Friday, 1 January 2016

Annual End Of Year Survey, 2015 Edition!


I took part in this awesome survey, created by Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, last year and loved it! It really helps to put a whole year of reading into perspective and certainly made me feel more accomplished than if I hadn't taken part. I've been looking forward to filling this out since December started and finally, 2015 has finished and I can!



Number Of Books I Read: 65
I beat this year's Goodreads Challenge of 50, but I only beat last year's number by one book! I've set my new challenge as 65, so hopefully I will beat it!

Number Of Re-Reads: 0
Just like last year, I have none! Right now I have too many books on my TBR to go back to books I've already read! I will have to at some point, in order to catch up with a couple of series I started ages ago.

Genre I Read The Most From: Fantasy
Once again the Fantasy genre one out, with High Fantasy (18) and Urban Fantasy (15) being my top two genres. Romance, when combined with the Paranormal kind, actually scored quite highly also (14 altogether). The other two most notable reading genres were Literary Fiction (10) and Retellings (9). In terms of Age Range, YA easily won out.



Best Book:
'Vengeance Road' by Erin Bowman.

This was very tough choosing and I definitely had two or three choices fighting it out over this one. But this is the only YA Western I have ever read and that is something I'm certainly going to have to change that because as a Genre, it's a new favourite. Amazing writing, sizzling romance, great plot progression and world-building to die for. That plus some memorable characters means it ticked all the boxes for me!

Book I Thought I Would Love More But Didn't:
'A Song For Ella Grey' by David Almond.

I still get sad when I think about this book because I know that so many people did enjoy it! For me however the writing was so flowery and filled to the brim with metaphors that it made me laugh rather than blowing me away, Almond didn't seem to have a real clue of how teenagers actually behave, and the narrator of the tale irritated me no end because she was so possessive and mistrustful all the time with a pretty bad attitude. 

Most Surprising Book I Read (In A Good Way):
'Sunbolt' by Intisar Khanani.

I came into this book, having eyed up the small number of pages, not expecting much. Boy was I wrong! Considering that Khanani had very little page space to work with, she did a great job! Her world-building was great, the characterisation was really nice and I fell in love with the plot. I eagerly await Book Two!

Most Surprising Book I Read (In A Bad Way):
'Midnight Crossroad' by Charlaine Harris.

I had heard a lot from friends and fellow Bloggers about this Author. Large quantities of Goodreads Reviews for her other books really impressed me and I honestly thought this would be my kind of book. Alas, it bored me to death. Nothing happens until about halfway through, and then that doesn't really go anywhere. The characters I did not like at all either. All they did was spy on their neighbours and whine about each other and their lives. The 'main character' was a misogynistic pig most of the time and Harris seemed to have an unnatural fixation on describing to the very letter every body shape in the book. Ugh.

Book I Pushed The Most People To Read:
'Neverland' by Shari Arnold.

I have lost count the number of times I have tweeted about this book. Anyone who asks for a book that will make them cry, a good romance, something magical, a good retelling etc. will receive a reply within moments because very few people that I know have read this and they should. It takes the tale of Peter Pan and really makes it mean something, which I loved! More from this lady next year, please?

Best Series Starter:
'A Natural History Of Dragons' by Marie Brennan.

This was a tough call because I started some really great series this year. I chose Brennan's book mostly due to the awesome heroine that she wrote! I've had a thing about Alternate History this year, and this places readers back into Victorian Society but with the added feature of Dragons. I loved that it was written in the style of a memoir as an older and wiser Lady Trent made comments on her own naivety throughout the story which points towards character development as the series progresses. I look forward to it!

Best Sequel:
'Valiant' by Holly Black.

I have always been a huge fan of Holly Black but this is the first book of hers that really blew me away. A gorgeous retelling of Beauty & The Beast, set in the much grimier, modern day, Faerie inhabited New York. The link to 'Tithe' was very loose and it could be read as a stand-alone, but I'm glad I had some insight when going into this. It made me appreciate it more!

Best Series End:
'Mockingjay' by Suzanne Collins.

I only read a couple of Series finales this year, but this was the best by far. It started off pretty slow, but the climax of the book was well worth it. Especially as the film came out in November and did a really great job of adapting the last book of the series. I've thoroughly enjoyed this series overall, and it's easy to see why it became so popular!

