORE MONDAY YOU NEED TO STOP NOW. She gets her presents on Monday because I finished my shopping ages ago and I just really want her to have them. 

Anywho..... Here's the list:

Adulting by Kelly Williams Brown. 
This book is based on a very popular blog, also called Adulting. Essentially, this book is all about the things pretty much everybody learns as they transition from being a college student to being a real adult with responsibilities. I flipped through it after I bought it for a Christmas gift, and it really is pretty funny. Definitely a good gift for the 20s crowd.

I bought this as a birthday gift for one of my sisters. She, like the rest of our family, reads all the time, and I happen to know that fantasy is a favorite genre of hers. As soon as I read Seraphina, I knew that Abby would like it. Seraphina is a non-traditional dragon book, and I knew Abby would appreciate Hartman's take on a classical mythical creature.

Not only is everything about this book beautiful, but it's set in Prague. My friend Holly is an avid traveler, and she absolutely loved backpacking across Europe. I am hoping that she loves this book as much as I did, because I thought of her the entire time I was reading it (not in a weird/sketchy way, I promise).

I have a few friends who love beauty and hair and makeup as much as I do, so our conversations always gravitate toward those topics eventually. This is a newer book that a lot of my favorite beauty bloggers have recommended, and I'd honestly love to get my hands on a copy for myself as well.

One of these things is not like the other..... The Metamorphoses is a classic, filled with stories of all the great mythological characters and creatures and stories. I had to buy this version specifically for a classic lit class I took as part of my English degree, and I have to say I fell in love with Mandelbaum's translation. I don't know that I've read any other translations (besides my own when I was taking Latin), so I can't say definitively that this is the best. But I've got a pretty good hunch. It really is beautiful. So many tropes and themes that we see throughout the history of literature and film are based on stories in this book, so for that reason alone I think it's worth a read.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Top Ten Books I'm Looking Forward to in 2015

Top Ten Tuesday is a (totally awesome) weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

There are so many awesome books coming out in 2015 that I can barely contain the excitement....even though there are loads of 2014 books that I haven't even touched yet. If you only knew how many books I own but have never read, you'd be ashamed for me. HOWEVER - I'm still psyched about these books, and you should be too!!

1. Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. This is the sequel to Seraphina, about which I can't speak highly enough. I really loved Hartman's take on dragons, and I also really loved her characters. Shadow Scale's expected publication date is March 10. 

2. A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. I know everybody is probably going to include this Beauty & the Beast retelling on their TTT lists, and for good reason. I accidentally (ACCIDENTALLY! How serendipitous!!) stumbled across Throne of Glass this summer, and Maas quickly became one of my favorite current authors. ACOTAR's expected publication date is May 5.

3. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey. The Girl at Midnight is Melissa Grey's debut novel, and it's a suggested read for fans of Cassandra Clare and Leigh Bardugo. And it's about a race of magic people who live under New York City, and that just sounds cool. The Girl at Midnight's expected publication date is April 28.

4. Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge. Crimson Bound is a standalone retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. It looks like it'll be a great story, full of magic, adventure, and perhaps a touch of romance. We shall see. Crimson Bound's expected publication date is May 5.

5. First Frost by Sarah Addison Allen. SAA is another author whose books I came across while casually browsing the bookstore. I immediately fell in love with her writing, which opened my eyes to the whole realm of magical realism. First Frost is a sequel to Garden Spells, which is about the lovely Waverly family, and I (along with every other SAA fan) am anxiously awaiting the continuation of their story. First Frost's expected publication date is January 10.

6. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley. I picked up my first Susanna Kearsley book based on the beautiful cover, and once I realized how great it was, I (greedily) bought up every book of hers I could find. This meant ordering copies of books from the UK that hadn't been published in the US. A Desperate Fortune is the story of a codebreaker hired to decipher the journal of a Jacobite exile in Paris. If it's like other Kearsley stories, the story will be split between the present and the past, spanning several hundred years and multiple countries. Kearsley is a master of description, so I'm really looking forward to this one. A Desperate Fortune's expected publication date is April 7.

7. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen. I wouldn't even need to read the synopsis to know that I want to read this. Sarah Dessen is a YA master, and I'll read anything she has to say. I mean, I did read the synopsis, and I do know that I'm going to pre-order this one so I can read it as soon as possible. Saint Anything's expected publication date is May 5.

8. Untitled Throne of Glass #4 by Sarah J. Maas. Like I mentioned earlier, the Throne of Glass series was a completely unexpected pleasure, and I'm anxiously awaiting this next novel. I read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight at the end of August/ beginning of September, but I held off on starting Heir of Fire. I just didn't want to have this ginormous lag time until I could continue the series, but I cracked and started HoF over the Thanksgiving holiday. I still have a few unread novellas from The Assassin's Blade to tide me over until September 10, the expected publication date.

9. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han. This is the sequel to To All the Boys I've Loved Before, which I read in June and loved. P.S. I Still Love You continues Lara Jean's story as she tries to sort out her feelings about the boys in her life. I'm not typically a fan of books that are just about girls and boys falling in love and whatnot, but I thought Jenny Han did a great job making this a cute story that was both relatable and palatable. The expected publication date is June 2.

10. Untitled Raven Cycle #4 by Maggie Stiefvater. Confession: I've still only read The Raven Boys...I have The Dream Thieves, and I will beg or borrow (but never steal) Blue Lily, Lily Blue, but I just need to sit myself down and figure out a game plan for reading all of the books I want to read ASAP. There's not even a synopsis or expected publication date for this one, so I won't beat myself up to catch up on the series.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Top Ten Tuesdsay - Top Ten Characters Who Ought to Get Their Own Books

Top Ten Tuesday is a (totally awesome) weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week's TTT topic is all about the minor/background characters we want to know more about. Of course there was no way I could pare it down to just ten specific characters, so I sort of cheated on some of these. But I don't think you'll blame me!!

1. Orma, from Seraphina: Seraphina's Uncle Orma is a character with a complex history, and I want to know more about it! Orma straddles the dragon/human line very carefully, but I want to know so much more about his background and family history, since they play a significant role in the plot.

2. Chaol Westfall, from the Throne of Glass series: I've still only read Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight, although I did start The Assassin's Blade this week, but I desperately want to know more about Chaol. Again, his seemingly-tumultuous family history is especially intriguing, but I'll take anything about him that Sarah J. Maas will give us! (Just for the record...I do have Heir of Fire, but I'm trying to take my time with the series since I don't know when Book 4 is coming.)

3. Iko, from Cinder: I'm about 3/4 of the way through Cinder, and I'm heartbroken about Iko. I want more Iko. Please tell me there's more Iko!

4. Peter Kavinsky, from To All the Boys I've Loved Before: Peter is more complex than Lara Jean gave him credit for originally, and certainly more than I thought he was going to be. Perhaps the sequel will give us more?

5. Will Herondale, from the Infernal Devices series: Man, I really really liked these books. Like, WAY more than the Mortal Instruments series. And who doesn't love Will, who refuses to be loved? Yeah, I want more Will in my life.

6. Puck, from the Iron Fey series: Now, I'm nearly finished with the first book in this series, so for all I know there is much more Puck to come. That would be fine by me, but if there isn't, I absolutely want to know more about Puck. And with such an old character, the possibilities never end!

7. Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, from the Anne of Green Gables series: Matthew and Marilla were by no means spring chickens when Anne came into their lives, and I want to know more about their younger years. Maybe not their childhood, which seems like it wasn't the happiest, but certainly their late teens, early twenties. I want to know about shy Matthew's encounters with the ladies, and about Marilla's doomed relationship with Mr. Blythe.

8. Pretty much everybody from The Night Circus: Well, I say everybody, but I especially want to know more about Widget, Poppet, and Bailey. 

9. Pretty much everybody from the Hunger Games series: Who wouldn't want to know more about Haymitch's generation? Or the very early Panem years? Or about Effie Trinket? Or about Gale or Peeta or any of Katniss's other contemporaries?

10. Absolutely everybody from Harry Potter: I want to know more about the older generation, and I want to know about the younger generation, and I want to know more about Dumbledore, and I pretty much just want JK Rowling to keep producing Harry Potter material for the rest of my life. But I also really love the Cormoran Strike series, so I guess I would be ok with her splitting her time between the two series.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Five Friday Favorites - Favorite Cover Trends

Five Friday Favourites is a blog meme hosted by Book Badger, and you can read more about the meme here.

When I first saw the topic I was convinced that I would never be able to come up with five different cover trends, let alone five favorite cover trends. But as I started going through my Goodreads TBR, and then all the beautiful lists in the Listopia section of Goodreads, cover trends started popping out at me from all directions. And now, my list:

1. Glamorous Gowns:

2. Title/Author Takeovers:

3. Super Views of the Back:

4. Masquerade: (And now I'm singing Phantom of the Opera....)

5. View of the Top:

(Ok, so I only found three different books/series with this particular trend. But I predict there will be more!)