Favourite New Author I Discovered:
Emily St. John Mandel.

It's very important that I mention this lady because her book, 'Station Eleven' absolutely blew me away. I've read a few Dystopians in my time but nothing like this one, that doesn't just focus on the far-off future after the apocalypse. It jumps around in time and takes a look at the crisis itself. Mandel's book does such a great job of looking at humanity and really made me do a lot of reflecting. I want to read more books by her as soon as possible!

Best Book From A Genre That I Don't Normally Read:
'The Rosie Project' by Graeme Simsion.

Romance is really not my thing, but I went to Crete earlier this year and I really fancied taking this one as a beach read! It was not a mistake either because this was up there with the best. It made me laugh so much and truly warmed my heart as I read it. I still need to read 'The Rosie Project' but I have high hopes for it!

Most Action Packed/Unputdownable Book Of The Year:
'The Walled City' by Ryan Graudin.

I did not expect such a thrilling book when I picked this up, but I got through it pretty quickly because it hooked me from beginning to end. Told through the POVs of three characters, it was interesting to watch their stories connect and the thing that I loved most abut this book is that it read so much like a Dystopian but is actually based on a place that existed. I'm eager to read more by Graudin soon!

Most Likely To Re-Read:
Honestly there's a few I would love to re-read but I probably won't have time next year so I'll say none!

Favourite Cover Of The Year:

'The Sin Eater's Daughter' by Melinda Salisbury.

I enjoyed the story of this book but the cover really got my attention when it was first released. I have to say, while reading it caught the most attention from other people too! Work colleagues, flat mates and family members all commented on it. It definitely deserves it's place as my favourite cover design of all the books I read this year!



Most Memorable Character:
Nurse Ratched from 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest' by Ken Kesey.

I'm shuddering just thinking of this awful woman. I remember doing a list of some of the top villains I've read in books and if I did another one, she would definitely be in the list. Her icy, calm demeanour and seemingly charitable nature was actually terrifying to read at some points in the book. In some ways, her fate was pretty satisfying but she definitely deserved a worse fate than she got.

Most Beautifully Written Book:
'The Enchanted' by Rene Denfeld.

I read this at the beginning of the year, but it still sticks out in my mind as being such a beautiful book to read. Denfeld had a real mastery of everything: imagery, vocabulary, structure etc. Before writing this list this book had almost slipped out of my mind, I'm so glad I can re-remember it!

Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book:
'Good Kings, Bad Kings' by Susan Nussbaum.

Man this book got to me in a big way when I read it. It was told from a variety of POVs and had the most impressively diverse character list I've seen in a book! Each voice felt very real too, and it was clear that Nussbaum had done her research with this one. It touched on a number of very sensitive topics too, a real winner in my opinion!

Book I Can't Believe I Waited To Read:
'More Than This' by Patrick Ness.

My goodness, why did it take me so long to read a book by Patrick Ness?! I received this one as a gift, and thank goodness because who knows how long I would have made myself wait otherwise! Ness wrote really well and I'm so glad I chose this one specifically as my first read by him. A new favourite author for sure!

Favourite Passage/Quote I Read:
“No point in thinking, you just have to get on with life. We only have one after all, we should try and do our best. We can never get it right, but we must try.” 
'Life After Life' by Kate Atkinson.

Shortest Book I Read:
'The Sleeper & The Spindle' by Neil Gaiman (72 Pages).

Longest Book I Read:
'A Feast For Crows' by George R.R. Martin (778 Pages).

Book That Shocked Me The Most:
'The Other Lamb' by Katie Young.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted let me tell you! I enjoyed it quite a bit actually and it was certainly different from many of my other reads, but there is so much violence and obscenity that my eyes remained pretty wide and my mouth slightly open from start to finish. If you're sensitive to gore, horror or sexual activity I wouldn't recommend it.

Power Couple Of The Year:
Penryn & Raffe from 'Angelfall' by Susan Ee.

I loved these two so much, long may my love for them continue! I am desperate to get on to book two of their story as soon as possible. Ee did a really good job of building their feelings slowly rather than rushing straight into insta-love (a trap that a lot of Authors fall into I'm afraid). It was nice to see a couple connect so well, but not be defined by this.

Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year:
Karou & Zuzana from 'Dreams Of Gods & Monsters' by Laini Taylor.

For the second year in a row, these two win. There were a lot of contenders but the problem is none of them just quite shared the same spark that these two best friends do. Maybe it's because they remind me of some of my actual friends and the way that they behave/interact. Their relationship was one of the redeeming factors of this series finale.

Favourite Book From A Previously Read Author:
'Cress' by Marissa Meyer.

Duh! I loved 'Cinder', I loved 'Scarlet' I was never in any doubt about how I would feel about 'Cress'. It's definitely my favourite of the three too! Cress and Thorne's relationship was my ultimate love in this book and I'm really looking forward to 'Winter' which I'm reading really soon!

Best Book I Read Because Of A Recommendation/Peer Pressure:
'Child 44' by Tom Rob Smith.

I was recommended this book, frequently and heavily, by my flat mate Tash. Thank goodness I caved and got round to it because despite it being of a genre I don't usually read, I loved it! Such great suspense and so many thrills. I learned  lot about the time period while reading too, so I am really eager to get to Book Two!

Newest Fictional Crush:
Yves from 'Stealing Phoenix' by Joss Stirling.

Not a crush as such, but Yves is adorable. He has all the traits I would look for in a guy: confidence, intelligence, the ability to keep a cool head (because I'm rubbish at that), good looks, romantic and the ability to make things burst into flames. Okay I don't concentrate too much on that last one but I really liked Yves a lot!

Best 2015 Debut:
'A Thousand Nights' by E.K. Johnston.

Obviously discounting 'Vengeance Road' because that already won 'Best Book' I included another one of the front-runners from this year. Quite a lot of people I know read 'The Wrath & The Dawn' which is based on the same story, but those that read both said they preferred this one of the two. Johnston wrote vividly, included a clever and subtle message and totally transported me to another world.

Best World-Building/Most Vivid Setting:
'Bitter Greens' by Kate Forsyth.

I chose 'Bitter Greens' because I felt it was the most deserving of this award, especially considering the sheer amount of research that must have gone into this book. Set in a few different time periods, and yet I felt transported to each one. Each was deeply rooted in historical fact and yet tinged with just a touch of magic to pique my Fairy Tale interest! This book did almost win the most shocking award for having some truly horrific scenes in it which even now make me feel sick when thinking of them. Most vivid certainly comes to mind with this read!

Book That Put A Smile On My Face:
'The Storied Life Of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

It's a book about books. What's not to like? When I picked this up, I read it in a day because I loved it that much! The characters were well-written with believable problems and I loved how diverse they were too. The plot expanded over a long period of time and managed to make me laugh, gasp and even shed a tear or two! This book also includes some awesome start of chapter quotes. I thoroughly recommend it!

Book That Made Me Cry:
'Between The Lives' by Jessica Shirvington.

This doesn't seem like a big contender for this category, but once you read the end of this book you'll see what I mean. There's such a twist that I barely saw coming and hit me pretty hard, especially as it was delivered to me in a pretty brutal fashion. I cried for half an hour in bed before coming out to start my day. Bring tissues for this read!

Hidden Gem:
'Skin' by Ilka Tampke.

I read this book in advance of it's release and really liked it. Historical Fiction is a genre that I enjoy, but I've certainly never read anything that has taken me so far back before! This one is set in a Celtic Britain, back when Druids and Tribes roamed the land and Rome threatened to invade. I loved the huge amount of research that clearly went into this book, and the author's passion for it really stood out to me! One particular scene involving a fish will certainly stick out in a lot of people's minds too.

Book That Crushed My Soul:
'All The Birds, Singing' by Evie Wyld.

I'm not writing from the perspective that this book was heart-wrenchingly emotional as such. It was beautiful and brutal in it's own unique way. But this book had an effect on me that is similar to my imagined feeling of being round a Dementor from the world of Harry Potter. Like I'd never be happy again. As time went on and more facts from Jake's past came to light, I felt more and more depressed and a little disturbed. It took a good few days for me to overcome that feeling after reading.

Most Unique Book I Read:
'The Sunken' by S.C. Green.

I think I can sum up what's unique about this book pretty quickly. In an alternate version of history, the Industrial Revolution has gone even further than ever imagined. Engines and technology are a religion, as are many other arts in Britain. Dragons exist. And to top it all off, the mad King George is doing his level best to create a vampiric army and gorge on London. With so many familiar faces in some of the most bizarre situations I've ever read, this was the automatic winner of this category.

Book That Made Me The Most Mad:
'How To Fly With Broken Wings' by Jane Elson.

This was another book that I expected to enjoy. Unfortunately I didn't all that much. I've read a few books that have irritated me, but this one really got to me for some reason. Sure it had a sweet message and was aimed more at children, but problems arose when Elson decided that she would use so many capital letters. One character's sentences were filled to the brim with CONSTANT SHOUTING AND SCREECHING and I had to keep putting my Kindle down and take deep breaths.



New Favourite Book Blog Discovered In 2015:
Wow, I discovered a lot of great Blogs this year. Most recently I've been visiting Queen Of Contemporary, written by Lucy Powrie a lot. She runs the #UKYA chats on Twitter which are a whole lot of fun too!

Favourite Review I Wrote In 2015:
Ouch, I don't like having favourites! Last year I chose a joint one, but all of them have been the same this year so I think I'll say I've enjoyed writing all of them!

Best Discussion/Non-Review Post I Wrote:
My favourite Discussion post that I wrote has to be Anti POC Hermione? Riddikulus!. Harry Potter, Diversity and the Performing Arts are all subjects close to my heart and I was upset to see such a negative reaction to the revealed 'Harry Potter & The Cursed Child' casting. I really enjoyed thinking out and writing this post.

Best Events I Participated In:
Virtually, I loved being involved in #UKYA Chats on Twitter and #QuizML was a lot of fun too! I actually did pretty well in it. Off the computer, I attended the UK Launch party for 'Skin' by Ilka Tampke and had a really great time. I especially loved the cute goody bag I received there!

Best Moment Of Bookish/Blogging Life:
Subscribing to Illumicrate was definitely one of them. It's the first UK Book Subscription service and much cheaper than signing up to an American one where I would need to pay shipping. I received my first box in November and loved it! I also won a Maximum Pop! book box as part of their #Christmax event and I loved that too!

Most Challenging Thing About My Reading/Blogging Life:
It was definitely time management this year. I'm already working really hard to fix that. Mat and I have actually drawn up a schedule for all my spare time, so that I can better manage when I read, Blog and do other things!

Most Popular Post:
Book Blitz & Giveaway: Lumiere (175 Page Views)

Post I Wish Had More Love:
Are Book Lovers...Weird?

I did get some comments and views for this one, but it's a topic that still really bugs me and I wish I had been able to get a much bigger discussion on it!

Best Bookish Discovery:
I'm putting Illumicrate as my answer here too!

Did I Complete My Goals?
The answer is yes, I did! I wanted to read 50 books this year and completely blew that figure out of the water! I also wanted to not stress out about challenges, something I managed to an extent, and try new things which I also did!



One Book I Didn't Get To In 2015 But Will Be Top Priority In 2016:
'Winter' by Marissa Meyer.

Without a doubt I will be reading this in January. I have to finish this awesome series!

Most Anticipated 2016 Non-Debut:
'Stars Above' or 'Heartless' by Marissa Meyer.

Are you sensing a theme yet? I love Marissa Meyer! 'Stars Above' is a collection of stories set in The Lunar Chronicles universe and 'Heartless' is a retelling of Alice In Wonderland. Exciting stuff!

Most Anticipated 2016 Debut:
'Rebel Of The Sands' by Alwyn Hamilton.

I have to say that 'Vengeance Road' is to blame for my excitement for this one! Sharpshooting, magic, desert wastelands, and a ton more things to be excited for! And I literally squeal every time I see that cover...it is beautiful!

A Series End/Sequel I Am Anticipating In 2016:
'The Winner's Kiss' by Marie Rutkoski.

I've had ups and downs with this series but I can't wait to finally find out what happens in with Kestrel & Arin. 'The Winner's Crime' was such a tense, rollercoaster of a book so I'm hoping for a happy ending with this one!

Something I Hope To Accomplish In My Reading/Blogging Life:
This year, as I said, I want to be better at time management! I also want to write more discussion posts because they are so much fun, and maybe form some kind of Fairy Tale Book Club at the same time. Not only that, but I aim to read more Non-Fiction books!

A 2016 Release I've Already Read:
None I'm afraid. Maybe next year I'll manage something for this one?