What are your favorite cover trends?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday #2 - Song of the Lioness Quartet

Song of the Lioness by Tamora Pierce
Books: Alanna: The First Adventure; In the Hand of the Goddess
            The Woman Who Rides Like a ManLioness Rampant
Publication Dates: 1983, 1984, 1986, 1988
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy

Synopsis: (From Book 1)
"From now on I'm Alan of Trebond, the younger twin. I'll be a knight.

And so young Alanna of Trebond begins the journey to knighthood. Though a girl, Alanna has always craved the adventure and daring allowed only for boys; her twin brother, Thom, yearns to learn the art of magic. So one day they decide to switch places: Disguised as a girl, Thom heads for the convent to learn magic; Alanna, pretending to be a boy, is on her way to the castle of King Roald to begin her training as a page.
But the road to knighthood is not an easy one. As Alanna masters the skills necessary for battle, she must also learn to control her heart and to discern her enemies from her allies.

Filled with swords and sorcery, adventure and intrigue, good and evil, Alanna's first adventure begins - one that will lead to the fulfillment of her dreams and the magical destiny that will make her a legend in her land."
Why I love it: I started reading Tamora Pierce's books ages and ages ago. When I was 10, my mom married my step-dad, who's a teacher and therefore had summers off. He suddenly found himself with four times as many children to entertain during the day, so he would take us to the library at least once a week. The first series of hers that I remember reading is The Circle Opens, and since then I've read everything by Tamora Pierce I can get my hands on. The Alanna series is a favorite because it's an underdog story: a young girl who would never make a very good lady switches places with her brother, determined to keep up with the boys while she trains to be a knight. Throughout the first two books her gender is still under wraps (literally...hehehe) with few exceptions, but her secret is revealed at the end of book two. The third and fourth books deal with Alanna's struggle to combine her identity as Alan, the boy with whom her friends grew up, and Alanna, the surprise Lady Knight. I highly, highly recommend these books.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wishlist Wednesday #3

Wishlist Wednesday is a book blog hop hosted by Pen to Paper where we will post about one book per week that has been on our wishlist for some time, or just added (it's entirely up to you), that we can't wait to get off the wishlist and onto our wonderful shelves.

Pages: 416
PublisherSimon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: 5/7/13

Goodreads synopsis: "Orphan Meg Fellowes makes her living picking pockets—until she steals from the wrong nobleman. Instead of rotting in prison like she expected, she’s whisked away to the court of Queen Elizabeth and pressed into royal service, where she joins four other remarkable girls in the Maids of Honor, the Queen’s secret society of protectors.

Meg’s natural abilities as a spy prove useful in this time of unrest. The Spanish Court is visiting, and with them come devious plots and hidden political motives. As threats to the kingdom begin to mount, Meg can’t deny her growing attraction to one of the dashing Spanish courtiers. But it’s hard to trust her heart in a place where royal formalities and masked balls hide the truth: Not everyone is who they appear to be. With danger lurking around every corner, can she stay alive—and protect the crown?"

Why it's on my list: So this is a series that I had actually never heard of until yesterday, when it appeared on a lot of Top Ten Tuesday lists. I just find the premise so interesting, and I love historical fiction. Most of what I've been reading lately has been fantasy, so this seems like a fun series to break up that cycle.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Top Ten New (to me) Series I Want to Read

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
When I first saw the topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, I'll admit I was a little skeptical. I just didn't think there were ten distinct series that I really wanted to read, especially since I just read the first books in a couple different series (The Iron Fey and The Raven Cycle). But I went through my Kindle, and then I went through my Goodreads. And then I realized that I had waaay more than ten that I wanted to start, so here are the first ten I came across that I really want to read.

            (Confession: I technically started Grave Mercy several weeks ago, but since I didn't get very far at                 the time and I've been reading other books in the meantime, so I don't think it should count.)
10. Legend:

Any thoughts/suggestions on these? I've heard mostly good things about all of these. His Fair Assassins might be the series with the most mixed reviews (to my knowledge), but I'm still quite interested in diving in. 

EDIT: I'm a huge dummy. I completely forgot to mention that I just started two new audiobooks, both of which are the first books in their respective series: Fallen (Fallen) and Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles).